Despite what the name implies, feline leukemia is not always associated with cancer. Feline leukemia is a viral infection in cats that can manifest in almost any organ of the body and severely inhibit the immune system.
It is contagious and can be spread from cat to cat through contact with nasal secretions, feces, urine, and other body fluids. Cats can also become infected during fetal development or contract the infection from their mothers during nursing. The virus does not linger long in the environment, so direct contact is usually necessary for transmission.
Symptoms of Feline Leukemia include:
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Respiratory infections
- Dental infections
- Vision problems
- Skin diseases
Owners should always speak with a veterinarian if their cat is displaying any unusual symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available for feline leukemia, but complications and symptoms can be managed as the disease progresses to make the animal more comfortable.
As with many diseases, prevention is often the best medicine. Speak with a veterinarian to see if vaccination against the feline leukemia virus is appropriate for your cat.