The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a highly dangerous and usually deadly virus that affects the immune system of your cat. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment that is consistently effective against this disease.
This disease comes with a diverse symptom list. FeLV is a retrovirus, which means that it is able to insert copies of its own genetic material into the cells it has infected. This illness shares many symptoms in common with other diseases and conditions.
Fungi, viruses, and bacteria attack felines and humans alike on a regular basis. Most of the time, a healthy cat or person will fight them off. With a compromised immune system, however, bacteria, parasites, viral and other organisms are more likely to do your cat harm.
With a weakened immune system, your cat is more susceptible to secondary infections and diseases. It’s these secondary infections, conditions and diseases that make the symptom list for this disease so varied. FeLV infected cats have a difficult time fighting off infections of any kind.
Some cats will experience no outward symptoms during the initial stages of the disease. Early FeLV symptoms may include general malaise, blood conditions, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.
Some FeLV infected cats may exhibit excessive urination and thirst, which is also common to a number of other conditions. They often will develop anemia, and some will develop tumors, leukemia, and other forms of cancer.
Additional feline leukemia virus symptoms may also include depression, diarrhea, and weight loss to the point of emaciation. Some cats may maintain a persistent low grade fever. Other symptoms include chronic recurring infections, jaundice, blood in the stool, and constipation.
There are two stages to this disease. Upon initial infection, some cats will fight off the illness and it will not progress to the second stage. Other cats will not be so fortunate and the disease will progress.
If your cat has FeLV, the only thing you can do is to treat the secondary infections and diseases, and try to boost the immune system of your cat. This disease is usually fatal for those cats who reach the second stage of this disease.
Fortunately, if your cat is not in a high risk group, chances are limited that she will contract the disease. In fact, it’s estimated that only about 2 to 3 percent of all cats are infected with FeLV. Infection rates are higher in high risk groups. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat. As such, keeping your cat indoors and away from infected cats is a good precaution and preventive measure.