A SNAP combo test checks for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, which are both lifelong diseases that cause immunosuppression. They are not overly common, but it is best to diagnose these diseases early on since they are contagious and can spread to other cats in the household.
Feline Leukemia Virus is considered a “friendly cat” disease because it is most commonly transmitted through saliva when cats are grooming each other or drinking out of the same bowl. It can also be spread through bodily fluids, such as urine, or from the mother during nursing. It is most common in younger cats but can occur in any age. This virus infects the bone marrow resulting in immunosuppression and anemia. Cats infected have a higher risk of developing lymphoma and leukemia.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is highly contagious and is known as the “mean cat” disease since it is spread most commonly through bites. This disease is most prevalent in young, outdoor male cats. It also causes immunosuppression and predisposes those affected to secondary infections.
There are no effective treatment options for either virus, but supportive care and maintenance of good health can help improve a cat’s quality of life. Both diseases progressively worsen over time. Most FeLV-infected cats succumb to the disease within 2-3 years; however, some cats live much longer with supportive care. The prognosis for FIV-infected cats is much more guarded, and usually cats succumb to the disease just months after diagnosis. These are just general time frames, and each cat is unique, however.
Cats that are infected should be kept separate from other cats within the household. Your veterinarian may recommend repeating this combo test yearly or as needed for at-risk cats.