Cats infected with FIV virus are sometimes overlooked for adoption because people think they are ill or sickly, but many can live normal lifespans. 

What is FIV? Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is similar to the HIV virus in humans.  

Can people catch it? Can my dog get it? The answers are no and no. FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans or other animals.

FIV is a slow virus that affects a cat’s immune system over a period of years. FIV cats most often live long, happy and healthy lives with few or no symptoms.

How does a cat catch the virus?

This disease is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be spread causally, like in litter boxes, water or food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. The virus is present in the blood and saliva of infected cats. Like HIV, it is a fragile virus, and cannot survive long outside the body.

It also requires a high dose to establish an infection in another cat. Therefore, it is not easily passed from cat to cat. The most common ways in which the virus is spread is through blood transfusions, badly infected gums, or serious, penetrating bite wounds.

FIV-positive cats should be kept indoors and free from stress. Feeding a high-quality diet, keeping current on routine vaccinations and treating any secondary medical problems as soon as they arise also are ways to keep a FIV-positive cat healthy.

It isn't difficult to care for an FIV-positive cat, as they do not require any special medication or additional care beyond the normal, proper care for any pet.

A FIV-positive cat usually will still have a strong immune system for several years after infection. In most cases, it takes several years before signs of the virus start to show. Most infections can be treated with medications. These days, it is not unusual to see FIV-positive cats reaching 15 years of age or more.

FIV-positive and normal cats can live together provided that the cats are well-socialized and do not have aggression issues. When introducing the cats, one should carefully monitor behaviors and interactions. Research suggests the likelihood of cats passing FIV to others in the same household is as low as 1 percent to 2 percent.

Events

DEC. 1-23: Help the animals at the Louisiana SPCA find their forever homes in time for the holidays. Adoptables 6 months and older will be available for $50. The Holiday Delivery program can provide a gift loved ones won’t forget. For a $75 donation, the SPCA will deliver a newly adopted pet on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. This program is available for all animals adopted two weeks before the desired delivery date. For more information on Home for the Holidays and our Special Delivery program, visit www.la-spca.org/homefortheholidays.

SATURDAY: The Louisiana SPCA and Tandem Tea Co. have partnered to present a unique tea-tasting experience. Kit-Tea will be held from 11 a.m. to noon at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Attendees will taste high-quality loose-leaf teas from around the world while cuddling adoptable cats and kittens. There also will be cheese and sweets to complement the brews. Attendance is free, but donations will be accepted.

SATURDAY: From noon to 4 p.m., Animal Rescue New Orleans holds an adoption event at the Microsoft Store at Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie. Adoptable dogs will be on site for this mini-fundraiser. There will be a raffle and silent auction. For more info: adopt@animalrescueneworleans.org.

SUNDAY: Bring your puppy to the Holiday Puppy Social at 10 a.m. at the Louisiana SPCA to introduce him off-leash to new people and puppies of all breeds and personalities. A professional dog trainer and experienced assistants will be on hand to monitor and modify play skills. Toys, treats and some low-impact agility equipment may be introduced to add to the educational fun. Puppy Socials are a great opportunity to ask questions regarding training and behavior. All puppies under 18 weeks old with proof of 2 rounds of DHPP vaccinations can participate (please bring proof with you to the social). Puppy Socials are $10 or free if you sign up for Puppy Manners. Register at www.la-spca.org/puppysocials.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of the pet, date lost/found and your contact info to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, send to molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois@jeffparish.net. in St. Bernard Parish send to cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@gmail.com or visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.