FAQs about Feline Leukemia Virus
General Information about Feline Leukemia Virus
- What is Feline Leukemia Virus? This is one of the most common highly infectious viral disease affecting cats. It lowers heir immunity predisposing them to opportunistic infections that healthy cats would ordinarily not be infected by. It’s also a common cause of cancer in cats and various blood disorders.
- Is FeLV contagious? Yes, it is. Infected cats are usually the source of infection. The virus is shed in saliva, urine, nasal secretions, urine, feces and milk from infected lactating cats. Transmission is usually through a bite wound, sharing food and water bowls, mutual grooming, during birth and nursing.
- What exactly does FeLV do to cats? Once the virus is in the bloodstream it multiplies and attacks the bone marrow which is responsible for the production of red and white blood cells. This results in reduced immunity overtime predisposing infected cats to infections, cancers and blood disorders such as anemia.
- What signs should I watch out for? During early stages, most cats present with no symptoms. Advanced stages present with:
- Loss of appetite
- Pale gums
- Gum disease
- Loss of weight and body condition
- Poor hair coat
- Recurrent infections e.g urinary bladder, skin, respiratory etc.
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Neurological signs e.g. seizures, in coordination etc.
Treatment for Cats that are FeLV Positive
- Is there any treatment for FeLV? Unfortunately there is no definitive treatment of FeLV.
- What are the different types of treatment that are available for FeLV? Veterinarians usually treat FeLV symptomatically either by administering antibiotics to treat opportunistic infections, blood transfusions in cases of anemia, chemotherapy for cancerous tumors and steroids for pain relieve and fever.
- What are the chances that a cat will survive FeLV if no treatment is administered? This depends on the immunity and genetics of the affected cat. Majority of infected cats can live a comfortable life for prolonged periods of time if veterinary intervention is sought. Research shows half of the number of infected cats can leave up to 2.5 years. Some cats are able to fight off the virus especially during the early stages without treatment before damage to the bone marrow. Advanced stages however often lead to death resulting from opportunistic infection, blood disorders or cancer. Other cats are genetically immune to this condition and are barely affected by it.
- How do I prevent FeLV? Vaccination offers some level of protection though not 100 % though it is not a core vaccine as it can causes adverse side effects. It’s also important to keep your cats indoors and excursions outdoors should be supervised to prevent interaction with other cats especially if their health status is not known. Before introducing new cats into a cat household it is wise to isolate them from the rest and have them tested for the virus by your to prevent transmission. Sharing of feeding and water bowls, litter boxes should be discouraged. Infected cats should not be allowed to nurse their young ones nor be used for breeding purposes.