Feline leukemia (FELV) is a form of cancer that is one of the leading killers of cats. It’s incurable, contagious from cat to cat, and usually fatal.
FELV can cause cancerous tumors to grow in any organ of your cat’s body. The virus can also cause leukemia – cancerous cells that spread throughout the blood stream. The virus affects bone marrow and severely depresses immune system function so your cat’s body can’t fight off disease. As a result, more cats die from conditions such as anemia and infections, than from tumors or leukemia.
SIGNS OF INFECTION INCLUDE:
- Mouth ulcers
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic bacterial infections
DISORDERS CAUSED BY FELV INCLUDE:
- Eye disorders
- Impaired blood clotting
- Kidney inflammation
- Reproductive failure
DISORDERS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH FELV DEPRESSED IMMUNE SYSTEMS:
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Intestinal infections
- Upper respiratory disorders
- Progressive arthritis
- Nasal and sinus disorders
- Gum and mouth infections
- Abscesses and skin infections
Transmission of FELV is only from cat to cat, with NO evidence of spreading to humans. FELV is present in saliva, urine and feces of infected cats. It can be spread by direct contact between cats, contaminated food dishes and litter boxes, or congenitally from a mother cat to her unborn kittens.
Environment plays a part in the chance of your cat becoming infected. When several cats are housed together, or if a cat is allowed to roam freely, the increased chance for transmittal is evident. Even cats in single-cats households may be harboring the disease transmitted from an infected mother while nursing.
Detection: a blood test can be used to detect FELV infection. A positive test means the cat has FELV in its blood, probably in its saliva, and is infectious to other cats.
Prevention/Treatment: While there is no successful treatment available for FELVP, effective vaccines provide a high degree of protection for healthy, uninfected cats. The vaccine must be administered before your cat is infected. Periodic boosters are necessary to maintain protection.
You are the best line of defense for your pet. You can help stop the spread of this “killer disease” by having your cat tested and vaccinated.