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FIV and FeLV – What are the symptoms and how to prevent it?

If you have a cat, you may have heard of or you may have some doubts about

these two dangerous diseases: FIV and FeLV. Get to know them a little better

and learn about their symptoms and prevention measures to be taken.

The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

have a worldwide distribution and mainly affect domestic cats, even though

they also affect other species of felines. The prevalence of infections by these

agents varies in different geographic regions, with higher incidence of the

diseases where there is a high population density of feral or free-roaming cats.

FeLV and FIV viruses belong to the same family (


), but to different

genus, and are associated with several pathological conditions in domestic


Animals infected with FIV are more susceptible to other infections and to

development of neoplasms, since the disease is associated with imbalances in

the immune system of the animals. Thus, the virus is not directly related to the

clinical manifestations observed, instead, secondary infections are responsible

for the morbid conditions found. Several clinical manifestations have been

seen, and they vary a lot depending on the stage of the infection.

FIV is usually transmitted via direct contact between an infected animal and a

healthy animal, mostly through bites or scratches during fights and disputes in

social interactions between cats. Infected animals generally have a high

survival rate, which puts the other cats in the same household in risk of viral


In FeLV, the clinical signs of infection are varied and nonspecific, depending on

the infected system and on the manifestation of secondary diseases. The

clinical signs normally seen in FeLV-positive animals are neoplasms,

immunosuppression, hematologic disorders, reproductive disorders and

neurological syndromes. In addition to these signs, FeLV-positive animals may

experience weight loss, fever, dehydration, diarrhea, conjunctivitis and oral


Transmission occurs through direct contact between FeLV-positive cats and

healthy cats, and the virus is spread primarily through cats’ saliva. The virus is

also found in blood, nasal secretions, tears, feces, and milk.

The primary way to prevent the spread of these viral infections is avoiding the

contact between healthy and sick animals. Preventing the movement of cats in

and out, thus avoiding their contact with

free-roaming cats, may contribute to

reducing the incidence of these diseases in the feline population. In addition to

avoiding contact, there are currently some commercial vaccines to prevent and

control these diseases.

In order to diagnose FIV and FeLV viruses, several specific laboratory tests

are available. Besides, there are rapid tests, known as SNAP tests, which can

be used by veterinarians as an additional tool to diagnose the diseases.

Therefore, remember to take your pet to the veterinarian regularly so that you

can constantly track and monitor its health. By doing that, you will be providing

a long and healthy life for your little furry friend.

Gabriel Victoria Martins


CRMV-RS 16272

Technical Commercial Manager for Nutrire Indústria de Alimentos Ltd.


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