FeLV or cat leukemia in cats (Feline Leukemia Virus)

In contrast to FIV, FeLV, the Feline Leukemia virus, is indeed transmissible via saliva (or snot). So when cats wash each other, they can infect each other. Also bite wounds cause infection with FeLV and kittens can become infected in the uterus or via mother milk. FeLV is also transferable via sexual contact. Is there still no danger somewhere? Yes. Contamination by eating from the same food bowl or drinking from the same water container is less obvious, because the virus only stays alive for a short time in the environment.

The symptoms of FelV

FeLV is most common in male cats between 1 and 6 years old. Cats can become permanently infected after exposure to the virus. They can also become carriers of the virus without becoming ill themselves and they can also undergo a self-limiting infection. This depends on the type of virus and also on the age and the immune system of the cat.

Symptoms are often not really specific: do not want to eat, lose weight, depression, fever. We also often see tumors of the lymph nodes. Because the immune system is weak, we also see additional infections such as inflammation in the mouth or eyes.

How is the diagnosis of FeLV made?

After an extensive physical examination and based on the story of the owner, the suspicion of FeLV can arise. With the aid of a FeLV-FIV rapid test and a small amount of blood, the probability diagnosis FeLV can be made. This examination can be performed at the clinic and the result is known within 10 minutes.

However, a positive result does not immediately mean that the cat has developed the disease. It is possible that the cat is in an acute phase of the infection and that the cat overcomes the infection and does not become ill. Therefore it is advisable to repeat the test after 3 months.
It may be that your veterinarian advises to send blood to a laboratory for inspection.

How to act when FeLV has been detected in your cat?

Because FeLV can not be cured, the treatment is focused on:

  1. preventing the spread of the disease on other cats
  2. the prevention of secondary infections
  3. treating secondary secondary infections

Preventing the spread of FeLV infection to other cats

  • All cats in the household must be tested for FeLV.
  • All FeLV positive cats must be kept absolutely separate from FeLV free cats (pay attention to drinking bowls etc.), so also the cats that tested positive, but do not seem sick yet!
  • FeLV positive cats should not go outside to prevent infection in cats of other owners.
  • If the infected cats have not yet been spayed / neutered, that should be done to prevent fighting and possible birth problems.

The prevention of secondary infections

  • Give high-quality food for optimal health.
  • Avoid giving uncooked food, such as raw meat, eggs and unpasteurized milk products, the risk of bacterial and parasitic infections via this food is too great.
  • Carefully watch the health and behavior of your cat, immediately notify your veterinarian if something is wrong.
  • Alternative medicine, immunomodulators, or antiviral medicines have no proven positive effects on the health or longevity of healthy infected cats.
  • It is good to arrange half-yearly checks with your vet. In any case, an extensive physical examination is required, supplemented with blood tests. In addition, it is wise to accurately keep track of the weight so that weight loss is signaled on time.

FeLV is deadly

FeLV infected cats that are actually ill will die: 50% within 1 year, 90% within 3 years. How long an infected cat still has depends on the symptoms and its resistance. An infected cat should be kept separate from other cats (so keep it inside).

For the detailed explanation click here

FelV and CatVision

We find it very important that all our cats are tested on FelV.
All our breeding animals are Negative tested at our vet, We breed exclusively with cats that are FelV free.

Test results are available for inspection.