Feline Leukemia in Cats Symptoms, Vaccine, Infection?

The feline leukemia virus is also known as FeLV greatly expanded among the world ‘s cat population. It is not contagious to humans and other animal species. However in affected cats it ends up causing a deep depression of your immune system. You want to know more? How does it affect cats? symptom? Then you must see this article on feline leukemia symptoms and causes and know more about it.

Some of the symptoms that causes the feline leukemia are a delayed growth of the infected animal and the enormous probability that it develops some type of cancer. But there are many more alterations which originate from this incurable retrovirus and capable of causing the death of the animal. Leukemia in cats is in fact not a common thing.

Feline Leukemia

It is important to say that the feline leukemia vaccine is able to prevent recurrent infections and even the risk of contagion, so the vaccinated cat can get rid of the disease. This cat leukemia occurs due to some reasons and symptoms which you can see in this article.


What is Feline Leukemia

The feline leukemia virus is a retrovirus found anywhere in the world. Its diffusion is very unequal and will depend on factors such as the urban or rural environment, the rate of street cats, preventive sanitary measures regarding the disease contact between infected cats. Likewise we must say that any cat is susceptible to suffer the disease. It is enough to be infected by the virus. However the risk of infection is very variable and depends on the age of the animal, its habits, its state of health and in what environment it lives. Of course prevention through vaccination is highly recommended.

feline leukemia symptoms

It is very important to emphasize that FeLV does not affect other domestic pets and does not interfere with the health of humans. So except for other cats, cat leukemia poses no danger to other beings.

The form of transmission is produced by a very close approach between the healthy cat and the infected  as it occurs with other viral diseases such as feline calivirus. In fact the virus can not survive for a long time outside the body of the feline. Feline leukemia therefore occurs through direct contact and exchange of bodily fluids.

Facts of Feline Leukemia

A very common way of passing the disease is grooming ( While licking each other to cleanse, saliva spreads to the healthy cat) fights or even occasionally, sharing feeders or drinking troughs. It is also present in breast milk, tears, urine and feces.

A mother can transmit the feline leukemia virus to puppies during the gestation period and later through the act of breastfeeding. You can even know how to tell if your cat is pregnant. The other habitual way of contagion can occur in fights through bites.

A retrovirus like this is a virus with genetic information in the form of RNA. However by invading a cell, it replicates in the form of DNA. The virus ends up penetrating the nucleus of the cell and mixing with its genetic material.

feline leukemia virus

When this happens the virus multiplies and spreads through the cat’s bloodstream. In these initial moments of the disease, the animal can win the battle and end the infection. This occurs even in cats that have not shown any signs of having the disease. Some of the diseases can be cured by some medicines like benadryl for cats and other medicines.

However some cats have the bad luck that their immune system is not strong enough to kill the virus. These are the specimens that end up being persistently infected for their entire lives.

Feline leukemia life expectancy

After infection, it depends on each cat. The event can occur in months or years, this mainly depends on your cat growth, you see the cat growth chart and know about your kitten growth.

FeLV was isolated for the first time in the 1960s. In Europe it is estimated that the prevalence of the virus in healthy cats is between 1 and 5%. In sick cats this amount rises to 18%.

symptoms of feline leukemia

During 2000 scientists from Universities discovered that the prevalence of the virus in domestic cats in the urban area of ​​Madrid was 15%. Anyway in Europe, the figures are very different and we can find a fork that goes from 18% of healthy cats in Italy to less than 1% in Switzerland.

Feline Leukemia and Infection

We have to say that even if a cat comes in contact with the virus, it does not have to be infected. As with any other viral infection, its strength will depend on how the animal’s organism reacts. It can be a strong cat, fight the battle and win the disease. Even if there are diseases like fleas they can even be treated with cat flea treatment.

FeLV is much more fierce with puppies and older cats. Obviously it will also do more damage to adult felines that have low defenses, due to illness, medicine or anxiety. Once a cat has been exposed to the feline leukemia virus it can happen that it is immunized. About a third do it.

feline leukemia vaccine

Another third removes the virus through urine or saliva, but remains latent in some organ. At any time it can be reactivated. But there have also been cases of cats that have eliminated the virus after several years. The last third will be infected for life. Some can continue with a good quality of life and others will develop diseases related to FeLV.

Symptoms of feline leukemia

But let’s look at the most common symptoms of feline leukemia. The fact is that infected cats often suffer from a variety of diseases and develop chronic pathologies derived from feline leukemia, these are the signs of feline leukemia of febrile states and lethargy, decreased desire to eat, gradual weight loss, mantle damage, swollen glands lymphatics, weakness to overcome other diseases, anemia, infections, gastrointestinal problems. 15% of infected cats usually develop some type of cancer and cat breathing problems arises too.

cat leukemia

Anyway the fact that the cat has transient viremia does not mean that it will have the disease forever. You may experience any of the symptoms described and then beat the disease or continue to suffer from it in a latent state.

How FeLV is diagnosed

The truth is that making a clinical diagnosis is not very reliable. The symptomatology may coincide with that of many other diseases. In addition, some infected cats remain asymptomatic during the year. In these cases, the most reliable is to perform diagnostic tests. Different tests are available to see if a feline is infected. It is very important to perform a test as soon as possible since there is a suspicion that the disease may exist and above all if there are other cats near the patient.

If any test is positive, it is appropriate to test all felines that have been in contact with the one presenting the disease. By the way it is also important to perform the test on cats of unknown origin those found on the street or adopted in a protective.

The enzyme linked immunosorbent ELISA test is the test most used by veterinarians. It is done through a blood sample, since other fluids are not as reliable. This test should be repeated several weeks later. Sometimes it is necessary to practice supplementary tests.

Treatment of leukemia in the cat

The truth is that there are no drugs that eliminate the FeLV virus. Neither exist to heal the pathologies that it causes. In these cases, only a support treatment can be administered. It is applied so that the animal can improve its quality of life for months or years.

leukemia in cats

These treatments usually include antibiotics and the recommendation to avoid situations of stress. In addition it is important that you do not come into contact with other cats that may have any disease, since your immune system will be very damaged to fight other diseases.

Feline leukemia vaccine

If the cat is already infected with feline leukemia, the vaccine will not have any effect. It is important that, if you have adopted a stray or protective cat do an analysis at the veterinarian to determine if it is healthy.

Also advisable to vaccinate all cats, whether they leave the house or not. It is the only way to avoid contracting the disease, although the feline leukemia vaccine is not 100% effective. However, it is appropriate to include this vaccine as one more of the vaccination schedule of your pet and do not let it approach other cats. This way you will avoid contagion as far as possible.

If you have more than one cat and one of them suffers from the disease, it leads to analyze all the others. In the case that they are healthy, it is convenient that you vaccinate them all, to be more protected against the disease. You know feline leukemia is a very serious disease and its outcome depends a lot on the strength of the cat. The best way to help you goes through prevention through responsible vaccination.

More Similar Articles


With infected felv in cats you pet cat will suffer. This disease can be treated and cured by some medicines. If you want to know more about the pet cat diseases then you can simply visit our catsfud website and know more about them.

Leave a Reply

cats communication