How to manage the risk of Feline Leukemia Virus
How do I know if my cat infected?
You won't. At least not if you are looking for symptoms. Symptoms for both viruses are non-specific and may be non-existent for months or even years. That's why it is important to have specific blood tests regularly to ensure that you cat is virus free, and to prevent the spread of infection from infected cats. These are two distinct viruses that uniquely affect all CATS - large & wild or small & domesticated. Both are “slow” viruses that can take a l-o-n-g time to show up as a health issue. They attack the immune system.
When do I test for infection?
There are some standard times to test cats:
- All new kittens and cats entering homes with resident cats should be tested for FeLV in advance of first contact.
- Ideally the resident cat should already be known to be FeLV negative and immunized against it.
- New cats older than 6 months should be tested for FIV as well.
- All sick cats should be tested and any cat suffering fight wounds whether they abscess or not should be tested 6-8weeks after the fact.
What is required for the test?
We need to obtain a few drops of blood from your cat - that's all!
Preventing FeLV and FIV
How are the viruses spread?
FeLV can be spread through saliva, urine or feces, so bite wounds, mutual grooming or the sharing of food/water dishes or litter boxes are the most common means of transmission. FIV transfer among cats is a little more difficult and generally occurs with fight wounds.
Can I protect my cat?
Thankfully, FeLV is preventable with immunization. Although a vaccine is available for FIV, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits so we do not recommend it at this time. If you have questions about this, please share your concerns with your Vet.
When is the best time for vaccination?
We strongly recommend that all kittens be vaccinated for FeLV, regardless of whether you anticipate that they will go outdoors. Kittens are very susceptible to infection at this stage and it is not uncommon for them to end up outside unexpectedly! After their first vaccinations, cats need to be vaccinated annually until the age of 3, then every 3 years until the age of 10-12 years if they are indeed going outdoors. Vaccination does not interfere with blood testing and cats that roam or fight or are just highly social should be tested REGULARLY!
Contact us for more information about vaccinations for FeLV
If you are in the metropolitian Vancouver area of Burnaby, New Westminster or Coquitlam, call us to book an appointment with a Care Pet Wellness veterinarian.