New FIV and FeLV guidelines: What do they mean for shelter cats?

Tabby cat in green plaid cat bed with green cat toyFeline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infections used to mean an automatic death sentence for shelter cats. Today, the American Association of Feline Practitioners released its new Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines, launching a new tide of optimism and positive outcomes for shelter cats diagnosed with either of these retroviruses.

The Guidelines provide streamlined, shelter-specific algorithms for screening, vaccination, and management.

Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at UF professor Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DABVP (Shelter Medicine) is Retrovirus Guidelines Co-Chair, and said the Guidelines “address rapidly evolving knowledge about how testing results, clinical expression, and prognosis for FeLV may change over time relative to the cat’s current immune response and resulting levels of virus in circulation, how quantitative testing may be used to better inform clinical decision-making, and an emerging trend in which screening for FeLV and FIV is increasingly shifting from animal shelters, where cats are adopted, to veterinary practices, where animals receive comprehensive care.”

What is included in the new FIV and FeLV Guidelines?

The updated Guidelines are published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery and represent a consensus of current information compiled by an international panel of researchers and practitioners. They focus on feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infections, which are found in cats worldwide. The spread of these viruses can be minimized through education, testing, and vaccinations..

“The 2020 Feline Retrovirus Testing and Management Guidelines contain much new information about feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus infections. The Guidelines were written by an international panel of experts and included not only retrovirus researchers, but veterinarians working in private practice and in shelters. We hope these Guidelines will be of practical use for all veterinarians. The panel is especially proud to have endorsement of the Guidelines by the International Society of Feline Medicine,” said Retrovirus Guidelines Co-Chair Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline).

Click here to download the Guidelines and a cat owner information brochure.

And read more about adoption outcomes for FeLV-positive shelter cats.