Modern Veterinary Care

Can You Adopt A FELV- Or FIV-Infected Cat If You Have Other Cats?

Many human caregivers want to give any cat that they come across an opportunity, especially if that cat has special needs. If you're interested in adopting a cat into your home that's infected with FELV (feline leukemia virus) or FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), the good news is that it's entirely possible to do, even if you have uninfected cats living in your home already. Here's how you can protect your current kitties and ensure that things go smoothly when you bring home their new sibling.

Be Prepared

It should already be clear, but cats with either of these conditions will have special needs for the rest of their lives. Depending on their current health and the progression of the diseases, they may also not live as long as a healthy cat that doesn't have these illnesses. As a result, you should be prepared to go above and beyond for this kitty before you bring it home, and part of doing that is ensuring that it has all of its vaccinations.


If the new adoptee is already infected, the vaccine that could have protected them against FELV or FIV won't have any impact now. However, that doesn't mean they get to skip their vaccines entirely.

Cats with either of these conditions tend to experience weakened immune systems. By protecting your cat from other illnesses, you can ensure that they live a healthier life.

In addition, make absolutely sure that your healthy cats are up to date on their vaccinations. If possible, request a booster shot for FELV or FIV (whichever the infected cat has) prior to bringing them into the household. Doing so will lower the risk of your healthy cats catching anything.

Go Slowly

Finally, keep in mind that other than sharing food and water, the leading way for this illness to spread is through bodily fluids. As such, you need to go slowly when you introduce your kitties to each other. Give them as much time as they need to be separated and safe from each other. This will help to reduce the risk that they get into a fight with biting and scratching that could make your infected cat sick or make your healthy cat infected.

With these steps and a fresh round of pet vaccinations, you can integrate an infected cat into a non-infected colony. Talk to your vet if you want additional help protecting your existing kitties or helping your new cat to have a healthy life.