Feline Leukaemia Virus – is your cat protected?

At Clontarf Veterinary Hospital recently we have noticed an increasing number of  cats coming to our clinic who are not vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia VirusFeLV . Often these cats have been rehomed from rescue centers and their owners believe them to have been fully vaccinated. But this is often not the case. Most will have been vaccinated against cat flu and feline enteritis but not against FeLV. So what is FeLV and how do you protect your cat against it?

  • What is FeLV?   . FeLV  is a virus which causes immunosuppression and leukaemia. The virus kills off white blood cells – the body’s defense system leaving your cat unable to combat infections that would not otherwise cause serious disease. FeLV is widespread. It is estimated that over two out of three cats in urban areas will have been exposed to FeLV by the time they are two years of age.
  • How is FeLV Spread?    FeLV is a virus spread between cats via contact with saliva, urine and blood. Sharing contaminated feeding bowls, grooming an infected cat or getting bitten by an FeLV positive cat are all possible sources of infection.So if your cat comes into contact with any other cat then your cat is at risk.
  • What are the signs of FeLV?  The signs of the disease are variable. Because FeLV causes immunosuppression FeLV positive cats are prone to recurrent infections or fail to respond to treatment for common ailments. 15% of cats with FeLV will go on to develop leukaemia or a similar cancer – hence the name of the disease. But in the early stages after initial infection many cats show no signs but are still carrying the virus and will fall ill at a later date.
  • How do I know if my cat is infected with FeLV? Because many FeLV positive cats show no symptons a blood test is required to determine whether or not they have already been infected. Only a drop of blood is required so the test is quick and painless for your cat. We can run this test in all Anicare clinics and the results are available in a few minutes.
  • What is the treatment for  FeLV ?  At present there is no cure for FeLV. Treatment is aimed at dealing with the various secondary infections as they occur, but ultimately 85% of FeLV cats die within  3.5 years of being infected.
  • How can I protect my cat?  There is now an effective vaccine available against FeLV.  We at Anicare Veterianry Group believe all cats that comes into contact with other cats should be vaccianted against FeLV. If you are in any doubt about whether or not you cat is vaccianted against FeLV just pop into any of the Anicare clinics with your cat’s vaccination certificate and we will check it for you. If your cat has not already been vaccinated we will recommend a blood test to ensure your cat is not already carrying the virus and then vaccination.
  • REMEMBER! There is NO CURE for feline leukaemia virus. So if your cat is not already protected have him TESTED and then have him VACCINATED.

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