Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is responsible for the majority of household cat deaths. It affects all breeds, though it is more common in males and typically occurs in felines aged one to six years old. Outdoor cats and cats in multiple-cat environments are considered the most at-risk for contracting FeLV, a virus spread through warm fluids, such as nasal secretions, saliva, urine, or a mother’s milk. It can also be spread from a mother to her kittens while they are still in the womb. Grooming one-another and fighting tend to be the most common ways in which the virus spreads. Because feline leukemia cannot survive outside of a host, ordinary detergents, including bleach, successfully kill the virus on household surfaces.

The virus only affects cats and cannot be transmitted to humans, dogs, or any other animal. Through immunosuppression, FeLV impairs the affected cat’s immune system and is capable of causing a variety of diseases such as liver disease and intestinal disease as well as certain types of cancer. Because of their impaired immune system, cats with FeLV are also highly susceptible to various general infections.

It should be noted that there is a vaccination available for FeLV, though it is considered a non-core vaccine. Veterinarians usually suggest the vaccination for outdoor cats or cats in multiple-cat households. Please inquire about the vaccination if you consider your cat to be at-risk, as FeLV is often fatal.

What are the symptoms of FeLV? 

  • Avoiding litter box. 
  • Bladder infection. 
  • Diarrhea.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes. 
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever. 
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Seizures. 
  • Skin lesions which may or may not be infected. 
  • Tumors 
  • Uneven pupils.
  • Weight loss. 
  • Wiry, coarse coat. 
  • Wobbly gait.

Diagnosing and treating FeLV

The process of diagnosis for FeLV is fairly simple. A blood test called an ELISA can positively identify the FeLV protein within the blood, making an accurate diagnosis within our veterinary clinic possible. The ELISA test is so perceptive to these proteins that it can identify FeLV infections soon after a pet contracts the illness, even if they have not begun showing symptoms. In FeLV cases that have progressed, an IFA test can confirm the findings of an ELISA test. IFA tests are sent to commercial laboratories for completion. Cats with positive results to an IFA test are unlikely to cure themselves and usually have unfavorable prognosis. Urinalysis and bone marrow biopsy may also be used to aid in diagnosis.

Because there is no known cure for feline leukemia, there is no specific treatment. Numerous therapies have been researched and are currently being studied with no conclusive results. Current treatment includes spaying or neutering an infected cat and keeping them indoors, away from other cats. This protects other cats from becoming infected, as well as protecting your cat from developing any disease or illness they may come into contact with.

Efforts to prolong life include feeding your pet a nutritious diet, preventing exposure to disease, reducing stress levels, controlling parasites, and aggressive treatment of any secondary illness. Generally, FeLV is eventually fatal so ensuring your pet a comfortable lifestyle should be a primary concern.

If you believe your pet has contracted FeLV or you have any questions about the virus, feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.


Read what people are saying about us.

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We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

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