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The Feline Leukemia Virus and Your Cat's Symptoms

Jul 9, 2008
The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) has no known cure, and it has not been clinically proven that any antiviral or other agent will extend the life of an infected cat. This disease affects the immune system of cats, and is often fatal.

This disease has a varied list of symptoms and signs, many of which may be common to other illnesses and conditions. FeLV is a retrovirus, which means that it is able to insert copies of its own genetic material into the cells it has infected.

Healthy felines are attacked by harmful organisms all the time. Most of the time, your cat can fight them off. When your cat's immune system is compromised, however, diseases that would not normally cause a problem can become more severe. In some cases, they can become life threatening.

Secondary infections and diseases will cause problems with FeLV infected cats. These secondary infections and diseases make the symptom list for this illness quite varied. FeLV infected cats have a difficult time fighting off invaders, even common bacteria.

Initial symptoms may include fever, blood disease, swollen lymph nodes, and general malaise. Some cats will experience no symptoms during the beginning stages of the disease.

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.

As the disease progresses, sick cats may present with more and varied symptoms. Blood in the stool, constipation, jaundice, and recurring infections may be present. Feline leukemia virus symptoms may also include and diarrhea, severe weight loss, and depression.

There are two stages of feline leukemia virus. It's possible that an infected cat may halt the progression of the disease at the first stage, but others are not so lucky.

If your cat has FeLV that has reached the second stage, the only thing you can do is to treat the secondary diseases and infections, and attempt to strengthen the immune system of your cat. Unfortunately, the disease is usually fatal.

According to professional sources, FeLV infections exist in about 2 to 3 percent of all cats. Infection rates are higher in high risk groups. If your cat is not in a high risk group, chances are limited that she will contract the disease. Since the disease is transmitted through contact with infected cats, keeping your cat indoors and away from infected cats is a good preventive measure.
About the Author
Author Kurt Schmitt writes about cat health problems and provides a complete feline leukemia virus symptoms list including information on pregnant cats and kittens.
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