Vet Sarah Aldridge explores essential facts about cat leukaemia virus

March 14, 2024

As responsible cat owners, it’s crucial to stay informed about potential health threats that could impact our feline companions. One such concern is Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), an incurable, contagious disease that produces fatal illnesses in cats. In this article, our Vet Sarah Aldridge explores essential facts about cat leukaemia, discusses common symptoms, and emphasises the importance of prevention through vaccination. To ensure your cat’s wellbeing, we encourage you to take the proactive step of booking a cat vaccination appointment with our veterinary practice in Daventry.

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Facts about Feline Leukaemia:

What is Feline Leukaemia? Vet Sarah gets asked this question by many cat owners and so is sharing these facts below.

  • Viral Infection: Feline Leukaemia Virus is a retrovirus that can affect cats worldwide. It primarily spreads through close contact with an infected cat, such as mutual grooming, mating, shared food, water bowls, and litter trays or bite wounds. If a pregnant female is infected the kittens usually die before birth, but any that are born will be infected.
  • Highly Contagious: FeLV is highly contagious among cats, making it crucial for owners of multiple cats or those whose cats interact with outdoor felines in and around Northamptonshire to be especially vigilant. Kittens tend to be more susceptible to getting FeLV but cats of all ages can contract the virus.

Common symptoms of Cat Leukaemia:

  • Initially: Many cats only experience mild symptoms of fever and lethargy and it takes months or years for more severe signs to show. The signs can be variable as the main effect the virus has is to damage the white blood cells.
  • Lethargy: Cats infected with FeLV often exhibit increased fatigue and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of various health issues, including FeLV. Sarah advises to monitor your cat’s weight and contact us if you notice significant changes.
  • Recurrent & Secondary Infections: FeLV suppresses the cat’s immune system. Cats with FeLV may experience frequent respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
  • Pale Gums and Mucous Membranes: FeLV can cause anaemia, leading to pale gums and mucous membranes. Our cat vets in Daventry can perform blood tests to check for anaemia and assess overall health.
  • Cancer of the white blood cells call lymphosarcomas.

Diagnosis, treatment & management:

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is diagnosed with blood tests. Unfortunately these are not 100% accurate and some cats can clear the infection. It is always important to consider the results in conjunction with the health of the cat and definitely repeat tests for healthy cats after 12 weeks. Sometimes it will be necessary to send blood for testing by other techniques to a commercial laboratory.

Sadly, while there is no cure for FeLV, Sarah wants owners to know that supportive care and management can help improve the quality of life and extend survival in affected cats. This may include addressing secondary infections with antibiotics, managing symptoms such as anaemia or dehydration, providing a balanced diet, and minimising stressors. Keeping an infected cat indoors and if possible isolated from other cats reduces the chance of them passing on the disease and also picking up infections.Regular veterinary check-ups at Daventry Vets are essential for monitoring health and so your vet can adjust treatment as needed.

Preventing Feline Leukaemia Virus Infections:

  • Vaccination: Vaccination is by far the most effective way to prevent Feline Leukaemia Virus. Our veterinary practice in Daventry offers safe and reliable vaccines that can significantly reduce the risk of infection. Book a cat vaccination appointment to ensure your feline friend is protected.
  • Testing and Isolation: If you’re introducing a new cat to your household or have concerns about an outdoor cat’s health, it’s essential to conduct Feline Leukaemia testing and isolate any infected cats to prevent the spread of the virus. Contact Daventry Vets for more information.
  • Indoor Living: Keeping your cat indoors can significantly reduce their exposure to potential sources of infection in Northamptonshire. If your cat enjoys the outdoors, you might want to consider creating a secure and enclosed outdoor space.
  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Routine examinations allow our vets to monitor your cat’s health and detect any potential issues early on so be sure to schedule regular check-ups.

Book a Cat Vaccination appointment:

To ensure your cat’s protection against Feline Leukaemia Virus, Daventry Vets strongly recommends booking a cat vaccination appointment at our Drayton Fields veterinary practice. Our experienced team are dedicated to providing the best care for your feline friends, and vaccinations play a crucial role in preventing and managing infectious diseases.

Don’t wait until it’s too late – take the proactive step of safeguarding your cat’s health.

Book a cat vaccination appointment today

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