Updated: Oct 22, 2019
Hi Ms. Jones, this is your Vet’s office calling, we have some bad news to share…
No one likes to hear this sentence, particularly when it relates to a beloved friend and companion.
Testing for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), is routine in nearly all vet visits, particularly when you adopt a new cat. FeLV is a chronic, contagious and debilitating disease that can significantly affect your cat's quality of life and life span and should not be taken lightly. The fact that there is no cure for FeLV makes the situation even more frustrating. This is why testing for FeLV and receiving a complete and accurate result is absolutely critical when care for your feline friend...it could sometimes mean the difference between life and death...
How to accurately test for FeLV?
FeLV testing is done either at your local vet or by a lab your vet uses for all their blood work. Testing performed in the vet’s office (also known as Point of Care or POC), has improved significantly in both accuracy and speed. So did testing in the lab. Unfortunately both of these methods require a physical visit to the vet’s office, blood drawing, and are often associated with very steep costs ($150). Furthermore, both the POC and lab test use the exact same technology, known as Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay or ELISA, so using these tests together provides no new information on the disease.
Because of these limitations, most vets agree that a different test that is independent and different from the ELISA method should be used. One such method is called PCR, and is proven to be more sensitive and detect FeLV up to two weeks earlier than ELISA testing. The reason most vets recommend a secondary test is because many ELISA based tests such as the SNAP test do have a rate of false positive results (False positive means you results say you are positive for FeLV when in fact you do not have the virus at all).
So how important is it to retest you cat for FeLV? Just ask Clyde!
In wonderful story posted on Calvinspaws.com. In 2015, Calvin’s Paws received a request to help with a beautiful kitty. Clyde was diagnosed with FeLV at the time he was neutered, offering a devastating blow to their owners. The good people at Calvin’s Paws took Clyde in. With good practice, they decided to go over Clyde’s medical records and noticed that Clyde was tested for FeLV using IDEXX FeLV triple test...that meant a retest was in order. They rushed to the vet, and sure enough when tested again, Clyde was NEGATIVE FOR FeLV. This meant that this gorgeous cat had no FeLV and was potentially at risk of being euthanized for no reason. Digging deeper, it was obvious that initially the lab re-ran the test, using the same IDEXX test, which as expected resulted in the same wrong results. Only when a different test was used, was the diagnosis correct and Clyde was in the clear!
So what should you do to screen AND confirm FeLV in your cat?
Testing for FeLV doesn’t need to be expensive or stressful. The European Advisory Board on Cat Disease (ABCD) provides an excellent series of guidelines on how test and care for FeLV positive cat. In their FeLV page they state that “Detection of viral RNA in saliva is a reliable parameter of viraemia (Gomes-Keller et al., 2006b). The use of saliva as the substrate represents an alternative for assessing the infectious state of a cat without leading to unnecessary stress to the patient which usually resents blood sampling”. PCR as a method for testing for FeLV is further endorsed by American Veterinarian where Dr. Little states that “PCR turns positive earlier than any other test—as early as 2 weeks after infection”. All cats should be tested, even kittens. The best way to go about testing for FeLV is using a non-ELISA method, such as PCR, and testing for the presence of FeLV in site other than blood, for example in Saliva.
What makes CatDX a better choice for FeLV Testing?
Simply put, CatDX uses PCR (highly sensitive) AND tests for FeLV in saliva and not blood. This means you can test your cat(s) using home collection kit (which contains a standard cotton swab), put it in the mail, and CatDX will do the rest.
Our test means:
1) Lower cost (save as much as $125 per test, for 5 cats your savings may be as high as $625)
2) Less Stress - do it in the comfort of your home.
3) An easy to read test report that you can understand
Learn more by visiting our FAST-LV saliva test page click Here.
This blog was prepared by CatDX.com LLC. CatDX mission is to develop and provide accurate affordable pet testing. We know that going to your vet can be stressful and expensive so we developed a saliva test for FeLV at a fraction of the cost. Learn more at CatDX.com