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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all you cat lovers - I would love to have feedback on whether I should test and vaccinate my kitten for Feline Leukemia.

I got her from a shelter that doesn't test for Feline Leukemia. I would absolutely keep her even if she tested positive. She will be an only child PLUS she will be indoors only. My vet wants to test her and then vaccinate her even though I told her she's indoor only. I really don't want to over-vaccinate as I hear it could be bad for a cat. I'm also hesitant about testing her since that, too, would be stressful for her (and me).

She needs one more booster of the FVRCP (I think I got those initials right) for 12 weeks (as she was vaccinated at 4 and 8 weeks) and then her rabies at 16 weeks.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts about this.
 

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I would test her, yes. If she should be positive there are things you can do to extend her life--you need to know either way. Get the FeLV/FIV combo test.

But I do NOT vaccinated indoor cats against much of anything. Certainly there is no risk to her if she is indoors only and no zoonotic (transfer to humans) risk with anything other than rabies.

Both the rabies vaccine and the FeLV vaccine have been implicated in causing VAS (vaccine-associated sarcoma). These are potentially deadly malignant tumors that can occur at the injection site. The vaccination protocol has been changed--in years past they did vaccines at the scruff of the neck, but when tumors developed they were impossible to remove there. Now all vaccines are given in the leg so that if a tumor develops they can amputate the leg. 8O Scared yet? Yeah, me too.

More on VAS:

Vaccine-associated sarcoma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF) Home Page

Note that the task force determined to give vaccinations in the leg and less often. Many people, however, have decided that for indoor cats the risk of vaccines is greater than the risk of disease. My indoor cats get NO vaccinations other than 1 rabies shot at around a year of age. There is plenty of indication that rabies shots do their job for 7-10 years, so IMO that's all that is needed. My cats are not exposed to outdoor cat pathogens.

Keep in mind 2 things:

(1) If you choose not to vaccinate against rabies per the law (annually with Purevax (see below) or every 3 years (the law in most places but there are NO 3-year feline rabies vaccines w/out the adjuvant--again, see below), you ARE taking a risk. There is virtually NO risk of your cat contracting rabies, but if she should bite someone she will have to be quarantined by law until the waiting period has passed if you cannot produce proof of vaccination per the law.

(2) The ONLY feline rabies shot that does not use an adjuvant (suspected to be the cause of the tumors) is Merial's Purevax. If you decide to give rabies shots, make your vet special order you Purevax unless he already uses it. This is a 1-year vaccine only (the available 3 year ones all contain the adjuvant).

All that to say: You have to decide for yourself re: rabies and combo shot. I do neither regularly. But FeLV is a slam dunk IMO. It's so unlikely that your cat will be exposed to it as to be nearly impossible-- I would NOT take the risk.

But do get her tested (FIV/FeLV combo test).

Hope that helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much, Hoofmaiden. That's great information on the rabies shot and will ask for the Purevax.

Since my kitten was in a shelter, she received her first FVRCP vaccination at the early age of 4 weeks so her last vaccination (3rd) will be at 12 weeks. I think I read that if her final vaccination was given less than 16 weeks, they recommend a 1 year booster but no more after that.

Also read that there's a Purevax FelV vaccination - but since she's indoors only, will pass on those vaccinations. I suppose if I ever consider a 2nd cat (which is so unlikely) I can change my game plan.
 

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Also read that there's a Purevax FelV vaccination - but since she's indoors only, will pass on those vaccinations. I suppose if I ever consider a 2nd cat (which is so unlikely) I can change my game plan.
Yup re: FeLV -- no need for it. 2nd cat changes nothing--get kitty tested for FeLV/FIV before bringing home (shelters SHOULD be doing this but if not, you can always run by the vet's on the way home from the shelter) and if they both stay indoors no need for either to be vaccinated. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess I'm so incredibly fearful of that FelV test is why I'm on the fence about testing. I didn't even know there was such a thing as Feline Leukemia and that most shelters test before adoption - but this shelter didn't. I'm so attached to my little rugrat that I suppose I just don't want to face this. Is this disease common? She came from a litter of 5 and was without her mama since 4 weeks - but no one can tell me what happened to the mama. Sorry - just feeling a bit nervouse about it.
 

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IMO it's better to know and be prepared, that way you can use preventative measures to keep her as healthy as possible for as long as possible. If you don't know then you can't give her the care she needs.

...as far as I'm concerned not getting her tested is like if you thought you might have been exposed to HIV and just decided not to get tested. It could shorten your lifespan, endanger your health, and possibly put others at risk. It just isn't a good decision.

If you get her tested then you'll know for sure.

If she is positive then don't let the vet convince you to put her down right away. A lot of vets do recommend this, but you could still possibly have years of time to spend with her, even if she does have it.
 

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Ditto librarychick. Chances are she doesn't have it. But you owe it to her to find out, b/c if she's positive there are lots of things you can do to boost her immune system and keep her healthy longer. It's not an immediate death sentence and many positive cats live long lives. FIV is also important to test for -- no vaccine and much less easily transmissible (like HIV it needs sexual activity or blood-blood mixing), so you can even have a positive cat living w/ other pos cats as long as they all get along (and are spayed/neutered).

Get it done. She will probably be neg/neg and then you can breathe a sigh of relief! :)
 

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It takes 28 days for the virus to set up house. So waiting until a month after last possible exposure might make sense. However, if the kitten has been only w/ mom and littermates, then if she IS positive she is positive b/c mom is positive (almost all positive moms will have pos kittens), and that's been the case since birth.

So you could wait until a month post-adoption, but I suspect it's highly unlikely that she could have been exposed to anyone but her mother, in which case you might as well do it now as in a month.

[Very occasionally there are false negs on young kittens--under 6 mos--but that is not common.]
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay - just made an appointment - will be going in today for her test. My heart is literally beating out of my chest. I will post the results when I get home.
 

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From our vets. We test the mother with kittens but never the kittens. Only 2% of outdoor cats have FeLv
Well, see my posts above.

It is indeed unlikely (though not impossible) that a kitten will be pos if mom is neg. In the OP's case, however, it is not possible to test the mother.

Where did your vet get that 2% number? I'm not sure that's accurate. Source??
 

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Penny--one further thing to keep in mind. Occasionally a cat who was just recently exposed will test pos--then 6 mos later they will test neg. That's b/c SOME cats can fight it off. So if (unlikely!!) she's pos, don't panic. Re-test in 6 mos.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I am so thrilled to report that she tested NEGATIVE to Feline Leukemia and FIV! What a relief! Thank you so much for all of your support and motivating me to do the right thing and get her tested rather than living in fear and denial. Cat people are the BEST!!!

:luv
 

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I had mine tested for both FIV/FeLV, but chose not to vaccinate for FeLV as he is indoor only.

I did however get him the primary vaccines for all the core diseases, as then at any stage should I feel the need to vaccinate him or have to, he will just need a booster. They have been shown to cover for much longer then the recommended booster dates, so I know he is covered.

He's not vaccinated for Rabies, as we don't have it in this country.

Its a risk/benefit choice, your vet should help you decide whats right for your cat.
 

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YAY!! So glad to hear it. Whew, huh? Now you can relax. If you hadn't done it you would always wonder, would worry if she sneezed, etc. :)
 

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Well, see my posts above.

It is indeed unlikely (though not impossible) that a kitten will be pos if mom is neg. In the OP's case, however, it is not possible to test the mother.

Where did your vet get that 2% number? I'm not sure that's accurate. Source??
Hoofmaiden plz ask me all your questions in one post if your needing me to prove to you Im not talking out my ****.


AZcats gave us the initial 2% number when we were trying to decide whether to test all ferals and rescues which we trapped for FeLv and FIV. Money and quality of life was an issue when setting up our policies for our TNR group. Testing would of cost us $28 a cat for FeLv and FIV with our discount as a rescue.

If you look there can be any where from 2% to 7% quoted as an infectious rate. I know were not all Vet tech like you are laurie but we rely on our vets to advise us and bring our concerns to. Our vets advised us not to test under a year. Our vets advised us just to test the mother, if we were going to test at all.


Here are a few facts which might help Penny not get fearful with the issue of FeLv and FIV. Which is my motive in my posts.


Dr Julie Levy
Last year, shelters and veterinary clinics joined us for a new study on FeLV and FIV prevalence. A total of 18,038 cats from the United States and Canada were tested, of which 446 (2.5%) were positive for FIV and 409 (2.3%) were positive for FeLV. Of these, 58 (0.3%) were co-infected with both viruses. Prevalence was significantly higher in cats tested at veterinary clinics than at shelters, in mature cats than in juveniles, in males than in females, and in diseased cats than in healthy cats. Cats with access to outdoors had higher infection rates than cats kept exclusively indoors.



Alley Cat Allies

"Essential to the decision-making process is an understanding of the nature of both viruses and the limitations of the tests used to detect them," cautions Alley Cat Allies. The tests are not always accurate, reports the American Association of Feline Practitioners. For FIV, the testing method used most widely is the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunoabsorbent Assay) test, which detects whether FIV antibodies are present in the blood -- not whether the virus itself is present, explains Neighborhood Cats. "As a result, the test is completely unreliable for cats under six months of age who may have received FIV antibodies from their nursing mother, but may never have been exposed to the actual virus. For adult cats, because of the recent introduction of the FIV vaccine, there is now the possibility a positive test result means a cat has been vaccinated, not infected. Also, a positive result may only indicate recent exposure, not infection."
The most commonly used ELISA is the IDEXX SNAP test. Neighborhood Cats continues, "The ELISA is also used for FeLV. The test is extremely sensitive and is prone to false positives from improper handling. In addition, a cat in the early stages of FeLV infection can still fight it off."

Neighborhood Cats (TNR group)
Testing is a waste of resources. The literature shows the prevalence of FIV and FeLV positive test results in the feral population is low - and the same as in the domestic population (about 4 percent for FeLV, 2 percent for FIV.) So to identify six positive test results means paying for the testing of 100 cats. Even at a low cost of $12 per cat, that adds up to $1200 or $200 per positive cat. And even then, it doesn't mean the six positive cats actually have the disease, will ever get sick, or will ever transmit it. At a time when there is a crisis in feral cat overpopulation, the money should go towards neutering and proper colony management, not a dubious investment in testing.
 

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I'm glad you got a good result! Much better than worrying for sure. COngrats :) Give the brave little fur-ball a snuggle for me!

I was curious about your suggestion too Merry, thanks for posting the sources :)

You said not to test under a year, why would you wait that long if the unreliable results are all under 6 months?

Also, the last resource you posted from Neighborhood cats suggests not testing at all, but I'm not sure if they're talking about it not being worth it just for ferals. Do they/you test adoptable cats before adoption? Assuming they are over 6 months since I agree that seems like a waste of testing and resources for a rescue.
 

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Yes, I found that when I looked. 13% is the number quoted for kittens and older or ill cats (high risk group):

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Even so, 2% = 2/100 cats. That's not insignificant. Add FIV to that as well and it's a bigger chunk of the pie.

All to say that IMO there is NOTHING to be lost by testing (except money, which shouldn't be an issue unless you're dealing w/ a feral cat colony or something) and much to be gained. So I continue to say that ALL cats should be tested b/c knowing the cat's status can make a big difference in Q of L if positive. :)
 
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