Feline Leukemia Is A Retrovirus Most Deaths Cats Biology Essay


Feline Leukemia virus causes more deaths in cats than any other disease (health communities, 2001). It affects about 2 to 3 % of all cats (health communities, 2001). In this research paper I'm going to talk about the disease, prevention, treatment, signs and symptoms, and the stages of felv.

Feline leukemia is a type of virus called retrovirus (Nash, 1997-2011). "All retroviruses produce an enzyme that enables them to insert copies of their own genetic material into the cells they have infected" (Eldredge, Carlson &Carlson, 2007). Cats may not show signs months or years after being infected. "It is a very common virus, affecting 2 to 3% of all cats. This virus is more prone to sick cats" (Cornell feline health center, 2009). This virus will only infect cats since it is a retrovirus, and retroviruses are species specific (Nash, 1997-2011).

"It is spread through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, milk from infected cats, sharing a litter box with an infected cat, and mutual grooming" (Cornell feline health center, 2009). Cats are at greatest risk if they are exposed to infected cats, allowed outdoors unsupervised, and if kittens are born to infected mothers (Cornell feline health center, 2009). "Feline Leukemia weakens the immune system causing the cat to not be able to protect itself from other infections. It also causes various blood disorders" (Cornell feline health center, 2009). "FeLV can cause weight loss, fever, immunodeficiency and infections, anemia, reproductive problems, cancer oral disease, eye problems, and platelet disorders" (Nash, 1997-2011). About 30% of all infected cats will develop cancer (Nash, 1997-2011). "The two main stages in the virus is Primary Viremia and Secondary Viremia. The primary stage is the earliest stage where the cat is able to

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mount an effective immune response. The secondary stage is the latest stage characterized by infection of the bone marrow and other tissues" (Cornell feline health center, 2009). There are 6 stages in the Felv process and it takes about 2-6 weeks (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). "The first stage is the virus replicates in the lymphatic tissue in the oral cavity. The second stage is if the immune system doesn't stop the problem it spreads to the white blood cells.

The third stage is the white blood cells spread the virus to the lymph nodes. The fourth stage is the virus spreads to the bone marrow where it will stay the rest of the cat's life. The fifth stage is white blood cells and platelets which are normally made in the bone marrow pick up the virus and circulate it around again. The sixth stage the virus is spread to the salivary and tear glands and urinary bladder. In this stage it can be spread to other cats" (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). "The virus does not live more than a few hours outside the cat's body, unless it's in a moist environment" (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010) .

Humans cannot get FelV but small children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems should avoid FelV positive cats (Cornell feline health center, 2009).

Preventing Feline Leukemia is the only way your cat will not get the virus. Here are some ways to prevent the virus. You should get your cat vaccinated at a young age. The vaccine

is given to kittens at 9 weeks of age and are reboostered 2 to 4 weeks later (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). If you test your cat and it turns out negative, you should get your cat re-tested 3-6 months later (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). They are not 100% effective (Nash, 1997-2011), so you should do other things along with the vaccine to protect your pet. "The vaccine should always be given to cats that live outside, or have contact with other cats" (Nash, 1997-2011). "All cats should be FelV tested before the vaccine is given.

If the cat lives indoors, it may not need to be vaccinated" (Nash, 1997-2011). The Feline Leukemia vaccine is linked to Fibrosarcoma (Nash, 1997-2011). "Fibrosarcoma is a tumor of connective tissues" (Nash, 1997-2011). "It is estimated that 5.000 to 10,000 vaccinated cats will develop this. (Nash, 1997-2011). Some symptoms of Feline Leukemia are loss of appetite, weight loss, poor coat condition, swollen lymph nodes, persistent fever, and pale gums (Cornell feline health center, 2009).

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Feline Leukemia is diagnosed by a blood test (Nash, 1997-2011). The test that veterinarians use is the ELISA test, "which checks for evidence of the virus in blood, tears, and saliva" (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). This test also checks for FIV (Long beach animal hospital, 1998-2010). There is no known treatment and no cure for the virus. If the cat is positive for Feline Leukemia "you should keep it indoors and away from other cats, feed it a well balanced diet, schedule weekly visits with your vet for 6 months" (Cornell feline health center, 2009). Some cats that have this virus live long healthy lives if they receive good treatment (Nash, 1997-2011). Your vet may use the antiviral drug AZT. It could work for your cat, but it could have harmful side effects (Nash, 1997-2011). Your vet may treat that virus with antibiotics, immune stimulators, cortisone, vitamins, fluids, red blood cell stimulators, blood transfusions, appetite stimulants, and anabolic steroids (Long beach animal hospital, 1997-2010).

Some of these treatments depend on how sick the animal is. If you had a cat that was Feline Leukemia positive and it has died and you want to get a new cat, you should clean everything that the old cat has used while the cat was infected (Cornell feline health center, 2009).

Feline leukemia is a serious disease, and you should always vaccinate your cat to protect them from the virus. In this paper I talked about what the virus is, treatment, prevention, signs and symptoms, and the stages of FelV. I hope by reading this you learned a little bit about what it is.


Nash, H. (1997-2011). Feline Leukemia virus: A cause of immunodeficiency in cats. Retrieved February 5, 2011 from pet education.com Website: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+1316&aid=211

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). (1998-2010). Long beach animal hospital. Retrieved February 5, 2011 from http://www.lbah.com/feline/felv.html

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Overview, Types of FeLV. (2001, March 1). Retrieved February 5, 2011 from Health communities.com Website: http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/FeLV/index.shtml

Feline Leukemia Virus. (2009, February 2). Cornell University College of veterinary medicine. Retrieved from February 5, 2011 from http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/felv.html

Eldridge, D., Carlson, Delbert. G,. Carlson, Lisa. D. (2007). Cat owner's home veterinary handbook. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=yjHrgg4pmngC&pg=PA528&dq=feline+leukemia&hl=en&ei=99BRTdyZEsP48AaUo8ydCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CGEQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=feline%20leukemia&f=false