Cat Leukemia (Feline Leukemia Virus)

September 5, 2018

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Feline Leukemia Virus Infection (FeLV) in Cats


Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a disease that impairs the cat's immune system and can cause cancer. This viral infection is responsible for too many deaths in household cats, affecting all breeds. The good news is that it is completely preventable. The bad news is that most cats with FeLV live only a few years after their diagnosis.


Symptoms and Types


Cats with FeLV may not show any signs, even for years. Some of the more common symptoms of feline leukemia include:

  • Anemia

  • Lethargy

  • Progressive weight loss 

  • Susceptibility to infection

  • Persistent diarrhea

  • Infections of the external ear and skin and poor coat condition

  • Fever (seen in about 50 percent of cases)

  • Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken-appearing gait or movement

  • Generalized weakness

  • Inflammation of the nose, the cornea, or the moist tissues of the eye

  • Inflammation of the gums and/or mouth tissues (gingivitis/stomatitis)

  • Lymphoma (the most common FeLV-associated cancer)

  • Fibrosarcomas (cancer that develops from fibrous tissue)