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Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a disease that impairs the cat's immune system and causes certain types of cancer. This virus is responsible for a majority of deaths in household cats, affecting all breeds. Males are more likely to contract the infection than females, and it is usually seen between the ages of one to six years old.
Signs depend on the type of infection: FeLV-A, FeLV-B, or FeLV-C. Cats found with the virus can be infected with one, two, or all three types.
Of these types, some of the more common symptoms include:
FeLV is usually contracted from cat-to-cat transmission (e.g., bites, close contact, grooming, and sharing dishes or litter pans). It can also be transmitted to a kitten at birth or through the mother's milk. Kittens are much more susceptible to the virus, as are males and cats which are allowed to go outside.
Your veterinarian will first rule out other infections such as bacterial, parasitic, viral, or fungal. In addition, nonviral cancers need to be ruled out.
A complete blood count is done to determine if the cat has anemia or other blood disorders. Diagnosis may also be determined by conducting a urinalysis, or through a bone marrow biopsy or bone marrow aspiration (removing a small amount of marrow fluid for study).
Small structures that filter out the lymph and store lymphocytes
An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness
An increase in the number of bad white blood cells
The term used to describe the movement of an animal
The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.
A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.
The reduction in the amount of resistance the body has to a disease