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Old 10-04-2007, 06:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Kitten tested felv AND fiv positive

I rescued an adorable kitten. She is 12 weeks old. I had her tested for Fiv and Leukemia. There was some kind of confusion over the results and I was at first told they were negative, so I let her around my cats. She is back in quarantine now. The next day, I was called and told that she in fact tested positive for both! I am having her retested at another vets office in a few days, but I am scared to death! Not only do I have to worry about her, but also my other cats. She is so sweet. She just sits on my lap and purrs. Has anybody had a young kitten test positive and turn out to be negative? I know false positives can happen. I have had her since she was 3 weeks. Any advise is appreciated as are good thoughts. I would just hate to lose this precious kitten.
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Old 10-04-2007, 10:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd be questioning this vet. I'm not sure what kind of test they did or why they told you it was negative one day then positive the next... but they should really offer some clarification or a retest at no charge to you.

What we use in my clinic is a "snap test" that takes 10 minutes. There's a blue control dot that shows up to let you know the test is working. Then a blue dot on one side for FIV and a dot on the other for FeLV. Its pretty obvious if its a positive or negative test.

I've heard of tests being inaccurate with really young kittens, but usually at 8 weeks old we call them reliable. I've always assumed it to mean they can test negative and actually have the viruses and not show up positive, but I'm not really sure if they'll show up positive when they really are negative.

The one thing I have heard is that cats who are vaccinated against FIV (which isn't a normal practice, and not sure how it would affect a kitten if mom was vaccinated) will test positive. But I'm also not sure how someone would know for sure if it was the vaccine or the virus causing the test to turn.

I say go for the second opinion and try not to worry about it until then!
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Old 10-05-2007, 12:24 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If the mother was positive they can test a "false" positive, though it's not really a false, it's just that the mother's antibodies are still present. If she was with her mother for a long time and was nursing, that could still be the case, but if she was orphaned, that's unlikely by 12 weeks. Good luck, I can only imagine how nervous and anxious you feel right now.
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Do you know the history of this kitten? If you have had her since she was three weks old I don't see how she is FIV/FeLV positive unless she got it from Mummy.

Try not to panic until you get her retested but please be reassured in the meantime that testing positive does not mean an automatic death sentence. You might have to make a tough decision as to whether to have her rehomed - particularly if she is FeLV positive (FIV is much more difficult to transmit) - but lets just see what the second set of results say first.
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Old 10-05-2007, 04:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I think it's wise to retest. For one because of the "confusion" at the vets and also because it can be false positive. As I've understood it the snap tests can give false positives but not false negatives so when a cat is tested positive it should always be retested.

I hope it's a false positive.
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Actually, all medical tests can give false positives and false negatives. However, generally the consequences of a false negative are more severe than that of a false positive, so the cutoffs for what counts as a "postive" or a "negative" are set so that false negatives are much rarer than false postives.

I don't know about the tests for FIV or FeLV but I know most human medical tests give false postives more often than is generally assumed. Addiditonally, what most people (inlcuding, unfortunately, many doctors) don't realize is that the odds of having a disease (given a false positive) depend very heavily on your prior risk for a disease. To take a human example, a promiscuous gay man who tests postive for HIV has a much higher probability of actually HAVING HIV then, say, a man who's been in a mutually faithful relationship for 20 years because the first man's prior risk is higher. In cat terms, that means a cat who's been heavily exposed to FEV and FeLV (a recent feral, for example) is more likely to actually be ill (given a postive test) than a cat who has been an indoor-only housepet all its life.

That was probably more than you wanted to know. The upshot is that generally any time you get a postive medical test for something -- particularly something that it seems like you (or your cat) shouldn't really be at high risk for -- you should get retested before doing anything rash.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for your replies. I am trying not to worry too much though it is hard not too. She was found in someone's garage born to a feral mother. She was three weeks old.
melysion, I am not too worried about the Fiv, though I hope that she doesn't have it. I would not euthanize a cat just because it had FIV. I rescued a cat before with a false positive and before he was retested I read and talked to people about it, but leukemia really scares me.
I will let you know how the test turns out. I appreciate all replies.
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Old 10-06-2007, 07:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakota26
Thanks for your replies. I am trying not to worry too much though it is hard not too. She was found in someone's garage born to a feral mother. She was three weeks old.
melysion, I am not too worried about the Fiv, though I hope that she doesn't have it. I would not euthanize a cat just because it had FIV. I rescued a cat before with a false positive and before he was retested I read and talked to people about it, but leukemia really scares me.
I will let you know how the test turns out. I appreciate all replies.
Through fostering, I've had a ton of kittens test "false positives". My experience shows that the kitten can test for a false positive sometimes until he is 5-6 mos old. After 6 mos old, if it is still positive, chances are it is positive. Definitely have this kitten tested somewhere else... and keep doing it for awhile. Best of luck and keep us posted.
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Old 10-06-2007, 05:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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^^As long as she is not symptomatic, I agree with above. It can be a "false" positive result up to 6 months of age in some cases. Unfortunatly, with Leukemia, they are often quite ill by 6 months.

Sometimes the snap tests can show weak positives or inconclusive results, and I can see how that would happen on a 3 week old kitten. We typically don't bother testing until they are 12 weeks old to avoid the whole "false positive" mess.
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Old 10-06-2007, 06:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I know my experiences may not be the norm, but I've had three cats who were leukemia positive. Rodney, a young one who was dropped on my doorstep (literally) was already symptomatic and we couldn't save him. Nathan was 3-4 years old when he arrived and tested positive. I lost him four years later. And Abercrombie tested positive when he became very ill at nine years old. Months of intense nursing got him through that bout, and he passed away at 18 of renal failure. None of my negative cats ever acquired the disease.
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