Testing For FIV (Feline HIV) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia)

FIV FeLV testing is one of the important routine exams that you should consider when you are a cat owner. The presence of FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukemia) are determined using the same set of tests, but interpretation of the results can be a bit more complicated. Researching information on these two diseases can give you a better idea of how to react when faced with this issue.

Testing Routine

Testing for FIV FeLV is performed by reading the results of a blood test. A needle will be injected into a blood vessel, just as with any blood test, and blood will be extracted for review. The blood sample is then mixed with a solution and spread across a filter that indicates the presence of infection, either by a color change or a developing line. This test is read similarly to that of a pregnancy test. There are two common forms of testing for FIV cats and cats who may have feline AIDS. These are the ELISA or the IFA. The ELISA test can be performed and read in-house by a qualified veterinarian in as little as 20 minutes. Because of the nature of the results, some veterinarians prefer to have the results sent out to a laboratory skilled in making the determination. An IFA test generally takes 1 to 2 days to obtain results.

Interpreting the Results

The results of the FIV FeLV test determines exposure to antibodies that fight against feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus. Because the cat has been exposed does not necessarily mean that the infection will develop and cause problems. Many cats are latent carriers of either disease, but may never experience symptoms. Especially in the case of young kittens, a healthy environment and proper nutrition will assist the immune system in fighting off either virus, and FIV cats, or those testing positive for FeLV can completely rid themselves of the virus, therefore testing negative in the future. There is a vaccination available for FIV that may also interfere with the results of testing. Though this vaccine is not widely used, if a cat has been immunized, it's possible for a future test to reveal positive results, even when no virus is actually present. A vaccinated mother cat can also result in her kittens testing positive for the virus.


The FIV FeLV test should be run on any cats experiencing severe illness or symptoms that may reflect a serious infection. A new cat coming into the household should be tested as well. Both infections are contagious and any exposure to an infected cat, especially by that of mucus, saliva or blood, could result in transmission. Keep infected cats inside and quarantined from other household cats. Providing complete and balanced nutrition, supportive therapy for underlying conditions or severe symptoms and relief from any type of stress will help to give your ailing cat the best quality of life possible.