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Recognizing Symptoms of Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

Kitten 9 editedDespite 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:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Respiratory infections
  • Dental infections
  • Seizures
  • 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.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Martha Kocher April 15, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I just have a question. I got my female cat from the Humane Society about three years ago at five and a half years old. She was amatted mess at the time. She’s always had a bald spot on her right hip. Sometimes smaller, sometimes larger, but always there. It doesn’t seem to bother her. Is this a cause for concern?

    • VetDepot April 17, 2014, 9:41 am

      Hi Martha, that’s definitely a question for your cat’s veterinarian. All the best.

      • skyeyes April 21, 2014, 5:48 am

        I think what VetDepot is saying Martha, that bald spot can be the result of a number of things and without examination by vet, you wont know which condition is causing the bald spot. For peace of mind, were it me, I would take her in and find out for certain and then you can be at ease she is being taken care of and the problem on the way to being solved !. Our wonderful fur babies are worth it, aren’t they ? don’t know what I would do without mine !. good luck

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