Feline leukemia, or FeLV, weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to other diseases. As a result, it can cause blood disorders and is the leading cause of lymphoma in cats. Sadly, feline leukemia can be fatal. It is the #1 viral killer regarding cats. The most significant and valuable thing that you can do for your feline friend is taking their health seriously and staying aware of the facts relating to feline health. Here is a look at how cats get feline leukemia and diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
FeLV is transmitted through the saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk from infected cats. The infection spreads from cat to cat through bite wounds, from an infected mother cat to her kittens, when an infected cat grooms another cat, and rarely, through shared litter boxes and feeding dishes. Unvaccinated outdoor cats are at a high risk of contracting the disease. Cats that stay indoors are the least susceptible to FeLV.
The two types of blood tests used to diagnose FeLV are the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay (IFA). Veterinarians use the ELISA as a screening tool that detects the presence of free FeLV particles found in the bloodstream. This test is quick, easy, and can be done during a regular exam. The IFA test can be done in addition to a positive ELISA test and is sent to an outside diagnostics laboratory. IFA tests examine the presence of virus particles within the white blood cells, an indicator that the infection has advanced.
Treatment and Prevention
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive cure for FeLV. Once a cat becomes infected, typically, leukemia doesn’t go away. When veterinarians treat FeLV, they usually focus on treating and managing symptoms related to FeLV, such as prescribing antibiotics to help with bacterial infections or performing blood transfusions for severe anemia (a condition where the body doesn’t contain enough healthy red blood cells.)
The best way to protect your feline friend is to keep them away from FeLV-positive cats. This can be achieved by keeping your cat indoors and testing any new cat entering the home prior to introducing them to your other cat(s). If you do let your cat outside, it is best to supervise them and keep them in a secure place where they can’t wander or get into any altercations with unknown cats. We also strongly recommend vaccinating any cats that go outside, supervised or not.
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Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!