Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline leukemia virus symptoms are brought on by the presence of the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).
The symptoms are many and varied, and depend upon a number of factors, including the type and stage of the disease.
This highly dangerous and usually deadly virus affects the feline immune system.
Because of that, many of the feline leukemia virus symptoms that appear in an infected cat are due to secondary infections, conditions, and diseases.
Among other conditions, cats with FeLV may commonly develop anemia. They also are susceptible to developing leukemia and other forms of cancer.
In addition, whenever a cat's immune system is compromised, the door is open for any new or dormant opportunistic infection to cause problems. These include fungal, bacterial, protozoan, and viral infections.
Feline leukemia virus symptoms also include enlargement of the lymph nodes, depression, weight loss with emaciation, and diarrhea. There is no known treatment that is consistently effective against this disease.
The only course of action then, is to strengthen the cat's immune system, and treat the various conditions that result from immunodeficiency. Ultimately, this disease is usually fatal.
Initial Feline Leukemia Virus Symptoms
In the first few weeks after the initial infection (some cats may show no symptoms at all during this time), cats may develop the following symptoms:
- Blood cytopenias (deficiency of any of the components of the blood)
- Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
- General malaise
General FeLV Symptoms
- Chronic, recurring infections
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased stamina
- Blood in the stool
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Excessive drinking and urination
- Jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of the skin, tissues, and certain body fluids)
- Low-grade fever
- Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes)
- Neuropathies, which can cause anisocoria and hind limb paralysis
- Weight loss
Symptoms of FeLV Infected Cats with Cancer
- Lymphoid or myeloid tumors (about 30% of infected cats)
- Intestinal inflammation and diarrhea
- Liver or kidney disease
- Neurological abnormalities
- Respiratory problems
Symptoms of FeLV Infected Pregnant Cats
In addition to the feline leukemia virus symptoms that all felines may experience, pregnancy adds these particular possible symptoms:
- Fetal resorption (disintegration of the fetus)
- Spontaneous abortions
Infected queens may carry pregnancies to term. If so, "fading kittens" often develop symptoms resulting in death within the first few weeks of their lives, including:
- Inability to fight off secondary infections and parasites
- Wasting (loss of body mass)
- Lack of appetite
- Impaired growth
- Thymic atrophy (wasting of the thymus gland)
As you can see, FeLV is a serious cat health issue and keeping the virus out of cat populations is of primary concern. Even vaccinated cats may be at risk of contracting the disease, so keeping your cat indoors and preventing the introduction of FeLV positive cats is the first line of defense.
Learn more about FeLV here.
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