Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a virus that causes cancer and other diseases in cats. It is a common disease that affects several cats. For instance, a study conducted on the prevalence of the FeLV virus in cats in Bogota, Columbia, found that the prevalence rates were between 4% and 13%. FeLV can be fatal. Hence, you must know everything about it so that if the time comes, you are prepared to protect your cat from this deadly virus.
What Is Feline Leukemia Virus?
FeLV is a virus that attacks the immune system. It is transmitted through saliva, blood, and nasal secretions and can cause tumors in various body organs.
- FeLV is most commonly spread through shared food or water bowls contaminated by an infected cat’s fluids.
- It cannot be passed from mother to kitten or from one litter of kittens to another. Only adult cats can transmit FeLV to others.
Symptoms of FeLV
As you might imagine, if FeLV is present in your cat’s body, it will cause them to feel sick. The symptoms of FeLV are often similar to other illnesses that cats can get. These symptoms include:
- Weight loss, despite appetite being normal or increased
- Fever and/or chills
- Enlarged lymph nodes or swollen glands
- Loss of appetite or reduced thirst
Knowing the symptoms can help determine if your cat is suffering from FeLV. This can prove life-saving. Even veterinarians will take all measures for quick diagnosis of the condition. You can consider nRPA or RT-RPA tests for quick diagnosis.
A study published in the Nature journal shows that nRPA and RT-RPA have the characteristics for rapid characterization, which can help prevent the virus’s horizontal and vertical transmission. In fact, the study indicates that nRPA can help increase the detection rate by 45.8%.
Risk Factors for FeLV
Pets allowed to roam outside are more likely to contract FeLV than pets that aren’t. This can happen if your cat is a stray or if you take him or her on walks in the park. If you live in an area where there are many other cats and the population density is high, it’s also more likely for your pet to be exposed to FeLV through its contact with other cats.
Owners of outdoor cats need to be aware of this risk factor and take precautions against infection as much as possible. On the other hand, studies suggest no significant risk factors for developing FeLV. According to an article published in the Frontiers journal that studied 260 healthy cats across 13 regions, no risk factors were detected.
How Does the FeLV Spread?
The FeLV can spread in the following ways:
Infected Cat’s Bite Wounds or Scratches
The feline leukemia virus can be transmitted through a cat’s bite or scratch. This means that if your cat is infected with FeLV, he or she could spread the virus by biting, scratching, or even licking you with an infected mouth.
This can also happen if your cat is in a brawl with other cats. The virus can get transmitted if an infected cat scratches or bites your feline friend during a fight. Hence, it is best to use antibiotic ointments to prevent infection from spreading during a wound, bite, or scratch.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment is a medicine you can use. This can help protect your cat from the harmful spread of the infection. You can apply the Triple Antibiotic Ointment for cats directly on the wound. However, clean the wound or bite area before applying the cream. This will remove any dirt or debris in the wound area and help increase the healing rate.
Infected Cat’s Saliva, Blood, and Nasal Secretions
A cat with FeLV can spread the virus through its saliva, blood, and nasal secretions, as pointed out in an article published on the NCBI website. According to the study, the transmission of FeLV primarily occurs through the infected cat’s saliva and nasal secretions while sharing food or showing aggressive behavior.
Cats infected with the virus may experience severe diarrhea and vomiting as symptoms of their illness, which puts them at risk of transmitting the virus by way of their feces if they are not properly cared for or cannot make it to the litter box in time.
Infected Cat’s Urine or Feces
It’s important to note that cats are very clean and usually avoid dirty areas. However, if your cat is sick and has diarrhea, it may be unable to avoid the place where its waste is. If this happens, you should keep them away from the area as much as possible by using a gate or door to separate them from it when they are ill.
It’s also vital that you ensure that all litter boxes are cleaned regularly so that any waste does not stay on top of surfaces for long periods. Once you have cleaned up the mess left behind by your cat, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water so that no one who comes into contact with either FeLV or feline leukemia virus is infected accidentally or, worse yet, intentionally.
Sharing Food and Water Bowls or Litter Boxes With an Infected Cat
Suppose you have multiple cats. If one of the cats has FeLV and shares food and water bowls or litter boxes with others, all the remaining cats can get the issue. Here are some tips for maintaining hygiene and preventing FeLV.
- Clean your cat’s food and water bowls often with hot soapy water.
- Change the litter box daily, or more often, if you have many cats or a clean cat who does not bury its waste.
- Wash any toys with hot soapy water every few days to prevent spreading any germs on them to other cats and yourself.
- Wash bedding used by any cats in your household regularly in hot soapy water to avoid spreading germs from one animal to another or from one animal’s fur onto yours when you pet it or hug it.
- Make sure carriers are clean before bringing them into your home.
If you think your cat might be infected with the Feline Leukemia virus, it is essential to take her to the vet immediately. The vet will perform tests on your cat and make a diagnosis using lab results and clinical signs. Then they can advise you on how to treat FeLV in cats at home or what options may be available if they decide not to go through treatment themselves.