Feline Leukaemia

Feline leukaemia

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) is second only to trauma as the leading cause of death in cats, killing 85% of persistently infected felines within three years of diagnosis. The virus commonly causes anaemia or lymphoma, but because it suppresses the immune system, it can also predispose cats to deadly infections. However, exposure to the feline leukaemia virus doesn’t have to be a death sentence; about 70% of cats who encounter the virus are able to resist infection or eliminate the virus on their own.

Feline leukaemia is a disease that only affects cats – it cannot be transmitted to people, dogs, or other animals. FeLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and faeces. The virus does not live long outside the cat’s body – probably just a few hours. Grooming and fighting seem to be the commonest ways for infection to spread. Kittens can contract the disease in utero or through an infected mother’s milk. The disease is often spread by apparently healthy cats, so any cat may transmit the virus even if it appears normal.


  • Pale gums
  • Yellow colour in the mouth and whites of eyes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Bladder, skin, or upper respiratory infections
  • Weight loss and/or loss of appetite
  • Poor coat condition
  • Progressive weakness and lethargy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Reproductive problems like sterility in unspayed female cats


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