Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

feline leukemia
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders.

How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia

Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. The virus is spread in saliva, urine, feces, nasal secretions and milk from nursing mothers. When an infected cat bites or grooms another cat, that cat may develop the virus. If a pregnant cat has feline leukemia, the kittens might be born with the disease or may develop it after nursing. Because kittens have weaker immune systems than older cats, they are more likely to suffer from the virus. Cats can also spread the virus by sharing food dishes or litter boxes; although this does not happen very often.

Symptoms of Feline Leukemia

There may be no symptoms of the disease during the earlier stages. In the later stages, symptoms may be similar to those that are also typical of other types of viruses. Depending on the stage of the disease, a cat infected with feline leukemia may experience:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Gradual weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Eye disorders
  • Pale gums or inflammation of the gums
  • Poor coat
  • Anemia
  • Skin, bladder or upper respiratory tract infections
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Feline leukemia is diagnosed via a blood test that detects a protein found in the virus. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. Many infected cats die within two to three years of being diagnosed. Although there is no treatment for feline leukemia, symptoms can be treated to keep your cat more comfortable. If weight loss is a problem, nutritional supplements will help your cat receive necessary nutrients. Your cat may get sick more often because of his weakened immune system, but these infections can often be treated with antibiotics.

Prevention

The FeLV vaccine will help prevent your cat from developing feline leukemia, but it does not offer an absolute guarantee that your cat will never get the virus. The best way to protect your furry friend is to keep him or her indoors. When cats roam, they are more likely to come in contact with infected cats that may transmit the virus through a bite.

Before you bring a new pet into your home, make sure that it has been tested for the feline leukemia virus. If one of your cats does develop the virus, separate it from your other cats to prevent the spread of the disease.

Has your cat had an examination and feline leukemia shot recently? If not, give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

7:30 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

7:30 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Please contact us at the clinic with questions or to schedule an appointment.

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "I love the fact that the office opens at 7:30 am. I am able to get in before work whenever I need treatments for my cats. Everyone in the office is super friendly and gentle when handling my pets. I was seen very quickly after my appointment time. Thank you all for a fantastic visit!"
    Sassy Lane
  • "Wedgewood Pet Clinic provides phenomenal care to our dogs! The veterinarians at Wedgewood have been the exclusive providers of medical care for our dogs for 20 years. Dr. Belcourt, Dr. Heintz, and the Wedgewood staff really care about their patients, and it shows! I highly recommend Wedgewood Pet Clinic."
    Brian Fagan
  • "I recently had to say goodbye to the best furry friend on the face of the planet! It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do! They were so great with the entire process! They handled everything with such grace, empathy, dignity, and respect at a time when I could barely put a sentence together without crying! They made time for us when they were very busy, and yet took the time to let us say goodbye properly! I cannot thank them enough! My entire family has taken our pets there for years and will continue to do so! We can't say enough great things about them! Thank you Wedgewood for being so great!"
    Ashley C
  • "I've trusted my cat's delicate and unique health conditions to Dr. Heintz for the past 7 years and have nothing bad to say. He cares for the animal's health and is easy to communicate with; he's always responsive and upfront. Everyone in the office are friendly and provides wonderful care. I highly recommend this clinic even if it's a little out of your way."
    Sarah Smith
  • "Dr. Heintz is hands down the most compassionate & kind person. I've been going to him for years and wouldn't ever stray. He is thorough and does what is necessary. 10 out of 10 recommend."
    Leah Rose
  • "Wedgewood is always fantastic! They are very friendly and do an awesome job with even the most nervous pets! They are timely and efficient and truly care about your pet!"
    Alissa B
  • "We drive 30 minutes to have our dogs seen by Dr Heintz. He's amazing and the staff at Wedgewood is always friendly. Highly recommend!"
    Laura Chambers
  • "Wedgewood is now our forever vet! Dr. Heintz and staff helped us through a very difficult time with two sick puppies. I've never had a veterinarian show so much care and concern for our puppies, our situation, and all of our questions. The staff was always courteous and helpful. Wedgewood went above and beyond, and we're extremely grateful!"
    KL
  • "I've been using Dr Heintz for about 5 years now. He takes the time to explain what is going on and to answer questions. The whole staff is wonderful. Hands down this is the best vet clinic I've ever been to!"
    Kat F.