Need input - FIV+ and FIV- cats living together. Risks/Concerns

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chaucer

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With the weather turning colder, I'm considering bringing my FIV+ now-tame, affectionate former feral into the house with my two indoor cats. I've been feeding him for a year now but it took 10 months before he trusted me enough to get him to the vet for tests, neutering and shots. The vet while admitting the risk may be low has discouraged my bringing the cat indoors, especially since I don't have a place inside where I can separate him from my two indoor cats. Both of my indoor cats - a spayed female and neutered male- are FeLv and FIV negative and in pretty good health, other than the male having an intestinal issue of unknown origin and gets a steroid shot every now and then.  LDG provided several wonderfully helpful links in my lengthy thread in Ferals but I'd like to hear some stories from Catsite members about how they have handled bringing in FIV postitive cats to an FIV negative household.  Thanks!
 

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With the weather turning colder, I'm considering bringing my FIV+ now-tame, affectionate former feral into the house with my two indoor cats. I've been feeding him for a year now but it took 10 months before he trusted me enough to get him to the vet for tests, neutering and shots. The vet while admitting the risk may be low has discouraged my bringing the cat indoors, especially since I don't have a place inside where I can separate him from my two indoor cats. Both of my indoor cats - a spayed female and neutered male- are FeLv and FIV negative and in pretty good health, other than the male having an intestinal issue of unknown origin and gets a steroid shot every now and then.  LDG provided several wonderfully helpful links in my lengthy thread in Ferals but I'd like to hear some stories from Catsite members about how they have handled bringing in FIV postitive cats to an FIV negative household.  Thanks!
Hi and thank you for rescuing him!

This question comes up often, and you will get differing answers.  FIV is sometimes referred to as the unfriendly cat disease, while FeLV is called the friendly cat disease.  The reason for this is that FIV is very difficult to catch and cats more or less have to get into a fight (unfriendly) in order to catch it.  More specifically a cat needs to be bitten, usually badly in order for it to be transmitted. Felv on the other hand is very easy to catch even by grooming.

So there is a small risk that that your cats could catch it if thy don't get along and they get into fights, but generally this won't happen.  There is also a vaccine for FIV that you could give your indoor cats, but it isn't 100% protection, but it can help.

I know people who have mixed FIV+ and FIV- without a problem, so its really up to you.  I would suggest a very careful introduction where the new cat is put in a small room like a bathroom.  i am going to give my intro instructions below.

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There are several steps to a successful introduction, the goal being BFFs, not enemies or angry at you (especially the resident cat).  A careful introduction raises the stress level in incremental steps, allowing both cats, especially the resident cat time to acclimate to the stressor before being introduced to the next level.  You are going to move the "bar" closer and closer to the resident cat until the final step, a supervised face-to-face, becomes  a fender bender and not a car crash

Step one: Complete separation, putting the new cat is a small room like a bathroom with food, litter and water.  Do not let the cats see each other - too much stress too soon.  Give the new cat time to adjust.  Give both cats time (a week+/-) to get used to this.  They will know each other is there.  Start feeding the resident cat nearer to the door, adjusting daily until he is at the door eating. Do voluntary scent exchange by rubbing the new cat's cheeks on a sock and then offering the sock as a gift to the resident. Don't force him to smell the sock, don't rub it on him. Observe his behavior and allow it.   Rub a clean sock on his cheeks and offer it to the new cat.  Continue to do this but never force either cat to interact with the other cat's sock.

When they are reasonably calm with everything in step one go to:

Step Two:  Allow the cats to see each other.  Two baby gates stacked on top of each other in the open door is a great way.  Cracking the door open and blocking it into position so they can't get through the door is another way.  With many cats the stress of this will make them revert, but it would have been much worse if you had started with this step.  Continue as if this was step one, but now with them seeing each other.  When they are both calm, no hissing or growling, you can go to:

Step Three: After eating meals and feeling satisfied (full stomach = less aggressive) and trimmed nails, you can start to do brief supervised introductions face to face.  Watch their body language and reactions and increase their time together until you are confident that they can manage on their own.

In General, treat the resident cat like he is King.  Don't do things to make him jealous. Don't discipline either cat for showing aggression, punishing them for what they feel is a normal behavior (and is normal for them) just raises the stress.  And follow your cats' lead on the speed of the introduction, there are no rules other than to listen to them.

Once the introduction is accomplished, you may not be done as they may have simply reached the point where now they have to learn to live with and like each other, and that can take quite some time, with active and positive support from you, never disciplining either cat for acting out, but keeping everything positive by encouraging play together, distraction when that doesn't work, etc.

http://www.thecatsite.com/a/introducing-cats-to-cats

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/cat-behavior/introducing-your-cat-new-cat

http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/a-simple-little-trick-to-use-during-new-cat-introductions/
 

ritz

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Thank you for rescuing this cat.
I volunteer with a cat sanctuary, currently they have around 90 cats. While there is a separate room for FeLK cats and a separate one for FIV+ cats (and a third room for 'feral' cats), if the FIV+ cat is friendly, the cat sanctuary has no problem letting the FIV+ cat mingle with the General Population and the owners' personal cats.
 
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chaucer

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Thank you both!

Orville, the feral, is friendly now, but Chaucer my indoor male can be aggressive as occurred just a little while ago with his "sister." They had a rare full-on fight resulting in a sloughed claw stuck in Chaucer's fur.
  I was very surprised at this because they eat together, play together, and sleep together at times, but she is touchy with him and wants things on her own terms. She is a former feral/semi-feral but has lived inside for the past year-and-a-half.  She's very loving to me and I think she and Orville may be related given their markings. She's a Torbie with white and he is a Tabby with white and both green-eyed.

Orville knows both my cats. They have visited through the glass door for a while now. He and Chaucer "play fight" through a crack and once had a wrestle when Chaucer rushed out the door before I could stop him. No hissing or growling though and Orville ran away.  I don't have an issue with Orville coming if it was just Henryetta because she would probably just ignore Orville, but after having seen Chaucer pester Henryetta to the point they fought, well, that takes puts a new twist in things.

I don't have a small room in which to contain Orville. My bathrooms have pocket doors that cats can open. My kitchen has them as well. I'd let them hash things out if Orville didn't have FIV. That's basically what happened with my other two, but they also "knew" each other from socializing through the patio door.
 

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Do you have or could you borrow a dog crate for Orville? Get a big enough one that you can fit a litter box, a bed, and a water bowl in?
 

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Honestly, while the fact is certain that fiv is transferred by deep bite wounds, the only fighting that is that extreme is between unfixed males. 

It is extremely unusual for a cat to have an all out fight intended to do serious harm unless it is fueled by hormones.

Gosh in all my years in rescue, as well as my large cat rescue network of friends and acquaintances, nobody ever seems to have any issues with mixing neg and pos together, we never hear about a pos cat coming in to a home and actually infecting one of the neg residents.

I think they will be just fine.

Your male giving your female a hard time is because she keeps things her way and he has a stronger personality so he feels the need to taunt her and challenge her stature now and then.

I bet the boys will be just fine.

BTW, I LOVE that you are taking him inside now, he's waited a long time :)
 
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chaucer

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Honestly, while the fact is certain that fiv is transferred by deep bite wounds, the only fighting that is that extreme is between unfixed males. 

It is extremely unusual for a cat to have an all out fight intended to do serious harm unless it is fueled by hormones.

Gosh in all my years in rescue, as well as my large cat rescue network of friends and acquaintances, nobody ever seems to have any issues with mixing neg and pos together, we never hear about a pos cat coming in to a home and actually infecting one of the neg residents.

I think they will be just fine.

Your male giving your female a hard time is because she keeps things her way and he has a stronger personality so he feels the need to taunt her and challenge her stature now and then.

I bet the boys will be just fine.

BTW, I LOVE that you are taking him inside now, he's waited a long time :)
Thank you!  I know you have posted in my lengthy feral topic!  If only Chaucer would settle down. He's so playful and when the other cat won't play, he gets aggressive until she runs off. I don't think Orville will fight him as his personality is similar to Henryetta's personality.  He didn't even fight him when Chaucer rushed out the door, jumped him and wrestled with him and that was when Orville had not been neutered. 

All of you, thank you very much for your input. I really would like to at least bring Orville in at night during the cold weather, but the idea that my other two might contract FIV is stopping me.  By the way, Orville didn't sleep in his bed outside last night. I had turned it toward the steps so the wind wouldn't blow and he'd be warmer, but I think he prefers to be facing the carport entrance so he can see any predators. With his FIV, I want to  make sure he stays healthy and don't want him catching a bad cold.
 

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Again the chances are very low but if you won't bring him in you can create a heated pen for him. I can link you to a site with instructions. Not difficult. Let me know if you want info.
 
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catwoman707

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Oh my gosh, my weak spot again! Big thick boys! Is he ever cute, makes me want to hug and kiss him! 


Yes it would be why he wasn't comfortable in the bed, he can't 'watch his back', which they grow accustomed to in the feral world, sadly. This is one of the many reasons living outdoors and unowned is so highly stressful.

My personal opinion here.

This is putting myself in your shoes okay? I know it's easy for outsiders to give their advice, they don't know just how much your cats mean to you, true.

But for me, I would never advice it is okay for someone else to do if I wouldn't do it myself.

If this were me, knowing what I know about cats, fiv, and behavior, I know I would have thoughts and feel a bit leery at first, but I would bring him inside.

This said, I have 2 senior girls, who mean everything to me.

My Krissy is who started all of my cat life, I got her the day she was born, and love her more than I could explain, she is priceless, her safety and happiness mean everything to me, and I get choked up at a mere passing thought that someday I will have to say goodbye to her, it will just devastate me beyond belief, I know this.

So by me saying that I would feel comfortable about him coming inside with my girls is BIG.

I would be cautious and patient with introductions for sure, I want to KNOW they are ready to intermingle safely with no fighting. Even later on if they wrestle, that's fine, they are fixed, so there should never be any deep blood drawing biting going on, that's fueled with hormones and territory. Not sharing a household between fixed cats.

Bottom line is your decision of course, if you just don't feel okay with it then don't do it.

I just want to go in to detail of where my advice is coming from, never advice given lightly.

Even if you gave it a trial run to see that there is no aggression might help decide one way or the other :)
 

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I think you will be successful at integrating him into your group, especially if your residents have had their vaccines.  You might find running a Feliway diffuser or using some other calming agents will help with the transition and integration.  I also second getting a very large wire dog crate and set him up in that during the introduction phase.  Drape half of it with a dark sheet or old blanket to provide a "hiding" place and sense of security for the newcomer.  We used a crate with our last 2 additions because they wanted to be out in the house so badly, but we weren't comfortable just turning them loose.
 

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chaucer

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Thank you, Stephen, for the links.  My neighbor helped me make one from a plastic tub, but Orville would not go into the opening. He likes to be able to see what's going on.  He now has an elevated bed inside a turned-on-its-side tub. The tub has insulation on the sides, top and bottom and is full of blankets and a pet bed. I've got it draped with a towel, rug and blanket so he can he go to the back under the covering or sleep with his head sticking through the curtain. I don't like that the front is open to the air, but that's what he will accept now. When it drops into the teens and below (on those few days in the Southern US), he may change his mind. I want to let him in the house when it gets that cold, though, and I'll try to figure out something at that time.
 
I agree with @catwoman707 but here are great instructions for winter shelters.

http://www.urbancatleague.org/WinterCatShelters
And, thank you, Stephanie, for the encouragement and suggestion.  I do have a dog crate for him, but it isn't large enough for a litter box and food. I got it to use as a trap and then his recovery bed the night after his neutering. He was so drugged-up, he didn't mind staying in it over night in the house. (I stayed in the same room with him and put my indoor cats in a bedroom). He was very sleepy and wasn't very hungry but I fed him wet food with a spoon through the crate bars when he roused a little during the night.

The FIV and winter concerns me a lot, but so does keeping my indoor FIV-free.
 
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chaucer

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Oh my gosh, my weak spot again! Big thick boys! Is he ever cute, makes me want to hug and kiss him! 


Yes it would be why he wasn't comfortable in the bed, he can't 'watch his back', which they grow accustomed to in the feral world, sadly. This is one of the many reasons living outdoors and unowned is so highly stressful.

My personal opinion here.

This is putting myself in your shoes okay? I know it's easy for outsiders to give their advice, they don't know just how much your cats mean to you, true.

But for me, I would never advice it is okay for someone else to do if I wouldn't do it myself.

If this were me, knowing what I know about cats, fiv, and behavior, I know I would have thoughts and feel a bit leery at first, but I would bring him inside.

This said, I have 2 senior girls, who mean everything to me.

My Krissy is who started all of my cat life, I got her the day she was born, and love her more than I could explain, she is priceless, her safety and happiness mean everything to me, and I get choked up at a mere passing thought that someday I will have to say goodbye to her, it will just devastate me beyond belief, I know this.

So by me saying that I would feel comfortable about him coming inside with my girls is BIG.

I would be cautious and patient with introductions for sure, I want to KNOW they are ready to intermingle safely with no fighting. Even later on if they wrestle, that's fine, they are fixed, so there should never be any deep blood drawing biting going on, that's fueled with hormones and territory. Not sharing a household between fixed cats.

Bottom line is your decision of course, if you just don't feel okay with it then don't do it.

I just want to go in to detail of where my advice is coming from, never advice given lightly.

Even if you gave it a trial run to see that there is no aggression might help decide one way or the other :)
A couple of months ago, he was unable to meow. I think he had a sore throat, but that cleared up. I worry about him being in the winter weather with his FIV.   I don't think he isn't a very young cat. He's missing a tooth or two and he is quite large and thick. My guess is he is about 4 or 5. My indoor male is 3.5 and my indoor female (a neighborhood stray/feral cat I rescued when she was pregnant) is 4 or 5, according to the vet. The vet didn't do much in terms of weighing or checking Orville's weight or age because I said he was feral/semi-feral. That was my mistake. Orville is quite tame with me and is now my cat. I was trying to prepare him for his reactions. I hope I can keep him happy, healthy and comfortable. I've never had an FIV kitty before so I appreciate the information all of you are providing.
 

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A couple of months ago, he was unable to meow. I think he had a sore throat, but that cleared up. I worry about him being in the winter weather with his FIV.   I don't think he isn't a very young cat. He's missing a tooth or two and he is quite large and thick. My guess is he is about 4 or 5. My indoor male is 3.5 and my indoor female (a neighborhood stray/feral cat I rescued when she was pregnant) is 4 or 5, according to the vet. The vet didn't do much in terms of weighing or checking Orville's weight or age because I said he was feral/semi-feral. That was my mistake. Orville is quite tame with me and is now my cat. I was trying to prepare him for his reactions. I hope I can keep him happy, healthy and comfortable. I've never had an FIV kitty before so I appreciate the information all of you are providing.
Could you possibly give the FIV cat his own room inside?
 
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chaucer

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Could you possibly give the FIV cat his own room inside?
I wish I could. I have a fairly large house but it's also very open with pocket doors in the kitchen and two bathrooms and my indoor male easily opens them.   I have a wonderful storage room outside where my female lived with her kittens until they were adopted and I could bring her in the house, but it was spring and summer then. I had a couple of screen doors put on, and I opened the windows a little so the air could flow through those exterior screens too. The storage room is not equipped for heat and I would not want a space heater out there running with furniture and other items stored there. It's a fire hazard. 

Orville likes to be able to see me inside and know I'm home.  In fact, if I leave for a while he will leave and not return until I call for him or he shows at his usual 4:00 PM when he settles in for the night. He's become very attached to me (and vice-versa). .If it weren't for the FIV, I would have brought him inside after the neutering. I think he would blend well with my two as far as personality. He's playful like Chaucer and very loving like Henryetta. He doesn't act "threatened" by other cats coming around outside, either. He's got outside cat friends - two spayed females and he is not intimidated by the neighborhood "bully cat."
 

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I wish I could. I have a fairly large house but it's also very open with pocket doors in the kitchen and two bathrooms and my indoor male easily opens them.   I have a wonderful storage room outside where my female lived with her kittens until they were adopted and I could bring her in the house, but it was spring and summer then. I had a couple of screen doors put on, and I opened the windows a little so the air could flow through those exterior screens too. The storage room is not equipped for heat and I would not want a space heater out there running with furniture and other items stored there. It's a fire hazard. 

Orville likes to be able to see me inside and know I'm home.  In fact, if I leave for a while he will leave and not return until I call for him or he shows at his usual 4:00 PM when he settles in for the night. He's become very attached to me (and vice-versa). .If it weren't for the FIV, I would have brought him inside after the neutering. I think he would blend well with my two as far as personality. He's playful like Chaucer and very loving like Henryetta. He doesn't act "threatened" by other cats coming around outside, either. He's got outside cat friends - two spayed females and he is not intimidated by the neighborhood "bully cat."
Could you not put a simple sliding latch style lock on one of the bathrooms? And don't forget you can get your cats vaccinated for fiv which can help and so long as they do t get into a serious fight with real biting your cats CANNOT contract FIV. A careful introduction after a week or so in the bathroom could yield real success although I empathize with your concerns.
 
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chaucer

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Could you not put a simple sliding latch style lock on one of the bathrooms? And don't forget you can get your cats vaccinated for fiv which can help and so long as they do t get into a serious fight with real biting your cats CANNOT contract FIV. A careful introduction after a week or so in the bathroom could yield real success although I empathize with your concerns.
That's a good idea, Stephen. I hadn't thought of it.  I had forgotten that these pocket doors have interior latches. It looks like I could just have the turn lock button put on the outside so that it would lock from the outside temporarily. I don't want to damage the doors. They are all original to the mid-century modern ranch house.
 

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I also empathize with your concerns, as well as appreciate your cautiousness regarding your resident's safety.

A short story that made me think of you last Saturday.

I was working our adoptions at Petco, and a nice couple were admiring our big adult cats. (we have 3 great big kitties right now that really stand out)

So they were asking me about each, and really showed interest in a great big orange and white long haired guy. I said he is a sweetheart and is fiv+. 

They hardly blinked an eye when I told them, and went on to say how that is not a problem at all, they have had several positive cats through the years and currently have 2 of them now, ages 11 and 15. Healthy, and have always lived just great with their negative cats with no issues at all.

That, many years back they got their first positive cat, and learned about it after the fact, so they worried some but loved him already, in time they lost that initial fear of their other neg cats getting it. He lived harmoniously with never an incident for a very long time, and passed at 14 from CKD.

Since then, and after living this out, know first hand the initial feelings people go through and said how they wish they could educate others with what they know, because like most people, the fear prevents them from adopting so these poor kitties take so long to find their homes.

Now have a whole different outlook on fiv cats.
 

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That's a good idea, Stephen. I hadn't thought of it.  I had forgotten that these pocket doors have interior latches. It looks like I could just have the turn lock button put on the outside so that it would lock from the outside temporarily. I don't want to damage the doors. They are all original to the mid-century modern ranch house.
Keep us posted :-)
 
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