Adopting a Cat with FIV or FeLV

We Care Animal Rescue provides a home to more than fifteen cats diagnosed with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Our FIV+ and FeLV+ cats are available for adoption but families often overlook them because they’re concerned about their prognosis.  Though FIV and FeLV are different viruses, both can be managed with proper care, allowing cats that test positive for either to live long and happy lives. These diseases are only contagious to cats and cannot spread to humans or other animals in your home.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is a lentivirus, similar to HIV in humans, that is slow-acting and often takes many years to become symptomatic, if ever. In some cases, FIV-positive cats can develop a weakened immune system that makes them susceptible to secondary infections, dental disease and weight loss. Keep a close eye on your FIV-positive felines for any behavioral or health changes to support them in living healthy, happy lives in your home.

It is very rare for cats to contract the virus through casual contact, such as social grooming, cuddling and sharing food bowls or litter boxes. In fact, many FIV-positive and  FIV-negative cats live together in the same home for years without spreading the virus to non-infected cats. The virus is most often transmitted through aggressive fighting and deep bite wounds, so we recommend that FIV-negative cats live with FIV-positive cats only if they get along. Another effective way to stop the spread of the virus is to keep cats indoors or provide a secure enclosure to prevent wandering and fighting. 

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV is much more contagious than FIV and is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats, affecting between 2-3% of all felines in the United States. FeLV is transmitted between cats via bite wounds, during mutual grooming, and occasionally through shared litter boxes and feeding dishes. The only sure way to protect cats from FeLV is to prevent their exposure to infected cats, so we recommend FeLV+ cats are kept indoors and only live with other infected felines.

FeLV+ cats live normal, happy lives and, though their lifespan has the potential to be shorter, this virus can be managed in the right home. Once a cat has been diagnosed with FeLV, it’s best to protect them from stress, provide a high quality diet and address changes in health or behavior quickly since they have an increased risk of getting sick. 

Interested in Learning More?

Our staff would be happy to talk with you about our FIV+ and FeLV+ cats available for adoption and share more about caring for these delightful felines. If you would like more information, please email shelter@wecareanimalrescue.org.