Feline Leukemia Virus
Infection with Feline Leukemia Virus has been one of the most devastating diseases in all of feline medicine for decades. Cats at highest risk are young kittens who are often infected by their mothers or by close contact with other infected cats. Unfortunately, 80% of infected cats die within 3 years of virus detection. The most common syndrome leading to death is a progressive anemia as the bone shuts down and loses its ability to produce red blood cells but general immune suppression can result and the virus' ability to induce a cancer called "lymphoma" is well known. Infected cats can be detected with a simple in-clinic blood test. Several vaccines are commercially available to prevent infection but no effective treatment has emerged for positive cats.
Rather than "reinvent the wheel" and create yet another Feline Leukemia Virus page when there are several excellent resources available externally, we have chosen instead to present a collection of what we feel are the best links.
The Cornell Feline Health Center FAQ
This is a good beginner's site reviewing commonly asked questions such as:
A section on vaccination is also included.
The Merck Veterinary Manual On Line
For a more scientific look at this infection, virus biology, and even treatment options, we recommend this site.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners
This body of veterinarians meets and determines guidelines for which cats should be tested regularly for the feline leukemia virus and how the vaccine should be used. These guidelines can be viewed through this page:
Lymphoma (also called "lymphosarcoma") is the most common cancer associated with the feline leukemia virus. For more information on this tumor, click here to go to the Lymphoma Center within this site.
Page last updated: 3/25/2022