Feline Leukemia: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention


Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is the second leading cause of death in cats, killing 85% of infected cats within three years of diagnosis. The virus affects the cat’s blood, causing various blood diseases.  It also suppresses the cat’s immune system, making it harder to protect against infection by bacteria, viruses or fungi found in our everyday environment that wouldn’t affect healthy cats.

However, feline leukemia does not have to be a death sentence; about 70% of cats who encounter the virus are able to resist infection or eliminate the virus on their own.

In a recent article on Answers.com, I explained the symptoms of FeLV, how it is diagnosed and treated, and how it can be prevented.

Click here to read the full article.

10 Comments on Feline Leukemia: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

  1. don
    May 25, 2016 at 5:39 am (1 year ago)

    I like know sypmtoms.my cats died 3 yrs apart.they had some of same sypmtoms.wasting away.boney.thristy.sore in mouth.shaking heads.

  2. LEM
    October 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I adopted the most extraordinary cat I’ve ever had — or vice versa, actually — in Nova Scotia and he was tested as Feline Leukemia. We had almost a decade together and though he had a few health issues, I got back from him more love and spirit than any cat I’ve ever had. I also adopted two kittens who were about to be cast out/killed and they all lived together and they never got the disease and are very healthy today. I would not consider this a death sentence at all.

    • Lisa
      October 25, 2015 at 6:15 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, my baby girl just tested positive for FLV and I have 5 other adult and regularly vaccinated cats in the home please contact me as I would like to know what precautions, if any, were taken to prevent infection of your other 2 fur babies.
      Thank you,

  3. Sue Brandes
    October 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm (4 years ago)

    I had a kitten many years ago whom I lost at 6 months to this. Back then there was not much they could do. He had many blood transfusions before I had to say goodbye. Very good article Ingrid.

    • Ingrid
      October 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm (4 years ago)

      I’m sorry about your kitten, Sue. That must have been heartbreaking.

  4. Marie
    October 7, 2013 at 8:38 am (4 years ago)

    I have five beautiful cats of various ages. In 2008, I found a little out door kitten. He appeared to be completely healthy. Before bringing him in to join our family, we found out that he had feline leukemia. The vet said he wouldn’t make it through the week. Hooked up to IV’s, I couldn’t figure out what to do. I took him home. That was 5 years ago. As I am writing this, Tigger is laying on my lap. My other 4 cats are also happy and healthy. I have to keep Tigger away from them, keep his things separate, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. He is alone since he can’t play with the other cats, so I take him to work with me where I teach children. The kids love spending time with Tigger. I have an 8th grade student that says she is going to be a vet and find a cure for feline leukemia.

    • Ingrid
      October 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm (4 years ago)

      Tigger was clearly meant to be with you, Marie! What a wonderful life you’re giving him. I love that he’s inspiring your students.

    • Lisa
      October 25, 2015 at 6:34 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Marie,
      I also am having to keep my + kitten away from the rest of my cat family but do you go so far as to not let Tigger onto furniture and beds the others frequent? Our Teeter Tot was just diagnosed two days after we lost one of our sister kittens suddenly to the disease. I have so many questions and concerns about the future…Thank you. Lisa

      • Joyce
        November 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm (2 years ago)

        Hi Lisa,

        I just read your post from 10/25. I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty. This is my experience…
        Eight years ago, I was fostering about 10 kittens for a rescue group. When they all got tested, 3 of them came up positive to Feline Leukemia. I was devastated. My vet said that they should be euthanized because the disease was fatal. I couldn’t do that and I also didn’t want them to live in a bedroom for the rest of their short lives. So I gave up fostering, adopted all the kittens that I had in the house at the time, because they had all been exposed and let them all live together. Fast forward to the present. They are all still with me. Even the 3 positives. They haven’t been sick a day in their lives! And were tested 3 times. Now the sad part of my story. Last year 2 more kittens were tested positive and I was asked if I would take them since I already had 3. I said “yes” and expected the same outcome. One of them had to be euthanized at 15 months and the other is not doing very well at the moment. BUT, I have found that there is a new drug that is now USDA approved that may help him. It’s called “LTCI”. I am in the process of finding out if my veterinarian will purchase some to try on my little guy. If not I will find a vet that is using it already. What I found while I was investigating this awful disease is that it only lives outside the body for about 10 minutes; other cats should be fully immunized against the disease and adult cats over 1 1/2 years usually develop an immunity to it. I hope this helps you.

        • Lisa
          December 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm (2 years ago)

          I’m So happy to hear you found this treatment (Tcyte) and as I respond to this thread I am waiting for my vet appointment for TT to start the treatment. I got my vet to apply for the drug and I have even spoken with the creator of the drug Dr. Beardsley. He is an amazing man and was willing to speak to my vet in person if she had any concerns. The fact that there is no known negative or dangerous side-effects convinced my vet. I came to my appointment with the vet order form:)


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