Feline viruses are a major part of feline health, especially in a place where there are a lot of roaming cats. Even if your cat only wanders outside every now and then or a new cat visits from time to time your feline friend is at risk. Here are three of the major viruses you and your cat needs to know about.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a virus passed between cats, particularly young cats, and can actually change the cells of the body leading to cancer. FeLV is passed between cats via saliva or mother’s milk. So outside food bowls can be a hot zone for disease, cats that fight can transmit disease during the fight and mothers can pass it to their kittens at birth. This virus typically leads to lymphoma and immunosuppression, which may mean the infected cat get sick frequently and struggles with various conditions. Sadly, the lifespan for an FeLV positive cat is shorter than most and being a virus, is not curable.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is another virus cats can share that is in the same family as HIV. FIV is also passed between cats similarly to FeLV and can also lead to immunosuppression and frequent infections like FeLV, but without the high risk of cancer.
Feline herpes virus is much more common than FELV and FIV and is found mostly in young cats typically in large groups. Feline herpes virus commonly leads to upper respiratory signs, eye problems and even death when bacterial infections take advantage of the cat’s weakened immune system.
Any cat that goes outside during its life or comes from a group of outside cats should be tested for FeLV and FIV viruses, some cats should be vaccinated for FeLV and any cat suspected of having issues with any of the viruses should be seen by your veterinarian.