Feline leukemia: veterinarian lists the main symptoms of FeLV in kittens

 Feline leukemia: veterinarian lists the main symptoms of FeLV in kittens

Tracy Wilkins

When adopting a kitten, the first thing you need to do is make sure that the animal is negative for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency - or feline AIDS) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia). In the case of FeLV, then, care needs to be redoubled, since the symptoms appear according to the phase in which the disease affects the cat. To understand even more about feline leukemia and what are the main onessymptoms of the disease, Patas da Casa spoke with veterinarian Caroline Mouco Moretti, who is General Director of the Veterinary Hospital Vet Popular .

Feline leukemia: what are the most common symptoms of the disease?

Usually, the symptoms of feline FeLV manifest themselves according to the stages of the disease. Some characteristics, however, are common in everyday life and should be noted by guardians if the kitten is not tested for the disease. These are some of the most noticeable symptoms:

  • Abundant eye discharge

The eyes of our kittens are very important for them to survive day to day. Cats have the amazing ability to see very well in the dark. When they are sick or infected with FeLV, the eyes can accumulate more secretions and take on a reddish hue, as if irritated. It can be similar to conjunctivitis, so it is necessary to pay attention to the other symptoms.symptoms of feline leukemia;

  • Hyperthermia

It is very common for the animal's body to be at a higher than ideal temperature when it has an infectious disease. In the case of FeLV, the animal may have severe episodes of fever and have a hyperthermia, where its body will be much hotter than normal;

  • Weight loss

As feline FeLV is a disease that progresses very quickly, compromising the kitten's entire immune system, it is common for him to end up not eating often. This leads to weight loss and, in some cases, anorexia;

  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Feline leukaemia impairs the animal's feeding, which may cause it to have some difficulty eating. Episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea become very common, as its immune system is weakened. The situation also favours the appearance of worms, such as giardiasis;

  • Gum dysfunction

The animal's gums may take on a whitish hue, as in hepatic lipidosis, since the animal cannot eat normally. It is also possible to notice this whiter tone in the ears, around the eyes and on the animal's muzzle;

  • Skin wounds with delayed healing

Feline leukemia compromises the entire healing process in the infected cat's body, so wounds on the cat's skin may take longer to heal. If exposed to bacteria for a long time, they may become infected.

Feline FeLV: the stages of the disease determine the symptoms

FeLV in cats, being highly contagious, affects the immune system of felines very aggressively. In some cases, cats do not manifest the symptoms of the disease. This is because feline leukemia has four phases: abortive, progressive, regressive and latent.

  • Abortive Phase

At this stage, according to veterinarian Caroline Mouco explains that the cat exposed to the virus has a very effective immune system that inhibits viral multiplication in its cells. The test, at this time, shows a negative result.

Lastly, the latent phase is where the animal carries the disease, but it is not possible to diagnose it. The virus is stored in the cat's bone marrow and can generate new problems for the immune system. According to Caroline, despite the high viral load and high chances of developing the disease at this stage, the patient does not transmit it to other cats. The virus is still negative in ELISA.

  • Progressive Phase

In the progressive phase, it is possible to observe the symptoms of the disease, since it manifests itself quickly in the animal. "This phase is more aggressive, because the cat no longer eliminates the virus, has all the tests tested positive. Transmission already happens and the chances of the cat getting sick are very high ", he explains.

  • Regressive Phase

In the regressive phase, the animal is diagnosed as having the disease, but the body itself has managed to fight the virus. In this situation, the cat can lead a normal life. "In the regressive phase, viral multiplication occurs in a limited way. The feline is still negative when tested by ELISA, since it finds the antibody present in the body, but when tested by PCR (Protein Coupled Assay).C-reactive), which detects the DNA of the virus, the test is already positive upon infection. The chance of cure at this stage is still optimistic," says Caroline.

FeLV: cats can transmit the disease through direct contact with other felines

FeLV is a virus that corresponds to feline leukemia and is an extremely contagious disease. To be infected, the cat must have direct contact with another infected feline. This contact includes sharing pots, boxes, toys, saliva and even bites and scratches. Likewise, if you have a healthy cat and a cat positive for leukemia, it is necessary to vaccinate your kittenhealthy or separate them from the environment.

This disease is very serious and its treatment cannot be neglected. It is important to treat as soon as it is diagnosed so that the kitten has a better quality of life. In the case of pregnant cats that are positive for feline FeLV, the kittens will also have the disease.

How to prevent feline leukemia?

The best way to prevent FeLV is to keep your pet indoors, as any stray cat can have the disease and pass it on to a healthy one. Don't let him roam around, especially if he is not vaccinated. With FeLV there is no opportunity to "play" with the disease, as it is one of the worst diseases that can affect felines. In the case of healthy cats, they should be vaccinated with the FeLV vaccine.Five-fold vaccine, which protects not only against FeLV, but also against feline panleukopenia, rhinotracheitis in cats and calicivirosis. In any case, it is necessary to test the animal before vaccination, as cats already infected with the disease will not react to the effect of the vaccine and should not be vaccinated, as immunization can further intensify the disease in the body.

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.