Feline Leukemia Symptoms
 - The Signs Of FeLV

What Are The Feline Leukemia Symptoms?

Most cats that test positive for FeLV suffer a destruction or weakening of their immune system.

This means that the cat is unable to fight off viral, fungal or bacterial secondary infections and therefore is at risk of many feline illnesses.

There is no symptom, or set of symptoms, that specifically indicate feline leukemia. Any symptoms will be due to the secondary infections.

If a cat has repeated infections, or illnesses, that do not resolve easily then it is possible that she or he is showing symptoms of feline leukemia.

It needs a blood test, often several blood tests, to determine if a cat has FeLV.

A veterinarian will consider the possibility of FeLV as the cause each time a cat is unwell.

Some FeLV positive cats show no feline leukemia symptoms at all and appear to be in good health.

These cats however, carry and spread the disease so must be kept completely isolated from uninfected cats.

Most cats show few signs during early stages of infection. After time the health of the cat deteriorates and more symptoms may be apparent.

Cat Leukemia. a.k.a. Feline Leukemia, FeLV.

For information about feline leukemia, how it is passed from cat to cat, and information on preventing the disease and how it is treated and managed please see - Cat Leukemia.

Feline Leukemia Symptoms

  • Weight Loss and/or Loss of Appetite. There are many illnesses that result in a cat losing weight, or not eating, which may, or may not, be a result of cat leukemia. Weight is a very good barometer of a cat's health, any cat inexplicably losing weight should be examined by a veterinarian.
  • Diarrhea. There are many things that can cause moderate bouts of diarrhea, most of these are relatively trivial. Persistent diarrhea however, can be a sign of something more severe and is often one of the early symptoms of feline leukemia. Cat Diarrhea.
  • Fever. Fever can be described as a very high body temperature that is self generated to combat disease. An indication of many ailments as well as being an early sign of FeLV.
  • Lethargy. Most cats sleep for a good part of the day but a cat that is unresponsive, listless and disinterested for any length of time may be unwell. Cat leukemia is a possibility. Lethargic Cat.
  • Respiratory Issues. It is fairly common for a feline leukemia positive cat to experience breathing difficulties. This can be for a variety of reasons one of which is a tumor that grows in the cat's chest. The tumor (Thymic Lymphosarcoma,) causes fluid to build up and press against the cat's lungs making breathing difficult. Nine out of ten of the cats that have thymic lymphosarcoma test positive for FeLV. Of course, any cat with breathing problems, whether symptomatic of feline leukemia or not, needs urgent professional attention.
  • Eye Conditions. The condition of the cat's eyes can give pointers to the presence of many diseases including FeLV. Indications include, redness, blood in the eye, odd pupil sizes, squinting, swelling and change of iris color. Cat Eye Health.
  • Constipation. There are many reasons a cat can be constipated, some are very simple such as a change in the cat's diet. A far more serious cause can be obstruction of the bowls by a tumor related to feline leukemia. Cat Constipation.
red catIt must be emphasized that if a cat is showing any feline leukemia symptoms, then the cat needs the attention of a veterinarian.
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  • Skin Infections and Poor Coat Condition. Infections and abscesses and/or an unhealthy looking coat can both be feline leukemia symptoms. Cats are very fussy about their coats and a poorly kept coat is always an indication that something is wrong. Cat Skin Problems.
  • Inflamed Gums and Mouth Sores. Because of its harmful effect upon the cat's immune system, FeLV renders the animal open to oral infections. Lesions and inflammation of the mouth and throat can not only cause great pain, but also make eating very difficult.
  • Anemia. Anemia is a reduction of red blood cells. The majority of anemic cats with feline leukemia are not producing sufficient red blood cell. Cats whose immune systems are weakened by FeLV are also open to attack by Cat Worms and Fleas which can cause the cat anemia due to the depletion of blood.The most obvious symptoms of anemia are pale, gray or even white gums, weight loss, lethargy, black stools.
  • Neuropathies. Neuropathy describes an abnormality of the nerve function. Due to the impact of FeLV the signals between the cat's brain and the individual parts of its body can become disrupted and distorted. The result could be partial paralysis of the hind legs, inability to balance, seizures, changes in behavior or loss of control. Needless to say, any cat displaying such symptoms, whether as a sign of feline leukemia or not, needs urgent veterinary attention.
  • Abortion of Kittens. A feline leukemia infected queen rarely gives birth, as the embryonic kittens usually die in the womb and are aborted. The kittens that do make it to birth sadly do not usually make past a few weeks of life.

The above list of possible feline leukemia symptoms is not exhaustive. Any of the listed signs could be indications of other ailments and illnesses. It must be emphasized that if a cat is showing some, or any, of the above symptoms, then the cat needs professional attention.

This page was not written by a veterinarian. If you are concerned that your cat may be showing feline leukemia symptoms you should urgently consult a vet. 

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Feline stroke symptoms should not be ignored. If you think there is a chance that your cat could be a stroke victim then get your pet to the vet as soon as you can.


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