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Cat vaccine FIV & FeLV

Shotts Vet cat

We regularly vaccinate cats against FIV and FeLV at the yearly booster, but what are they and how often do they occur? Below is one article that might help with that question.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) are common retroviral infections of domestic cats. According to Stavisky et al. (2017) some of the signs are anaemia in FeLV and gingivitis in FIV, however both viruses can cause immunosuppression leading to recurrent infection, as well as increased risk of certain neoplasias (formation of new, abnormal growth of tissue).

The prognosis for FeLV positive cats is very guarded with death to be expected, on average, 2.5 years after diagnosis. However the situation is better for FIV positive cats, as modern treatments can help the pet keep a normal life expectancy.

According to Stavisky et al. (2017) both viruses can be transmitted, among others, by fighting, sexual contact and vertical transmission from dam to kittens. Infection with either virus may be clinically inapparent for months or years.

The study done by Stavisky et al. (2017) on sheltered cats showed that 3% of cats tested FeLV positive and 11.4% of cats tested FIV positive, with male cats being at an increased risk of test FIV positive. The study also revealed that cats with a low body condition score or signs of musculoskeletal diseases were at an increased risk of testing FeLV positive.


Stavisky, J. et al. (2017). Prevalence of and risk factors for FIV and FeLV infection in two shelters in the United Kingdom (2011-2012), Journal of the British Veterinary Association Vol 18, 451, doi: 10.1136/vr.103857

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