Feline Leukemia and FIV|
Why should I have my cat tested?
Early detection will help you maintain the health of your own cat and also allow you to prevent spreading infection to other cats.
What is Feline Leukemia?
Feline leukemia is a disease that reduces the immune system's ability to protect itself against secondary infections caused by common bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. Feline leukemia infection occurs worldwide, with prevalence varying by location. Feline leukemia is transmitted through casual contact such as mutual grooming and sharing of food/water bowls and litter boxes, and can also be spread through bite wounds. While all cats can get feline leukemia, outdoor and intact male cats have a higher risk of infection due to an increased chance of contact with other cats and fluid exchange through fighting.
What is FIV?
FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just as HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. In fact, these two viruses are closely related and much of the general information that has become common knowledge for HIV also holds true for FIV. FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long period without symptoms before AIDS occurs and our job is to prolong this asymptomatic period. The primary mode of transmission is through bite wounds. Casual, non-households with stable social structures where housemates do not fight are at little risk for acquiring FIV infections. On rare occasions infection is transmitted from an infected mother cat to her kittens, usually during passage through the birth canal or when the newborn kittens ingest infected milk. Sexual contact is not a major means of spreading FIV.
Under what circumstances should FeLV/FIV testing be performed?
- If your cat has never been tested
- If your cat is sick, even if it tested free of infection in the past but subsequence exposure can't be ruled out
- When cats are newly adopted, whether or not they will be entering a household with other cats.
- If your cat has recently been exposed to an infected cat.
- If your cat is exposed to cats that may be infected (For example, if your cat goes outdoors unsupervised or lives with other cats that might be infected).
Many people want to skip the test to save money but, in fact, it is of great importance to know if a cat is harboring this infection. Knowing that a cat is positive allows you to save money by not unnecessarily vaccinating for feline leukemia. Furthermore, if an owner is aware of a cat's positive status, the pet can be kept away from other cats thus preventing the spread of the disease. An owner can prepare financially for unexpected treatments needed for this cat if the owner is aware of the positive test. We feel strongly that testing is important whenever a new cat is obtained as a pet.
Our veterinary clinic tests for FIV/Feline Leukemia/Heartworm (3-in-1 test). A few drops of blood is taken from the cat and results come up in 10 minutes.