by Ben J. Character, DVM
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficency Virus (FIV), and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) are three serious viruses that affect domestic cats.
Only Feline Leukemia has an effective vaccination available. The vaccination is approximately 80% effective in preventing infection with FeLV. Unfortunately, there is no cure for FeLV.
FIV is very similar to the virus HIV, but it is not contagious to humans. This virus attacks the immune system, preventing the cat from protecting itself from infections. Causing similar symptoms to HIV, such as chronic infections and lack of energy, there is no cure for FIV.
FIP is not a new virus, but it has given researchers a hard time figuring out the scope of the virus, Currently, it is believed that FIP comes from a mutated virus of the GI tract. At this time, there is no cure for FIP.
There is good news! Kittens can be tested as early as 6 weeks old to screen for an infection of FeLV and FIV, and all of the above mentioned viruses can be prevented by minimizing contact between your pet and those that may be carriers of the infection. Spaying and neutering are excellent ways of encouraging cats to stay close to home. In addition, the Feline Leukemia vaccine can be routinely given to cats that have tested negatively.