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Thread: Fiv

  1. #1
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    Question Fiv

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    So. How reliable are vet's FIV tests? Are there different techniques, one more reliable than another?

    Brought Paris and Zoe on for their 1-year checkups today - booster shots and a once-over. Also had Zoe tested for FIV. Both tested positive as kittens, Paris was negative at 6 mos, but Zoe still showed it. Well, she still came back positive. And she had a strong negative reaction to the shots - throwing up 9 times until we brought her back to the vet for further treatment.

    BIL, who has two additional litter mates - both negative - doubts the veracity of the test. It seemed pretty easy - like a Pregnancy test - red is positive not-red is negative. Zoe's was pretty red. So, at ~15 mos old, is she now stuck with it? Any chance she'll come back negative at next years visit? Any chance the test is wrong and we should go to another vet to have her tested there?

    Thanks, all.
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  2. #2
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    From my understanding they are pretty accurate. The one that may not be is the FeLV which will give a false positive if the cat was already tested for it. From my knowledge of it, yes she has it and will always have it. What my understanding is, is that if kittens are born to a mother who has FIV you cannot be sure of their first test, but typically at 6 months to a year whatever they test is what they are. However, she is fine around negative cats as long as there are no cat fights in which blood is transferred. We had a stray show up that is FIV positive and actually is now living very peacefully with my mom's cat who is negative. We have no idea how old the stray is. She can live a fairly long life even though she is positive.

  3. #3
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    The standard IDEXX FeLV/FIV test (which may or may not include Heartworm antibody and antigen) is a pretty accurate test in cats older than 6 months. At younger than 6 months, it can be influenced by maternal antibodies, as that is what the FIV portion of the test detects (the FeLV detects antigen). Therefore, if your kitty is still testing positive at this age, it's a sure thing.

    Luckily, FIV is the better of the two major immune-deficiency viruses of kitties to have. Your kitty can live a long, normal, healthy life as long as she receives good preventative care and you address any medical problems right away. She'll be more susceptible to infections that normal kitties could handle on their own, but for the most part, these guys do alright. FeLV on the other hand - is basically a death sentence. By Age 1, 50% of those kittens die from lymphoma. By age 2, 50% of the remaining are gone and by age 3, they are pretty much all dead (although I have a cat running around right now at the age of 13 who is FeLV positive - very very rare).

    FIV cats are safe in multi-cat households as long as there isn't any biting, scratching or excessive mutual grooming. Whatever you do, DO NOT get your other cats vaccinated for FIV. This will cause them to all test positive on future FIV tests as the vaccine stimulates antibodies, which is what the test detects (there are several other majors flaws with the vaccine, but it's not that important). FeLV vaccination is ok, if that is something you and your vet decide is important. For my feline patients who are indoor only I don't bother with it.

    If she's got a bad reaction to vaccinations - hopefully just the FVRCP (infectious upper respiratory viruses/bacteria) and Rabies - you may be able to hold off on them provided her contact with other kitties is limited and she's indoor only. Most states require Rabies, but titers can be done (at least in Texas) to prove vaccination in lieu of giving your cat a bad reaction. Sometimes a little pre-medication with Benadryl is helpful, or I often given a nice dose of dexamethasone with my known-reactors.

    So, unfortunately, yes, the test is very accurate - but, fortunately, FIV is not a death sentence. If you have other questions, just let me know, I'm here to help.

  4. #4
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    westtexas, thanks, I figured someone would know better than I do on this.

    For NC the rules on Rabies vaccine is every three years. The ONLY exception is to get your pet on the exempt list, which a vet can do for medical reasons.

  5. #5
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    Thanks.

    Cats are indoor only.

    Why not vaccinate the others? Too late, as Paris was vaccinated @ 6 mos when he tested negative and we were reasonably confident that Zoe would, too. At that point, all the litter mates, save Zoe, were negative. Vet said to microchip if we ever let him out, as he'd test positive if lost and picked up - and tested - by animal control. Since we don't let them out, he's not currently microchipped.

    House is a 2-cat house - brother and sister. They wrestle some, but nothing major. Both fixed. When we returned to the vet, Zoe got 3 shots: Benedryl, a steroid, and something to settle her stomach - I forget what it was but it stung and Zoe hissed like I would never have thought her capable! She's normally very sweet tempered. They did note on her file to pre-medicate in the future.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7rider View Post
    Thanks.

    Cats are indoor only.

    Why not vaccinate the others? Too late, as Paris was vaccinated @ 6 mos when he tested negative and we were reasonably confident that Zoe would, too. At that point, all the litter mates, save Zoe, were negative. Vet said to microchip if we ever let him out, as he'd test positive if lost and picked up - and tested - by animal control. Since we don't let them out, he's not currently microchipped.

    House is a 2-cat house - brother and sister. They wrestle some, but nothing major. Both fixed. When we returned to the vet, Zoe got 3 shots: Benedryl, a steroid, and something to settle her stomach - I forget what it was but it stung and Zoe hissed like I would never have thought her capable! She's normally very sweet tempered. They did note on her file to pre-medicate in the future.
    It was probably Cerenia.....animals don't usually like it since it does sting a bit.
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  7. #7
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    Yes, probably Cerenia. That stuff works SO well, but it can sting badly in some animals. Even if you refrigerate it or mix it with B12.

    As far as the other kitties go - the FIV vaccine is just not a very good vaccine and most major organizations (AAHA for example) do not recommend its use. Any cat vaccinated for FIV will always test positive on the FeLV/FIV snap. Are you sure your vet didn't vaccinate for FeLV? That vaccine doesn't give them a false positive on the test and it's actually a good vaccine. I just don't personally care for it much since I'm a less-is-more kind of veterinarian with my indoor-only kitties.

  8. #8
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    They both got the FeLv vaccine. I'm nearly certain Paris got the FIV as well, because they specifically told us about future positive tests.

    But if she's positive and he's negative, I think I'd be happier with him vaccinated if it means she can't pass anything to him.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7rider View Post
    But if she's positive and he's negative, I think I'd be happier with him vaccinated if it means she can't pass anything to him.
    Unfortunately, this may not be true. The FIV vaccine does not contain all strains of FIV, and not all cats are 100% protected after receiving it, even against those strains it contains. It's also only been proven to last a year, so unless you decide to give it to your kitty annually, efficacy is unknown past the mandated FDA approval time. I know it's too late now for your other kitty, but it's definitely something to consider if you get another cat in the future. To me, it's a worthless vaccine and I wouldn't give it, but that's between you and your veterinarian and what makes you most comfortable. I was taught never to give it - I don't even carry it in my clinic. We've got at least 2 confirmed FIV kitties who live (and thus run loose) where I work and despite as much fighting as can happen between all our clinic cats, no one has popped up with FIV since coming to live with us.

    Anyway, I just believe in the power of having all the information. Not everyone in my profession is as good as overloading their clients with every nuance as I am, haha. I'm still learning that fine line between too much and too little, but here on the internet you can at least review the information as needed in small doses.

    HTH.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by westtexas View Post
    I'm a less-is-more kind of veterinarian with my indoor-only kitties.
    I'm relieved to hear that even some vets take that stance. Our cats NEVER go outside. Even the one who used to like darting out doesn't really try much anymore (he's about 15) and rarely got more than 20 feet out the door before stopping and realizing it was a dumb idea.

    As a result we aren't at all diligent about taking the healthy ones to the vet for vaccinations. Our elderly female (going on 19) has regular vet visits related to her overactive thyroid, but the boys don't really go unless they're ill. The stress to them and us just doesn't seem worth it.
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  11. #11
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    westtexas, I have a vaccination question for you. All my cats are indoor only and receive the rabies (NC requires it every three years unless the pet is on their exemption list). 1 of my cats only gets the rabies, due to some of her health issues (which are now fixed thankfully) she had not received any other vaccine for about 6 to 8 years and is now around 14 or 15 yrs old. The other two get both rabies and distemper every three years and are 11 and 9 respectively. With their ages, would it be wise to discus getting titers instead of continuing with the distemper?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by westtexas View Post
    Unfortunately, this may not be true. The FIV vaccine does not contain all strains of FIV, and not all cats are 100% protected after receiving it, even against those strains it contains. It's also only been proven to last a year, so unless you decide to give it to your kitty annually, efficacy is unknown past the mandated FDA approval time. I know it's too late now for your other kitty, but it's definitely something to consider if you get another cat in the future. To me, it's a worthless vaccine and I wouldn't give it, but that's between you and your veterinarian and what makes you most comfortable. I was taught never to give it - I don't even carry it in my clinic.
    Interesting. Well, we've already decided that no other kitties are in our future (until/unless these guys go). Two is our limit. I didn't realize about the effective duration of the vaccine. I'll have to discuss it with DH and perhaps give the vet a call again, as I can foresee not giving him another one. I've heard of tumors developing as a result of the vaccine, and that's pretty unnerving anyway. Our county requires a "current" rabies vaccine - but don't define if that's one-year or 3-years (as near as I can tell).
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  13. #13
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    Koronin - you could definitely get titers done. The vaccines for distemper (what I've been calling FVRCP or upper respiratory) and rabies are very safe, especially now that we've fixed that pesky adjuvant issue - which is what was increasing the risk for developing a vaccine related sarcoma in some cats. I will admit though that titers are still kind of a "magical" science. We assume a cut off level that should, in theory, mean the pet is protected, but in animals they are not nearly as well studied as in people. If they are indoor only, it's probably not that big of a deal.

    What I will stress is that is it VERY important that ALL kitties - healthy or otherwise - see the veterinarian at LEAST once a year. More often for older kitties. Especially as they get older, they need to be seeing a vet more often. This is the stage where we can detect changes in organ function, palpate enlarging thyroids, feel abdominal tumors, etc. The physical exam is the MOST important part of a veterinary visit - vaccines are great in keeping them healthy, but that physical exam gives us a lot of information and is really really really (did I mention really?) important. Lots of kitties come to me in fulminant renal failure, that if I had seen them earlier for routine blood work, we could have taken preventative steps to delay the onset of and keep them at a good quality of life for much much longer. I know it can be expensive, but it's worth it in the long run. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, no joke.

    If your kitty is a stressed out kitty at the vet, try and find a feline-friendly or feline-only veterinarian so they don't miss out on this critical aspect of their care. I find a lot of owners think their cats are going to freak out at the veterinarian, but 98% of my feline patients make it through the exam without a problem - it just takes good, conscientious handling and patience on the part of your vet's staff and your vet him/herself. I only have 2 patients that I can think of that won't let me touch them and require some "happy juice". I actually have waaaaaay more dogs who behave ridiculously than kitties. If your vet is the type who still scruffs or still thinks all cats need to be sedated - time to find a new kitty vet in my opinion (if you can).

  14. #14
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    They go every year. One actually needs to go soon. (After this week I won't be slammed with work. For some I seem to get slammed with project work at Memorial Day and that is when the one is supposed to go in.) So she'll end up going in about a week or two after what she should have gone in. Tiger had a thyroid issue which she got the radio active iodine treatment for about a year and a half or so ago and is so much healthier now.

    My new vet here is a cat only vet (and the vet she sent us to for Tiger's treatment is also a cat only vet, just an hour away). Our old vet where we used to live had separate waiting rooms for cats and dogs.

  15. #15
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    Koronin, you're lucky! We're considered the "cat clinic" around here but this weekend I've got some frail ones in the hospital and the incessant barking of holiday boarders... poor kittens.

 

 

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