Is Cat FIV Contagious

by Kaley Belden
(Ticonderoga, NY)

Reader Question: Is it safe for a FIV positive cat to be around other cats?

Hi Kaley,

My name is Kaley, I have worked at my local SPCA for more than 10 years. I have been a failed foster to many cats. Last November I fostered and adopted a FIV positive cat who shows no symptoms at all. My vet has said several times that he poses no risk to my six other healthy cats. Everyone is spayed or neutered and he gets along great with everyone. He is around 2 years old, playful, and full of life. Recently, the Vet we use at the shelter has told me that no matter what my vet has told me it is not safe for him to be around other cats. My question is what is the answer? I have went above and beyond, I have even had a Western blot done on him to see if he truly was positive.

I want to know how many types of FIV are out there and are they truly all contagious? How long should I expect to have him in my family? And lastly, I feed him all natural food with no grains or corn what should I feed him to keep him his healthiest? Note: He hates L-Lysine so I don't buy it from the vets anymore bc he refused to eat his canned food when mixed in!

Suggestions from Our Veterinarian on FIV and if it is Contagious


There are 5 viral clades (variants) of FIV. Some strains of FIV are highly virulent but they are quite rare. As research has continued into this disease, we have learned that many cats with FIV infections actually can enjoy a normal lifespan with few if any health problems related to their FIV infection. Unfortunately, there is no commercially available way to determine what type of FIV infection a cat has so the only way to know how your cat will respond to the virus is to monitor his condition.

FIV is not all that contagious, but it can be passed to FIV negative cats – primarily via bite wounds but there is also a small risk associated with activities that expose cats to saliva containing the virus (e.g., sharing food bowls or mutual grooming).

In your situation, it would be worth considering vaccinating your other cats against FIV, assuming they test negative first.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

Read more about FIV

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