Adirondack Veterinary Service

COMMON VIRAL DISEASES OF CATS

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FELINE LEUKEMIA VIRUS (FeLV)

FeLV is a major infectious disease of cats that attacks and weakens their immune system leaving it unable to fight other infections. There are two forms of the disease. One form suppresses the catís immune system while the other form causes the cat to develop tumors or leukemia. Once a cat contracts the virus it may develop the disease right away or it may become a carrier capable of infecting other cats.

The virus is easily transmitted from cat to cat via the litter box, food or water dishes, through feces and from queen to kitten during the nursing process. In the cat population almost 1/3 of the cats are infected at any given time. In order to know if your cat is infected we can perform a blood test to determine if your cat has the FeLV infection. This test is done here in our clinic and run in combination with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus test.

Vaccination is an effective aid in the prevention of this disease and FeLV related tumors. It is important to blood test your cat first to determine its status. Provided he/she is negative we can proceed to vaccinate him/her. The initial vaccination series consists of two doses 3-4 weeks apart followed by an annual booster.

FELINE IMMUMODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)

FIV, also known as Feline AIDS, is a virus that attacks a catís immune system and impairs its ability to fight infections similar to HIV (or AIDS) in people. Fortunately, the similarities between the FIV and HIV viruses end here, as it is not shared between cats and humans. Approximately 5% of the cats in the United States are infected with FIV and this incidence can be as high as 24% in free-roaming or feral cats. Bite wounds primarily spread FIV from cat to cat. We can blood test your cat to determine its FIV status. This test is usually performed in combination with FeLV testing here in our clinic and the results are available the same day as the blood is drawn from your cat.

Preventing your cat from contracting FIV is multi-faceted. Having your male cat neutered reduces roaming and aggressive behaviors thus decreasing the incidence of bites between cats. Keeping your cat indoors will eliminate its contact with other cats. By testing and isolating FIV infected cats the spread to other cats is minimized. Cats living in multiple cat households or catteries may be at higher risk to contracting FIV. There is a vaccine available for cats at this time, however you must test your cat first to ascertain its FIV status as previous vaccination can interfere with testing by resulting in a positive test.

As with any vaccination there is a risk of vaccine site reactions and potentially more serious side effects. We can help you evaluate the benefits of vaccination and evaluate the risk to your cat(s). Feel free to ask us at any time or call us at (315) 337-4160 to discuss your catís individual risk to these dangerous diseases.

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