Your Cat and Feline Leukemia in Lansing, MI

Your Cat and Feline Leukemia in Lansing, MI

Have you ever heard of feline leukemia? Did you know that it is a very serious and potentially fatal illness that is unfortunately common in cats? Whether you’ve heard of this illness before or not, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand everything you can about it so you can be a responsible cat owner.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s health, always talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to provide you with all the information you need to provide the best possible care for your cat.

How Feline Leukemia is Spread

Feline leukemia is spread from cat to cat. It cannot be spread to dogs, humans, or any kinds of animals other than cats. Although this virus cannot exist outside of a cat’s body for more than an hour or two, it is easily spread in situations where cats are kept in close quarters with each other.

The most common vector for feline leukemia is saliva. Because of this, grooming contributes significantly to the spread of this disease among cats, as does fighting. Some kittens may be born with this disease if the mother is already infected.

Symptoms of Feline Leukemia

  • Pale or yellow gums: This is one of the earlier symptoms of feline leukemia.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: If you can feel your cat’s swollen glands, this may be a sign that he has feline leukemia.
  • Frequent upper respiratory infection: Cats with recurring respiratory problems may have this disease.
  • Lethargy and weakness: These symptoms are related to a variety of health concerns, so your cat should be tested right away if showing these signs.
  • Trouble breathing: Trouble breathing may be one of the more advanced symptoms of this disease.
  • Fever: Some cats may run a fever with feline leukemia and others may not.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea which leads to dehydration may be common with this illness.
  • Gum ulcers: Cats may have ulcers and sores on their gums when they have feline leukemia.

Risk Factors of Feline Leukemia

Below are some risk factors for feline leukemia.

Spending Time in a Kennel

Cats who are exposed to other cats are more likely to contract this illness. If your cat lives indoors, never goes outside, and is never exposed to other cats, there is almost no chance he may contract feline leukemia.

Sharing Water and Food Dishes

Sharing dishes can spread feline leukemia between cats.

Outdoor Time

If your indoor cat spends some time outside, even while monitored or leashed, this may increase his risk of contracting feline leukemia. If you have a lot of stray cats in your area, it is probably not a good idea to let your cat have outdoor time.

Feline Leukemia Prevention

It is possible for cats to receive vaccinations for feline leukemia if they do not have the disease already. Cats should be tested for this illness and, if the test is negative, they can receive the vaccine right away.

Kittens can also receive this vaccine during their first year of shots, although your vet will let you know the right time for your kitten to be vaccinated.

Feline Leukemia Treatment Options

There is no treatment for feline leukemia. Cats diagnosed with this condition may or may not be able to recover from it. Many cats with feline leukemia progress into full cancer diagnoses including tumors during the next couple of years. These tumors may be treated, but the underlying feline leukemia cannot be.

If your cat is diagnosed with cancerous tumors as well, he may need chemotherapy treatments to overcome this. Your veterinarian will talk with you more about the options for your cat’s potential management of this condition and whether it is a humane idea to put your pet through this as well.

Feline Leukemia Prognosis

Sadly, most cats who contract feline leukemia will end up dying from this disease. It is possible to help your cat live a fulfilling life with this diagnosis if you are willing to keep up with the management of the condition. Any cat with feline leukemia should be kept indoors.

Although there’s no treatment for this condition, it is possible for some cats to overcome the disease and recover fully. This is not very common, but it does occur in some instances depending on the cat’s other health conditions.

Cats that are diagnosed with feline leukemia will need to undergo consistent veterinary care for the management of this condition. With the right experienced vet and plenty of attention and care from their owners as well, cats may sometimes recover from this potentially fatal illness.


Call (517) 393-8010 or book an appointment online to talk with your veterinarian at Pennsylvania Veterinary Care for more information about feline leukemia including whether your cat is a good candidate for the vaccine. Every cat is an individual and may have specific, unique needs when dealing with this disease, so it’s important to listen to your veterinarian every step of the way.

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