Why You Shouldn’t Let FIV Stop You from Adopting Xander (Or Any Other FIV+ Cat)

Meet Xander, a true testament that a little TLC goes a long way. We’re also making him the new face of debunking myths about FIV+ cats.

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Xander is 14 years old and was rescued from Indianapolis Animal Care Services on April 27, 2017. He was a regular at the shelter – coming in and out because his owner couldn’t decide if they wanted him or not. We rescued him at just a mere 6lbs. Xander was having frequent diarrhea with weight loss, his fur was a mess, his teeth were rotted, his bloodwork sucked, he was anemic, and the shelter reached out to Newman Nation believing Xander to be a hospice case. He was also FIV+ (but more on that to come).

Xander received B12 injections, probiotics, a good diet, and all the love and support in the world. In just one month, he was up to 9.5lbs and his coat was gleaming. Between 9 teeth already missing, and 2 dentals done under our care, Xander is left with just 3 teeth remaining.

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Today, Xander is up to 12lbs and absolutely thriving. He’s a chill dude with a smidge of a wild side when given a ball or a feather wand toy to play with. He’s always happy to see you, greeting you hello with a quick meow and a head toss as if to say, “‘sup?” The greeting continues when he jumps on your lap and rubs his face all over yours. He’ll also sing you his song, a squeak/roaring purr that’s unique to him. To sum it all up: keep his belly full of wet food, give him love when requested, let him curl up and relax next to you, don’t forget the occasional toy, and this boy is good to go.

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Now, the only thing left is to find him the Forever Home he deserves. So, with Xander having captured your heart, let’s learn a bit more about FIV in cats and why you shouldn’t let these 3 letters scare you away from being his forever:

What is FIV?

Feline immunodeficiency virus, most commonly known as FIV, causes a weakness of a cat’s immune system, leaving them vulnerable to disease. FIV+ cats are more susceptible to infections, such as upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and dental disease. Pathogens existing in the everyday environment can cause a severe and potentially life-threatening infection in FIV+ cats due to their immune deficiency.

How is FIV diagnosed in cats?

A quick and simple blood test at your vet’s office will confirm FIV.

Is there a cure for FIV?

No. However, cats can carry the virus for a long time before any symptoms ever appear and can lead a very normal life. (Remember, Xander is 14 years old!)

How is FIV transmitted?

FIV is most commonly passed from an FIV-positive cat to an FIV-negative cat through deep bite wounds, usually occurring during aggressive outdoor fights between intact males. It can also be transmitted from mother to kittens in utero.

Can an FIV+ cat live with FIV- cats?

FIV+ cats can absolutely be integrated into a home with FIV- cats, assuming they get along and do not fight.

FIV+ cats can absolutely live long, healthy lives and can coexist with FIV- cats,” says Dr. Kelsey Stocks, DVM. “As long as all cats in the household are spayed and neutered, the likelihood of aggression is severely diminished.”

A proper and slow introduction between cats is key when bringing a new one into the home. Keep the new cat separated in a spare room for a few days, letting them and your existing cat(s) become acclimated to each other’s smells and presence. Use a baby gate on the door so they can view each other before meeting out in the open. Make sure you feel confident that they will not fight or leave them separated when left alone or unsupervised.

How can I properly care for an FIV+ cat?

  • Always keep your cat indoors.
  • Keep your cat away from other cats in the household if they are sick.
  • Bring your cat to the vet at least twice a year for a routine wellness check up, and alert your veterinarian if there are any changes in your cat’s eating habits, behavior, weight, etc, however minor.
  • Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered.
  • Feed a high-quality diet to ensure good nutrition.

Why have the myths about FIV+ cats persisted?

I believe that the myth [about FIV+ cats needing to be the only cat in the home] has persisted out of fear. People want the best for their pets and they hear something compared to HIV and they don’t want it in their house, especially if they have known negative cats living there,” states Dr. Stocks.

I can assure you, it is completely safe as long as proper precautions are taken.”

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Now, what are you waiting for? Adopt Xander and never spend another day without someone in your life purring loudly just because they love you. Xander is currently being fostered in Highland, IN. Email seniorpetsunited@gmail.com for more information or to complete an Adoption Application.

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