APPLEGATE — Cats with the feline version of the AIDS virus now have a Jackson County home they can safely live out their lives without potentially spreading the disease to other felines.

The Sanctuary One animal care farm has recently announced completion of the William Driscoll and Alicia Theophil FIV Cat Cottage, a facility intended to care for cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus while they are kept separate from other cats. Sanctuary One officials said stray cats that test positive for FIV are often euthanized by shelters, and that they are hoping to change that.

"It's just kind of a death sentence for these poor cats who, if given the proper care, can live a long life," says Brooke Nuckles Gentekos, Sanctuary One executive director.

The shelter is named for the son and goddaughter of Sanctuary One donor Kristina Driscoll, who provided funding for the Cat Cottage after rescuing a feral cat that is FIV-positive. The cat, named Astro, continues to live out a normal, healthy life despite his diagnosis, Sanctuary One officials say.

"They did research and learned that even though this cat was FIV-positive, it wouldn't have to be put to sleep," Gentekos says.

On their website, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says FIV is "slow-acting," but that it severely weakens the animal's immune system. The group adds that FIV-positive cats given the proper support and medical care while living in a low-stress indoor environment can live out comfortable lives before the disease reaches its chronic stage. The disease can only be spread from cat to cat and is typically passed on through deep bite wounds, the ASPCA site says.

"Although FIV is not curable, it is manageable," a statement by the U.S. Humane Society's senior Oregon director and western regional director says. "These cats should not be branded by this disease, but rather given the same opportunity for a loving and caring home like any other cat in a shelter environment."

The Cat Cottage can house up to five FIV-positive cats, who are kept separate from the remaining cat population at the farm. The structure has air conditioning and heat. Bushes and flowering trees intended to attract birds are planted outside, giving cats something to watch. There are also play structures and seating for visiting school groups.

Sanctuary One tours — which will include the Cat Cottage — are open to the public starting April 25, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays. The cost to attend is $10 per person, and advance registration is required. Visit http://sanctuaryone.org/visit-volunteer/sanctuary-tours for more information, or call 541-899-8627.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.