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Albuquerque VetCo

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Feline Leukemia

You have likely heard about Feline Leukemia (FeLV), and may have even known a cat that has had Feline Leukemia.  Here is the scary stuff:

  • Feline Leukemia is not curable.
  • 85% of cats that contract Feline Leukemia die within 3 years, less if they go untreated.
  • Feline Leukemia is contagious to other cats but not to humans. 
  • Feline Leukemia is the most common cause of death in domestic cats. 
  • A cat can have the virus without showing symptoms right away. 

Here is the not scary stuff:

  • FeLV is preventable with a vaccination.

How Do Cats Get FeLV?

The FeLV virus is transmitted through body fluids:

  • saliva
  • mucus
  • urine and feces
  • blood.

Typically it is transmitted through direct contact between cats, things like mutual grooming, shared litter boxes, shared food and water bowls. It can also be passed to kitten in utero or through their milk. It can also be transmitted through bites and scratches. 

Symptoms of FeLV

Keep in mind that a cat can have Feline Leukemia and have no symptoms, this is why it is important to get your cat tested. 

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Pale or swollen gums
  • Oily fur
  • Abscesses
  • Fever
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Significant changes in behavior
  • Vision or other eye problems
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Reproductive problems (in females)
  • Jaundice (yellow skin)
  • Chronic skin disease
  • Respiratory distress (aka. breathing difficulty)
  • Lethargy

How Is FeLV Treated?

cat health

There is no cure for FeLV. Treatment is based on the best course of action to provide your cat with the highest quality of life. This could be medications or diet. Your vet will advise you on the best possible course. 

How Can FeLV Be Prevented?

Get the vaccine! There is a vaccine for FeLV. Though you cannot cure it, you can prevent it. Come into our daily walk-in shot clinic to get your FeLV vaccination. 

If your cat has the vaccination then you don’t need to worry about contracting the disease. If your cat is not vaccinated, you need to get them vaccinated immediately, but in the mean time, keep them away from other cats to avoid any possible contamination.