Feline leukemia virus and Feline Immunodeficiency can lead to serious disease in cats. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is often referred to as the feline AIDS virus. While there are parallels to similar diseases that affect humans these two feline conditions have not shown any evidence that transmission to humans can occur.
Feline Leukemia Virus has been shown to produce a variety of diseases such as anemia, which is a decrease in oxygen carrying red blood cells, as well tumors and other forms of cancer. While contact with the virus does not ensure that the disease will become active in all pets it is a serious and often fatal disease. Transmission can occur vertically (from the mother) as well as horizontally by contact with the bodily fluids of an infected (but not necessarily sick) cat. Contact with urine and saliva are two of the most common vectors of transmission. With that in mind it is easy to see how easily an outdoor cat can contract feline leukemia virus. However even an indoor cat that is nose to nose through a screened in porch can be at risk.
Once thought to be a totally fatal disease it has now been shown that by providing the appropriate care many feline leukemia virus affected cats can survive for long and healthy periods of time. The best way to deal with Feline Leukemia Virus remains isolation, that is keeping cats indoors. If a cat does, however, ventures outside it is imperative that he or she be currently vaccinated for the disease. Similarly, any other felines in the household that may come into contact with the pet that ventures out is also considered to be at risk and should be immunized. Prior to vaccinating, it is essential that your pets be tested in order to know the health status of your feline friend. Though Feline Immunodeficiency Virus shares similarities we will discuss some unusual aspects of that disease in the next post.