The Veterinary Practice, Lewisham

0208 318 1020

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Feline leukaemia (FeLV)

Feline leukaemia (FeLV) is an infectious disease which usually attacks the immue system or can cause tumours. FeLV can only be transmitted to other cats, it can not infect humans and other species.

FeLV is spread in urine, blood, semen, saliva and other bodily fluids. It is spread through close contact, usually through fighting grooming or sexual reproduction.

Kittens are more susceptible to Felv, but it can still affect adult cats which are not vaccinated against Felv. Unneutered cats which have access to the outdoors are more likely to be affected.

FeLV suppresses the immune system, so cats usually go undiagnosed for many months, as they initially present with a variety of infections, and/or prolonged recovery from infections, but some of the diseases that they may contract will prove to be fatal as the immune system is not able to fight off the infection.

Although rare, like human leukaemia, a cancer can invade the cats white blood cell with FeLV, in which the cat will present as lethargic (generally 'off colour' and sleepy), a decrease in appetite, gastrointestinal problems, gum disease, anaemia (lack of red blood cells, presents as pale gums, listlessness).

Treatment can only be given symptomatically, as and when illness occur. FeLV cannot be cured.

Felv can be prevented by way of vaccination,which can be given at any age, but is usually started at 8 weeks of age.

A novel non licensed regime using Interferon has demonstrated some help in stemming off the inevitable. Please contact the surgery if you with to know more about it.