Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
What is it?
A virus that causes a breakdown in a cat’s immune system making it susceptible to illness.
What are the symptoms?
If a cat’s had several illnesses, suspect FeLV.
How is it spread?
By saliva, mucus, blood, urine. Mutual grooming, biting/fighting, sneezing, sharing bowls and litter pans can spread it. Prolonged, extensive cat-to-cat contact is required since the virus dies quickly with warmth and drying.
Is there a vaccine for it?
Yes. The vaccine should protect your cat 7 to 8 out of every 10 times it’s exposed. (No vaccine is 100% effective.)
Is it contagious to humans or other animals?
Not that anyone has seen to date. It’s specific to cats only.
How long will a cat survive?
Depending on how long it’s been sick, for years. But most don’t live beyond 4 years.
What’s the treatment?
Drug therapies are available. Otherwise, keep the cat from being stressed (changes to the routine or the environment).
How soon can you adopt a new cat after having a FeLV+ cat?
Clean with household detergent or a solution of 4 ounces of bleach to 1 gallon of water. (Thoroughly scrub food and water bowls and litter pan with this solution or discard them.) Then wait 7 to 30 days to be sure any remaining virus dies.
When a volunteer dressed up as a cat for an event, most of the cats were scared of the mask, but not the FeLV/FIV boys. They were bold and curious and ready to accept a new friend.