FIV Exposure and Testing

What is the risk when an FIV positive cat is introduced into a cattery?

Dr. Holck (Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Intern, Shelter Medicine Program, University of Wisconsin) explains why we consider this scenario to be low risk, when to test, and what diagnostic testing to use to move cats through. This is a summary of the article.

  • It’s important to remember that FIV is most commonly transmitted by bite wounds or sexual intercourse so if the cats in the room were all spayed/neutered and friendly towards each other, the likelihood of FIV transmission is very low.
  • For your positive cat, it is important to remember that the SNAP test for FIV/FeLV is not a perfect diagnostic test, that false positives are possible although rare, and that the intensity of the color of the test is not a reliable indicator.
  • While we no longer recommend FIV/FeLV testing all healthy cats in a shelter, we do recommend FIV/FeLV testing cats before they are housed with other cats from different previous homes or cats with a clinical portrait supportive of these diseases (bite wounds, abscesses, dental disease, lethargy, etc.).
  • We want to point out that a cat can live a long healthy life with FIV. There are some great resources on the UW Shelter Medicine website that can be used to help educate shelter staff and adopters about cats living with FIV.