Cats allowed to wander outdoors may engage in fights and are at high risk to contract feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.
When cats engage in frequent fights, they are at high risk for abscesses and for contracting and spreading serious illnesses, such as rabies, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Cats that contract these viruses may then spread them to other cats in future encounters.
Cats with FeLV or FIV have weakened defenses against infection and may struggle to defeat an infection if bitten by other cats. Test outdoor cats regularly for these viruses.
Though most cats will test positive for FIV within several weeks of being bitten by an infected cat, if your cat tests negative, do not retest it sooner than 90 days after exposure. This will rule out false negative results obtained during incubation of the virus.
Outdoor cats must be current on their vaccinations, especially rabies and FeLV. Though a FIV vaccine came out several years ago and continues to gain popularity, some controversy remains regarding its usage. At this time, no test can distinguish between vaccinat ed and infected cats.
Administration of this FIV vaccine causes cats to test positive for the virus, and currently there is no way to determine if the positive cat is infected, immune or both. Once scientists develop an appropriate test, the FIV vaccine should gain more widespread acceptance.
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