Thursday, December 27, 2007

Testing for FIV/FELV

I'm going through the bills sent in by people right now. Someone just sent in a bunch of bills andI realised that almost every cat had been sent for a SNAP test (to test for FIV and FELV). This obviously made the bills a lot higher than they would otherwise have been.

Here's the thing - what does testing really do? Assuming that you tested the cat, and it DOES turn out positive, what are your choices? Will you take it home? Put the cat down (which chances are, if this is routinely done, and not in response to specific symptoms, is a healthy cat)? Will you put it back in the colony? What if the test is a false positive? Are you going to re-test? What will you do in the meantime? What if the cat has had a FIV vaccine and is now obviously going to test positive?

Some people will not put the cat back in the colony - though of course you have no idea if the other cats are FIV positive or not, unless you test all of them. And here's the thing - tests are expensive. For the price of testing one cat, you could easily have sterilised another. If you really want to cut down infection rates for FIV, then sterilise more cats because it spreads mostly through biting, and that's through aggressive male cats, which generally indicates, these cats are likely to be unsterilised.

So here's the question to perhaps ask before you decide on that FIV test. Will knowing that the cat is FIV positive change the way you treat the cat in any way - ie are you going to treat the cat (and clearly if it is healthy, there isn't anything to treat right then)? Do you have a plan for after-care and what to do with your existing cats in the colony? If not, then consider whether your money might be better spent on sterilising the cats instead.

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not we asking for the cats to be tested for FIV/FELV. It is the vets that requested to do so. Most cats have symptoms that look like FIV, or it could be some urinary tract disease, etc., only blood test can confirm the results, the vet said. Also if a cat come in for frequent flu, vet said best to test for FIV, as cats suffering from off and on flu, normally have FIV or was it FELV. Therefore we no choice, to make the vets diagnosed illness they have to do blood test on cats.

31/12/07 3:05 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous first of all, I was speaking of routine testing. If the cat looks healthy, then why test? Secondly, a blood test is of course different from a SNAP test - so for example, there is no need to test for FIV if you think the cat has a urinary tract infection. So you're basically talking about two different types of tests. If you test all your cats routinely for this, you could have sterilised far more cats than if you had just sterilised them.

31/12/07 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the cat is tested FIV positive, the vet would know why the cat is not recovering as well & why its immunity is low. Keep the cat free from stress, give immunity supplements and keep fingers crossed.
The point is : what decision would you make if you have a FIV+ home cat? community cat? How does spending $40 or $60 make a difference?
FIV cats can live for many good years - do not put it down just bec it is FIV+. Besides FIV tests are frequently inconclusive or a false positive is possible.
I have 2 FIV+ cats (one is doing well after 5 yrs, other is diagnosed 1 yr ago) and 2 inconclusive FIV cats - they live separately from others not tested.
Why do i test these cats? They have symptoms that indicate that they may be FIV and these cats are "BITEY". One is nicknamed Dracula. Thus the need to get bitey cats with FIV symptoms tested & move the cats to a separate area. If they are not bitey - i would leave them alone.
If cats are community cats - where would you remove them to??

31/12/07 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry-separate "area" means a separate area of the house.

31/12/07 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am anonymous the original poster. What I am trying to say is, it is not our decision to have the cat tested for FIV. SNAP blood test or routine blood test it is not our suggestion. It is the vet who wanted to do it, because the cat shows symptoms of some incurable or infectious disease, or something the vet said must diagnosed, only from blood test the vet can confirm what kind of illness the cat having.
Especially if a cat have frequent flu, or often sick, vet suspected it could be FIV, or kidney problems or was it FELV. It is not our decision but vets insist on the blood test for their diagnoses on the cat illness.
No I never put down FIV or FELV cat. Does not matter they are strays, I have strays with FIV, as long as they are sterilised, lived in the same area with their community cats, not fighting, not mating, the FIV virus never spread to the other cats, the other cats remained healthy. The FIV stray cat and the other healthy cats shared same water bowl, sleep together, yet none of them have FIV. I don 't see any reason why must separate the FIV and non-FIV cats, whether it be strays or your house cats ... if the FIV cat already sterilised and lived with the same cat group it used to - the FIV cats is not fighting and not mating - the FIV cat will not spread the FIV virus to the other cats, so no need to separate them.
Vets said put down a FIV cat the moment they see results, but we know better. FIV cats can lived up for full term life, some cats can lived up to 8 years or more. Some FIV cats shows no symptoms at all, until at the last stage, then they become very ill. Therefore why put down FIV cats the moment the vet said it having FIV cats.

1/1/08 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have explained that you are an experienced care-giver and have many FIV cats, perhaps you could share with other readers the reason why you would test for FIV other than at vet's request.

You could ask vet WHY he/she suggested a FIV test. If test is positive/negative, how does that make a difference in the cats' lives?? In Singlish: Test and then what? Cat is not going to recover.

If you are going to put the FIV+ cats back with the other community cats - test for what?

At which point of time are the cats FIV negative - at time of testing. They could be infested with the FIV virus 1 mth later.

Do share how you can tell that FIV virus "never spread to other cats" - then how did your FIV cats get FIV in the first place???

For kidney functions - you test for creatinine and BUN - not FIV.

Yes, you would require a drop of blood sample for FIV SNAP test but FIV is not tested in normal "blood tests".

There are many blood panel tests - sometimes you require more than one blood panel test for specific problems. The first blood test may tell you that.. for example, a blood disorder; a second would pinpoint the actual problem so the vet could treat that specific problem.

OK, you test and cat is FIV - can the vet treat FIV?? or FeLv or FIP ???

If not.....test for what?????
Especially if you are not giving to use that information to prevent the spread of FIV.

1/1/08 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am anonymous the original poster, replying to another anonymous query:

You mentioned I could ask vet why the vet suggested a FIV test, sometime blood test creatinine and BUN, FELV test etc. Who are we common layman wanted to argue what the vet want to do? Don't you know there are FIV cats that have kidney damage too? That is why the vet wanted to do the whole blood test -- FIV and BUN, creatinine everything. It is like I been mentioning the whole time, it is not our idea, but the vet. Vet want to do all kind of blood test to ascertain the illness, and we cat caregivers end up giving in to the vet request.
Of course there is no cure for FIV, FELV but if vet want to do the blood test to know why the cat always ill, or what is the cat suffering from, can we argue with the vet? Vet said you making his/her job difficult, without diagnoses, he/she cannot treat the cat illness without the proper diagnoses from blood test.

If the cat tested positive for FIV, I still take care of it, does not matter if it is a stray cat, I never put it down. I mentioned in my earlier message, there are cats with FIV that shows no symptoms, you only know when it had FIV when it get sick frequently and vet do blood test, then you know. Normally after antibiotics medication it get well until next bout of illness which may take many months later, then it get sick again.

You want to know how it is that FIV virus "never spread to other cats" - then how did my FIV cat the FIV from other cats?
There are many reasons for cat getting FIV. It may get the FIV virus from its mother who having FIV - from nursing milk or when giving birth. When the FIV cat was a kitten, it showed no symptom at all, until later on, when it grow into adult cat, it start being ill on and off.
Some cats get FIV when mating with other FIV cat. Before I could send them for sterilisation, the cat already start to mate. It is not easy to capture cats on date of sterilisation, example when CWS give you a certain fixed date to send cat for sterilisation. You bring your carrier or trap, but the cat ran away. You have to trap next sterilisation date, by then too late, it already mate with a FIV cat.
It is a time consuming procedure to sterilised the whole community cats, fortunately now all my strays are already sterilised

My FIV stray cat sharing same area with the other community cats, not fighting, not mating, they even shared same water bowl, sleep together -- the FIV virus never spread to the other cats, the other cats remained healthy.
How I know the other cats not having FIV? There were few of them I ever bring in for some illness, the vet done FIV blood test on them (not my request, but vet want to do it for diagnoses) - and those cats are not FIV positive.
Therefore why the need to separate your FIV and non-FIV cats or put to sleep the moment the vet said your cat have FIV.
Vets said need to separate FIV cats, but if your cat already sterilised, not fighting with the other cats, why separate them? I have friends who have FIV cats in their home, they let the FIV and their other non-FIV healthy cats stay together same room, not separate rooms. And their other cats are as healthy as ever.

2/1/08 3:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are excellent websites on the spread and management on FIV cats available on the net. It is best to read several to get a general idea how fIV is spread (rarely from mother cat) and how to manage/care for a FIV cat.

There are 3 stages of FIV - a FIV cat could look healthy for years, but it does not mean it is FIV negative.

http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/info/releasing.htm
is on the management of FIV neighbourhood cats. It gives 7 reasons why it does not suggest testing for FIV & Felv for neighbourhood cats.

If one goes to a vet, which part of the vet advice does one follow?
If the vet says test for FIV - yes, the vet says so.
If the vet says - put down the FIV cat (it is a sensible suggestion if the cat is suspected of chronic renal failure & would be put back on the streets with little or no medical care) - no, this advice is ignored.
If cat has kidney failure, it needs fluid therapy, expensive medication, prescription diet & a stress-free envirnoment.

Yes, i understand the care-giver is experienced. If she is dedicated to caring for the FIV cat, her decision is indeed commendable.

2/1/08 11:36 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous as the other Anonymous person mentioned, first of all FIV rarely spreads through mating - so mating is rarely the cause. Instead of using a carrier as well perhaps you might want to borrow a cat trap. It also rarely spreads through mother to child. The websites the other Anonymous look good - you might to read them to learn a bit more about FIV so you know what to look out for.

As I mentioned, the original comments I made in the post were about posting routinely, not IF the cat is already ill or showing symptoms.

I agree with the other Anonymous - of course the vet is the expert, but you are the caregiver and you should make the decision jointly. Also as you yourself said, the vet has suggested you put the cats down - which you ignored, so clearly you do listen to the vet's advice but don't always follow it. So it's a good idea to consider what you are doing. Clearly if the cat might have FIV and you want to test to see how you can best treat it, that's different from say doing an FIV test routinely, or say doing an FIV test when you think the cat has a urinary tract infecton alone (which is different again of course).

It's estimated that between 3-5% of community cats may have FIV. The estimate obviously grows when the colony is older or already not in the best of health. However to test ALL your other cats routinely, bearing in mind also that there may be false positives, is in my opinion, a waste of money.

2/1/08 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous hi.
i just adopted a stray cat 2months ago.
when i send her for steralisation n vaccination. i asked the vet this: should i vaccine against FeLV n should i test for FIV n FIP on routine basis?
the vet replied me this: there is no pt on it. as there isnt a cure for it.so she actually tell me tt i may wan to do the tests on after she start to fall sick v often.
so i think dawn pt is quite rite.these tests r nt neccessary to b done routinely.

29/1/08 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to respectfully disagree. For FIV, yes it is true. But for FELV, it is very contagious and it can wipe out an entire colony. For FELV cats, there is no cure but with the knowledge, we can try to contain this by isolation.

3/4/17 2:37 PM  

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