Lily F. asked in PetsCats · 1 decade ago

How common is Feline Leukemia?

My new vet is *Very* insistent that my (4) cats be tested for and then vaccinated against Feline Leukemia. I can't find any information about it on the internet that isn't directly from Veterinarians. I suspect the vet just wants my money...It's $60 for the test and then $20 for the vaccination itself. She is *very* reluctant to just vaccinate without testing, which is what made me suspect this was more financially motivated than for the benefit of my actual cats. I, personally, have never heard of any cat belonging to anyone I know die of Feline Leukemia, but I don't know if any/all of them have had this vaccination. My old vet mentioned it as an option, but didn't push it...

So, non-vet users of Yahoo! Answers...Have any of you had/heard of a cat dying of Feline Leukemia? Have you vaccinated your cats? Also, if you can, please mention if they are indoor or outdoor cats.


16 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I have all of my barn and house cvats vacc. we had a cat die from this and it was not a sight you want to see. We have over 50 cats and they are all tested I do not feel that your vet is doing it for money but insted he gives a hoot about the treatment of his clients I have an in house vet and he asks all of his clients to have this done for the health of their animals

    this is from a vet as what she recomends

    The feline leukemia (FeLV) and FIV test is a blood test used to detect exposure to or infection of one of these viruses. The feline leukemia test is often called the "Feleuk" test or abbreviated as "FeLV" test. The feline immunodeficiency virus test is also referred to as the FIV test or feline "AIDS" test. These tests can be run individually but are most commonly run together.

    FeLV and FIV should be run on all cats with any concurrent illness or if a recent FeLV/FIV status has not been established. This test is also recommended on any new cat that is coming into the household.

    There are no real contraindication to performing this test. Negative results help determine health or exclude disease.

    What Does a Feline Leukemia and Feline "AIDS" Test Reveal?

    Cats not infected or exposed to these viruses will be negative.

    The feline leukemia test is a blood test that detects antigens to the virus

    Two different tests are commonly used, the ELISA (enzyme linked immunsorbent assay) and the IFA (immunofluorescent antibody test). The ELISA test requires blood, saliva or tears and is commonly performed in most veterinary offices. The test is often combined as a feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus test kit. The IFA test is often used to confirm a positive ELISA result and is sent to a qualified diagnostic laboratory. The IFA test requires a blood or bone marrow sample.

    The feline immunodeficiency virus test is a blood test that detects antibodies to the virus. Three different tests can be used, the ELISA , IFA and the Western blot. As mentioned, the ELISA test requires a blood sample and is commonly performed in most veterinary offices. The IFA or Western blot tests are often used to confirm a positive ELISA test and are sent to a qualified diagnostic laboratory.

    Healthy cats should not be euthanized based on one positive leukemia test result. There are several contingencies in interpretation of this test that make it complicated. Healthy cats that test positive should be isolated from other cats in the household and retested in 3 months. Exposure to the virus does not necessary mean that the cat will become infected with the virus.

    How Is a Feline Leukemia and Feline "AIDS" Virus Test Done?

    Feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" virus testing involves obtaining a blood sample.

    After drawing a blood sample, the blood is immediately placed in a glass container with a substance that prevents clotting of the sample. A specific amount of blood is combined with a chemical and this combination is placed on a commercially available feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" test. The fluid spreads across filter paper impregnanted with specific antigens and antibodies. A positive result will be indicated by a color change or line developing at a set point on the paper. This test works under the same principle as at-home pregnancy tests for women.

    Most veterinary hospitals have the kits and instruments to perform a feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" virus test in their hospital although some veterinarians prefer to send the blood to an outside laboratory for analysis.

    The ELISA test generally takes 10 to 20 minutes to perform. The IFA is sent to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory and takes 1 to 2 days to obtain results.

    Is a Feline Leukemia and Feline "AIDS" Virus Test Painful?

    A feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" test is a blood test. In order to obtain a blood sample, a needle must be passed through the skin and into a blood vessel. As with humans, the pain involved regarding a needle will vary from individual to individual but is no more painful than any injection.

    Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for a Feline Leukemia and Feline "AIDS" Virus Test?

    Sedation or anesthesia is not needed for a feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" test

    One of the most dangerous infectious diseases in cats today is caused by feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Feline leukemia is a retrovirus that causes suppression of the immune system, impairing a cat's ability to fight infections. It may also cause anemia, leukemia and some forms of cancer. It is a contagious disease spread from cat to cat by blood and saliva. The most common method of spread is by bite wounds.

    Cats at risk for developing feline leukemia include outdoor cats, cats living in multiple cat households and cats that interact frequently with other cats. For these high risk cats, vaccinating for feline leukemia may be beneficial.

    Prior to vaccinating for feline leukemia, cats should be tested for the virus. FeLV is easily diagnosed by a simple blood test. Once a cat tests negative, the vaccine can be administered.

    The purpose of the vaccine is to create immunity in the attempt to prevent infection with the virus.

    Although no vaccine is 100 percent effective, the vaccine does offer immunity to most cats.

    There is both an injectable and a "needleless" transdermal version of the feline leukemia vaccine. The recommendation for both types is similar. The first dose of vaccine is recommended at 8 to 10 weeks of age, a booster is given 3 to 4 weeks later, and a final booster one year later. After that, annual vaccination is recommended.

    If your cat lives strictly indoors, you may want to discuss the need for FeLV vaccine with your veterinarian. FeLV vaccinations have been implicated in the rare but very significant inject-site sarcoma syndrome.

    Source(s): this is from a real vet
  • Erika
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Feline Leukemia Test

  • J C
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Feline Leukemia is highly contagious - but it's not something that is commonly found in a cat kept indoors. Most vets don't recommend the vaccine for indoor cats, as it's been implicated in vaccine-induced sarcomas (cancer at the injection site) and isn't 100% effective in preventing the disease. So - are your cats indoors only, or indoor/outdoor? And how old are they, and where did they come from? Did they come from a shelter or rescue that routinely tests cats for this virus, and already known to be negative? Are any of them showing signs of frequent illness (often a clue that a cat is FeLV+). There are so many factors to consider.

    If your cats are indoors only, and healthy, then the vaccine is probably not necessary. It really is kind of pointless to give the vaccine without testing for the disease - if the test is positive, all four cats likely have it and the vaccine will do no good, so she is correct there.

    Cats don't really die of FeLV - they have a crummy immune system because of it, and will die of something else. Unless the cat is known to be FeLV+ through a blood test, no one really says for certain that the cat died of FeLV.

    In some areas, up to 50% of the stray/feral population has this disease, and your outdoor cats are at risk for it vaccinated or not.

    Source(s): Involved for years in cat rescue - all of our cats are routinely tested for both FeLV and FIV before being accepted into rescue.
  • 5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    How common is Feline Leukemia?

    My new vet is *Very* insistent that my (4) cats be tested for and then vaccinated against Feline Leukemia. I can't find any information about it on the internet that isn't directly from Veterinarians. I suspect the vet just wants my money...It's $60 for the test and then $20 for the...

    Source(s): common feline leukemia:
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  • 1 decade ago

    I had two indoor cats who had feline leukemia and they died within months of each other. They did not have the vaccination. I also live in a city, so that may have had something to do with it. I now have an indoor cat and she is vaccinated, and every cat I ever own will be too.

  • TKS
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I know people who have Feline Leukemia positive cats, including those who have gone as far as giving their cats interferon to keep healthy. A kitten can get it from the mother or littermates, fighting, sharing food, sharing litterboxes, grooming an infected cat etc. It's kind of like Parvo. Anyone who has gone through always seems to test and vaccinate. If you look at it this way, what good is $20 vaccinations for 3 years if your cat already has it. In the end, do what you are comfortable with.

  • Anne K
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I have worked or volunteered in cat shelters for 13 years. FeLV testing is standard procedure to prevent exposing uninfected cats to infected cats, since FeLV can be transmitted through saliva (grooming, shared bowls). However, FeLV vaccines are controversial because they are linked to sarcoma. If a cat tests negative and is indoors only, the vaccine is almost certainly not necessary. Merial (which also manufactures the only non-adjuvant rabies vaccine) makes a non-adjuvant leukemia vaccine which is supposedly the only FeLV vaccine that cannot cause cancer. My vet recommends one FeLV vaccine "just to introduce it into the cat's system" but does not give it again unless the cat is at high risk.

    You might want to ask for recommendations in your area for another vet. You could call local shelters and ask if they will test your cats for less money. The test is more important than the vaccine. If the cats are negative and indoors, they should not need to be vaccinated against FeLV. I would not give the vaccination without the test. If one of your cats has been exposed to the virus and then receives the vaccine, the cat could succomb to the virus.

  • This probably wont be very helpful, but I've traped alot of feral cats so they can be spayed/neutered.. We've always had them checked for feline leukemia, and as far as I've been told only a few out of 75+ had had to be put to sleep because of it. You could call a few different vets and ask their optinion about the tests and how nessissary it is to your cats. Its very costly to have four cats tested for it, but then again it might be worth the money now to know their protected from such things, especially if their indoor/outdoor cats. I think we vaccinated out cats agesnt it (we have 4 indoor/outdoor), but I dont know if they've ever actually been tested for it.

  • Marlou
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    An inside only cat has no need for a leukemia vaccine. Any vet that pushes that, is out for your money only.

    Over the past few years I've taken in 100 cats. All were tested for leukemia and only 4 tested positive for it... So it's not that common but any new cat should be tested for it.

    Source(s): Owner of a cat shelter/rescue
  • 1 decade ago

    I had a cat pass away from Feline Leukemia.

    It mainly affects outdoor cats or cats that go outdoors occassionally. They get it from saliva or a cat fight. If you

    have a pet dish outside and an infected cat eats/drinks out of it......your cat can get it. If your cat is strictly indoors, don't worry about it.

  • 1 decade ago

    It's like car insurance ---- you don't want to be in an accident, but if you are, you're glad you paid to have it.

    Your indoor kitty probably won't get it, but if exposed to it (like while she's at the vets office or sneaks outside) then you will breathe easier knowing she's vaccinated. Having to put your sweet kitty down because she has FeL is not a whole lotta fun. Just be a responsible pet owner and get her shots.

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