What Every Cat Owner Should Know About Feline FeLV
The feline leukemia virus, also known as FeLV, is a virus that causes feline leukemia and other types of cancers in cats. It affects between two and three percent of the cat population, with kittens acquiring it far more often than adult cats. That is because it requires prolonged contact with an infected cat or a bite from an infected cat for older cats to become infected with the FeLV virus. The virus is specific to cats, meaning they can’t spread it to humans or any other species of animal.
Transmission Methods and Symptoms of FeLV
Infected cats have large amounts of the FeLV virus in their saliva. That makes mutual grooming unsafe if one cat is known to have the virus. Other common methods of transmission include shared food and water bowls, contact with urine or feces, bites, and nose-to-nose contact. FeLV is most common in kittens because it can be transmitted through the placenta of an infected mother cat and passed along to her offspring. The kittens may also pick up the virus when nursing.
FeLV causes a range of health issues in infected cats and kittens. These include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Eye diseases
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Immune deficiency
- Neurological disorders
- Platelet disorders
- Reproductive problems
- Respiratory distress
- Weight loss
Not every cat who becomes infected with FeLV will become ill. Some have a strong enough immune response to fight the virus off entirely. Others will develop what is known as a latent infection. This means that they are unable to fight off all of the virus but are able to hold most symptoms in check. A third category of cats will become persistently infected with FeLV. Their symptoms are progressive and they will most likely become seriously ill within a few years.
Age plays an important role in how well a cat’s body can fight off the FeLV virus. Those under eight weeks at the time of infection are much more likely to develop the persistent and progressive symptoms associated with it.
FeLV Doesn’t Have to Be a Death Sentence
Diagnosing FeLV typically involves a series of blood tests. Additionally, the American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends testing all cats for FeLV when they are ill, shortly after adoption, when living in a multi-cat household where one cat has already tested positive, and after exposure to a potential risk. Cats should also be tested prior to receiving the FeLV vaccine since cats who already have the virus should not receive the immunization for it.
With good management by owners, cats with FeLV can sometimes live for many years. They should be kept indoors for their own protection as well as that of other cats in the neighborhood. If your cat has FeLV, it is also important to minimize stress and to disclose the condition to every new veterinarian you visit.
Please speak to a member of our staff about getting the FeLV vaccine if you feel your cat has several of the risk factors for developing it.
Photo Credit: Smitt / Getty Images
Come See Us When Your Pet is Well
October is National Pet Wellness Month. This purpose of this awareness campaign is to help pet owners understand the importance of preventive care. Visiting Dr. Henke at Battletown Animal Clinic once a year when your pet is not sick or injured gives him/her the opportunity to check for unknown health issues, follow-up on previous treatment plans, and monitor her weight, growth, and behavior. We recommend bi-annual wellness exams for senior pets due to their changing health needs. If you have a puppy or kitten, Dr. Henke will discuss the preferred vaccine and exam schedule at her first appointment.
How You Can Promote Wellness at Home
Here are several things you can do to promote health and longevity in your pet in addition to regular veterinary care:
• Feed him nutritious food specific to his species and avoid sharing food meant for humans. Train him not to beg for food and don't give in when he gives you sad eyes. Treats are fine as long as you give them in moderation. Manage your pet's weight by making sure that he gets daily exercise and feeding him a set amount at certain times during the day.
• Care for her oral health needs by brushing her teeth regularly and scheduling a dental cleaning and exam as part of her annual check-up.
• Spay or neuter your pet by six months of age. Not only does this prevent unwanted litters of puppies or kittens, altering a pet helps to decrease uterine and prostate cancer as well as aggressive mating behavior.
We Look Forward to Your Visit
Dr. Henke and the entire staff of Battletown Animal Clinic look forward to seeing you and your pet at her next wellness exam. Together, we can ensure that your pet remains your faithful companion for years to come.
It's Happy Healthy Cat Month
Although your cat probably thinks it should be every month, September is officially Happy Cat Month. The love and care you provide your cat makes a big difference in his longevity and overall well-being. Cats are wonderful companions who really ask for so little in exchange for the purrs, snuggles, and unconditional love. In honor of this special month, here are some things you can do to give your cat the happy life he deserves:
• Provide several places to sleep and hide throughout your home. Cats need a place to retreat when they feel fearful in addition to wanting privacy from time to time.
• Get your cat microchipped and provide her with a collar and identification tag. This greatly increases the chances of a happy reunion should she ever become separated from you.
• Feed your cat nutritious food, limit treats, and make him work for his food sometimes. Place it inside of a toy or in different places around the house to satisfy his natural hunting instinct. This also gives him much-needed exercise.
• Make sure your cat has plenty of toys and spend a few minutes each day playing with her. Cats are just as entertained batting at a piece of string as they are with an expensive toy from the pet store. Playing with your cat encourages exercise, mental stimulation, and the human-feline bond.
• Place scratching posts in a few different areas of your home to give your cat the chance to sharpen his claws as well as release the natural need to scratch. This saves your furniture too.
Regular Veterinary Care is the Most Important of All
A 2013 study by the American Association of Feline Practitioners indicates that more than half of all cats don't see the veterinarian regularly. Although more than 80 percent visit the vet during their first year of life, cat owners seem to only bring them in when they are sick or injured after that. At Battletown Animal Clinic, we encourage all cat owners to schedule a physical exam at least once a year. This is important for early diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of feline diseases as well as to track your cat's growth. Dr. Henke looks forward to seeing you and your cat soon.
Fleas, Ticks and Parasites
Q: Is your pet at risk for any of the following:
D) All of the above
A: All of the above (and they ALL can be tough to spot!)
You can’t see your pet’s heart. Is it healthy, or not?
Let’s take a listen! Make an appointment for your pet’s yearly checkup today!
You can tell a lot about your pet by looking at them. But one thing you can’t see is their heart. Is it healthy, or not? A pet may have heart disease and even the most observant owners may not realize it.
Heart disease affects pets of all ages. For example, certain breeds of dogs and cats are at a higher risk of heart disease at a young age. In contrast, some pets develop heart disease later in life, concurrent with another illness. And then there are those pets who randomly develop heart disease at any age without any noticeable signs to the owner.