The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has updated their testing and management guidelines for the feline retroviruses FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukemia virus).

These two potentially life-threatening illnesses can be managed with proper owner education, testing, and vaccinations.  As the AAFP notes in an article on

“Education and early testing can greatly assist in the treatment and management of feline retrovirus infections. Routine veterinary care, when cats are well and when they are sick, can lead to better care and decrease the spread of infection…with regular healthcare and reduced stress, cats infected with retroviruses, especially FIV, may live many healthy years.”

The new guidelines are designed for veterinarians in private practice, as well as those in shelter medicine, because these diseases can spread in multi-cat environments.

Testing is key to identifying infected cats, especially when they are in contact with other cats.  FIV is often spread via saliva in bite wounds, especially in adult males.  About 3-5% of cats in North America have FIV.  FeLV is commonly passed from the mother to her kittens, often through grooming and feeding.  4% of cats in North America are thought to have FeLV.

Vets can download the 2020 guidelines via the AAFP website HERE.  Cat owners interested in learning more about FIV and FeLV can download an electronic owner education brochure HERE.  You can learn more about how to spot an infected cat, testing and vaccinations, and how to care for a cat living with FIV or FeLV.



5 thoughts on “Updated Veterinary Guidelines for Cat Health: FIV and FeLV

  1. I have 2 male FIV+ cats who do have chronic problems. The possibility of them biting anyone is slim to none. I was reassured it had to be a deep bite wound because I was concerned about scratches when boys tussle with one another. Good nutrition, clean water and gentle treatments (acupressure, herbs, homeopathy, chiropractic adjustments) are what our cats get. I don’t believe in vaccinating immune compromised cats so they do not get any vaccines. None of our cats get vaccines …. all are special needs and they do not need anything like vaccines to stress their bodies even more. Thank goodness my Vet is realizing this truth.

    1. Supportive care is so important for cats with chronic health conditions. Keeping them well fed and calm, etc. One of my cats has intestinal problems, possibly immune-related, and the vet feels skipping vacs in his case makes sense.

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