Changing Recommendations on Feline Leukemia and FIV Testing

By January 27, 2015Cat Health, Hospital News

It’s a new year, and we’ve adopted some new recommendations regarding Feline Leaukemia and FIV testing. 

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are two common, and potentially devastating, viruses that affect the immune system in cats.  Most cats will become sick, and potentially die, within 5 years of contracting the virus.  The Feline Leukemia virus is spread either in the uterus of an infected pregnant cat, from mother to unborn kittens,  or through casual daily contact with infected cats.  The virus is found in high concentrations in the saliva and nasal secretions, so grooming, biting and sharing food/water dishes can spread Feline Leukemia from cat to cat.  It can also be found in the urine, feces and milk of infected cats, so potentially can be spread through sharing litter boxes, too.  Cats with FeLV will most commonly grow cancerous tumors in a variety of areas throughout the body.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus that affects the immune system in cats.  It is mainly shed in the saliva of infected cats, and is therefore, most commonly spread through bite wounds.  FIV symptoms can take weeks, months, or years to show in an infected cat.  The virus, in an infected cat, causes the immune system to no longer adequately respond to common, minor infections. Most symptoms are associated with chronic, long-lasting infections.  FIV is not easily spread through casual contact, like grooming, playing and sharing litter boxes.

In the past we have recommended testing any new cat or kitten to your household, any sick cat or kitten, and any stray cat or kitten brought in for care. In an effort to give your cat the most comprehensive health care, we are adding to our recommendations, as follows:

  1. All outdoor cats should be tested annually, not only to make sure your cat remains healthy, but also to help decrease the potential for the spread of either virus to other cats, that your cat may come in contact with, should they test positive.  Outdoor cats are not only the barn cats, or the ones that spend a lot of time outside, but also include the cats that only go outside once in a while. If your cat goes outside, without 100% supervision, for any period of time, it is considered an indoor/outdoor cat.
  2. Any cat that is treated for a bite wound should potentially be tested at the time of the wound treatment, but also 2-3 months later. Both of these viruses can be spread through the saliva of an infected cat, so cats with bite wounds need to have their blood tested.

If you have any questions regarding these recommendations, please call and speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members! 810-635-4015