Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

feline leukemia
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders.

How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia

Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. The virus is spread in saliva, urine, feces, nasal secretions and milk from nursing mothers. When an infected cat bites or grooms another cat, that cat may develop the virus. If a pregnant cat has feline leukemia, the kittens might be born with the disease or may develop it after nursing. Because kittens have weaker immune systems than older cats, they are more likely to suffer from the virus. Cats can also spread the virus by sharing food dishes or litter boxes; although this does not happen very often.

Symptoms of Feline Leukemia

There may be no symptoms of the disease during the earlier stages. In the later stages, symptoms may be similar to those that are also typical of other types of viruses. Depending on the stage of the disease, a cat infected with feline leukemia may experience:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Gradual weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Eye disorders
  • Pale gums or inflammation of the gums
  • Poor coat
  • Anemia
  • Skin, bladder or upper respiratory tract infections
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Feline leukemia is diagnosed via a blood test that detects a protein found in the virus. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. Many infected cats die within two to three years of being diagnosed. Although there is no treatment for feline leukemia, symptoms can be treated to keep your cat more comfortable. If weight loss is a problem, nutritional supplements will help your cat receive necessary nutrients. Your cat may get sick more often because of his weakened immune system, but these infections can often be treated with antibiotics.

Prevention

The FeLV vaccine will help prevent your cat from developing feline leukemia, but it does not offer an absolute guarantee that your cat will never get the virus. The best way to protect your furry friend is to keep him or her indoors. When cats roam, they are more likely to come in contact with infected cats that may transmit the virus through a bite.

Before you bring a new pet into your home, make sure that it has been tested for the feline leukemia virus. If one of your cats does develop the virus, separate it from your other cats to prevent the spread of the disease.

Has your cat had an examination and feline leukemia shot recently? If not, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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Our Regular Schedule closed holiday's including day after Thanksgiving.

Tacoma Office

Monday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-12:00 pm

1:00 pm-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

  • "Unfortunately had to put down my 15 year old cat. Jones animal staff is compassionate and honest when you need them to be most. Every time in you can see the passion everyone there has for every pet they see. I know who I can trust when i get a puppy soon. Thank you for the care and making the best of a tough situation."
    Justin S.
  • "Friendly Drs and staff fancy coffee for while you wait!"
    Tom D.
  • "Love goes they care for my boys and are so helpful!!"
    Trisha C.
  • "The staff is wonderful, just a pleasure to work with"
    Tonja P.
  • "We used to see another Veterinarian, however, when our dog was sick we couldn't get an appointment for a couple of weeks. My daughter recommended Jones Animal Hospital, and I called. I was able to get our dog in the same day. When we met with Dr. Jones, he answered all of my questions completely without rushing me at all. We have been treated promptly, with friendly respect by the entire staff each time we visit. The medical care has been knowledgeable and helpful. The fees are extremely reasonable, too. We have found our animals' home for medical care!"
    Dori O.
  • "The people here are so nice and are very concerned for the animals they treat. Prices are the most reasonable I have come across as well. I recently took in one of my young kitties to be spayed, they keep them override which is nice so they can make sure they have they the experience well. The day after I brought her home, they called to check up on her to see how she was doing. I have never had a veterinary office do that before. I would recommend this office to anyone & everyone!!"
    Darlene B.
  • "They always seem to offer great compassionate care. And they were relatively affordable as well."
    Erik N.
  • "They have been taking wonderful care of my pets for many years."
    Corey D.
  • "I never take my fur babies anywhere else! I know I can trust the staff here & I know they CARE about the animals & their companions. Dr. Jones did retire, but the remaining staff is like family to me. They never charged more than I could afford because they always run the options by me first. I recently had to say goodbye to my 20 year old cat - It was inevitable but VERY painful. Even though they were very busy & they had to squeeze us in that day, they still offered to have one of the staff members sit with me as I said goodbye. I don't know anywhere else that gives that level of comfort!"
    Danielle P.
  • "We love our vet! Been using this vet for over 15 years. NO complaints!"
    Karen S.