Cat Diseases - Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukamia virus
  • Feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system.
  • It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats.
  • The virus is secreted primarily in the saliva and nasal secretions, though also found in other body fluids and feces. Kittens are particularly susceptible.
  • FeLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact, mutual grooming and through sharing litter boxes, food and water bowls.
  • The disease can be inherited from mother to child and also through breastfeeding.
  • Outdoor cats who get into fights with other cats can transmit the disease through bites and scratches.
Symptoms: Feline leukamia
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition
  • Seizures
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Infections of the external ear and skin
  • Fever
  • Inflammation of the nose and the eye
  • Inflammation of the gums and/or mouth tissues
  • Lymphoma (the most common FeLV-associated cancer)
  • Fibrosarcomas (cancer that develops from fibrous tissue)
  • Keeping your cat indoors and away from infected cats is a sure way to prevent him from contracting FeLV.
  • In addition, there are several commercial vaccines for the disease available. However, test the cat before initial vaccination, as it may already be infected.
  • There is presently no cure for FeLV infection.
  • Eighty-five percent of cats persistently infected with feline leukemia virus die within three years of diagnosis.
  • However, regular veterinary check-ups and good preventive health care can help keep these cats feeling well for some time and help protect them from secondary infection.
  • Twice-yearly physical examinations, laboratory testing, and parasite control can prevent complications and identify problems quickly.
  • In the case of those cats who develop cancer, chemotherapy can help prolong life, but treatment often focuses on providing the best quality of life.
  • All FeLV infected cats should be kept indoors and neutered.