FIV and FeLV: Positive Doesn't Have to be Negative

Room: St Laurent 6
Simultaneous English-to-French interpretation available for this session.

Dr. Linda Jacobson, Senior Manager for Shelter Medicine Advancement, Toronto Humane Society / Ontario Shelter Medicine Association

When cats in shelters test positive for FIV orFeLV, the outcome is euthansia in many cases, even if those cats are clinically healthy at diagnosis,. This approach has been changing. How we decide which cats to test, interpret test results, think about test-positive cats, and communicate with staff and the public, literally makes the difference between life and death for retrovirus-positive cats. This talk will describe and discuss evolving approaches and recent experiences at the Toronto Humane Society. We currently test all cats and kittens, adopt out FIV-positive cats, support FeLV-positive cats in foster homes and have been increasing our efforts to build a more robust adoption pathway for them. The talk will also address areas that can create controversy or confusion: Whether or not to test colony cat at TNR (no); whether it is possible to co-house FIV and FeLV positive cats with negative cats (yes and sometimes); and whether it makes medical and financial sense to test all cats entering the shelter (probably not).


  1. Life-saving approaches for FIV and FeLV positive cats in shelters
  2. Experience and data from the Toronto Humane Society
  3. Perspectives on testing and housing

Dr. Linda Jacobson received her veterinary degree in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1986 and subsequently completed a residency in small animal internal medicine and a PhD in canine tropical diseases. She completed the University of Florida Online Graduate Certificate in Shelter Medicine in 2015. She joined the Toronto Humane Society in 2010 and is currently Senior Manager for Shelter Medicine Advancement. She is co-founder and President of the Ontario Shelter Medicine Association.

Additional Speaker BIO’s coming soon