feline leukemia

Cat leukaemia: identifying the signs of feline leukaemia (FeLV)

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is a highly contagious, common condition that can weaken your cat’s immune system and even cause death. It’s one of the most common infectious diseases in cats, alongside feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Can I reduce the risk of my cat getting FeLV?

Feline leukaemia is generally transmitted through contact with saliva from an infected cat. Certain “social” behaviours such as mutual grooming and sharing food or water bowls can spread the disease; some cats become infected through bite wounds. While all cats are at risk, outdoor cats, cats with a weakened immune system, and those that haven’t been neutered are most at risk.

Vaccination is an effective way of protecting your cat against this nasty disease and prevent the spread of cat leukaemia – just speak to your vet to book your cat’s annual booster injections.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of FeLV

Feline leukaemia can be tricky to spot, as infected cats don’t always show signs of the disease. The symptoms are listed below:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pale gums
  • Sickness
  • Bad breath
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Infection that won’t clear up with antibiotics

Treating FeLV in cats

There’s no cure for FeLV, and treatment aims to manage the symptoms as the disease progresses. The good news is that cats testing positive for the condition may go on to live long, happy lives. A significant number of elderly cats with feline leukaemia die of old age, and not from the symptoms of the disease. The important thing is to protect your feline friend against this nasty – and potentially fatal – condition.

“Vaccination is an effective way of protecting your cat against this nasty disease – just speak to your vet to book your cat’s annual booster injections.”

Want advice on FeLV in cats?

For expert advice on feline leukaemia, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.