Why All Cats Should Be Tested for FIV and FELV

2021-12-31Updated: 2016-12-31 Nolan River Animal Hospital

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) are both primary causes of illness and death in inside and outside cats. Up to 15% of sick cats are infected with one or both of the viruses. Both are contagious between cats, but not contagious to other species.

FIV is spread mainly by fight wounds such as bites but can be passed from an infected mother to her kittens. FeLV is spread mainly through saliva and urine, including grooming and sharing of food, water and litter boxes. FeLV can also be spread from an infected mother to her kittens.

Both viruses can cause life-threatening, non-curable diseases. Your pet may become extremely ill before you realize it has a virus. However, many cats do not show symptoms of the virus for a very long time. A blood test is the only way to determine if your cat is carrying one or both of these viruses. Testing for these diseases is very simple. It only requires a small amount of blood and about 15 minutes. Knowing your pet in negative for these viruses allows you to be sure that your pet is healthy and not infecting other cats.

Fortunately, we can vaccinate for FeLV annually after a negative test result. However, we are not vaccinating for FIV at this time due to the lack of an adequate vaccine.