Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a common, highly contagious and potentially fatal retroviral infection that weakens a cat’s immune system, making them susceptible to secondary infections.

FIV is a virus similar to HIV. While both diseases attack the immune system and reduce the ability to fight infection, FIV presents no risk to people. FIV is transmitted from cat to cat primarily through fighting (biting and scratching). Also, cats seen with oral disease and abscess wounds have a greater risk of having infection.

Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a common cause of illness and death in cats. Like FIV, FeLV is also highly contagious and weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of secondary infections.

FeLV is commonly spread from cat to cat through casual contact such as grooming or sharing food or water. Similar to FIV, cats presenting with oral disease or abscess wounds have a higher risk of having infection.

There is a simple in-clinic blood test that can be done that will detect FIV and FeLV infection.

At this time, we recommend vaccinating for FeLV but not FIV.