As a caring and compassionate cat owner, you are of course dedicated to making sure that your furry feline is as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, there are a number of different diseases and illnesses that can potentially put the health of your cat at risk. Two of these are viruses that can prove to be deadly and as such, it is recommended that all cats be tested and re-tested as necessary to check for their presence. These are known as feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
We are pleased to be able to offer comprehensive FeLV and FIV testing here at our animal emergency clinic in Poway, San Diego.
What is Feline Leukemia virus?
Also known as FeLV, feline leukemia virus is the second leading cause of premature death in cats, with the virus proving fatal in 85% of persistently infected felines within three years of diagnosis. This incurable disease only affects cats, and fortunately cannot be passed on to other species of animals or people. However, amongst cats, the virus is rife and easily transmitted through bodily fluids including saliva, blood and in some cases, urine and feces.
Cats that are infected with FeLV usually go on to develop lymphoma, anemia and/or immunosuppression. In many instances, cats that die from FeLV pass away from complications as a result of their immunodeficiency. This is because they are more likely to contract chronic or recurrent diseases that continually damage their health until they are unable to recover.
What is feline immunodeficiency virus?
Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a serious viral infection that only affects cats. Like the human version of the condition, it causes the suppression of your cat’s immune system which puts her at greater risk of developing other chronic, recurrent diseases. It is usually spread when an infected cat bites and wounds another feline. Like FeLV, FIV cannot be cured. However, with proper management, a cat with FIV can live happily for many years. To achieve this, cats with FIV must remain indoors, follow a good diet, have low stress and be closely monitored by your veterinarian.
Testing for FeLV and FIV
These diseases can be detected from any age and fortunately, there are now great tests available that can enable us to make an extremely accurate diagnosis. Testing usually involves several blood tests that are quick and accurate. Since many of the clinical signs of FeLV and FIV are very similar, our tests are able to simultaneously check for both viruses.
The blood tests used to detect FeLV and FIV check for three components. These are:
- The virus itself within the blood sample through the laboratory culture of the virus
- Viral proteins, called antigens, which are present in the blood cells
- The genetic material of the virus, known as a PCR or polymerase chain reaction
Unfortunately, both false positive and negative results can occur and as such, re-testing may be recommended 12-16 weeks after the initial test, particularly if there are clinical signs of either disease. If your cat tests positive for FeLV, he should immediately be isolated from any other felines so he cannot spread the virus. As stated, FIV cats can live out the remainder of their lives fairly comfortably if they are kept exclusively indoors and are isolated from non-infected felines.
If you would like more information about either FeLV or FIV testing, or if you would like to make an appointment to have your kitty tested, please contact our clinic in Poway, San Diego today.