Feline Leukemia Virus

What is Feline Leukemia Virus?

FeLV is the most common cause of cancer in cats and it often leads to a state of immune deficiency. The same bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi that may be found in the everyday environment can cause severe illness in those with weakened  immune systems.  Kittens are much more susceptible than are adult cats, and are at greatest risk of infection.

How is FeLV spread?

The virus is shed in saliva and other secretions from infected cats. Cat to cat transfer of the virus may occur from a bite wound or during mutual grooming.  Transmission can also take place from an infected mother cat to her kittens, either before they are born or while nursing.

Many different forms of illness are associated with FeLV, including:

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss.
  • Pale or inflamed gums.
  • Poor coat condition.
  • Abscesses.
  • Fever and secondary infections.
  • Jaundice.
  • Lethargy.

How can FeLV be prevented?

Vaccinating your cats is a very good place to start and limiting their exposure to other cats will be your best option.

How is FeLV treated?

Sadly there is no cure for Feline Leukemia Virus, and it is estimated that less than 20% of clinically infected cats survive more than three years of active infection. In the case of those cats that do develop cancer, chemotherapy can help prolong life.

We at Cape Horn Pet Clinic want to help you keep your cat safe and FeLV free. Throughout the months of November and December anyone starting the Leukemia vaccine series will receive their first vaccination for FREE. In order for the vaccine to be fully effective, a booster vaccine will be needed in 2-3 weeks. A blood test is recommended to verify that your cat is in fact disease free, but not required. 

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