Did you know that the average life span of an indoor cat is around fifteen years? In contrast, an outdoor cat lives on average of just over three years. That is an amazing difference of twelve years, and longevity in pet health can be linked to two cat viruses that are very similar to our own AIDS virus. Both Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are viruses that affect only our feline friends. Even though these viruses are similar in some ways they are also very different.
The most common of these two viruses is FeLV. This virus primarily affects cat's immune systems, destroying the cells that fight off infections. So in actuality, FeLV doesn't kill its host, simple mild infections in your pet's health will be the fatal blow. Small infected scratches, upper respiratory infections, and other common infections are usually mild but if our cat's immune system didn't work they could easily be deadly. This virus can also cause certain types of cancers that can be deadly to our cats. Unfortunately, seventy-five percent of cats will die within two years when infected with this virus. Of the twenty-five percent that survive and clear the virus one out of five will become re-infected. The virus can hibernate in the bone marrow and return at a later date. FeLV is very prevalent in intact male cats because these cats have the most contact with other cats via fighting and sexual contact. The virus is transmitted in all body fluids even saliva, and mothers' milk.
FIV, on the other hand, is a virus that is very similar to AIDS in both what it does and how it is transmitted. It is important to understand is only transmitted from cat to cat. FIV also affects and eventually destroys the immune system also allowing common infections to your pet's health to become deadly. Unlike FeLV though there has been no link to certain cancers. Cats with this virus typically live longer. The major difference is that unlike FeLV this virus is incurable, they will always be infected. FIV has also been found to be harder to transmit than FeLV. Only blood or sexual contact can cause the spread of this virus unlike FeLV which can be transmitted via water bowls in the saliva or nursing mothers. While it is spreadable, there are only low numbers of infected cats within the United States.
On the positive side, both ailments to pet health are preventable and manageable. There are some great vaccine options for FeLV so your pet cannot catch this deadly disease. To date, there are no real effective vaccines for FIV. But, with both of these diseases spaying and neutering greatly reduce the risk for infection. Outdoor males pose the biggest safety threat since they are the main instigator of fights. It is especially important to have your animals spayed or neutered, particularly if they are going to remain outdoors. Most veterinary offices recommend testing for FeLV and FIV yearly for indoor and outdoor cats. Even if your pet has previously been vaccinated for FeLV, they can still get infected with FIV. Even if your pets get these two viruses they can still live mostly normal lives. Also, any little sniffle or scratch in these animals could be life-threatening so it is very important to visit your local veterinarian and get good antibiotic coverage. These viruses are easy to detect and most veterinarians can do a simple blood test, so please get routine checkups.
Gary Pearson is an accomplished niche website developer and author.
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