Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can be fatal for cats. The diseases caused by these viruses do not show very specific clinical signs and the diagnosis with certainty can only be made after a serological examination.
Cats infected with one of these viruses can live a long and healthy life if detected and treated early. Clinical signs can only appear after years. This serological test detects antibodies for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus antigen (FeLV).
How much does a feline leukemia test cost?
The main factor that will determine the cost of a feline leukemia test is the method you choose as there are two well-known methods. You can choose to take your pet to a vet, where they will take a sample of blood for gathering the results or you can get this test at home, using a sample of tears or saliva from your pet.
The cost of an at-home test, that uses a saliva sample, is anywhere between $40 and $55. However, the results are controversial as an IFA test is required for confirming the results in case the saliva test is positive. For instance, a Petco at-home test from Perfect Pet costs around $40, while a highly rated at-home test is sold on Amazon for $45 to $60.
On the other hand, if you choose to go to a vet for a feline leukemia test, you will have to take into consideration the examination fees as well, which would be anywhere between $60 and $85, depending on your location. These fees plus the cost of the test itself, which is anywhere between $20 and $35, will result in a total amount of $80 to $120.
There will be required an IFA test in case the results will be positive. The cost of an IFA test is around $30.
How is FeLV infection diagnosed?
There are two commonly used tests that detect FeLV infection. Both see a protein component of the virus that circulates through the blood system.
ELISA, and other similar tests, can be done in the veterinarian’s office. ELISA-type tests detect both primary and secondary viremia.
IFA – this test is done in a diagnostic laboratory. The IFA test only detects secondary viremia, so most cats tested positive for IFA remain infected for the rest of their lives.
Each of these testing methods has strengths and weaknesses. The veterinarian may initially suggest an ELISA test, but in some cases, both tests must be done and/or repeated in order to accurately establish the stage of the infection.
Symptoms of Feline Leukemia
The symptoms caused by the virus vary from cat to cat and it is impossible to predict precisely how it will develop. There are cats that actually manage to eliminate the virus on their own, others that, despite being sick, have no symptoms.
Others have very generic symptoms (fever, little desire to move, little appetite) and some that present the worst symptoms, may have lymphomas, which are actually tumors that can appear in different parts of the body and that must be treated through surgery (if possible) or with chemotherapy.
How is Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) transmitted?
FeLV is a virus that only affects cats – it cannot infect humans, dogs, or other animals. Between cats, however, transmission is through saliva, blood, and sometimes through feces or urine – the most common ways of transmission are fights between specimens or toileting. Kittens can contract the virus intrauterine, or through their mother’s milk.
First of all, it should be known that sick cats, regardless of the disease they have, are four times more likely to develop one of the forms of leukemia. Researchers have estimated that approximately 50% of cats that have a severe bacterial infection, as well as 75% of cats that develop toxoplasmosis, also develop a form of leukemia. Furthermore, research has shown that males are 1.7 times more prone to leukemia than females, young cats being always more susceptible to the disease than old ones. The disease occurs, most of the time, in cats up to 6 years old, the average age of leukemia being established at the age of 3 years.
Stray cats are much more prone to leukemia than those who live next to a human house. Less than 1% of cats living in the house are infected with the leukemic syndrome, while the rate of stray cats, in terms of the disease, reaches 3%, according to the latest studies. Also, as a curiosity, leukemia is much more common in homes where several cats live together, than in those with only one.
How can we prevent infection with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)?
The best way to prevent FeLV infection is to keep the cat indoors, avoiding contact with possibly infected cats. In addition, there is a vaccine for the feline leukemia virus, but it does not guarantee immunity.
Remember: before vaccination, it is mandatory that the cat be tested.