PetSmart: Stop banning healthy, loving FIV positive cats from adoption events

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       PetSmart is a wonderful organization that in addition to providing high quality pet supplies to consumers also has many programs to help homeless cats and dogs.  PetSmart stores partner with local 501-c-3 certified animal rescue organizations to hold adoption events open to the public where adoptable cats and dogs are on display for potential adopters to meet them and adopt them.   Many PetSmart stores also include an in-store Cat Adoption Center where rescue cats are available for adoption.  PetSmart also conducts a quarterly food drive to encourage donation of cat and dog food to local rescue groups. 

       However, there is one area where PetSmart is not meeting the needs of homeless pets.  While PetSmart allows cats with a variety of special needs to be housed in their in-store Adoption Centers, cats who have tested FIV positive are banned from even setting foot in the store.  PetSmart allows senior cats, deaf cats, blind cats, three-legged cats and even those requiring daily oral medication to participate in the adoption events so why the ban on FIV positive cats?

      Twenty years ago any rescue cat that tested positive for Feline Imunodeficiency Virus was routinely euthanized by most animal rescue organizations under the mistaken belief that the cat would quickly become ill, have a poor quality of life, and die.  However, newer research has shown that FIV positive cats can actually have a high quality of life.   If kept indoors and taken to the vet for an annual checkup, an FIV positive cat can live as long as 22 years.  Most rescue organizations no longer euthanize FIV positive cats but instead foster and adopt them out, though not through PetSmart.

       In addition, there has been a wealth of research on Feline Immunodeficency Virus and how contagious it actually is. Multiple longitudinal studies spanning 10 years or longer have scientifically proven that FIV positive cats can live with FIV negative cats without spreading the virus.  The cats in these studies engaged in mutual grooming, shared food bowls, water bowls and litter pans.  Some even engaged in acts of mild aggression such as hissing and spats.  At the end of each study all of the previously FIV negative cats were retested and none tested positive after living with the positive cats. Research has shown that FIV is only transmitted through deep bite wounds which are extremely rare in indoor cats who have been spayed and neutered.   In my 15 years of fostering cats I have never once had any cat inflict deep bite wounds on another cat.  


       Nora, our cover photo kitty, is a beautiful one year old shorthair who is white with black patches.  She is one of those rare cats who would be a fabulous therapy cat because she loves to be held and cuddled for long periods of time.   Pet Partners, a national pet therapy organization, has no problem certifying an FIV positive cat as a therapy cat who can visit people in nursing homes or work with children with special needs.  

       PetSmart's Center of Excellence Adoption Manager states "We are familiar with all the latest science and research surrounding this disease and are looking at options to allow them to be available for adoption in stores."  Sadly that does not appear to be the case though.  Rather than trying to include these cats in adoption events, PetSmart has instead taken a tougher stance on excluding them by retraining all of their local store managers to make sure that they do not allow any FIV positive cats to attend adoption events.  

      Please help us take a stand to give these sweet, loving and healthy cats the best chance at finding a loving forever home! PetSmart already requires rescue groups who partner with them to either carry their own liability insurance or assume liability for any health or behavior issues resulting from foster animals.  So changing this policy would pose zero liability risk to the company.