Feline Leukemia, known as FeLV is a viral disease. Young kittens and older cats exposed to diseased cats are the most susceptible. The disease is spread through bites, mother to offspring, or diseased cat to healthy cats. The saliva, urine, and feces of an infected cat can pass the virus. However, the disease does not live more than a couple hours outside of the cat’s body. Some people believe indoor cats can contract the disease if a person carries the virus on their hands or clothes. There is no known cure at this time, and the disease kills 80% of all infected cats within a three year period. The disease can cause an array of health issues; cancer, blood disorders, and secondary diseases such as respiratory infections and diabetes. In laymen’s terms, the bones shut down and anemia occurs, which eventually leads to death.
To prevent your pet from contract Feline Leukemia, do the following:
1. Keep your cat indoors. This will eliminate your cat’s exposure to FeLV.
2. If you have stray cats in your neighborhood and you pet them, wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap before you pet your indoor cat.
3. Before you merge your healthy cat with a new cat or kitten, have the new pet tested for FeLV. If it has FeLV, it needs to be kept away from healthy cats.
4. Consider having your healthy cat vaccinated against Feline Leukemia. Unlike the Feline Aids vaccine, the Feline Leukemia vaccine does not affect a veterinarian’s ability to test your pet for the disease at a later date. Please keep in mind that while the Feline Leukemia vaccine is highly effective, it will not prevent all cats from contracting the disease. This is why it’s best to keep your cat indoors and away from potentially infected cats.
If your cat contracts Feline Leukemia, you should do the following:
1. Test all other cats in the household.
2. Remove infected cats from healthy cats. Keep them in separate areas at all times.
3. If you spend time with infected cats, change your clothes and wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap before you pet your healthy cats.
4. Feed your infected cats a well balanced diet. Many individuals swear by herbal supplements.
5. Maintain separate areas, food dishes and litter pans for the infected cats. Do not share these pet accessories with your healthy cats.
If you have a cat that dies of Feline Leukemia, and you wish to adopt another cat, scrub everything in your house thoroughly. Most likely the Feline Leukemia virus will die within a few hours after your pet passes away, but since Feline Leukemia often carries secondary disease, you should scrub everything with an anti-bacterial soap.
I once rescued a very pitiful looking feral cat. He tested positive (and high) for both Feline Aids and Leukemia. Remarkably, once he was moved indoors, he lived another four years-my vet said this was remarkable. When my FeLV infected cat contracted liver cancer and started having difficulty walking and urinating, I made a “no-win” decision to euthanize him. He had already endured several steroid shots and I was concerned he was suffering. None of my other cats contracted the disease, but I was always careful to wash my hands and I kept the cat separated from my healthy cats.