Welcome back to Lyndale Animal Hospital’s monthly blog! Today we will be discussing two cat diseases called Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Both of these diseases are caused by viruses, and can be spread from cat to cat. Unfortunately, up to 2-3% of all cats in the United States may be affected by these diseases.

Feline Leukemia is a highly contagious virus spread between cats by grooming, nasal secretions, bite wounds, or from mother cats to their kittens. When a cat is initially infected, they often do not show any signs of illness. Over time, Feline Leukemia may cause a decrease in blood cell counts and make a cat more prone to cancer and infections. Once a cat is infected, Feline Leukemia cannot be cured, and for many cats this disease can be fatal.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is thought to be slightly more common than Feline Leukemia. While not quite as contagious, FIV can still be spread between cats through bite wounds. FIV is often compared to HIV infections in people, as over time it compromises the immune system of infected cats. Affected cats are more prone to other infections, and are estimated to be 5-7 times more likely to develop cancer. There is no known treatment for FIV.

Controlling these two cat viruses is important to keep spread within cat communities low, and to preserve the health of our own pets. We recommend screening for Feline Leukemia and FIV in all new kittens, when a new cat is brought into the home, or any time a cat is ill. Even if your cat tests positive for these diseases, it is possible for them to lead a healthy and happy life for years.

While we do not have any prevention measures for FIV, there is a vaccine available to prevent infections with Feline Leukemia. We recommend this vaccination for cats who have exposure to other cats who may be carriers for this virus. Additionally, it may be appropriate to vaccinate all kittens for feline leukemia. We recommend discussing all vaccinations with your veterinarian to determine the best choice for your cat. Please reach out to us if you have any concerns about your cats!




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