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Author Topic: FeLV + FIV testing in shelter cats?  (Read 12503 times)
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noisymouse
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« on: July 23, 2010, 02:31:19 PM »

We just got a great little 2 year old kitty from a shelter last month. Our plan had been to get two cats that day, and one of the reasons we picked our cat was that she gets along great with other cats, but the shelter was so busy and it was getting late, (it had taken us three hours to look at the cats, get our paperwork filled out and finalize the adoption just for our one cat!) so we decided that we'd just come back another day for the second cat.

We don't know much about her past. The people who surrendered her were NOT helpful. She was apparently brought in with 16 other cats that were living in some kind of barn or garage, all intact and having kittens all the time.  Angry She was pregnant when she was brought in, and had a litter of five healthy kittens in a shelter foster home. She's had no major medical issues since being in shelter care, which was since the end of March. She has one blind eye. No one is sure what happened to it. The people who surrendered her claim that it is an expensive glass eye. This is uh.... just not true at all.  Roll Eyes It is a very real eye, cloudy, with some kind of abrasion mark on the cornea. The vet guesses it went blind from some kind of trauma, as opposed to a herpes infection or something. It's not a major issue, just something to watch, because if it ends up becoming infected or getting glaucoma and causing chronic discomfort in the future, it will have to come out.

ANYWAYS, while getting her checked out at her new vet, the vet strongly recommended that we get her tested for FIV and FeLV before we get any more cats.

That sort of puts a wrench in my plans for two kitty buddies. Some cats want to be only cats, but I think our cat is definitely lonely. She obviously grew up with many other cats, and in the shelter foster home she was with dogs and other cats and enjoyed their company. She is a very active cat and wants to play all the time. We play with her often but obviously 24/7 is just not possible. Some cats beg for food: this cat begs to be played with. It's sort of cute but I know she would be much happier with a kitty friend. How long will we have to wait for results from the tests? And what if she tests positive? She must spend the rest of her life as an only cat?

And what if she tests NEGATIVE? The shelter doesn't test any of its animals. Would we have to test any animal we were thinking about adopting before we consider bringing them home? Would the shelter even HOLD an animal for that long while we waited for the results???

I mean...  I've been reading up of FIV and FeLV and I know it's nothing to sneeze at. It's scary, the idea that my kitty is fine now but might only have a few months or a couple years left before she gets fatally sick! I would hate to get a second cat that would also get sick and have to go through that all again, just because I didn't take the vet seriously.

But I'm kind of.... confused. The shelter had briefly mentioned when we adopted her that we could do FIV and FeLV testing through them if we wished, but they said it really wasn't too important unless the cat was sick or badly wounded. They don't routinely test their animals that they adopt out for FIV and FeLV. (they do receive all their vaccinations though) They really did not act like it was a big concern, and therefore I didn't really think about it. How come the vet is telling us that we really need to get her tested before we bring any other cats into our home, but the shelter is telling us that it's not a big deal?

(this is not a small, crappy, backwoods shelter either, this is the city's humane society and main animal shelter)




Sorry for the long-windedness, but I'm just kind of confused. Really how important *IS* FIV and FeLV testing in a healthy cat (besides the one blind eye), and if my cat tests negative, what should I do when I want to adopt another cat???
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 02:38:17 PM by noisymouse » Logged
JustMe
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2010, 02:45:35 PM »

Hi noisymouse!

Welcome to Itchmo Forums and congratulations on your new addition.  Most shelters in my area test for FIV/FELV prior to adopting cats out, but I have had a couple that didn't come from shelters that we had tested by our vet.  Actually, I usually have my vet retest at their first exam even if the shelters tested them already.

Testing and results only take 10 minutes at your vet office.  It's just a small blood sample.

http://www.idexx.com/view/xhtml/en_us/smallanimal/inhouse/snap/feline-combo.jsf?conversationId=591407
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 02:47:28 PM by JustMe » Logged

Eventually they will understand,
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noisymouse
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2010, 02:50:21 PM »

Thanks for the quick reply. I think my vet might have had some other kind of test in mind.... he mentioned that the test would be $250 and implied that it would possibly be a matter of some weeks for the result.

Maybe I'll go and ask about getting this quick test. Do you think that would be sufficient for the time being?
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noisymouse
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2010, 02:51:31 PM »

Also that's really frustrating if it's such a quick and easy test, and the biggest shelter in my city doesn't even bother to do it!
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JJ
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2010, 02:53:51 PM »

Hi and welcome to Itchmo noisymouse. $250 that is a pretty big amount. What about the shelter - do they not have testing with reduced rates since you adopted the kitty from there? Or another shelter perhaps?
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JustMe
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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2010, 03:04:09 PM »

I wonder what test that is?  FIV/FELV has never cost me anywhere near that.
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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
mainecoonpeg
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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 03:14:27 PM »

The PCR test for FIV/Fleuk is about $250 and takes about 2 business weeks to get results.

I think doing an in house vet SNAP test would be worth discussing with your vet.  If your vet doesn't do it then have them send you to one who does.

noisymouse, welcome to Itchmo.

I've done a lot of rescue in my lefetime and I have rescued many cats which have been incorporated into my household.  I am not fearful of FIV, but the FLEUK is one that if a cat tests positive, I will send them to the rainbow bridge especially if they are symptomatic.  It has only happened twice out of all my recues and TNR stints.
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mikken
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2010, 03:32:08 PM »

$250?!  Wow.  I think a quickie in-house test would be enough...I *might* go for the PCR if the in-house test came back positive for Feleuk, just to follow up, but it's not something I'd start with for sure!

Conscious Cat just did a helpful post on FIV -

http://consciouscat.net/2010/07/12/fiv-separating-myth-from-fact/

FWIW, my local shelter does no testing for cats, either.  I've gotten three cats from there, all negative for both FIV and Feleuk.  Two of them even came already spayed/neutered - one with Humane Society tattoos on her.  They all have mystery history, I guess!

It's a shame about your girls' previous owners, but at least she's someplace safe now - with you!



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lesliek
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2010, 03:40:02 PM »

Welcome noisymouse ! I agree with the others ,get the in house test done. If it comes back positive you can check with the more costly 1. FIV is not that contagious, but you could always adopt another FIV positive cat from a different shelter if yours has it. We got a shelter kitten years ago that was positive for FeLeukemia & she had to be put down 2 days later. She couldn't even walk without her pads splitting open & bleeding. I thought all shelters tested before mainstreaming the animals now. I just had Dave [the local stray I trapped] tested in house on 7/2/2010 & it was $42.28  for the combination test.We had the results 15 minutes later.
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JustMe
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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2010, 03:44:26 PM »

Great link, mikken!  I'd go with the quick SNAP test, too.  She's been at the shelter since March and sounds like she is doing well!  That's great news.

I have a 10-year-old cat with one eye, removed due to an scratch/infection when she was less than 6 months old before we adopted her.  She does just fine as an indoor kitty.
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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
catbird
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« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2010, 03:56:41 PM »

Welcome noisymouse!  I have to agree with everyone else.  Although with the SNAP test there can be false negatives and false positives, which would require follow-up with the more expensive test, I've had my vet screen all my "found" cats in this way and have trusted the screening.  My vet has told me that the false negative (when the cat is actually positive) occurs most often when the cat is newly infected, which I don't think would be the case with your new adoptee.

As to bringing another cat home, once you have tested this one, why not make a vet appointment (with one who does the quick test) immediately following the time you will bring the second cat home?  That way you can have the second cat tested right away.

As others have said, a FeLeuk cat will usually appear quite sick, unless it is just in the very beginning stages.  If her kittens were healthy, that is another sign that she doesn't have FeLeuk.  Litters from FeLeuk mothers are usually very sickly, because the kittens also are infected.

Congratulations on your new family member, and on the second who will hopefully follow soon!

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tesla
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2010, 04:06:02 PM »

Welcome to Itchmo, noisymouse.  I can't add any more than what everyone has added.  I always have my kitties tested with a SNAP test before introducing to the rest of the clan. 

In our area, the kill shelters do not test the animals for FIV/FeLV, however our NO KILL shelters do a complete vetting plus spay/neutering before adoptions.  In turn the kill shelter does adopt out very cheaply, but do require that your pets are spayed/neutered within 30 days or you will be fined.  They always recommend that your newly adopted pet be seen by a vet as quickly as possible for vaccinations and arrange spay/neuter.  It is their way to keep costs and adoption fees at a minimum.

Congratulations on your newest addition and hope you adopt a playmate soon. 
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noisymouse
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2010, 04:35:26 PM »

Wow, thanks for all the replies and good info, guys!

I'm not too concerned about the cost of whichever test. I was just... I was imagining having to do this expensive test that takes weeks to get the results back for each and every cat I was considering for adoption, before I allowed it into my house. I'm going to be so nervous taking my cat in to get her test though! I know she's only been with us for a month, but we're all so attached to her already, I don't want to think about her time with us being cut so short.

(in the case of FeLV anyways. As I understand it, FIV is much less serious and many FIV+ cats have average life spans and good quality of life.)

Our humane society shelter is a kill shelter unfortunately, but they're really good. They charge more than some other shelters I've heard of, but they include spay/neuter, microchipping and tattoo, vaccinations, a six-week trial of medical insurance, and one free follow-up appointment with a participating vet. (and most major vet clinics here participate in their program) You'd think with all of that, they'd throw in the quick FIV/FeLV test, or at least a FeLV test, since it's such a serious, crappy disease.
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bug
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2010, 07:30:15 PM »

Welcome noisymouse,

One of my most loved cats was FIV+. He died of cancer, not FIV and he was 11 years old. I had integrated him into our household with three other cats and initially had no problems. Unfortunately, because he was so used to defending his territory out on the streets he started being very territorial at home. I eventually separated him from the others because he kept attacking them for no reason. Other than that, he was the most wonderful cat anyone could ever have.

When I brought him in to the vet the first time, he was so wild and scared, they had to knock him out just to examine him. They did an ELISA test for FIV/FeLV and he turned out positive for FIV. After some time, because he was so healthy, I wasn't convinced that he was actually FIV+, so I had a PCR test (which looks for DNA evidence) done and he was, indeed FIV+.

My boy lived with us until intestinal cancer got him. I gave him the best life I could and I know he was happy to be with us.

Even if a cat you're adopting turns out FIV+, there's no reason in the world that it couldn't live with FIV- cats so long as they don't fight to the point of biting each other to draw and exchange blood. I would have been very happy to let them all live together.

FeLV, on the other hand is a different story. It is often a very sad ending for these affected cats. The trouble with FeLV is that it is passed on by friendly contact between cats. All cats that live in a shelter should, at least, be tested for FeLV. Those affected can live good lives with other affected cats or in households with dogs or no other pets.

If I were you, I'd get the ELISA done and forget about the PCR test. When I found my boy, he was 6 and had all kinds of gashes, puncture wounds and scars from fighting for his life every day. It doesn't sound like that is the case with the ones you're talking about.

I'm sure everything will turn out just fine.
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noisymouse
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2010, 09:14:40 AM »

In case anyone was curious, we went in and got the cheapie quickie test done, according to it, she is negative for both FIV and FeLV!

Time to get a buddy......
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