Feline Leukemia virus is an infectious disease suppressing the feline immune system,
making the cats susceptible to different infectious diseases.
Feline Leukemia virus is the leading cause of cancer in cats, as well as various blood disorders due to the cat’s vulnerability when their immune system becomes suppressed. While unaffected cats are able to tolerate exposure to bacteria and other pathogens, this can create serious illness in cats who test positive for Feline Leukemia Virus. It is important to note that this virus is not transmitted to humans or other animals.
Signs and symptoms of Feline Leukemia Virus are important to recognize, to ensure cats get tested before the virus spreads.
Symptoms can often be masked and ignored because the disease can put the cat at risk for many infections and diseases.
If the results of the blood test come back as positive, an Indirect Immunofluorescent Antibody Assay test is used to confirm the positive result and test the stage of the infection, by testing the number of viral particles in white blood cells. High amounts of white blood cells identified in a blood test are usually a sign of infection.
Feline Leukemia Virus has a large impact on the community, specifically on those cats who live outside as strays, or as inside and outside cats. The virus can only be transmitted from cat to cat through saliva and blood. It can also be passed down from a mother cat during nursing or during the pregnancy.
The transmission process is concerning with stray cats, especially those who are in contact with other cats who may be positive for the disease. Stray cats, specifically males, can be aggressive and biting can lead to the spread through their saliva. It is ideal that cats testing positive for feline leukemia virus are only housed with other cats who test positive, this will reduce the risk of transmission to negative cats.
Cats with FeLV can live a high quality of life, although it is crucial to manage the
disease by monitoring the cat’s behaviour, activity, physical appearance, and excretion habits. Most cats will live approximately 2.5 years after their initial diagnosis. With proper care and diet, regular veterinary checkups, regular urine samples, and blood samples the affected cat will have an increase chance of a longer, healthier life. Spaying and neutering the cats will decrease aggression and also decrease the risk of the cat spreading the virus. It is best suitable for cats testing positive for the virus to remain indoors, as well as being the only cat in the household.
The Mississauga Humane society is committed to providing the best quality of life for the two cats in the shelter who have currently tested positive for Feline Leukemia Virus. Lagitha and Torvi are currently under the care of the Mississauga Humane Society and require extra veterinary care and management procedures with their interesting case. Both ladies have tested FAINT positive, which has caused a lot of discussion between their vet and the experts at IDEXX labs on the next best steps for them.
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