Titer Testing

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sarie
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Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:47 pm

Hey guys, so it's that time again and Clive is due for his annual boosters. However, after some deliberation I decided I'd quite like to look into Titer testing as an alternative to him having the full all-lumped-together booster.
He's always been done annually and the cost isn't an issue, but I do an awful lot to make sure my cats are given the healthiest lifestyle and I'd like to ensure that I'm not over vaccinating them. Some vaccines are recommended annually but the WSAVA guidelines suggest that others can often be given triennially (sometimes even less) as long as titer tests show up a good level of antibodies.
I'd like to look at working out which boosters he actually needs and only give him the ones he needs rather than just giving him the lot "just to be safe", as I don't personally think that it is safer to give him extra vaccines he doesn't need.

It seems like the triennial vaccination policy is very common in the USA but it hasn't really taken off here, despite the fact that there are many triennial vaccinations available from companies like Nobivac. When I suggested Titer testing to my vet he looked taken aback and said that although there was "that school of thought" he'd prefer to boost. (That "school of thought" is documented in the World Small Animal Veterinary Association vaccination guidelines... he made it sound like it was just some holistic rubbish!) He also said that as Clive is 2 months past his booster date, he'd like to actually re-start his vaccinations as if he was a kitten again. I'm even less comfortable with that.. boosting unnecessarily is bad enough but giving him a double dose just because he's a couple of months past the 12 month deadline!?

Anyway, I've persuaded him to do the titer test but he seemed fairly insistent that it would be expensive. I've looked into it and Glasgow University don't charge more than £30 to carry out the bloodwork so that, plus the cost of the blood draw and transport, I wouldn't expect a cost of more than £60. However, I've read a few threads on other sites from people saying they were charged anything from £85-150 for a titer test and feel they're being ripped off for not boosting.
Annoyingly, there is an in-house titer test available called VacciCheck but as the vets have to buy the kits in bulk and titer testing isn't requested often (because the vets don't encourage it!) it seems that most vets don't offer it and instead charge a lot more to send the blood off to a lab.

Has anyone here gone down the titer test route? If so, how much was it and how did it go for you?

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:14 pm

OK so after further reading (including the WSAVA guidlines) I discovered that titer testing in cats isn't overly useful as they can only test for one type of antibody - it's much more useful in dogs. They're still researching better methods of titer testing in cats but at the moment it's only really useful for one vaccine but can't tell anything about the others so although we might avoid one unneccessary booster it still wouldn't give us any information about the rest so it's hardly worth doing.
Note that I've read dozens of articles on this stuff over the last couple of weeks and it's all so conflicting it's very hard to know what to do.. but I feel happy that I've read information from all sides and all views and I'm trying to be as impartial as possible!

Instead, I'm going to discuss with the vet if he can source some of the core vaccines licensed for trienniel use instead of annual use - I don't mind paying a little more. If they can't due to the cost of ordering in then I'll find a vet who stocks triennial of the core vaccines and get his vaccinations done there but will continue using my vet for everything else as they're generally a good practice.

I saw a different vet when I took Clive in as my usual vet was on holiday and he was trying to flog me UTI food, worming stuff, flea stuff, booster re-starts etc so I wasn't really keen on him as he seemed to be more interested in milking me than giving Clive the best treatment. I'll try to get in to see my normal vet again.

In the meantime, Clive did need a dental so I've cancelled his titer test and booked him in for a dental instead. Hohum.. it's so hard to know what to do for the best somtimes.
My cats are 95% indoors these days so their risks of things like cat flu are minimal but I'd still like to ensure they're safe.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:49 pm

Hi sarie,

excuse my ignorance, but I've never heard of Titer Testing. But I do think you are right about that vet! He is after your money!

This morning I took Gracie for her boosters and a health check. We saw a vet who is new to the practice. He checked Gracie's heart, eyes, ears, teeth, picking up on a tiny amount of tartar and the fact she has a chipped fang (I hadn't noticed). Then he looked at her card. She was vaccinated last year but, as so often happens, I forgot to take the card! He said even if she had missed a year, I should not worry unduly, as she was a well looked after and healthy cat (if a little overweight :? )

The consultation and booster cost €35.00 about £28.00. Her weight has been recorded for her next visit and a note made to keep an eye on her teeth. I think that is excellent value for money and I feel confident that Gracie is in good hands. Result!

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:21 pm

It sounds like your vet is a lot better than the one I saw.. I won't be seeing him again, I'll be asking for Rebecca directly from now on!

I'm glad everything was all well with Gracie at her checkup too :)

As for titer testing, I don't think many people have heard of it generally. It's more common among dogs than cats but as I've discovered, that's because it's more useful in dogs than it is in cats. It's still not at all mainstream though - I think it's most used in the USA but certainly here in the UK it barely exists at all.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Crewella » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:42 pm

I feel the same as you, Sarie, but my otherwise wonderful vet seems unconvinced thus far and has followed the 'house rules' at the surgery for recommending annual vaccinations.

For my original cats, that's I'd had all their lives, I went onto boosters every three years after about 9 and then not vaccinating at all after 15. Now I have different cats with more uncertain histories I've been happy to vaccinate annually for the first couple of years and decided to postpone 'that' discussion/argument for a couple of years. That time will come, though!

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:08 am

Hey Helen, I'm glad it's not just me who feels this way then!
Clive is nearly 7 and up until now he's always had annual boosters. Harvey is 5 and I skipped his booster last year and now, with his asthma, it's not recommended he has vaccinations as routinely.
I just want to do what's best for them so it's a really tough one but my cats don't go out much really so it makes it slightly easier to make a decision.

I also may have *accidentally* just acquired a new addition... but, like you, I won't need to discuss this again for him for a couple of years as I'm happy to vaccinate him annually to get him started :)

I guess I need to pop a post up about him ;)

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Hunnybunny » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:20 am

Vets unfortunately see annual vaccinations as easy money and most people don't question their vets!! To many now don't even offer Felv as an additional vaccination and just carry the whole lot as the only option as a single vaccine which for a 9 week old kitten is one heck of an assault on the system. I'm lucky that my vets use Nobivac and so use Tricat and Duocat which basically is the triannual system.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Crewella » Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:54 pm

That's useful info, Honeybunny - I'll research, as I was unsure as to which did what! Thanks. :)

Sarie - I shall look for posts re your newbie! :D

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:06 pm

Hunnybunny, can you advise? I am getting my lot vaccinated at the moment - booster time - one a week! So far Bobby has had zoetis Fevaxyn Pentofel (!) and Gracie, Nobivac Tricat Trio.

First question do you know what Fevaxyn Pentofel is? Does the Nobivac mean Gracie (5 years) will not need a booster next year? Also, as Bobby is FIV+, am I right assuming he needs a booster, for everything every year?

You obviously know more about this than I do, can you help? I do feel a bit dim, just relying on what the vet tells me. :oops:

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Alice » Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:01 pm

Hunnybunny, I totally agree about vet charges for vaccinations. One near me (part of a chain) charges almost £45 for annual vacs and health check, but has a scheme whereby a payment of £99 covers the cat for life. If the £99 is paid early in a cat's life, and it lives a long time what a saving, without even allowing for the fact that annual payments will probably increase over the years. :roll:
It makes me wonder just what the vaccine actually costs them.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Hunnybunny » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:11 am

Bobbys Girl. The Zoetis Fevaxyn Pentofel is an all one vaccine which includes Felv plus the usual 3 nasties, Panleukopenia, Calici and Herpes and additionally Chlamydia. Its an 'inactived vaccine' so the the viruses are dead which is in principle the best option for FIV+ cats. Basically it is the dogs doodahs and covers pretty much everything in one vaccine.

Nobivac uses the 'live vaccine' which to be honest I would need to discuss the pros and cons of further with my vets but the Nobivac Tricat covers, Panleukopenia, Calici and Herpes and the Duocat covers, Calici and Herpes so basically the cat flu element of the vaccine. The principle is that Panleukopenia is only required every 3 years so year one you would have the Tricat and then have 2 years of Duocat and on year 4 back to Tricat.

Nobivac have an additional vaccine called Forcat which covers the additional Chlamydia but we found when we started to use it that our 9 week old kittens were really quite poorly within 12hrs of having the vaccine and it knocked them for 6 and also when they were given the vaccinations they screamed so was obviously a painful thing so we decided that as we very rarely saw Chlamydia it was not worth the issues we had come across.

Gracie should only need Duocat for the next 2 years. Regards FIV+ cats and boosters theres pros and cons I think but personally I would never give an FIV cat the Felv vaccine and would have an inactivated vaccine.

Vaccines cost vets a few £'s literally and so make a huge amount on them. The vet chains that offer the vaccine for life are the ones that will try and up sell anything and everything to you at any possible opportunity.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Crewella » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:43 am

That's brilliant to explain it all so thoroughly, much appreciated, thank you. xx

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:39 am

Yes, thank you Hunnybunny, that was very helpful.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:44 am

Yes thanks HunnyBunny, that was incredibly helpful.
I'm pretty sure when I checked Clive's card he has had the Tricat vaccine for the last 3 years running as I didn't know that Tricat was the triennial vaccine and didn't question it, so he should've been having the Duocat by the sound of it - sounds like my vets haven't been doing it right! I've moved around a lot so used a number of different vets over the years but I always present his vaccine card when he goes in so they should be able to see what he's had!
Also, it's my understanding that the FeLV is non-core but should be given annually to cats who are classed as "at risk" .. i.e. outdoor cats. It looks like Nobivac do a FeLV vaccine to be given with Tricat and Clive's sheet shows he's had this annually up until now. However, I've looked into it and the Nobivac FeLV vaccine is adjuvanted so is a much more dangerous vaccine than the non-adjuvanted version offered by other manufacturers so I won't be allowing the vet to use Nobivac FeLV on Clive. I'm also aware that if an adjuvant is used it should be injected into a limb, but Clive has always had his jabs in the neck :/

Also - here's a link to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association guidelines of 2010. They suggest that Panleukopenia, Feline Herpes and Feline calicivirus should all be triennial but they don't make any suggestion as to which vaccine manufacturer provides a triennial license for all three as it looks like Nobivac only offer triennial for Panlekopenia. It's all so confusing really..

http://www.wsava.org/sites/default/file ... es2010.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Hunnybunny » Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:57 am

Sarie. Its all very cloak and dagger I think regards these so called annual vaccinations. Vets are almost dictated to by whatever buying group they are part of and which pharmaceutical company that group buys from and they use the company that offers the best perks as apposed to looking at the actual vaccines they are using which is just wrong in my eyes. Pharmaceutical are so bloody powerful in both vets and human medicine!!!!!!

The Felv vaccine is a no no for me personally and as somebody that deals with over 500 cats and kittens a year and has seen 1 case in 5 years I feel the vaccine has more risks than my cats actually catching the virus but again its personal choice. There is a huge difference in the vaccines re heavy metals etc which is the danger point not the actual vaccine itself. Some Felv vaccines are know to be far more dangerous than others which raises further questions about if they should be even allowed on the market when there are safer vaccines available.... its a can of worms!!!!

VAS is rare but it is common knowledge that a sarcoma in the meaty part of the leg has a far better prognosis than removal from the scruff, yet another thing that I find vets fail on dismally and such a simple thing to do!!!

The Americans may be way behind us on many, many things cat related but vaccines they are light years ahead...... time to kick our UK vets up the backside I feel!!!!

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:16 pm

EDIT: the schedule I mention in this post has now been revised due to further research - as of my latest post, I'm no longer going to be giving annual FeLV vaccines and I won't be looking to give any of the core vaccines more than once every three years.. possibly not even that often. I will probably titer test every 3 years and review if there is a need. My kitten will receive his kitten shots and his 1 year booster as normal though.

Yeah it really is very cloak and dagger! I've done some serious reading this morning and I've decided I want to use Purevax vaccines in future. These are non-adjuvanted and mercury (thimerosal) free.
Cats Protection have switched to using these and you can get a number of different combinations so they're very flexible.
Their non-adjuvanted thimerosal free FeLV vaccine sounds like one of the safest on the market as the adjuvant and thimerosal are what cause a lot of the bad reactions.
Having lost a kitten to FeLV years ago I'm still wary of this disease, even though I know the risks are fairly low, so if there's a safe-ish vaccine for it then I'm inclined to go for it.

It looks like a good way for me to go would be to get the Purevax RCP FeLV vaccine as a starter and then have the Purevax FeLV vaccines given annually. The Purevax RCP FeLV can then be given every 3 years or less, particularly in my two older cats.
The Panoleukopenia part of the vaccine is expected to last for at least 3 years and the other two components are potentially good for 1-3 years but with less strong results. However, the Panoleukopenia is the only disease I'm overly concerned about as the other two are treatable and having been vaccinated in the past my two are probably only likely to show mild signs if they do ever pick either up. Purexvax uses modified-live-virus so is likely to last longer than vaccines that use killed viruses which are usually recommended annually.
The Purevax RCP vaccine hasn't officially been licensed for 3 years but the claims are that this is purely down to issues with the non-vaccinated cats in the studies having an unusually high survival rate that skewed the outcome of studies but the view of many is that the Panoleukopenia part of most vaccines is good for at least 3 years in nearly all vaccines, but only the Nobivac Tricat has managed to obtain an official license for this.

Called my vet up and they don't use Purevax but I'm waiting for a call back to discuss and see if they're able to order them in or if it's going to be too costly because of the amount they have to order :)
Last edited by sarie on Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:39 pm

Oh Guys, my brain's hurting. :?

Thank you for the link sarie. I am going to forward it to my OH's pooter. Reading that sort of stuff - my eyes glaze over and I find non of it has sunk in! Ask me any question about plants in (English or Latin) - no prob's. But that sort of thing is best left to the polymer chemist and engineer in the family - right up his street. Then he can explain it to me, nice and slowly.

Thanks again for the information. I realise it is something we will really have to think about and not take for granted.

Once had a friend whose husband worked as a sales rep. for a drug company. He got really bent out of shape when we jokingly called him a drug pusher. I'm wondering now if the remark hadn't been too close for comfort. All those 'jollys' in posh hotels abroad, just when they were about to launch a new drug. ;)

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 1:51 pm

Haha yeah it makes my brain hurt too.. it's taken me ages to get my head around and I'm still struggling with some areas if I'm honest! Hopefully your OH can make good sense of it hehe :) It's a shame we have to... I wish more vets were more honest and open about it all.

As for the drug pushing, it probably was too close for comfort! It's safe to say that pharmaceutical companies are far more dangerous than bankers, despite what the media would have us believe. Plenty of financial incentive for pushing drugs out there and far more money in the pharmaceutical business than in anything else! :o

If people knew that doctors received financial incentives for selling certain quantities of drugs and hitting targets, I wonder if they'd still trust them as much as they currently do! Even human vaccinations are subject to targets in the UK.. a certain % of uptake results in a cash reward for that health trust and each % increase results in further rewards. It's not just the vets who you have to question when it comes to this stuff - in fact I think the vets are less dodgy tbh as there's not as much money in pet meds as human meds!

Makes my brain hurt though.. I hate having to question everything :lol:

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:31 pm

sarie wrote:If people knew that doctors received financial incentives for selling certain quantities of drugs and hitting targets, I wonder if they'd still trust them as much as they currently do! Even human vaccinations are subject to targets in the UK.. a certain % of uptake results in a cash reward for that health trust and each % increase results in further rewards. It's not just the vets who you have to question when it comes to this stuff - in fact I think the vets are less dodgy tbh as there's not as much money in pet meds as human meds!
Ooh, now you've started something!

My OH has type 2 diabetes. When it was first diagnosed he took all the meds (a truck load) the doc gave him. He felt worse! He has since done quite a bit of research and has cut the meds down to the ones he feels he really needs and feels better for it. :D

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:14 pm

Haha definitely started something... I never take any drugs I'm given by a doc (except antibiotics) until I've checked into them. My Dad has become the same these days and it's a good job as he's managed to cut out all sorts of unnecessary medications.
In one instance, he was given Plavix to thin his blood after a suspected mini-stroke. As it happens, he was taking aspirin daily already and he mentioned this to the doctor who said it was fine to combine the two. However, after a quick look online it was clear that it wasn't really recommended and when he told the Dr she took a look too and realised he was right and revoked the prescription. On top of that, it turns out that mini-strokes aren't caused by clots, they're caused by high blood pressure, so he didn't need Plavix anyway *sigh*

Anyway.. back to cats... how's this for interesting.

Zoetisus are the manufacturers of Felocell and Leukocell. My vet apparently uses these vaccines so I thought I'd look into them. On their label, it specifically states annual vaccination is recommended. That is what they're licensed for and that is the recommendation by the manufacturer.
However, if you look further into their drug you see that Felocell has Serological studies associated with it to look into antibody results as a basis for how frequently re-vaccination should occur. Zoetisus did these studies themselves.

https://www.zoetisus.com/contact/pages/ ... cell_3.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Specifically you can see that after FOUR years (four times their recommended revaccination schedule)
Average FPV antibody result = 472
Average FCV antibody result = 687
Average FHV antibody result = 36

Now they give no information on what value constitutes protection so I did some looking. The Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health who conduct these antibody tests states
"We recommend revaccination for cats with an FHV-1 titer below 16, an FCV titer below 32, and an FPV titer below 40."

http://www.animalhealth.msu.edu/ClientE ... GY.001.PDF" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So FOUR years after using Fellocell, the FPV antibody results in the tests conducted by Zoetisus themselves were TEN times the required level to provide immunity. In FCV they were more than TWENTY times the required level for immunity and in FHV they were more than TWICE the required level.

Unless I've misinterpretated this information somehow, I'm not sure how on earth they can insist that annual vaccination is required... this information comes from their own studies!!

I will be discussing this with my vet when she calls back tomorrow as they're pretty adamant that they want to use Felocell and that annual revaccination is the "safest" option, yet there are now studies emerging that link over vaccination to a rise in cancers and immune disorders and clear evidence that annual revaccination isn't necessary as titer results show high antibody counts after a number of years without re-vaccination. Hmm.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:35 pm

Further to this.. reading suggests that FeLV is difficult to transmit. In most cases it is transmitted to kittens through contact with a FeLV positive mother or through prolonged mutual grooming of FeLV cats. It is very tough to catch from strange cats, even for cats who go outside and fighting does not increase risk.

It's not recommended that FeLV is given to adult cats past their initial 1 year booster unless they're in a high risk environment. My vet suggested that going outside was a high risk environment and I believed them.. however, my research would suggest that "high risk" is considered to be cats living in dense populations and cats in rescue. As a result, I won't be vaccinating my two adult males for FeLV either.

Looks like my vaccination schedule just dropped off haha. What an interesting day of research...

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by bobbys girl » Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:57 pm

I have always thought it of vital importance to make sure our cats, as kittens, get their full vaccinations. But I'll admit the boosters have sometimes been a bit late or haphazard - as and when we can afford. I always felt I was letting them down. Now I'm not so sure. :? We will have to look into this. Thanks guys, this has been a fascinating and very helpful thread.

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by booktigger » Wed Dec 03, 2014 8:03 pm

Another thing to remember with FeLV is that the vaccine is only 80% effective and cats develop a natural immunity to FeLV, which is also 80%. When they come into contact with FeLV, they will either develop it or they can deal with it and shed the virus, which leaves them immune. I'm fairly sure that there is a test to see if they are immune, which means vaccinations are pointless

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by sarie » Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:28 am

Just to clarify, I'm not in any way advocating that anyone doesn't vaccinate their kittens. It's essential that you do. The guidelines are that all kittens receive their initial vaccinations and 1st year booster. Quoted straight from the WSAVA guidelines:

"All kittens should receive the core vaccines. A minimum of three doses: one at 8–9 weeks of age, a second 3–4 weeks later and a final dose at 14–16 weeks of age or older should be administered. Cats that respond to MLV core vaccines maintain immunity for
many years, in the absence of any repeat vaccination."

There's some argument over whether or not it's necessary to do two or three doses of kitten vaccination and it's believed that not all kittens develop immunity from vaccination prior to the age of 16 weeks (due to antibodies from their mothers interfering with the vaccine) so some vets have adopted different protocols.
My vet does initial vaccinations at 10 weeks and again at 14 weeks to try to ensure coverage, although I'm going to request that the second dose is given at 16 weeks instead.
The needs of your individual cat/kitten also needs to be considered as some kittens are more at risk of disease than others, for example kittens in a rescue environment or a household with a large number of outdoor cats.

It is also recommended that all kittens have their 1 year booster in case the initial round of vaccinations didn't provide full immunity.
I will be getting these shots for my kitten and there's no argument about that at all :)

However, the argument for cats past their 1st booster requiring annual vaccination is still being debated and certainly from my own research I'm now going to be following a triennial program with a titer test every 3 years to check antibodies and boosters only when required as all the evidence I've found suggests that annual vaccination isn't necessary and isn't in fact recommended.

Booktigger, there's a test for FeLV but all it can tell you is whether or not the virus is present apparently (I looked into it yesterday :lol: ).
It won't tell you whether or not the cat is immune but if the cat comes back positive and shows no symptoms of FeLV then they recommended a re-test after 12 weeks. If it's still positive but the cat is showing no symptoms then it's safe to assume they're immune for life.
If it comes back negative, that doesn't mean they're not immune and require vaccination, it just means that they aren't harbouring the virus so it's not a great test. Harvey tested negative for FeLV recently as he was tested during his asthma investigations but that doesn't mean he needs the vaccine as he could still have built up a natural immunity. Due to his lifestyle I'm not going to have him vaccinated for it as he's not a high risk even if he wasn't immune.

So confusing all of this but I'm starting to feel like I've managed to cut through the rubbish and get the answers I needed :) This thread has proven to be very interesting!

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Re: Titer Testing

Post by Crewella » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:47 pm

This has been a very helpful thread, thanks to all - I shall look into this further too. xx

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