Leukemia In Cats (FeLV): Sign, Causes And Treatment

You will be learning about Leukemia in Cats in our discussion today. In simple terms, Leukemia in Cats refers to cancer of the white blood in cats, although other types exist. The white blood cells are responsible for defending the body against germ invasion which leads to illnesses.

Leukemia occurs as a result of aggressive multiplication of the white blood cells in cats. Sadly, cats suffer from this disease otherwise known as Feline Leukemia in Cats. If you have a cat pet, then you will find our discussion to be helpful.

Leukaemia In Cats: Signs, Causes, And Treatment.

Cats suffer from similar diseases as humans including Leukemia in Cats are considered to be the second leading cause of death in cats. Feline Leukemia in Cats kills about 85% of persistently infected felines just within the space of three years the disease is diagnosed.

Feline Leukemia in Cats adversely affects their body in many ways and it may cause various blood disorders, as well lead to a state of immune deficiency that encumbers a cat’s from protecting itself against other infections.

Feline Leukemia in Cats proceeds through stages and there are six stages in all. As soon as the virus enters the cat, it spreads through the body, peripatetic through the bloodstream, and replicates.

However, many cats are able to fight off the virus at the early stage, but if the virus is not stopped, it can infect the bone marrow. Once the virus is established in the bone marrow, infected cells can be released. The virus is then shed and can infect other cats.


Cause Of Leukemia In Cats.

Leukaemia in Cats is the leading viral killer of felines and one of the major Signs of Leukemia in Cats is to weaken the cat’s immune system thereby increasing susceptibility to other diseases, and also causes blood disorders.

With that been said, what then is the cause of Leukemia in cats? From what we gathered, feline leukaemia is caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) that is present in around 2-3% of cats. The scariest part is the rate at which this virus is been transmitted from cat to cat making it a real threat to all cat owners.

The Feline Leukemia Virus is subdivided into four, which are:

FeLV-AFeLV-A is the only type that can be transmitted from cat to cat. Some cat carries just the FeLV-A while other cats carry it in combination with others.

  • FeLV-B

FeLV-B is associated with the development of abnormal tissue or tumours in cats which can lead to leukaemia in the long run.

  • FeLV-C

The FeLV-C type is considered to cause severe anaemia in cats and as well lead to leukaemia in cats.

  • FeLV-T

Lastly, the FeLV-T causes a suppressed or weakened immune system in cats.

Methods Of Infection.

We mentioned that FeLV is transmissible from a cat to a cat which makes pet owners wonder what is the method of infection. The FeL virus occurs in saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk from infected cats. But the mode of spreading the infection from cat-to-cat is through bite wounds, from infected mother cat to her kittens through breastfeeding or right from birth, during mutual grooming, and through shared litter boxes and feeding dishes (a possibility but it is rare).

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Most Kittens that contact the disease before birth often die before they are born, with a few dies a short time after birth or will survive and remain infected.

Signs And Symptoms Of Leukemia In Cats.

Feline Leukemia Virus In Cats
Feline Leukemia Virus In Cats

There are signs a cat exhibit when they are infected making the Symptoms of Leukemia in Cats our next discourse. Interestingly, cats seldom show any signs during the early stage of this disease. But as time goes on, weeks, months, or even years, health may progressively deteriorate.

Also, a positively diagnosed cat may experience recurrent illness combined with periods of relative health. Symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, weight loss, lethargy, difficult breathing patterns, pale gums, a yellow colour around the mouth, and whites of the eyes may be seen.

Diagnosis Of Leukemia In Cats.

signs of Leukemia in Cats
signs of Leukemia in Cats

You’ve been enlightened to the Symptoms of Leukemia in Cats that will help you pay more attention to your cat and identify whether it suffers from Leukemia. There are several tests that can be carried out to ascertain if your cat suffers from Leukemia.

One of the tests to detect Leukemia in Cats is ELISA which identifies FeLV proteins in the blood. The test is highly sensitive and can identify infections in cats at an early stage. Also, if your cat test positive on this test, it is possible that the virus is yet to infect the bone marrow. This means that your cat still has a chance to fight off the virus on its own.

Also, the IFA is another blood test that’s used to detect the progressive phase of the infection. Cats that test positive for this test are unlikely to clear the virus. That is because such cats have a poor long-term prognosis.

Accurate testing is important, that is why you should consider going to a licensed certified veterinarian to get the best of vet services so as to get the best care.

Treatment Of Leukemia In Cats.

Feline Leukemia is always fatal and for that reason, many cat owners are eager to find out if there is a treatment for this disease so as to keep their pet alive and healthy as possible. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease for now and your cat’s life will typically be shortened as earlier mentioned.

Nonetheless, some cats can live with the condition for years. That is why it is important for infected cats to be kept separate from other cats to avoid transmission to others.

In the absence of any cure, for now, there are different methods you can employ to help prolong the cat’s life especially when they tested positive for the disease. Cats that tested positive should be:

  • Kept indoors and separated from healthy cats to reduce and avoid exposure to other infectious agents and well prevent the spread of infection to other cats.
  • Kept on a strict diet excluding raw meat or eggs
  • Taken for regular checkups with their vet
  • Sharing of food and sleeping areas with infected cats should be prohibited
  • Seek the advice of professional veterinary care at the first sign of an illness
  • Kept up-to-date on vaccines that are
  • Have regular faecal tests and deworming to monitor the progress and stage of the disease.

Remember, cats with FeLV are more prone to developing other illnesses so you must do what you can to protect the state of their health.

Prevention Of Leukaemia In Cats.

Prevention is said to be better than cure and it is the best step to avoid your cat been infected with the virus. That is why it is best to take practice preventive measures that will keep your cat against this disease, bearing in mind that there is no cure.

Pet owners should take preventive measures seriously to keep them safe. So, preventive practices that are effective include:

#1. Vaccination.

Vaccination has proven helpful because it prevents cats from contracting the disease. Therefore, getting your cat vaccinated is very helpful and it is recommended for all cats at risk of exposure.

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#2. Separation from Infected Cats.

Vaccination is good but the sure way to prevent transmission is to prevent exposure to infected cats. That means you need to keep your cats indoors, away from potentially infected cats who might bite them.

Also, peradventure you do allow your cat outdoors, ensure you provide supervision or place your cat in a secure enclosure.

Life Expectancy Of Leukemia In Cats. 

Leukaemia in Cats as we earlier mentioned is one of the top leading causes of death in cats. Also, you can through the Symptoms of Leukemia in Cats Feline be able to arrest the condition at an early stage.

Unfortunately, positively diagnosed cats with FeLV don’t last long and we are unable to give an accurate life span period of an infected cat. Also, most cats will succumb to a feline leukemia-related disease within two or three years after becoming infected.

FAQ Section.

following are commonly asked questions that we have provided answers to appropriately;

How Long Can cats live with leukemia?

Can cats live with leukemia for a long time? Although a FeLV diagnosis can be heartbreaking emotionally, it’s vital to remember that FeLV-positive cats can live normal lives for lengthy lengths of time. Cats have a median survival time of 2.5 years after being diagnosed with FeLV.

Should a cat with feline leukemia be put down?

Is it necessary to euthanize a cat with feline leukemia? “Most veterinarians feel that it is preferable to humanely euthanize a leukemia positive cat rather than allowing it to die of the disease,” said Ryan Epple, owner of Harmony Animal Hospital. … Because of the risk of infecting other cats, cats diagnosed with feline leukemia are euthanized rather than released back into the community, according to Epple.

How does a cat get leukemia?

Infected cats’ saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk all contain the virus. It is transmitted from cat to cat through bite wounds. from a mother cat sick to her kittens

What are the first signs of feline leukemia?

How can you know if your cat has feline leukemia? Feline Leukemia Virus Symptoms;

  • Gums that are pale.
  • The whites of the eyes and the insides of the mouth are yellow.
  • Lymph nodes that have grown in size.
  • Infections of the bladder, skin, or upper respiratory tract.
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
  • The coat is in bad shape.
  • Weakness and lethargy develop over time.
  • Fever.

What Are The Stages Of Feline Leukemia?

Abortive, regressive, and progressive are the three main stages of FeLV infection. 4 Approximately two-thirds of cats infected with FeLV will have an abortive or regressive infection, whereas the other one-third will have a progressive illness.

Can Leukemia In Cats Be Cure?

Is it possible to cure leukemia in cats? Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, and the cat’s life will be significantly shortened as a result. However, it’s difficult to say how much the sickness will affect the cat. Some people will be afflicted for years. When a cat is diseased, it must be kept away from other cats.

What Are The Final Stages Of Lymphoma In Cats?

In cats, what are the ultimate stages of lymphoma? Symptoms of intermediate to advanced lymphoma include:

Loss of weight. Distention or pain in the abdomen. Thirst and urination have increased. Distress in the lungs.

How Do You Treat Feline Leukemia In Cats?

What is the best way to cure feline leukemia in cats? Infected cats should be kept indoors to minimize the spread of infection to other cats and to limit their exposure to other infectious agents. Blood transfusions and anemia-management medicines may be used as part of supportive care in some circumstances. Chemotherapy is a treatment option for FeLV-related lymphomas.

What Are The Last Stages Of Feline Leukemia?

What are the symptoms of feline leukemia in its last stages? The following are examples of warning signs: Appetite loss is common. Late in the disease phase, there is a slow but gradual weight loss, followed by severe wasting. The coat is in bad shape.

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How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Show Signs Of Feline Leukemia?

Cats can test positive for the virus as soon as a few weeks after exposure, but by 28 days, almost all cats who are positive for the virus will be.

Is Leukemia Contagious In Cats?

Is feline leukemia contagious? What Is Feline Leukemia and How Does It Affect Cats? Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is transmitted from cat to cat. Unlike many other viruses that infect and destroy certain cells in the body, FeLV infects and modifies the genetic properties of specific cells in a cat’s body.

How Much Does It Cost To Treat Feline Leukaemia?

How much does treatment for feline leukemia cost? Treatment Costs on Average;

Treatment for the feline leukemia virus costs around $650-$700 on average. And the average cost of preventive is around $75.00. It can, however, vary based on your cat’s size, veterinary expenditures, and the stage of feline leukemia.

When Is It Time To Euthanize A Cat With Feline Leukemia?

When should a cat with feline leukemia be put to sleep? It is a retrovirus that affects the immune system and is not a type of cancer. FeLV-positive cats can lead normal, happy, and healthy lives, albeit they may live shorter lifetimes than FeLV-negative cats. Cats with this condition have traditionally been euthanized as soon as they are diagnosed.

Does Feline Leukemia Hurt?

A wide range of symptoms may appear, and their health may deteriorate gradually over time. A FeLV cat, on the other hand, can live for many years without becoming ill. Enteritis (chronic diarrhea), eye illness, and stomatitis are all disorders that FeLV can cause (painful inflammation of the mouth).

Is Coughing A Symptom Of Feline Leukaemia?

Coughing in cats is a symptom of feline leukemia. Some cats with feline leukemia don’t display any symptoms at all. When symptoms do arise, they might take many different forms. Lack of appetite, tiredness, fever and weight loss are all common symptoms. Coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, and a runny nose are common respiratory symptoms.

What Body Systems Does Feline Leukemia Affect?

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most common infectious diseases affecting cats around the world. Affected cats may develop anemia (low red blood cell count), cancer, and/or immune system suppression. Over time, the condition worsens and is usually fatal.

Which Is Worse FIV Or FeLV?

Which is more dangerous, FIV or FeLV? Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is far more deadly than Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FeLV causes cancer (such as lymphoma), leukemia (such as malignancy of the bone marrow or circulating white and red blood cells), and severe bone marrow suppression (such as anemia) in young cats.

Can Feline Leukemia Cause Eye Problems In Cats?

Cats with feline leukemia may experience a variety of ocular abnormalities, including a protruding third eyelid and yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Cancer may, unfortunately, be a sign of feline leukemia.

Can Cats Recover From FIV?

Is it possible for cats to recover from FIV? Although there is no known treatment for FIV, supportive care can help cats with the virus enhance their quality of life, health, and lifespan. A cat infected with FIV may be symptom-free for the rest of her life. Any secondary infections can be treated right away if they arise.

How Did My Indoor Cat Get Feline Leukemia?

What Causes Feline Leukemia in Cats? FeLV is spread through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk from other infected cats who are “shedding” the virus, which means the virus is reproducing in the body and being discharged into the environment.

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Leukaemia in Cats is a delicate and severe condition that ought not to be taken lightly. The disease is caused by the FeL virus and can be transmitted from one cat to another. From our discourse so far, you have learned almost all that you need to know about this disease including Signs of Leukemia in Feline, diagnosis, mode of infection, and how to manage the condition because there is no treatment for the disease.

Author: David Arthur

David's lifelong passion for animals blossomed into a dream profession in 2020. He founded Petscareway Inc., a professional pet care company situated in the Texas. Several veterinarians have educated him in Pet First Aid and CPR since 2003. David decided to become a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor in 2011 after completing an instructor training course. David decided he had to be a part of ProPetHero when he discovered them in 2016 and saw how they were offering ER veterinarian-led training to everyone. As a result, he became a member of the ProTrainings family, the designers of ProPetHero. He volunteers and fosters for The Boxer Rescue Inc in his spare time, is a health-conscious Boxer breeder, and is a member of the Middlesex Boxer Club and Wachusett Kennel Club. David has served as a mentor to many people in the pet industry and in the small company world. When he's not working or helping, he's competing with his dogs in agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials across the country. David can be seen training with his puppies, hiking with them on trails, or playing in his backyard when he is not at a trial or trying to find a nice home for a Boxer through the rescue.

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