Are you near Raleigh? I'm envious. Most of my info on FeLV comes from Dr Richard Ford (now emeritus) at NC State and one of the foremost experts on Infectious Disease in cats and dogs, as well as a co-author of the AAHA Canine and AAFP Feline Vaccination Guidelines. Three weeks ago I attended a vet CE conference, attended his 5 talks (including on FeLV) and spent a lot of time with him over the weekend asking questions. I can't speak for Dr Ford, but he does trust my knowledge and encourages me to answer questions and reference him. I try my best to give accurate info ... though I am just a simple pet owner and not a vet.
One thing to keep in mind, as I posted above ... is that kittens are VERY susceptible to FeLV infection ... but adults over 8 months of age have a natural resistance (even without vaccination) and are difficult to infect.
In the past, it was thought that a significant number of cats/kittens cleared the infection because of the negative test results. But in recent years, after the development of the Real Time PCR (RT-PCR) test which can detect the DNA provirus even during a Regressive infection (when SNAP and IFA are negative) ... they now believe that the vast majority of kittens that are infected do not clear the disease and are infected for life. But if they have a good immune system, the infection may remain regressive (dormant) for years or life ... but has the potential to become an active ("Progressive") infection. So, if a kitten tests positive and then later tests negative, it is still better to assume the kitten is still infected. Chances are that your female kitten that tested positive initially and then negative at 5 months, probably has a Regressive infection.
BUT if the SNAP (ELISA) test is negative ... then all feel that the cat is not shedding and will not be contagious. So, if a cat is negative on the SNAP test, you can feel comfortable with other cats around that cat, particularly if the other cats are healthy adults since they have a strong natural resistance to infection.
I'm not sure of the cost, but you could ask your vet about a PCR test for FeLV. I'm a little confused about the PCR tests (one question I didn't get to ask Dr Ford about). I think there is both a regular PCR test and then the RT-PCR test. The RT-PCR seems to be the better test but only done at university research labs. But I think the regular PCR test is done by some commercial labs and can detect the FeLV DNA provirus. The AAFP Retrovirus Guidelines suggest caution with the PCR tests because they are easily contaminated and require a lot of expertise to analyze. But if you use a major lab, like IDEXX, it might be worth doing if you want to feel more confident in the FeLV status of your cats. I suspect that the PCR tests will be less expensive than the bone marrow aspiration.
If your female cat is SNAP negative and the other cats in the household are adults, vaccination probably isn't necessary but might give added insurance. The good news is that there is a NEW Merial recombinant FeLV (rFeLV) vaccine in the US that is given by injection and gives excellent protection, including "cell mediated immunity". It is the ONLY FeLV vaccine that does NOT contain any adjuvant. The Vaccine Associated Sarcomas (VAS) are a result of chronic inflammation along with a cat's genetic predisposition. Adjuvant causes chronic inflammation ... but the rFeLV vaccine has no adjuvant and very little inflammation (equal to injecting saline) ... and greatly reduces the risk of a VAS. So, giving the rFeLV vaccine is a safe option if you want added protection.
By the way, it is felt that cats with a Regressive FeLV infection (test negative) can still "turn on" the oncogenes, causing lymphoma, even while the cat continues to test negative for FeLV. It is possible that FeLV may have been behind your 2 yr old's lymphoma. No way to know.
If you want to talk more off list, here is my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't know if you saw my most recent reply ... but your experience fits exactly what I said above. Kittens are by far much more susceptible to FeLV infection. If a young kitten is exposed to FeLV it will likely become infected. For that reason the experts who wrote the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) "strongly recommended" that ALL kittens be vaccinated for FeLV ... even "indoor" kittens because they can easily get outside.
But it is known that once a cat's own immune system matures (ca 6-8 months) it has a natural resistance to FeLV. It isn't absolute, but in general, it is hard to infect a healthy adult cat with FeLV. It has made it hard to do "duration of immunity" tests on FeLV vaccines because it is hard to know if the vaccine is protecting the cat or if it is their own natural resistance. But the resistance isn't absolute, so it is still possible for an adult to become infected ... it just isn't easy.
FeLV is a rather wimpy virus that doesn't last long in the environment. So it is primarily transferred by prolonged intimate contact (or a bite wound) but not generally via the environment or casual contact (i.e. for adult cats).
Be careful though about kittens that test positive and then later become negative. It is most likely that they did NOT "overcome" it and are still infected. But when the usual screening test (ELISA/SNAP) is negative, you can feel confident that they are not shedding and are not contagious to other cats.
FeLV is a retrovirus that is very complex. The usual SNAP test looks for the virus when it is circulating in the blood stream, which occurs for about 2 months after infection and then later if it becomes a "progressive" infection.
But FeLV is essentially an infection of the cells ... particularly lymphocytes (a type of blood cell) in the bone marrow. Once it is inside the cell, the SNAP test cannot detect it.
Once inside the cell, another test (called IFA) can initially detect it. FeLV is a single stranded RNA virus. When it enters the cell, it has an enzyme (reverse transcriptase) that turns the single strand RNA virus into a double stranded DNA virus. That DNA virus is called DNA "provirus".
After the FeLV turns itself into DNA provirus, it then enters the cell nucleus and integrates itself into the cat's own genome. At that point it BECOMES a part of the cat ... and the cat will be infected for life.
While the SNAP test will detect FeLV in circulation ... and the IFA test will detect it inside of the cell BEFORE it integrates itself into the cat's genome .... once it does become part of the cat's own genes, it will be NEGATIVE on both the SNAP and IFA tests. It is easy to think that the cat has cleared the virus and is no longer infected ... but that is not true. Rather it becomes latent (called a "regressive" infection) and may hide and not cause any disease for weeks, months or years. But in many cats, at some point the FeLV provirus will become active and start producing thousands of copies of itself ... becoming a "progressive" infection that results in immune suppression and disease ... and sometimes cancer.
Though during the latent/regressive phase both the SNAP and IFA tests are negative ... in recent years researchers have developed a PCR test that can detect the DNA provirus. So, while at one time researchers did think that many cats "cleared" FeLV when the SNAP and IFA tests became negative, now they know that most, if not all, cats remain infected ... since they can detect the provirus even during the latent infection. It may remain dormant for the life of the cat and never be a problem ... or it could become active and result in disease, even many years later.
However, if the SNAP is negative, the cat is not contagious. But if the cat gets sick in the future, it should be retested for FeLV.
You may know already but for those who don't yet, I attended a vet CE conference a week ago and spoke with Dr Richard Ford of NC State (a co-author of the Feline Vaccination Guidelines) and I learned that as of January this year there is a new FeLV vaccine available.
It is a NEW recombinant FeLV vaccine by Merial (their Purevax line) which is administered by subcutaneous injection. Previously, Merial had a recombinant FeLV vaccine in the US that had to be administered with a transdermal device that many vets didn't like to use. The new vaccine in the US is different from the injectable Purevax rFeLV vaccine that has been available in Europe and Canada. The new vaccine has been modified so that it gives better cell mediated immunity (CMI) which may be beneficial in FeLV since it is an intracellular disease. Like all vaccines in the Purevax line, it does not contain any adjuvant, which may reduce the risk of vaccine associated sarcoma.
As you know, FeLV is VERY contagious to kittens with immature immune systems, hence the AAFP Vaccination Guidelines recommends that ALL kittens be vaccinated for FeLV. But adult cats with mature immune systems (generally they mature between 6 and 8 months of age) have a natural resistance to FeLV infection ... not complete immunity, but a resistance that makes it difficult for adult cats to become infected. A virologist at NC State makes the comparison by suggesting that on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most susceptible ... a young kitten will be a 10, but an adult cat will have a susceptibility to infection of about 1.5, even without any vaccination.
So, while adult cats that have a significant risk of exposure (e.g. outdoor cats or living with FeLV cats) should probably be vaccinated annually for FeLV ... most adult cats that live inside do not need FeLV vaccinations and have a natural resistance. So, owners should have the greatest concern for protecting young kittens, but they are right not to worry too much about adult cats becoming infected from casual contact.
And, for those who do vaccinate kittens and/or adults for FeLV, it is great that the US now has an injectable recombinant FeLV vaccine that gives excellent protection without containing any adjuvant.
I'm a bit confused. May I ask you a question about Mycoplasma?
I've listened to vet talks about "Mycoplasma felis" which I thought was a respiratory form of mycoplasma. My own cat tested positive for it on an IDEXX URI panel, though my cat is not sick and my vet (and Dr Richard Ford of NC State, whom I asked about it) felt that it is likely just a part of my cat's natural flora. But I know that Dr Lappin at Colorado State feels that in some cats, Mycoplasma felis is a primary cause of upper respiratory disease.
Then, I've heard talks about Mycoplasma haemofelis (formerly called Haemobartonella felis) which is a parasite that attacks the red blood cells and can cause anemia.
I know that both are "mycoplasmas" ... which are unique in that they do not have a cell wall of their own. But are Mycoplasma felis and Mycoplasma haemofelis two different strains ... or are they the same thing that is found in different parts of the cat?
I thought that they were distinctly different (which may be a wrong assumption on my part). But it is interesting that in the post above, Piggy was initially taken to the vet's for upper respiratory disease ... and then found to be anemic with Mycoplasma haemofelis. So, is it the same mycoplasma that is causing both the anemia and also the upper respiratory infection? Or, did Piggy have the bad luck of being co-infected by two different types of mycoplasma (one attacking the blood cells and one in the respiratory tract). Or, is it possible that the URI is caused by something else?
I'm confused by the relationship of Mycoplasma felis to Mycoplasma haemofelis. Are they the same or different?
I've heard Dr Lappin also recommend Doxycyline for Mycoplasma ... whether Mycoplasma felis or Mycoplasma haemofelis. So, it does seem like the best treatment for either or both. Dr Lappin also recommends Doxycycline for a number of other bacterial causes of upper respiratory infection ... so, I think it would be good to use even if there are other co-infections involved. Do you agree, or am I misunderstanding something?
One other question. I've also read elsewhere (Veterinary Partner website) that Prednisone is used for severe Mycoplasma haemofelis to suppress the immune response. But what happens if one factor of the URI is Herpesvirus? I've also heard that steroids can cause Herpes to get much worse since it suppresses the immune system which is needed to control the Herpes. Given the seriousness of the Mycoplasma haemofelis, do you give the Pred and then deal with the Herpes if it gets worse (i.e. if Herpes is involved)? I know that veterinary medicine is an "art" and it can be tricky to balance multiple co-infections or diseases.
Just wanted to add a little to your wonderful post. Though your post subject says "pets", you mentioned only dog related diseases. So, I just wanted to mention a few reasons that flea and tick control is important for cats, too.
Cats can have the same flea problems as dogs in terms of itching, scratching and in severe infections, flea anemia. Many cats also have an allergy to fleas so that even a single flea bite can cause severe dermatitis (skin infection). And, Fleas are a source of tape worms, so cats that have had fleas should also be wormed.
Also important in terms of fleas and cats is the transmission of two diseases (among others) ... Bartonella henselae (aka Cat Scratch Disease) ... and Mycoplasma hemofelis (formerly called Hemobartonella felis and sometimes called Feline Infectious Anemia).
My understanding is that Bartonella (Cat Scratch Disease) is transmitted, not by the flea bite, but by cats ingesting infected flea feces (flea dirt), which is common with cats when they groom themselves. It is felt that most cats do not become sick from Bartonella (though some specialists now feel that it may be a disease factor in some cats) ... the concern is that it can be transmitted to humans, particularly those with compromised immune systems.
I seldom see many talk about tick disease in cats, but there is one very serious and often lethal disease that is transmitted to cats by ticks called Cytauxzoonosis. It's primary reservoir is the Bobcat which transmits it to ticks that can then infect domestic cats. It seems to be found mostly in the SE US with the American Dog tick as the tick most likely to transmit it. I think the experts used to feel that Cytauxzoonosis was nearly always fatal, but now believe that there are some strains that are less virulent and some cats survive after getting sick and some seem to not get sick even though infected. Even so, the CAPC website states that mortality is over 50%.
I think many people in the SE use tick preventatives on their dogs but don't think about doing so with their cats. But if their cats go outside (or dogs may bring ticks inside) it might be wise to give preventatives to cats as well.
Well, I just wanted to add a little to the good info you gave on dogs. I'm not a vet or anything, and hope most of my info is correct. My "hobby" is listening to recordings of talks from vet CE conferences (NAVC, CVC, AAHA, etc) and I enjoy learning, though am painfully aware of how little I know.
By the way, I saw on your bio that you live in the Atlanta area. Do you know a vet there, now retired ... Dr Karen Thomas? While I live in Montreal, I have been corresponding with Dr Thomas for a couple years and she has become a friend and teacher.
Cats don't "cry" out of sadness in the way humans do by producing tears. I'm not a vet and my first recommendation is always to have a vet check it. The vet may want to rule out other causes such as a tear duct blockage or other problem.
But the description of tears sounds like a classic description of one of the most common upper respiratory viruses in cats, called Feline Herpesvirus-1. If the eye discharge is thick and yellow or green, then there may be either a primary or secondary bacterial infection. But "tears" suggest a clear discharge that is most common with Herpes, though it could be another common virus (Calici).
Herpes is extremely common in cats and many simply call it "Cat flu" or a "cold". But it is a virus that, once infected, cats have for life ... but in most cats with good immune systems, Herpes becomes latent (dormant) and hides so that there are no symptoms. Some cats then have future Herpes "episodes", most frequently after periods of stress.
That sounds like it may fit your situation. Kittens are easily infected with Herpes (their mother could have and shed it, even though she has no symptoms). Since he has had some stress lately with the loss of littermates and his Mom being gone for a while, that stress could have brought on a Herpes episode.
The severity of Herpes depends on the cat's immune system and ability to keep Herpes under control (i.e. make it latent so that there are no symptoms ... it is similar to humans that get cold sores after times of stress). Also, are your cats vaccinated (using a Modified Live vaccine, either injected or intranasal) for Herpes/Calici which is one of the "Core" vaccines? It is important that your kittens receive a final kitten-series vaccination at or after 16 weeks of age. The Herpes vaccination will NOT prevent a kitten/cat from becoming infected by Herpes/Calici, nor will it prevent all symptoms. But the vaccine will make the symptoms more mild and help shorten the duration of the episodes. The "watery eyes" is a mild sign of Herpes, so it sounds like you may have had them (mother and kitten) vaccinated.
In many cats, Herpes symptoms do not last long (a few hours to a few days) and the cat's immune system can get it under control without help. For others, it can become more serious and chronic. For those cats, the first treatment usually given is the addition of an amino acid called L-lysine to the food once or twice a day. Lysine will not cure Herpes (nothing will) but it helps slow the replication so that the immune system can get it under control. Cats that have chronic episodes of Herpes are often given Lysine for life, while others just get it during flare-ups.
In more difficult Herpes cases where Lysine isn't sufficient to control it, there are now a couple good antiviral medications that are safe in cats. The one that most of the veterinary experts are recommending now is called Famciclovir which they find to be effective and safe in cats. There is also a topical (eye drop) antiviral called Cidofovir, that can be used but I don't think it is commercially available and your vet needs to get it from an ophthalmologist. Again, those medications will not "cure" Herpes, but will help get it under control. You may see flare-ups in the future after times of stress.
I'm just assuming the problem is Herpes from your description since it is so common in cats. But you need to have a vet check if your kitten continues to have watery eyes.
If you are not a trained, pedigree breeder of Turkish Angoras, I would encourage you to spay your mother cat (and spay/neuter all cats). There are so many cats looking for homes that there is no need to have more litters. Also, spaying your female will lower her risk for mammary cancer later in life and make her less likely to want to get outside.
If your cat hasn't eaten anything (or "virtually nothing") in five days it is an emergency situation. Cats need to eat regularly, or they can be at risk for a serious (potentially deadly) liver disease called "hepatic lipidosis" ("fatty liver") ... particularly if your cat was overweight at all or on a high carbohydrate diet. But even if not, going 5 days with little or nothing to eat is dangerous. And not drinking will cause him to be dehydrated and can also be life threatening. Did the vet check his hydration?
At the very least, I would have expected your vet to draw blood for a full blood test (blood chemistry and CBC) to check organ function and look for clues to his not eating. Were any x-rays done to look for potential obstructions (could he have eaten something he shouldn't have?) or constipation. Did the vet take a very close and careful look at his mouth ... to see if there are any dental or other mouth issues that might be causing him pain so that he doesn't want to eat? Something else your vet may want to test for is Pancreatitis that can effect appetite. There is a quick in-clinic screening test for pancreatitis now (IDEXX lab's SNAP fPL) or a better one sent to the lab (Spec fPL) that is done from a blood sample.
If your vet hasn't done those basic diagnostic tests, I would look for another vet who will check them. If nothing can be found, you might want to consult an Internal Medicine specialist (or Board Certified Feline Specialist) who might want to do an ultrasound to look for evidence of other problems, like cancer.
Cats need to eat and when they don't, there is a problem. When it goes more than a day or two, it is time to look for an answer. If he isn't drinking, he is likely dehydrated and may need either IV fluids at the vet's or subcutaneous fluids (injected under the skin) to get his hydration back.
As your cat's owner, you know better than anyone else when something isn't right with your cat. And refusing food (and water) for more than a day or two is a sign that something is wrong and you need to do the necessary diagnostic tests to find out what the problem is. Good luck and I hope you get some answers and that it is something that can be taken care of.
I hope by now you have talked to your vet. The most important concern is if your cat has not urinated. Male cats can become blocked because they have a narrow urethra. If it becomes blocked it can be life threatening very quickly. You mention your vet "induced" urination. How was that done ... was your cat blocked before and the vet inserted a catheter (tube) to unblock him? If so, then he would be at a greater risk of another blockage which is an emergency situation.
At 10 yrs old, there is a greater possibility that the problem is a bacterial infection. Usually the specialists give about 10 yrs as the turning point ... cats less than 10 yrs are more likely NOT to have a bacterial infection (and more likely to have sterile cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder) ... and cats over ten years are more likely to have a bacterial infection, probably as a result of more dilute urine.
You are right that testing urine collected from the exam table is not "sterile" and can easily be contaminated. Generally, it is best to get a urine sample by cystocentesis (inserting a needle directly into the bladder ... which sounds bad but most cats are not bothered by it). Then they can do a "culture and sensitivity" test to see what bacteria grows and what antibiotic best treats it. The only thing a cystocentesis isn't good for is checking for blood in the urine because the act of inserting the needle can introduce a little blood into the urine sample. The problem now is that once an antibiotic is started, it will be difficult to find bacteria in a urine sample.
My recommendation (as a non-vet) is to talk to your vet (if you haven't already) and let him/her know about the lack of urination and defecation. Your vet may want to make sure he isn't blocked. The lack of eating may be a side effect of the Clavamox. I had a cat that used to get violently sick from Clavamox (i.e. vomiting). Most cats handle it well, but some get an upset stomach from it. Your vet might want to try another antibiotic.
A 10 yr old cat is a "senior". Has he had a general check-up as well? It would be wise to have a blood test (chemistry and CBC) specifically for seniors that would check things like kidney function, glucose and T4 (thyroid hormone).
In general, the best thing to do for cats with urinary issues is to try to increase the amount of water in the diet. If at all possible, feed canned food and add water to it. Also, trying different types of water bowls, running water, pet fountains, water from tuna cans, broth, ice cubes, etc. Increased water will help flush out the bladder. However, make sure that he does not have a urinary blockage first, since adding water to a blocked cat could be fatal.
One last suggestion is environmental ... to reduce stress as much as possible. There has been a lot of work done at Ohio State by Dr Tony Buffington that shows the connection between stress and urinary problems in cats. OSU has created a website called the "Indoor Pet Initiative" with many helpful suggestions on ways to enrich a cat's environment. They have found a great success rate at reducing episodes of cystitis by reducing stress. Here is a link: http://indoorpet.osu.edu/index.cfm
I'm not a vet, but my "hobby" is listening to recordings of talks given at vet CE conferences by some of the top veterinary researchers ... including many talks by the top experts who wrote the Canine Vaccination Guidelines for vets (just updated last year). So, I can share what I think I've learned from them.
Bottom line is that I think it should be okay, but watch your dog carefully today. Most Rabies reactions are more of an allergic type reaction and would be more likely to occur quickly after vaccination. The major risk factor is usually the giving of multiple vaccinations to a small dog ... but that is usually more than two vaccinations. Did your dog also receive other vaccines at that vet appointment (e.g. Distemper, Adenovirus 2, Parvo, Lepto, Lyme, etc)? The risk factor increases with the number of vaccines given, but even so, the percentage of dogs with negative reactions is still small. You posted 15 hours ago, so if you haven't seen any significant reaction, you are probably fine.
All Rabies vaccines for dogs are Killed Virus (KV) vaccines, which means they are made by taking the Rabies virus (or part of it) and using a chemical to "kill" it. So, there is no danger from an additional amount of "dead" virus with the second vaccination. But the immune system won't respond well to a dead virus, so all KV vaccines need an added chemical, called an "adjuvant" (usually something like aluminum) that causes an inflammation at the vaccination site. The purpose of the adjuvant is to wake up and stimulate the immune system to respond to a dead vaccine virus. In addition to the adjuvant, companies may include other things in vaccines like antibiotics, etc. It is all a "secret formula" by the manufacturer.
So, besides the double dose of the dead (killed) Rabies virus, your dog got a double dose of the other stuff in the vaccine. Many feel that it is the "other stuff" that is responsible for many of the post-vaccination reactions. But they are usually more of an immediate, allergic reaction, though some may take 1-3 months to appear ... e.g. skin discoloration or bleeding sores on the tips of the ears ... see the info on Dr Richard Ford's website (one of the co-authors of the Vaccination Guidelines): http://www.dvmvac.com/HotTopic.shtml#skin As he said, that seems to be, anectdotally, more common with the old Fort Dodge (now Boehringer Ingelheim) vaccines.
The really frustrating part is that with Rabies, the 3-yr and 1-yr vaccines are the SAME product, just with a different label (and a couple companies add more adjuvant to the 3-yr product). So, your dog, even with the 1-yr vaccine, was protected for at least 3 yrs. But the legal system won't recognize a 1-yr vaccine as protective for 3 yrs ... so after the first vaccination, immunologically your dog was protected but the law won't accept it for more than one year.
I think it would have been better if your vet had just refunded part of your money and asked you to come back in a year and then give the 3-yr vaccine (dogs need annual wellness checks anyway). But if you haven't seen any significant reaction by now, all should be okay. Cats are more sensitive to the inflammatory reactions of adjuvanted vaccines, but dogs generally handle it pretty well. The dead Rabies in the vaccine shouldn't be a problem. I'm assuming that this was a booster and not your dog's first/initial Rabies vaccination. So, the immune system will react quickly to boost immunity. Just keep an eye out for a couple months for skin/ear tip changes, but I think both are quite rare and not lethal. Based on what I think I've learned from the experts, I think that it is unlikely there will be any problems.
Yes, I think Baytril is quite bitter tasting. What I did when giving Baytril (and any other pill) to my cat was to put it in just enough cheese to cover the pill. I actually used a little of the Kraft individually wrapped cheese slices. I still gave it as a pill, but all my cat tasted was the cheese, not the bitter medication. I was lucky that she was easy to pill ... as long as I didn't try to restrain her in any way. You can also try the pill pockets made for cats or hide it in other types of food. But if a cat bites into it and tastes it, that can be a problem because of the bitter taste.
The transdermal gel medications are popular with cat owners, but are not always a good way to give medication. The problem is that it is difficult to determine for each individual cat how much of the medication is absorbed through the skin of the ear ... which may vary for different cats. That makes it very difficult to dose the medication properly. Until proper studies are done to determine how well a medication is absorbed through the skin, and how accurately it can be dosed ... it can be dangerous to give medications that way.
It is especially true with Baytril which has to be dosed very carefully. It is a very good and strong antibiotic when dosed properly in cats. But if given at more than 5 mg/kg/day it can cause damage to the retinas and blindness. It is very important not to overdose Baytril. So, I suspect that Baytril is one medication that wouldn't work as a transdermal gel ... though I'm not a vet and I don't know if it is ever formulated that way. I have only heard of Baytril being given either as a pill or intramuscular injection ... or by IV, though many don't give it that way anymore because of the increased risk of side effects including blindness.
You can ask your vet about a different type of antibiotic. There is a newer antibiotic out called Convenia (by Pfizer) that many cat owners like because it is given as an injection and is good for two weeks. But its primary use is for bacterial skin infections. Perhaps that would be okay in terms of preventing an infection at the incision site. But you would need to ask your vet whether it would be a proper antibiotic for your cat's particular needs. Here is the website for Convenia: http://animalhealth.pfizer.com/sites/pahweb/us/en/Products/Pages/Convenia.aspx