So there is a commerical on these days from Purina that shows a cat “knocking” on a family’s door in the middle of a thunderstorm (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRb8rs4kQdc). They take the cat in, which I am totally in favor of. But every time I watch the commercial I think about how they need to think about the safety of their other two cats.
If you have other cats, then the safest thing to do is to keep them separate until you take the found kitten in to the vet. They will do a thorough physical exam to look for good general health and make sure that we take care of fleas and intestinal parasites. However, these are minor compared to the lifelong complications that may come from either FeLV or FIV. The good news is, there is a test for that!
Above is a simple in house test that we use for FeLV and FIV testing. Since it tests for both, we call it a “combo” test. This needs to happen to every cat in your household as soon as they start to interact with one another. Its the best way to quickly take a sigh of relief and let everyone play together.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is far more concerning and easily spread among cats by casual contact, while Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is most commonly spread through bite wounds. The blue dot in the picture is the control dot, and is always present to indicate the test is working. The other two tests only show up blue if the disease is detected in the cat’s blood.
One interesting point: If the kitten is less than 6 months old, the test may be falsely positive. That is, the kitten’s blood says that it is positive, but really the mom had the disease, and the kitten’s immune system is trying to clear the disease. Sometimes it is cleared, and sometimes the disease is actually transmitted from mom to kitten.
So go ahead, take lots of damp stray cats in. They will appreciate it. But your current cats will appreciate a heads up on what diseases may be walking in the front door.
In the next post, I will talk about what FeLV and FIV are and what they do.
– Doc Cleland