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Feline Leukemia

August 1, 2023

Feline leukemia, or FeLV, is a viral disease that attacks Fluffy’s immune system, rendering her vulnerable to other illnesses. It’s fairly common in cats, affecting about three percent of our feline friends. A New Orleans, LA vet offers some information on FeLV below.


Infected cats can transmit FeLV to other kitties through their saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, or milk. As one may expect, there’s a very high rate of infection in kittens that were born to FeLV-positive mothers. Bites and scratches are also common forms of transmission. However, Fluffy can also pick up the disease by sharing a bowl or litterbox with an infected cat.


FeLV is no laughing matter. The median survival time after an FeLV is diagnosed is just 2.5 years. However, that’s an average, not a hard estimate. A positive diagnosis is not the end of the road. Some FeLV-positive cats live for much longer than those averages. A few even beat FeLV, effectively becoming immune to its effects. Ask your vet for more information.


If you ever find yourself smitten with a FeLV-positive kitty, don’t automatically pass her over for adoption. There are some caveats, of course. You’ll need to consider other pets. If you have another cat that isn’t positive, then adopting an FeLV-positive cat would endanger your resident pet. There are vaccinations available, but they don’t provide 100% protection. If you don’t have any other kitties, consider getting two FeLV cats.

Warning Signs

Because feline leukemia is an immunity issue, it doesn’t manifest the same way in all cats. That said, there are some general warning signs to watch for. These include things like lethargy, weight gain, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Respiratory issues and skin problems can also be red flags. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.


For the most part, caring for a FeLV cat is just like caring for any other kitty. The main thing is that you’ll need to be diligent about keeping your furry friend’s bowls, dishes, and litterbox super clean. It’s also very important for you to keep Fluffy safe and sound inside. Not only is she at increased risk of catching illnesses from bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, she could also transmit the disease to other neighborhood kitties.

Do you have questions about feline leukemia? Contact us, your local New Orleans, LA pet clinic, today!