Feline Leukemia Virus is a disease in cats that can cause anemia and lymphoma, among other illnesses. The virus can also suppress the cat’s immune system affecting their ability to fight off bacteria.
FeLV positive cats may live many years in a healthy state. A little more than half of the cats that test positive for the virus develop antibodies and are able to fight it off. A little less than half of the adult cats that test positive for FeLV will succumb to the disease.
FeLV is commonly transmitted through saliva. Therefore mutual grooming, nose-to-nose contact, and shared food and water bowls can be sources of infection. It takes large amounts of virus to infect an adult cat, so usually prolonged contact or a bite is necessary for transmission. Vaccinating against FeLV helps to control the spread of the virus.
FeLV cats should be kept indoors, both to protect them from exposure to disease, and also to prevent them from spreading FeLV to other cats.
Caring for cats with FIV or FeLV
The goal of caring for FeLV and FIV infected cats is to keep them healthy, detect problems early and treat the associated diseases promptly and aggressively so that the cats can enjoy the maximum quantity and quality of life possible.