Caturday: FIV in Kittens

WARNING: This post contains talk of kitten death.


The Kitten Lady posted a video today that prompted me to expand on it by writing this post. It’s all about FIV in kittens and why young kittens who test positive are most likely negative. Watch the video for a explanation as to why that might be.

Unfortunately, not all rescues are up to date with this information. We were fostering a litter of 4 kittens from a particular rescue. All were healthy, but the girl, Nadia, was a bit smaller than the boys.

A black and white kitten with green eyes, tail up, on a colorful bedspread.

Nadia was a happy, vibrant little thing who was also very, very sweet.

When we returned them to the rescue at about 9 weeks old for spaying and neutering and then adoption, a series of events that I still haven’t quite figured out occurred. 

First, they tested Nadia, and only Nadia, for FIV. She tested positive. They did not wait for results from her brothers or mother. They did not contact us to let us know. They immediately euthanized her. THEN they tested her brothers AND mother and they all tested negative for FIV.

So, as the Kitten Lady said in the video, it’s common for kittens from an FIV+ mom to test positive, however, just plain false negatives from a failed or contaminated test are also possible as this mother was negative.

Apparently there were several other kittens getting spayed or neutered that day that also tested positive for FIV. They probably euthanized them too, but they should have realized there was a problem at that point. FIV is not that common. Especially in kittens. 

There was clearly a problem with the tests that day and they murdered one or more kittens as a result. The fact that the vet was even willing to entertain the idea of euthanasia is disgusting, but not all vets keep up with current research I guess. Both the rescue AND the vet share blame in this instance.

Here’s the thing: even if the kitten WAS FIV+, it’s NOT a death sentence! She would have been perfectly adoptable and could have lived a long, happy, healthy life! She even could have lived with FIV negative cats. It’s not transmissible through casual contact, only deep bite wounds. So as long as everyone gets along it’s not a problem. We have an FIV+ cat that contracted it as an unneutered stray. He has some kidney disease, but he isn’t expected to die much sooner than a FIV negative cat. He’s got plenty of life left in him.

But Nadia wasn’t FIV+. It was clearly a false positive. And if they’d stopped to think about it for even a second, or waited for the tests to come back for the brothers and mother, or even just called us to ask if we’d want to take her back, she’d still be alive. 

The person who was going to adopt two of her brothers was actually the one who told us the news, days later. The rescue NEVER contacted us to let us know a cat in our care, who had been exposed to our resident cats, had a disease. They claim they didn’t have the space or resources to quarantine a FIV+ kitten and that’s why she was euthanized. Well, they separate them anyway following surgery so they don’t reopen each other’s incisions, so that argument doesn’t hold water. Besides, it’s not transmissible through casual contact. As long as there was no serious fighting, there was no reason to quarantine in the first place.

As a result of their actions we are no longer working with this rescue. They lost their last bottle-baby fosterers due to their barbaric, backwards practices. I think we did get through to them and they won’t be repeating their mistake, and it’s possible we can work with them again in the future, but for now the wound is too raw.

A little ray of sunshine from all this darkness – the person who was adopting two of Nadia’s brothers decided to adopt the third brother so he wouldn’t be left all alone. They are happy together in their new home!

Also, we are not going without kittens! There is another rescue we work with that doesn’t even test for FIV anymore because it’s so rare in the community and it really isn’t a good indicator of health anyway. They have been keeping up with the research.

By yarnologist

I'm a former wannabe scientist turned fiber arts fanatic. Follow me as I attempt to turn my amateur hobby into a professional career!

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: