Feline Leukemia — What All Cat Owners Need To Know

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If you're like many who share their homes and lives with a cat, you want only the best for your feline friend, but it's also possible that you've never heard of feline leukemia. Feline leukemia is a virus that affects primarily younger cats and kittens because older cats tend to build up immunity to it as they grow older. Feral cats, cats living in multi-cat households, and those who live primarily out-of-doors are also at greater risk of developing feline leukemia. Indoor cats who live in single-cat homes are at the lowest risk of developing this disease.

The following are three things that all cat owners need to know about feline leukemia.

Feline Leukemia Is Highly Contagious 

Despite its name, feline leukemia is not a form of cancer. The name was coined at a time when veterinary scientists suspected that it was similar to cancerous leukemia in humans. Further research proved that feline leukemia is an infectious virus that's easily passed from host cats to others via a variety of ways, including saliva, urine, and feces. Cats that share food and water dishes, litter boxes, and outdoor elimination areas are at particular risk. Because the disease spreads so easily and quickly, you should definitely ask your veterinarian about having your feline friend vaccinated.

There Is a Vaccination for Feline Leukemia

Fortunately, veterinary science has led to the development of a vaccine for feline leukemia. However, it's important to keep in mind that the vaccine isn't 100% percent effective. As a virus, feline leukemia has the ability to mutate over time, which means that vaccines need to have the ability to address the current strand. Vaccines also won't protect cats that have already been exposed to the virus. However, cats that have been vaccinated at are far lower risk of developing feline leukemia than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Your Veterinarian Can Test Your Cats for Feline Leukemia

As mentioned above, the vaccine isn't effective with cats that have been exposed to the virus. If you suspect it may be a part of the picture, you should ask your veterinarian to test your cat or cats so that they can develop a course of treatment. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the virus, but some cats can live for several years with early detection. However, cats with a positive diagnosis of feline leukemia should be kept indoors at all times and not be allowed to be around other cats.

For more information, contact a local veterinarian.

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From Vaccines to Viruses A vet is someone who is there for your pet from their early years until their last years. When your pet is young, a vet can give them the vaccines they need for disease prevention as they become acquainted with the world. As your pet ages, your vet can monitor them for the conditions that often come with old age, such as arthritis and cancer. Vets care about their patients. We hope you will learn more about this care as you browse the content on this blog. We do our best to offer well-researched and helpful information for pet owners like you.