Testing very young kittens for FIV/FeLV

Antonio65

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I recently found and rescued three kittens, 6-7 weeks old. Two of them were going to risk their eyes, but they were rescued just in time to save them.

The vet wanted to run a FIV/FeLV test on all the kittens, the usual IDEXX snap test. Two of them tested positive for FIV, one tested negative for both diseases. I asked the vet why this difference, and whether it makes any sense in testing so young kittens.
She explained something that I haven't fully understood and I think there's a bit of confusion. She said that the two positive kittens got the antibodies from the mother through milk and it reflects the fact that the two positive kittens stayed with their mother longer (as it is the case, they remained with their mother about 10 days longer than the other kitten did), but it's likely they will grow negative in time, while there's no doubt that the negative kitten is healthy.
I remember it was the opposite, but didn't want to argue with the vet.

Can someone explain this thing to me? And what should I expect?
The negative kitten is home with me now.

Thanks!
 

FeebysOwner

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I have always understood it the way your vet explained it. A positive FIV test detects antibodies, and kittens get their antibodies from their mother's milk. A positive FIV test suggests the mama is infected - but the kittens may or may not be, so they will need to tested again. (I think they usually say around 6 months of age?) A negative FIV test should be confirmed with a re-test, but for all intents and purposes, the kitten is most likely FIV free.

A kitten that tests positive for FeLV most likely has the virus, but they still should be re-tested at a later date, regardless. If they test negative it is usually considered a valid result, without re-testing. But, I am sure some vets think they should be re-tested when they are a bit older, especially if they have been around other cats/kittens who may have it, since it is easier to contract than FIV.
 

CatladyJan

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My understanding is sometimes there are false positives at least for FELUK. Sometimes the kitten may have it but can fight it off.
 

cataholic07

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Rescues don't even bother testing really, especially the young kittens. We had kittens test felv positive then be negative, then have negative ones test positive, then negative later. It's been a gong show lol. I wouldnt test until 6 months old to be honest.
 

CatladyJan

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Rescues don't even bother testing really, especially the young kittens. We had kittens test felv positive then be negative, then have negative ones test positive, then negative later. It's been a gong show lol. I wouldnt test until 6 months old to be honest.
Some rescues may not, but the one I worked for did. I do understand the complexity of the the test and false negatives etc...
 

white shadow

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Antonio65 Antonio65 - there's a comprehensive coverage of FIV testing in Cornell's article on FIV. Make sure you read three sections: Diagnosis, Positive results, and Negative results.

Note also that there are now (after the development of PCR) three types of tests available......and, that there are still false results!

Here you are: Cornell Feline Health Center - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi everybody - I made a statement above:
A kitten that tests positive for FeLV most likely has the virus, but they still should be re-tested at a later date, regardless.
A member has kindly pointed out to me that my verbiage of "most likely has" would have been better served with the use of 'may or may not have'.

So, in the spirit of clarification, if needed, please let me re-phrase as follows: A kitten that tests positive for FeLV may or may not have the virus, but they still should be re-tested at a later date, regardless.

If anyone was confused by my original statement, I do hope this will clear it up!
 
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Antonio65

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Antonio65 Antonio65 - there's a comprehensive coverage of FIV testing in Cornell's article on FIV. Make sure you read three sections: Diagnosis, Positive results, and Negative results.

Note also that there are now (after the development of PCR) three types of tests available......and, that there are still false results!

Here you are: Cornell Feline Health Center - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
.

Incredibly informative article, thank you white shadow white shadow , this helped me a lot.
 
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