​What is Feline Leukemia?

November 27th 2018

Is feline leukemia contagious?

While most cancers are not transmissible between individuals, feline leukemia virus is a type of cancer that can spread in cats through sharing of the virus. It cannot be spread to other animals or humans.

How can my cat get feline leukemia?

FeLV is contagious and most commonly spread by close social contact between cats. The virus is mostly shed from saliva so sharing food and water dishes, using the same litterbox, mutual grooming and bite wounds are all possible methods of transmission. Outdoor cats are at higher risk because of their increased exposure.

How can I protect my cat against feline leukemia?

Fortunately, there is a vaccine that protects cats against FeLV infection. The FeLV vaccine is strongly recommended for cats who go outside.

What is feline leukemia?

FeLV can cause a variety of tumours – the most common types are lymphoma and leukemia. As well, because the virus attacks white blood cells, infected cats are immunosuppressed and are prone to developing secondary infections.

What are the signs of feline leukemia? 

Clinical signs include anorexia, weight loss, lethargy and fever. Because FeLV-infected cats are immunosuppressed, a variety of persistent diseases develop in these cats, with progressive deterioration in their condition over time.

How do I know if my cat has feline leukemia?

If you suspect your cat has FeLV, there are blood tests your veterinarian can perform.
While very reliable, the in-house FeLV test can have false positives and if an unexpected result is obtained, a blood sample can be submitted to specialist veterinary laboratory for confirmation.

What is the life expectancy for a cat with feline leukemia?

There is no cure for FeLV, and management is mostly symptomatic and supportive therapy. Prognosis is guarded and once diagnosed with FeLV, infected cats live for around 2.5 years.
Quality of life is always our utmost concern and any questions regarding that warrants a frank conversation with a veterinarian. If you have any questions or are worried your cat has feline leukemia, you can call the clinic at 403-615-8016 to book an appointment to speak with a vet.

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