What Is FeLV?

Published by Robert Baker on 29th Jul 2015

FeLV or Feline Leukemia Virus is a retrovirus that affects cats through the transfer or salvia or nasal discharge. Many cat's immune systems can easily fight this off, but if they become infected they will test positive and be able to infect other cats. This disease is a form of cancer of the blood.

There are two tests for FeLV. Shelters typically perform an ELISA or "snap test" that takes 10 minutes and is the industry standard for determining if a cat is positive or negative. If the test is unclear an IFA blood test may be sent into a lab and results will be back in 2-3 days. The biggest concern is that both of these tests tell us the status of the cat now. This does not mean that it will not change in 6 month or 1 year. In reality, it is a challenge to be 100% sure a cat is not infected throughout it's life.

Cats can be carriers of FeLV but never show signs of the disease. A carrier can infect another cat though. A positive cat can even lead a long and healthy life with no one knowing they are positive. One should always be on the lookout for certain symptoms that are connected to FeLV and also many other diseases. They are:
* Cats not interested in grooming or having a poor coat
* A loss of interest in food
* Upper respiratory infection
* Urinary tract infection
* Weight loss that occurs quickly
* Stomatitis ( an oral disease that causes the body to reject the tarter on teeth)
* Infections of the dermis
* Diarrhea

This list could potentially go on and on as many symptoms of FeLV are in common with other diseases. A vet will usually request to retest a tested kitty when symptoms persist.

Your part in keeping the cat safe is to keep the cat inside. When a new cat is added take precautions to keep them separate until they are checked out by your vet. Utilize your vet to make a plan to protect your cat.

And remember that FeLV is a feline disease only and cannot be transmitted to other species.