Learn More About Feline Leukemia in Cats
Feline leukemia in cats is a viral infection, which is considered to being a leading cause of illness and mortality in domestic cats. FeLV is found in the bloodstream and contributes to other cat health disorders. The Feline Leukemia virus in cats may be responsible for cat cancers (lymphoma, tumors, lymphoid leukemia) immune disorders, anemia, immune suppression, intestinal disorders and blood disorders. A weakened feline immune system is unable to protect a cat from viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa found in the environment. These factors can cause sever infections.
Some cats that are infected by this virus are able to build up immunity so that they do not become symptomatic. Lab test may show that a cat has FeLV but your cat may not become sick and may be able to live their normal life.
How is Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Transmitted?
FeLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, nasal discharge, blood, urine, feces and milk. The disease is common in multi cat households and catteries, particularly when cats have access to the outdoors. A healthy cat may be a carrier of FeLV and the common ways for the infection to spread is through grooming. Kittens can contract the disease in utero or through an infected mother’s milk. Feline leukemia is a disease that is not transmitted to people, dogs or other animals; it only affects cats.
What are the signs of FeLV?
During the early stages of infection, your cat may not show any signs of the disease. However, over time the cat's health may progressively deteriorate and signs of recurrent illness may appear.
Common symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Slow but noticeable weight loss
- Poor coat condition
- Infections of the upper respiratory tract,
- Urinary/bladder infections,
- Skin issues
- Diarrhea and fever
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Pale gums and other mucus membranes
- Inflammation of the gums and mouth
- Behavioral issues
- Neurological disorders
- Eye problems
Treatment and Control of Feline Leukemia in Cats
Treatment for feline leukemia in cats is mainly supportive and includes treating the infection, anemia, and immune suppression.
Keep leukemia positive cats or kittens indoors; this will help them from contracting other infections or diseases due to their weakened immune system. If you have a multi cat household consider separating the infected cat. Ensure separate feeding bowl, water bowls and litter boxes.
Stress in cats should be avoided as stress lowers the immune system making it more difficult for them to fight off other infections.
If your cat has feline leukemia, feed them a high quality diet; always make sure there is clean water and a clean environment.
Adding antioxidants, vitamin supplements, and omega oils will further increase the chances of survival. You can help your cat fight FeLV with the use of natural supplements that are vet formulated to boost immune health.
If you suspect your cat may be infected with FeLV consult a veterinarian who will do the necessary blood test.
Read holistic veterinarian, Dr. Cook’s blog, on understanding feline leukemia in cats.