Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus, a family of viruses which has many members that infect cats and cause disease and death in cats around the world. Another well-known feline retrovirus is the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FeLV and FIV can be found together in the same cat. The prevalence of FeLV in single-cat households is about 3% and can be as high as 11% in stray or high risk cat populations. In large multi-cat households and in households where cats roam freely outdoors, the prevalence can reach as high as 70%. Cats roaming in urban areas are more likely to be exposed to FeLV (40%) than cats roaming in rural areas (6%).

FeLV has been studied for over 30 years, both for its relevance to the cat population and because it serves as an animal model for some human diseases. Research has established key characteristics of FeLV: it is contagious, it directly causes both fatal cancerous and non-cancerous diseases, it can lie dormant in the bone marrow for a long time, and it can be protected against by vaccination. FeLV is not transmissible to humans .... [Read complete article]

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) was first discovered in 1986 in a California cattery where some cats appeared to have an illness similar to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in people. Since then, FIV has been discovered in every country that has tested cats for its presence. It appears likely that FIV has been present in cats for many years. The rate of infection varies from about 1% (in healthy cats) to as high as 14% (in ill cats) in Canada and the United States. FIV is often found in cats that are positive for the feline leukemia virus. On average, 2-4% of cats in the United States are infected with FIV.

FIV belongs to the same family of viruses as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and immunodeficiency viruses in other species. This family of viruses (Lentiviruses) is known for being species-specific, for life-long infection, and for slowly progressive diseases. FIV is not transmissible from cats to people, and HIV is not transmissible to from people to cats.   .... [Read complete article]

reprinted with permission of Pets Magazine

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