What is FeLV?

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is the leading cause of cancer in felines and affects 2-3% of cats in the US. FeLV can cause blood disorders and lead to an immune deficiency that leaves the cat susceptible to other infections. Outdoor cats, unneutered males, and cats with other diseases (especially respiratory or oral diseases) are more at risk of contracting FeLV.

What are the symptoms of FeLV?

Leukemia occurs when the body produces immature or abnormal white blood cells, which suppresses the production of other blood cells in the body. FeLV can also lead to immunosuppression, leaving animals more susceptible to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.

Symptoms include lymphoma and urinary infections, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as eurologic and reproductive issues.

How is FeLV transmitted?

Is there a cure for FeLV?

FeLV resides in both the salivary glands as well as cells of the bladder (among other places), and is transmitted via saliva or urine. Mutual grooming, bite wounds, and shared bowls and litter boxes are all possible routes of transmission. Because the FeLV virus is fragile and does not last long in the environment, transmission usually requires coming into direct contact for an extended amount of time.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the Feline leukemia virus itself, only treatments for the diseases and disorders caused by FeLV. FeLv positive cats can still live a normal life with careful monitoring. The average length of life after diagnosis is 2.5 years.

How can I protect my cat from FeLV?

The most effective method of prevention would be to keep your cat indoors so they don’t come in contact with an infected cat. There is a vaccine for prevention though it is not 100% effective. You vet will check for FeLV with a blood test before giving the vaccine. 

We offer the FeLV blood test and vaccine at our affordable vaccine clinic. Learn more and make an appointment here.


Written by Olivia Hawk

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