Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are viruses that infect cats only. These viruses act somewhat like the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in people; cats infected with FeLV or FIV develop severely compromised immune systems. Infected cats can appear perfectly normal but will usually die within a few years of overwhelming infections or certain types of cancer. The viruses are transmitted by close cat to cat contact such as mutual grooming and bite wounds. Kittens born to an infected mother can be infected before birth or through the mother*s milk. Fortunately, a simple blood test can tell us if a cat or kitten is carrying one of these viruses.
FeLV /FIV Testing
Who: All new cats or kittens entering a household. This is particularly important if you have other cats at home that could potentially be at risk of being exposed. New *house mates* should be kept separate from each other until the FeLV/FIV status of each cat is known.
– Any kitten or cat with unexplained or chronic disease
– Any cat with significant dental disease or gingivitis
What: A screening test (ELISA) for FeLV/FIV can be performed on a small blood sample from your cat. Results are generally available within 48hrs.
When: Ideally, testing should be done as soon as possible after acquiring the new kitten or cat. Samples may be obtained during a routine office appointment such as a “Health Check” or vaccinations or we may ask you to leave your pet with us for a short while.
Why: FeLV/FIV are devastating diseases for cats. While there is no cure, early diagnosis can help us keep affected cats as healthy as possible for as long as possible. More important however, is that early diagnosis can help prevent the spread of the virus to other cats.
Since it is impossible to tell if a cat or kitten is infected with one of these viruses just by looking at them (or by looking at the mother cat), we recommend that EVERY new cat or kitten entering a household be tested for FeLV and FIV.