If you’ve been browsing through animal shelters in your area in search of a cat, you may have noticed separate rooms for cats that are infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). While this is one of the biggest feline health concerns you’ll face as a new pet owner, if you’re going to only have a single cat home, there’s no reason why you can’t provide a loving environment for one of these cats. The following pieces of information can help to dispel some of the misinformation that’s out there about these animals.

1. FIV-infected cats can live long and happy lives. FIV is often referred to as feline AIDS because it behaves the same way inside your cat’s body that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, behaves inside the human body by compromising the immune system. While many cats with FIV may never display any symptoms, they are far more susceptible to secondary infections that would often be considered minor in cats unaffected by FIV. According to CatChannel.com, while cat owners will have to be extremely vigilant about signs of potential illnesses, FIV-infected cats can still live a long life as long as you make regular visits to the vet and keep track of your pet’s condition.

2. Can FIV spread to other cats? FIV can only be spread by bites from another infected cat, so using the same litter box, water bowls or mutual grooming will not spread the virus to another cat reports VetInfo.com. Ideally, it would be best for your FIV-infected cat to live on his or her own, but if you happen to get another cat down the road after your cat passes away, there will be no risk for an infection in the future.

3. Can I contract the virus? FIV is a virus that can only be spread from cat to cat, so your new pet will pose absolutely no risk to you or your family.

4. Can my cat go outside? Because the risk of coming into contact with another cat is so great, it is recommended to keep your feline indoors for the majority of his or her life to prevent the spread of the disease. Be sure to pick up plenty of cat toys and furnishings so you can make your pet’s indoor environment as mentally and physically stimulating as possible. FIV cats should be kept as free as possible from stress.

Adopting an FIV-positive cat may be a bit more of an undertaking than taking in an uninfected one, but these can still be wonderful pets for you and your family, and you will be giving your new pet a second chance at a normal life. This content is provided by the pet wellness experts at Hartz. We know that adopting a dog or cat is a huge commitment, so we’re here to help you feel confident and become the best pet parent you can be.

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