Friday, April 24, 2009

It's FIV Awareness Weekend At The SF/SPCA

By Daniel Quagliozzi

This weekend, The San Francisco SPCA is spotlighting three beautiful and unique cats. The one thing that they have in common,besides there awesomeness, is that they all have FIV. Now, the question many of you may be asking is....

What is FIV?

FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just as HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. In fact, these two viruses are closely related and much of the general information that has become common knowledge for HIV also holds true for FIV.

FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long asymptomatic period before AIDS occurs. Some cats are compromised and may live shorter lives while other can have long lives full of enrichment. It's our job as humans to keep these cat's indoors and smothered with love and proper medical attention in order to give them the quality of life that they will need to carry on. Serious colds can easily turn to pneumonia, so its important to be aware of your FIV cats health at all times.

How do cats get FIV?

The major route of virus transmission is by deep bite wounds that occur during fighting. There are other means of spreading the virus but they are less common. Mother cats cannot readily infect their kittens except in the initial stages of infection. FIV can be transmitted sexually and via improperly screened blood transfusions. Casual contact such as sharing food bowls or snuggling is very unlikely to be associated with transmission.

How do I protect my cat?

The best thing that you can do to protect your cat from FIV is keep it indoors. With the most common route of transmission being cat fights, especially bite wounds, an indoor lifestyle is a sure fire way to avoid getting the disease. Of course, keeping cats vaccinated is a good precaution to decrease health risks but unfortunately it will not deter the disease. There is no vaccine for FIV.

A Shelter Reality

In many shelters across the country, cats with FIV are very hard to place in homes. They have to live solo lives or be co-housed with other cats that share the infection. This limits their chances of finding loving homes and increases their risk of being euthanized. At the SF/SPCA we try very hard to keep our clients informed about these cats and try to pair them off whenever possible. A great example of two cats that have FIV and were strangers before they became homeless.... are Puff Daddy & Norman!




Puff Daddy & Norman met and made friends at the SF/SPCA. They got along really quickly and have been roommate's ever since. Both of them love attention and will break into spontaneous play sessions whenever the mood strikes their fancy. They will do well together, solo or with the company of another cat -friendly resident cat. Look at those cheeks on Puffy!! Like many male cats that have lived outdoors, Norm & Puff show the tell-tale signs. Both cats have the battle scars and tipped ears to prove it. Those days are over now, paving the way for a calmer, gentler future.


Scarlett is a little more reserved than her two buddies. She prefers to live by herself, can be a little hesitant at first but warms up super fast. She's a dignified lady with subtle charms that cast upon you like a love spell. Before you know it, you're full filling her every wish. She's a classy girl with cat appeal that will draw you in like a tractor beam. Scarlett will do best in a quieter environment with patient and heart felt guardians willing to provide her with all her desires.

FIV is a disease that may limit their lifespan, but it doesn't change their amazing personalities and uncanny ability to change our own lives. Just because they are immune compromised does not put limits on the love they have to share. You can learn a lot from a cat when you know their time may be limited. It's a win-win situation! You get to provide a beautiful animal with a home and your new friend gets to unconditionally change your life forever.

Open up your heart and your home to an FIV cat this week. If you would like more information about FIV cats or would like to give one of these three fabulous cats a chance, please call The SF/SPCA Adoption center at 415 522-3500 or email us at

If you do not live in the Bay area, please remember, FIV cats are being surrendered to shelters all over the globe!

Enjoy this short clip of Puff Daddy in action!!!

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