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Feline Leukemia: 5 Things You Should Know

5 Important Facts About Feline Leukemia

By Robyn Johnson. November 21, 2012 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Feline Leukemia: 5 Things You Should Know

Feline Leukemia is quite common and, being a contagion, is worth learning about, since it can lead to a more serious infection or even cancer. Learn how to protect your cat here.

Whether your cat is exhibiting noticeable deterioration or not, it is important to keep your veterinarian up to date on any and all behavioral or physical changes. Feline leukemia is a very common, contagious virus, which can result in serious infections and cancer. Be sure your cats are tested if they have encountered any untested or infected cats, even if the visible symptoms are lacking. It is possible for cats to fight off the virus on their own in the earliest stage of infection; however, the virus may lay dormant for years before deterioration begins.

These five facts should help guide you toward the best decisions when seeking help for your cat.

1. The Test Is the Best

Testing your cat for feline leukemia may be the important step it takes to protect the rest of your cats. If one cat contracts the virus, it is easy for the others to as well. Test your cats, and if they are infected, keep them separate from uninfected cats. In some cases, you may need to test your cat more than once in order to get the correct results.

2. Cat Leukemia is Not Cancer

The term “feline leukemia” was coined in the early 1960’s when researchers believed the virus to be a form of cancer, similar to leukemia in humans. Despite updated research that proves feline leukemia is actually a virus, and not cancer, the name has remained. The treatments for feline leukemia are very different from traditional cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation. Keep in mind that feline leukemia may lead to the development of cancer, but only due to a suppressed immune system.

3. Can Humans Get It?

No. Humans and animals other than cats can’t contract feline leukemia. This virus only infects cats, and fortunately, research is very conclusive on this topic.

4. Is There a Vaccine?

Yes. There is a vaccine administered to fight the feline leukemia virus. However, it does not guarantee the prevention of the virus. If the cat already has been exposed to feline leukemia, the vaccine will not prevent the infection. In addition, if the virus is a strand that is not addressed in the vaccine, it will have no preventative effect.

5. You’ve Got To Keep Them Separated

If there is a possibility that your cat has been exposed to feline leukemia, quarantine is necessary. Keep food bowls, litter boxes, toys, and beds away from uninfected cats. This disease spreads quickly and easily, so the more diligent you are about protecting other cats, the better.

More on Diseases in Cats

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Heart Disease in Cats and Dogs

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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