Feline Leukemia And FIV

February 23, 2021


Feline Leukemia And FIV….should I be worried?

These words sound scary, and while they are pretty serious, they aren’t detrimental. We talked to our vets this week to get the scoop on these viruses.

FIV is a disease that is spread through our feline companions by a deep bite from an infected cat. FIV makes affected cats more susceptible to diseases by weakening their immune systems. Cats with FIV are more prone to getting sick from normally harmless bacteria found around them.

Feline leukemia is a more aggressive virus than FIV and spreads from cat to cat more easily.  However, it is preventable through a feline leukemia vaccine.  FeLV infections can vary greatly because the virus can affect many systems in the body, and symptoms can vary depending on which system is affected. Feline leukemia weakens the immune system of an affected cat, leaving them susceptible to secondary infections.  There is no treatment for feline leukemia, but with a low stress, indoor lifestyle, good nutrition, and regular vet care, these kitties can have a good quality of life. 

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLv) are diagnosed through a quick blood test that your Vet will suggest you do every year, especially if your kitty likes to sneak outside to play with its friends. 

When you bring a new cat into your home, it is important that you test them before you introduce them to other cats in the house.   Kittens younger than 6 months who test positive may not actually be infected and a retest several weeks later is often recommended in confirming a diagnosis. While there is no cure for FIV or feline leukemia there is a vaccine for feline leukemia that is highly recommended to protect them.  

FIV positive cats can live a long, normal life as long as they are well cared for and regularly see a vet for preventive care.  FIV and FeLv is spread through fighting, biting, and mating, or it can be passed from mother to offspring.  We can add slowing the spread of these feline viruses to our long list of reasons why Spaying and Neutering our pets is vitally important! 

Supportive care for your FIV positive kitty is centered around controlling or treating secondary infections, keeping the cat indoors to prevent the spread of the disease, and extending the length of time that the cat is asymptomatic through a low stress environment, good nutrition, and regular vet visits. 

An important distinction between these two common cat viruses is that FeLv is preventable through vaccinations while there is not a good, reliable FIV vaccination available currently.  These special needs kitties deserve a caring, indoor lifestyle and regular visits to the vet because good quality preventative care will extend their life and increase their quality of life.  And remember spaying and neutering your cat will help us stop the spread of these viruses!

If you are looking to get you cat vaccinated, make an appointment to have them seen at our community clinic!