Feline Immunodeficiency Disease (FIV) in Cats

Information regarding the disease and what to do

Ninth Life Cat Rescue does not routinely test for FIV, however, in cases where we know a cat is FIV positive, we indicate that on the cat’s condo card. There might be situations where the cat has tested positive on an ELISA test, but has not had confirmation through a second Western Blot or PCR test, which would be six months later. The first test could have been a false positive, especially if the cat is young. FIV attacks the immune system leaving the cat vulnerable to other infections although they may appear normal for years.

FIV should not be confused with FeLV, feline leukemia, which is a more serious and lethal disease.

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association in their April 2018 article, the disease is rarely life threatening and the average lifespan of a cat infected with FIV is not significantly different from that of an unaffected cat.

Cats cannot give feline immunodeficiency disease to people, nor can cats develop human AIDS.

Cat bites must be deep enough to draw blood and so disease transmission risk is low between indoor cats who get along well.


Also, a January 2017 article from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: https://www2.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-immunodeficiency-virus

Unfortunately, there is currently no definitive cure for FIV. It is important to realize, however, that while it is impossible to predict the survival of a given cat infected with FIV, cats infected with FIV can live ostensibly normal lives for years if managed appropriately.


FIV infected cats should see a veterinarian for a wellness checkup every six months and should be fed a nutritious diet. They should be spayed/neutered and kept indoors (all our Ninth Life cats are neutered and our expectation is that all cats be kept indoors).

And, from Maddie’s Fund – How Long Do FIV-Infected Cats Live?


In a retrospective Canadian study, 39 FIV-positive cats were compared with 22 FIV-negative cats over approximately 8 years. The survival time of FIV-positive cats after diagnosis was not different from FIV-negative cats.