Cat Leukemia – Causes, Symptoms and Possible Treatments

Cat leukemia is the most common form of cancer in cats and it is caused by feline leukemia virus (FeLV). This virus may cause different blood disorders as well as immune deficiencies. FeLV predominantly affects cats that already suffer from a weakened immune system.

How may your cat become infected with FeLV?

In most cases, the infection is spread by other cats through nasal fluids, saliva or urine. Other possibilities for infection are when cats fights with each other, when they share the litter box or when they groom each other. Cats can also pass on the feline leukemia virus to their kittens before they are born or while they are nursing them.

What are the typical symptoms of cat leukemia?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow and progressive weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen glands in the neck region
  • Lethargy
  • Sometimes fever
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Skin infections
  • Poor coat condition


How can feline leukemia be diagnosed?

Your veterinarian can perform a FeLV test to find out whether your cat has been infected with the feline leukemia virus. There are different testing methods available that analyze either a sample of your cats blood or saliva. A test may be a good idea to detect the illness at an early stage and to assure maximum success of the treatment.

What can you do to prevent feline leukemia?

There are various vaccinations available to prevent cat leukemia. However, you also have to be aware, that no vaccine can provide 100% protection. So, even if you vaccinate your cat, it may still get feline leukemia. It is probably best to talk to your veterinarian in order to decide whether it is useful or not to vaccinate your cat again FeLV.

Possible treatments of feline leukemia:

Unfortunately there aren’t really that many possibilities to treat cat leukemia. Mostly, traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy is used. Lately, new forms of leukemia therapies have been tested that try to boost the cats immune system. But at the moment, there isn’t enough data available to decide whether these forms of therapies will be more successful than the traditional chemotherapy.