Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.  Sounds a little scary, right? Many people may not know what this disease is and those who do may have misconceptions about it. We'd like to share a little bit of knowledge about this disease and help dispel some misconceptions about it.Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a lentivirus, meaning "a slow virus." It is in the same retrovirus family as the Feline leukemia virus (FeLV), but doesn't have the same characteristics.

First, FIV is not a death sentence. Positive cats can often live long, healthy lives with proper veterinary care and nutrition. Big Tom, a resident at our New Freedom shelter, has been with us since 1999! Now 13-years-old, he is as healthy as ever.

Second, FIV is a species-specific disease, meaning it can only be spread to other cats. A positive cat cannot transmit the disease to humans, dogs, or any other species! So, one needn't worry about "catching FIV" or another pet in your household getting the disease!

Third, FIV is not easily transmitted from positive cat to negative cat! FIV is known as the fighter's disease. Cats primarily are infected with this disease when there is contact with blood from a FIV positive cat.  That's why the large majority of FIV+ cats are unneutered tomcats trying to defend their territory. FIV is also passed from cat to cat when mating or, more rarely, from a mother to her kittens. However, kittens can sometimes shed the disease by the time they are six-months old, so if you have kittens that test positive before they are six months old, always retest when they reach six months.

Forth is the matter of integrated populations of negative and positive cats. Many people successfully provide homes for both positive and negative cats. With proper introduction, positive cats can successfully be introduced into a home with negative cats.  However, before thinking about introducing a positive cat to your household, do your own research on integration.

Animal Rescue, Inc. is home to approximately 45 FIV+ cats, many of which are adoptable. Butterscotch is a 2-year-old boy with black fur and a red undercoat. He likes to jump on his caretakers' backs and snuggle into their necks. Turtledove is a gorgeous pastel calico who would love to be the queen bee of your house! Warren is a handsome, 15-pounder who would love nothing more than sitting on the couch with you for nightly TV time!

All of us here would love to see these and other cats with FIV go to their forever homes. And the more cats who go out, the more FIV+ cats we can take in from shelters that may otherwise euthanize them. So, if you are thinking about adopting a cat, please consider adopting one of our FIV+ cats. You'll be changing the lives of two animals - the wonderful kitty you're taking home and the cat we will be able to admit in her place! To learn more about the kitties we have at the rescue, please contact Ashley at (717) 993-3232x223 or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .