What Are The Signs Of Feline Leukemia? (What You Need To Know!)

signs of feline leukemia

Does your cat show signs of feline leukemia? If you’re worried your cat may have caught this horrible disease don’t panic! Advances in veterinary medicine mean it’s no longer the death sentence it used to be. If your cat shows any of the symptoms outlined in this post it doesn’t mean she has cancer. There are many other causes with most being treatable.

In this article you’ll learn exactly what is feline leukemia and if your cat is at risk. We’ll cover most of the common symptoms here and how to check your kitty. Should the worst happen and your cat has been diagnosed with feline leukemia, we’ll look at managing the disease. Plus, what causes this type of virus and the best way to protect your cat.

What is feline leukemia?

As a cat parent you’ve probably heard of feline leukemia but not sure what it is. Firstly, it’s not cancer, so don’t confuse it with human leukemia. FeLV is a short lived virus that survives only minutes. It’s highly contagious, but only passed on through close contact with infected cats. As it’s passed through saliva and blood it’s mostly caught from from a cat fight or licking during mutual grooming.

Though feline leukemia isn’t cancer, it can cause the illness, so needs to be caught in it’s early stages. The following symptoms could indicate FeLV, but please don’t panic or start to worry. A visit to the vet could put your mind at rest after a few simple tests. And as I mentioned previously, it’s not a death sentence anymore.

1. Weight loss-is your cat losing a lot of weight?

Weight loss on it’s own could be a sign of hyperthyroidism in your cat. This is far more common in cats, and easily treatable with diet and medication. If you notice any other worrying signs including loss of appetite, get your cat checked out.

2. Diarrhea

Diarrhea isn’t uncommon in cats, and usually clears up on it’s own. However, if your kitty develops persistent diarrhea that keeps occurring you should get the vet to look at her. Diarrhea has many causes with feline leukemia being the most unlikely. Often a change in diet resolves the problem, as sensitivity to certain foods is fairly common.

3. Is your cat anaemic?

Anemia in cats has a few possible cause including feline leukemia. Your cat probably won’t show any signs in the early stages, but will as time goes on unless treated. Pale gums, lethargy, and loss of interest in what’s going on are possible signs. Other symptoms including rapid pulse and difficulty breathing.

4. Difficulty standing or walking

If your cat shows problems standing or walking could mean a number of things. If your kitty is elderly it could indicate arthritis, but if other signs of feline leukemia are present, it’s important to get her tested just in case.

5. Enlarged lymph nodes

If you notice your cat has problems swallowing it’s worth feeling her neck for any unusual swelling. Your vet will be able to do this very easily, and he or she will also feel the shoulder and knee areas. Lymphadenopathy, or inflamed lymph nodes may be a response to infections including feline leukemia.

How is feline leukemia diagnosed?

what is feline leukemia

If your vet suspects FeLV he or she will do a blood test. If it’s positive you’ll be asked to keep your cat indoors. Any other cats in your household will need to be vaccinated, though there’s no guarantee it will work. As hard as it sounds, keeping your cats apart is the best course of action.

Though there’s no cure, your vet will suggest a plan for managing the condition. Not all cats respond to therapy and there’s no way of knowing how long your cat will live. However, there are drugs available to manage symptoms if your kitty is already ill. Sadly, over 85% of cats diagnosed with feline leukemia die with 3 years, but many others fight off the infection.

Cats often carry the virus but can live up to 15 years and show no symptoms. This is good news as even if your cat is found to have FeLV she could remain healthy until well into her senior years. If you’re adopting a cat from a shelter it will be tested for the virus. A cat with feline leukemia can still make a wonderful pet and should never be dismissed.

Is feline leukemia painful?

None of us want to think our pets are suffering. Unfortunately, cats can’t talk and do everything they can to hide discomfort. It will become obvious though if your cat has advanced stages of feline leukemia. Symptoms will worsen and though they’ll be periods of remission, they’ll also be times when your kitty is very unwell.

Your vet can provide pain management to make life more comfortable for your poorly pet. However, it is a terminal illness and sooner or later it may be kinder to let go. There is no way of knowing how long your cat will survive and periods of remission can seem as if your kitty is fighting the virus and winning.

Can cats recover from feline leukemia?

As previously mentioned, many cats are able to recover very well from feline leukemia, and those who do become immune to the virus. Young, healthy cats stand a greater chance of fighting the virus. Cats with existing health problems, for example, kidney disease, or those who are elderly are less likely to recover.

What’s the best way to prevent feline leukemia?

There is no 100% guarantee that vaccinations work. Just like us, animals respond differently to vaccines. It’s still the best course of prevention though. The only true way to ensure your cat never gets feline leukemia is by keeping her indoors. This seems a very sad course of action to take, and you need to consider your cat’s wellbeing and quality of life.

Can diet and supplements help protect your cat?

cat eating from a bowl

A healthy diet packed with antioxidants boosts your cat’s immune system in exactly the same way it does for humans. Always give your kitty the best food you can afford. Avoid cheap low grade cat food as they’re mostly packed with fillers with no nutritional value.

Raw food diets are becoming increasingly popular with cat owners, but there’s a high risk of failing to provide essential nutrients cats need. If you’re considering this as an option to protect your cat from viruses such as FeLV it’s vital you add nutrients such as taurine. “Better In The Raw For Cats” is specially formulated for making your own raw food.

Supplements specifically formulated for supporting feline leukemia are also available. There’s no guarantee they’ll work, but the following provides support for Feline Leukemia.

NHV Felimm – Natural Herbal Support

nhv felimm natural herbal support


NHV Felimm is 100% natural and contains a mix of herbs including tumeric to help boost immunity and lessen the chances of contracting FeLV. It comes with a dropper for easy measuring, and you get 100ml.

NHV Felimm is advertised as strengthening a weakened immune system and detoxifying the lymphatic system. This is great if your cat is fighting any type of virus or cancer. No way does this replace conventional medicine, and you should always ask your vet’s advice before giving it to your cat

Rated 4/5

Price $40.95

–>You can buy NHV Felimm through this link<–

Feline Lou-Key-mia Relief & Prevention.All Natural Homeopathic Drops.

feline lou-key-mia relief and prevention

Feline Lou-Key-mia Relief & Prevention is a homeopathic product containing a blend of ingredients designed to support and prevent feline leukemia.It comes with a dropper for adding to water.

–>You can buy Feline Lou-Key-mia Relief through this link<–

What are the risks of feline leukemia?

If your cat is pregnant and carries the virus the chances are high she’ll infect her kittens. This is because they can be infected in the womb or from the mother’s milk. Young cats have a higher risk of developing leukemia than those who are older. It’s been found that resistance to feline leukemia increases with age.

Anywhere that has multiple cats in close contact with each other presents a risk. This is why you need to show proof of vaccination before a cattery will board your cat. If you need to board your cat when you go on vacation always check living conditions first. Make sure it’s clean and safe for your kitty. Dirty food bowls or litter trays that look as if they’ve never been cleaned are a sign you should leave immediately!

Can humans catch feline leukemia?

Only cats get feline leukemia and it can’t be passed on to humans, dogs, or any other species. The interesting thing though, is it’s very similar to the human aids virus. In fact, it’s from the same family.

Protecting your cat from feline leukemia

As you’ve discovered unless you keep your cat indoors and away from other felines, there’s no absolute guarantee of protection. It’s important to keep up booster vaccinations though, and to get your cat’s health checked annually. Diet may part in protecting your cat from viruses, and ensuring your cat gets plenty of antioxidants will help boost immunity.

You’ve learnt a little bit about feline leukemia and some common signs. Plus, how FeLV is diagnosed, and what to expect if you’re cat has the virus. Remember, large numbers of cats live with the virus and show no signs of illness for years. Back in the 1980s anyone who caught HIV had a very bleak outlook. It’s no longer the case today, and the same applies to cats with FeLV

Now you know some signs of feline leukemia and what to look for. However, please don’t panic if your cat develops any of them, as it’s relatively rare. This is because statistics show only 2-3% of the cat population are infected. Getting a blood test done will hopefully put your mind at rest.

I’d love you to share any experiences you may have had with feline leukemia or similar viruses. Please leave any comments below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)
Kathy

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6 comments

  1. I love cats but I’m seriously ignorant about the types of illnesses that my pet could go through. At first, the word leukemia scares me as I’ve known people who went through that and didn’t survive. Thankfully, it’s a totally different sickness for cats and it isn’t all doom and gloom.

    1. Thank you Kenny, yes the word leukemia strikes fear in any cat parent, but thankfully it’s not the same as that suffered by humans. Sorry to hear you’ve lost friends through it.

  2. Really informative blog, I know quite a lot of cat lovers and this will help them protect against a nasty virus.
    Also suggesting particular products will ease a few minds too. Thank you for a very useful article. I might pass this on to a few fellow cat lovers 🙂

    1. Thank you Chris:) Yes, feline leukemia is a very nasty virus but thankfully fairly rare. Prevention is the key with any health condition, and certain supplements combined with a good diet may help. I’m sure your cat loving friends will find this post useful:)

  3. It is really a relief to know that this condition is very rare among cats. This is because I don’t think that I can bear keeping my cat indoor most of the time. I think it is unhealthy for them both physically as well as mentally. They might end up having other kind of problems.

    I appreciate how detail this article is, especially on the different symptoms to look out for. It is always good to know more when you have a cat!

    1. Yes, many people don’t realise how rare it is. Having said that it’s still important to keep up with booster vaccinations. I agree, keeping a cat indoors unless for a good reason is unhealthy. I’m lucky to live in a lovely, quiet rural area and my cat goes outside during the day.:)

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