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.

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Chocowinity Office

Monday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-5:30 pm

Saturday:

8:00 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Highly recommend Chocowinity Vet if you want excellent care for your pets and an extremely friendly and helpful staff! They were able to get us in immediately today (Saturday) when one of our dogs had an infected hot spot that needed treatment. Within 20 minutes of my phone call to them I was walking in the front door and straight into an exam room! Thank you so much!"
    Stacy McClary
  • "I wish I could give this place 10 stars, I have never been more pleased with a group of vets and vet techs! Everyone was so caring and inviting. Becky and all the others took great care of my Ozzy before, during, and after his surgery, all while not draining your bank account. I highly recommend"
    Demi Makajla Justesen
  • "Thank you again! You all are amazing ..I always recomed you and always will.I appreciate the care and treatment of my dogs .the staff and vets are amazing"
    Lisa Uptown Henderson
  • "Very friendly and helpful staff. I love it when General is lounging on the counter, waiting to be pet."
    Teresa Pless White
  • "Swift Creek Doodles love Chocowinity Veterinary Hospital! The caring team there makes it a welcoming and friendly environment. Always looks and smells very clean inside which is something I look at every time I walk in. Doctors are very understanding with issues and explain everything in detail. After the switch from a vet hospital in New Bern, I can really tell a difference in care. Thank you for taking care of our doodles!"
    Will Grant