Feline Leukemia Virus FAQ Page

General Information about Feline Leukemia Virus

Q: What is Feline Leukemia Virus?

A: Feline Leukemia Virus, or FeLV, is a virus that is known to occur specifically in cats only. This virus causes damage to the immune system of cats, and it reduces the cats’ ability to fight against diseases. This will make the cats more susceptible to many different types of diseases.

Q: Is FeLV contagious?

A: FeLV is contagious only among cats; it cannot be passed on to human beings or other types of animals.

Q: How is the virus transmitted?

A: FeLV can be transmitted through contact with the mucus, saliva, feces, urine, and blood of an infected cat. Cats that are groomed together or fight with other cats can be infected by the virus. The virus can also be transmitted via hissing, sneezing, and sharing food bowls and litter boxes.

Q: What exactly does FeLV do to cats?

A: When the virus enters a cat’s body system, it will make its way to the first immune system, which is the lymph tissue. Cats that have a strong immune system may be able to withstand this initial attack and eliminate the virus. If the virus survives, it will go on to attack the bone marrow, which contains the red and white blood cells. It may remain in the bone marrow for a number of years before it attacks other tissues and breaks down the immune system.

Q: What are the symptoms of FeLV?

A: FeLV can cause a wide variety of diseases, and it is difficult to tell if a certain illness that occurs in a cat is related to the virus. At the later stage of the infection, a cat may show signs of a weakened immune system, which include gingivitis, stomatitis, abscesses, oral ulcers, and wounds that do not heal. The cat may experience loss of appetite or breathing difficulty. The best thing to do is to bring the cat to a vet whenever it is ill or shows strange behavior.

Treatment for Cats that are FeLV Positive

Q: Is there any treatment for FeLV?

A: Medical experts have not discovered a way to cure FeLV. All forms of treatment for FeLV are only effective in relieving discomfort and pain.

Q: What are the different types of treatment that are available for FeLV?

A: The simplest form of treatment is antibiotics, which are used to relieve bacterial infections that are caused by FeLV. If the cat is suffering from tumors, it has to undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can result in a temporary remission for several weeks or months, but it is only a temporary solution and it can cause great stress on the cat. Another type of treatment that is administered to cats with FeLV is steroid treatment. Prednisolone is a steroid that can reduce the number of cancerous cells in the cat’s blood stream, but it is not a permanent cure for FeLV. Other treatment methods for FeLV include blood transfusion and diet supplements.

Q: What are the chances that a cat will survive FeLV if no treatment is administered?

A: Some cats are naturally immune to FeLV. Of all the cats that are exposed to the virus, 30% of them will not be infected. For the 70% that are infected, only half of them will be killed by the disease. This means that 65% of all cats that are exposed to FeLV will eventually survive.

Feline Leukemia Virus Resources