Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing


Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a serious threat to your cat's long-term health and well-being but with regular veterinary care, many cat's diagnosed with FeLV go on to live normal lives for prolonged periods. Today, our McAllen vets discuss the causes, signs, treatment, and prevention of feline leukemia.

What Is the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)?

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats in the United States, most commonly affecting cats that are experiencing other conditions.

FeLV is easily spread from one cat to another through the saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk of infected cats. It is also possible for cats to spread this disease to one another during fights or mutual grooming, and occasionally through shared litter boxes and feeding dishes.

Feline leukemia virus can be passed on from the mother cat to her kitten before or after birth. However, FeLV does not live long outside of a cat's body and so direct contact is the typical form of transmission.

Signs & Symptoms of Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia symptoms become more pronounced over time. In the early stages of being infected with a cat with FeLV may not show symptoms. However, the longer that your feline friend has been infected, the more their health will decline. Signs of FeLV can include one or more of the following:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Persistent fever
  • Pale gums and other mucus membranes
  • Inflammation of the gums and mouth
  • Infections of the skin, urinary tract, and upper respiratory tract
  • Recurrent diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Behavior changes or changes in personality
  • Eye conditions infections and irritation
  • Reproductive failures (miscarriages)

Diagnosing Feline Leukemia

When it comes to diagnosing feline leukemia virus there are two types of blood tests that your vet may most likely use, both of which detect a protein in the virus called FeLV P27.

The first test that your vet may utilize is called an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and may be used during the initial screening for feline leukemia virus. ELISA-type tests detect free FeLV particles commonly found in the bloodstream during all stages of infection.

Treating Feline Leukemia

The unfortunate truth with FeLV is that there is no known cure. The goal of treatment will be to manage and lower the amount of feline leukemia virus in the bloodstream to help ease symptoms and reduce transmission although this may not be effective in all cats.

It is common for veterinarians treating and managing FeLV-positive cats to treat specific symptoms and conditions that the cat is experiencing due to FeLV, such as infections or anemia.

Preventing the Feline Leukemia Virus

The best way that a pet parent can ensure their cat does not contract the feline leukemia virus is by keeping them away from cats that have been infected. Ensuring that your cat stays inside is one of the best ways to ensure this. If you still choose to allow your cat to play outdoors, provide supervision or keep your cat in an area that will keep them secure and away from other outdoor cats. All cats should be tested for FeLV before introducing them into a home, and infection-free cats should not be allowed contact with infected cats.

An effective vaccine against FeLV is available, although, like most vaccinations, it is not 100% effective. However, it is recommended as an easy way to lower the risk of your cat contracting FeLV. Owners contemplating vaccination for their cat or cats against feline leukemia virus should consider the cats' risk of exposure to FeLV-infected cats and discuss the pros and cons with their vet.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you looking to have your cat vaccinated against feline leukemia? Contact our McAllen vets today.

Now Welcoming New Patients

Looking for a vet in McAllen? Nolana Animal Hospital is now accepting new patients! Our welcoming vets are passionate about pets and will provide your cat or dog with the care they need. Contact us today to schedule your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(956) 686-3765 Contact