Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV is a disease that reduces the immune system’s ability to protect itself against secondary infections caused by common bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi. FeLV causes cancer in about 20% of infected cats and is especially dangerous to young cats or kittens. Any of these situations can put your kitten at risk: social grooming, shared food and water bowls, common litter boxes and bite wounds. This disease is mostly spread by infected cats that appear to be otherwise healthy.
The best way to protect your kitten from this dangerous disease is to have him/her tested at their first visit, and then vaccinate against it. Testing identifies those cats that must be kept isolated from other cats in order to curb the spread of the infection. Early detection will help you maintain the health of your cat and prevent spreading infection to other cats. With proper care, infected cats can appear relatively healthy for many months to even years after infection.
Signs of Possible Infection
- Marked loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Pale gums
- Mouth sores
- Enlarged lymph nodes
*Cats often show no signs of infection, so it’s important to ask us about FeLV testing as part of your cat’s annual wellness exam.
If you have an FeLV positive cat, you should visit at least twice a year to track your cat’s progress, and make sure your cat is getting the proper nutrition. Keep your cat indoors and isolated from other cats in the household to greatly reduce the chance of a secondary illness as well as spreading the disease to other cats. Spaying or neutering your cat will also reduce the tendency for your cat to fight and/or mate, thereby decreasing the ability to spread the virus. Please call immediately if there are any signs of illness.