Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia virus symptoms and treatment

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Feline leukemia is a disease that strikes cats worldwide. The condition is quite common, and it is estimated that two to three percent of cats carry the virus. The very young, ill and otherwise infection-prone cats are most likely to carry feline leukemia virus (FeLV). The easiest way to prevent your cats from acquiring feline leukemia is to keep them inside. Any time you consider bringing a new cat to your family, have it checked by your vet. Blood tests are reliable and easy ways to determine if a cat has FeLV.

Causes of Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia, regardless of the name, is caused by a retrovirus, not unlike HIV; it is not cancer. A retrovirus produces an enzyme that allows it to insert its DNA into the cell it has infected. It is passed by mutual grooming, bites, shared litter boxes and food dishes and even nursing of kittens. Young kittens are particularly vulnerable, as they are even more likely to contract the disease. The disease cannot be passed to humans.

Feline Leukemia Symptoms

Cats infected with feline leukemia, also sometimes called cat leukemia, display common symptoms. Fatigue, weight loss and poor coat condition are the most obvious signs that something is wrong. Fevers, diarrhea and tumors develop as the disease progresses. Cats can have seizures, spontaneous abortions and constant secondary infections as they succumb to the illness. There are two stages of FeLV: primary viremia and secondary viremia. Some cats manage to successfully fight off the early stage of the disease, but once the cat has developed secondary viremia, there is no chance of the animal recovering fully. At that point, the bone infections associated with the illness are too well developed.

Treatment of Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia is not curable. A cat that has progressed to secondary viremia will have the condition for the rest of its life. Keeping infected cats indoors reduces the risk of transmitting the disease to other animals. In a household with multiple cats, the cats should be separated. Cats infected with FeLV should be spayed or neutered to prevent them having offspring born with the disease.

A healthy, balanced diet must be provided and regular visits to the vet should be scheduled every six months to keep an eye on the cat's condition. Complete blood work, urine screening and weight checks are important factors in monitoring the condition. While it is impossible to anticipate how long a cat infected with FeLV will live, many live for two to three years after diagnosis. FeLV causes a significant increase in cancerous tumors, and it's usually those plus secondary infections that end the cat's life.

Posted by Jane on June 09,2011 at 08:54 PM
the kitten i spoke of earlier expired a few minutes ago, so I no longer need any information.
Posted by Jane on June 09,2011 at 08:07 PM
three month old kitten has lost a good deal of weight in the past week. Has been eating and drinking. fell face first in the food dish.then, having trouble walking, went back to eat. My daughter found it in a puddle this after noon and rinsed it off. it screamed and stiffened up when she rinsed it but has been unresponsive to any thing else. it has had amber colored urine for the past three days and has been some what lathargic. can any one give me an idea what the problem is or if we should expect the worse. it is my daughter's favorite of the three kittens and four cats that we have.
Posted by BETTY HUNT on November 08,2010 at 09:52 AM
a year ago i lost a cat to luekemia, i have another cat that was living with me at the same time. however he did not get the luekemia at that time. is it possible for him to get the disease now ? he is an indoor cat and has not been outside at all. he seems a little lethogic now and his gums are pale. this is a cat that i have had since he was very tiny and is very special to me.
Posted by Sher on November 09,2010 at 02:26 PM
Get it to the vet now! Do not wait.
Posted by Gail on September 07,2010 at 03:31 PM
I have a cat that is 2 years old . The last month he has started losing the hair on the upper part of his tail and along his backbone. He is neutered and has been kept up on his vaccinations. What could be wrong?
Posted by Cheryl on September 19,2011 at 09:03 PM
It sounds like a food allergy. Try working with your vet on trying different foods. My first suggestion would be to try something grain free, such as Wellness.
Posted by Jeanne on August 28,2010 at 02:27 PM
My three year old male cat just had a bowel movement on the spread and it showed a puddle of blood at the end and it was on the stools as well. He is an indoor cat but not caught up with his immunizations since his first round. He doesn't seem sick, darts away if you get too close. Thanks for any help.
Posted by Michelle on November 03,2010 at 11:38 PM
When my cat had the same symptoms he was diagnosed with giardia
Posted by Tammy on April 24,2010 at 08:42 AM
At the age of 6 my cat within a matter of a month or two lost all his weight. His personality has changed and he can't seem to get enough food or water. He seems to be possessed with food he begs and begs. I do have another cat in the house and need to know if I need to worry about him also. They both have been fixed and had their initial shots. The second cat is 2 years old and very spunky.
Posted by Ed on November 22,2010 at 11:15 PM
Hopefully your kitty is better by now, but if he isn't, have him wormed... not with OTC, but the heavy duty stuff from the vet that will get tapeworms as well as any others... This is the most common cause of the symptoms you describe... We have taken in a few over the past 20 years and just got done treating an outdoor stray... watch for weight gain after 6- 8 weeks... Best, Ed
Posted by j.osborn on November 21,2010 at 08:28 PM
have your cat checked for hypothyroidism. we just lost our 20 yr.old manx cat to this disease.HE HAD BEEN ON TAPEZOLE FOR 2 YEARS BEFORE HE PASSED AWAY.HE ATE CONTINOUSLY AND WAS CONSTANTLY THIRSTY.
Posted by jocilyn on February 12,2010 at 06:43 PM
My cat is two years of age and was just diagnosed with feline lukemia. I also have two other cats, one ten and one seven, that were tested the same day after we found out he had it. We seperated him from the other cats and got him fxed. Also we cleaned all ther food dishes and litter boxes throughly to prevent tne spreading of this sickness. all I would like to know is if there are any other ways to help keep my cat healthy and live longer? Also is ther any signs that i should be looking for? Pleae help me out! Thanks, jocilyn Schmidt
Posted by joyce on June 05,2010 at 08:22 PM
dear jocilyn,sorry to hear about your cat.my cat was diagnosed also.my vet told me to give him 500mg of lysine each day.i got the pills which you can get in any vitamin isle in the store,i got a pill crusher and i would crush it up and put it in canned food.half in the morning and half at night.my cat lived with it for ten years ! my vet said he has never known of a cat to live that long with leukemia.i dont know if it will help your cat live longer, but it sure worked for mine.good luck with your kitty! joyce
Posted by Ashley on July 07,2010 at 04:45 PM
i have 2 cats one has gotting sick and she lost weight but never begged for food and she got over it like a cold, but i just got a 6 week old kitten and she was doing fine for 3 weeks and then my gradma in law but dog flee powder on her yesterday and today she has the runs and she doesnt want to do anything but sleep. I feed her canned cat food, she eat it of my finger but wounldnt get it out of the bowl. She doesnt want anything to drink so i but a little water in a seringe and but it in her mouth and give her a little im trying so hard to finger what would be wrong with her. I also gave her a warm bath to was of the powder and she seemed to feel better but then she came back down. She was cold so i have been holding her to keep her warm and i blew her dry with a blowdryer. Do you know what could be wrong with her?
Posted by Karen Price on February 11,2010 at 09:01 AM
My outdoor cat is suddenly very weak and sitting in puddles in the garage (it is 35 degrees in the garage!). He has been vomiting foamy liquid. We are trying to give him water with a dropper. What could be wrong?
Posted by Claudette Diek on November 03,2010 at 10:32 PM
Your cat is very sick, but I am not a vet and so I cannot guess or diagnose an illness. You owe it to your cat to take her to a vet immediately! Do not wait because the more you wait, the more it will cost money, and I know that you would not want your cat to suffer or die. You can google symptoms for cat diseases, and it can give you an idea what might be wrong with your cat, and you can also google low cost vets and shots. Outdoor cats do not live long (5-12 at the most, some don't make it to their 5th year)because they catch many illnesses and deseases, and they become easy preys to preditors, accidents, and cruelty by others who are cruel or hate cats. Indoor/outdoor cats live longer, but indoor cats live to be as old as 20-22 years old. Please think about having your cat as much as possible indoor, especially during very cold or hot weather. Please don't wait a minute longer, take your cat to a vet. Thank you. Sincerely, Claudette Diek
Posted by Lorraine on February 08,2010 at 10:35 PM
Why are pounds allowed to adopt out sick cats when they only live a sort while as far as I'm concern that's animal abuse, they are not honest with the people adopting them out I have one I didn't get at the pound and I put one down two years ago. I had a GD vet in here to needle the second one and I hadn't realized that it was not the proper needle and that's where this one got infected, he was a replacement for my regualar vet witch I wasn't infored till showed up at the door, the guy lost his hearing aid in my apartment, he came back half an hour later looking for them we didn't find them but Aquarius found them later that evening let me tell you if I noticed he had not needle her for the proper dease I WOULD OF FLUSHED THEM DOWN THE TOILET his $4000.00 hearing aids sorry this upsets me as this is my second cat thank you
Posted by Ashley on July 07,2010 at 04:53 PM
i know how u feel i just got a kitten about 3 weeks ago and i knew she was miss treated left out side and the mother stoped taking care of her way to soon and they didnt even care for. I talked to them the other day to let them know how she was doing and they were surprized that she was still alive like they gave me her knowing that she would die. But today she got sick and i have trying to find out what is wrong with her. She is usally very playfull and talks alot. Now she just sleeps all day doesnt want to eat or drink anything and she cant really control when she goes to the bath room. She also has the runs and i am scared b.c. I just got married and we dont really have that extra money to talk her to the vet and we live with my grandma in law and she had a cat that was sick but she got over it like it was a cold but im not sure. I just really have been trying to find someone that might know something about this. if you know anything that would really help me alot. Ashely Walters
Posted by dianna on November 21,2009 at 10:53 PM
was wondering if a cat that has the diease. Is okay to be with another cat that has the diease, or will it make it worse?
Posted by Sandy Gonzalez on September 23,2010 at 05:14 PM
my son bought a kitten 5 days ago from a shelter, they could not find her papers, but insisted she had been vaccinated for everything, she's 8-9 weeks old--now she sneezes all the time and sleeps--they have another 8 yr. old cat--what problem do you see? he intends on going to his vet.but is waiting for the shelter to send her papers they said were misfiled somewhere. what protection is there for a 8-9 week old kitten--when she sneezes bubbles come out.
Posted by Sue on July 02,2009 at 10:51 PM
Mother cat just diagnosed with feline lukemia, June 2009. Son, from last litter of kittens in March 2005 tested negative in February 2009. Is there any way we can tell whether son could be infected? We don't know when the Mom was infected.
Posted by Anna on December 03,2010 at 07:41 PM
I would get your cat to the vet and get it tested agian because it has been 5 years and he might have got it. I hope you cat can get well soon. I just heard of this disease today and hope to get my 6 cats vaccinated after Chritsmas. Hope th test is still negative! Is there any thing I need to know about this disease that would help me?
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