How to treat feline leukemia

Feline leukemia virus is a widespread retrovirus-like condition in cats, especially those that are not vaccinated, that go out in the street or that are in close contact with other cats that may be infected.

It is a highly dangerous condition that can lead to the development of various diseases, both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic, compromising the welfare and in many cases the life of the animal. If your pet has this condition of insurance you wonder how to treat feline leukemia and what care to give your pet to improve their quality of life, so in this article we answer all these questions clearly.

How is feline leukemia spread?

The feline leukemia virus or VLFe by its acronyms, affects cats exclusively, without having any kind of effect on other domestic animals or on people. This virus is transmitted through the contact of fluids such as saliva, feces or the urine of an infected animal, in the same way the mother can transmit the virus to their puppies during pregnancy and through their milk when breastfeeding.

Sharing the same sandbox or the same containers to eat, the mutual grooming or the fights between two felines that lead to wounds, are the most common scenarios in which this disease is usually transmitted. In spite of this, it is essential that there is a great contact between the healthy cat and the patient, because the virus survives a few seconds outside the animal's body and if all the conditions are not met, transmission will not be possible.

It is important to be clear that not all cats react equally to the virus, some can eliminate it from their body while others will suffer from this condition. Vaccination against VLFe is key to avoid the spread and spread of this extensive pathology.

Will all cats infected develop leukemia?

Considering that feline leukemia is a virus, it is important to note that not all cats that become infected will subsequently suffer from the disease. Normally the most vulnerable cats are puppies or young, older cats or those that have a weakened immune system, however those adult animals with a strong and healthy immune system can fight the infection and eliminate the virus from their body without reaching to suffer from this pathology.

In this way, it is possible that when infected with the virus a cat reacts in three different ways:

  • Acquire immunity : this only happens in the case of animals with an adequate state of health and a strong immune system capable of fighting the virus. If it is effectively removed, the cat can become immune. The feline may present symptoms such as fever and apathy and then return to normal. The results of the leukemia test can be positive and, when repeated after a month and a half or three months, be negative, indicating that the feline has eliminated the virus.
  • Store the virus in another organ : in these cases the test that is applied regularly will give a negative result because the virus will not be present in the fluids, however, it will remain asleep in other organs such as the bone marrow, being able to activate itself in the face of an episode of stress or a failure in the immune system. There are special tests to determine if VLFe is present in one or several organs.
  • Be permanently infected : puppies, young cats without vaccination, old animals and also those with a weak immune system are the most likely to be infected with the virus for life. The animal will present symptoms such as fever, weakness, loss of appetite and weight, to then return to normal, however after a few months or a few years, the cat will begin to be a victim of infections and diseases caused by the presence of this virus and the weakness that occurs in the immune system.

How is VLFe diagnosed?

Because the symptoms that the animal presents when it is infected with feline leukemia can be vague or point to other disorders, diagnostic tests are usually performed in cases where there is a chance that the cat has been exposed to the virus, for example:

  • Puppies of street origin who are not vaccinated.
  • Animals that come from a shelter or a store.
  • Cats sick and / or weakened immune system.
  • Felines that have not grown properly or that look malnourished and apathetic.

In these cases, several diagnostic tests are usually applied, ELISA is the most common detection test, however, it is also possible to perform various blood tests and biopsies on a specific affected organ in order to confirm the diagnosis. Only a veterinarian can perform these tests and offer an adequate diagnosis.

The treatment for this condition

Once we know that our pet is affected , how to treat feline leukemia?

Unfortunately there is no treatment to combat this disease and make the animal recover health, however, some measures must be taken to keep the cat's immune system in good condition, prevent diseases and infections and ensure a quality of life as optimal possible.

Therefore it is recommended:

  • Keep the animal adequately nourished and fed with a quality food preferably indicated by the specialist.
  • Avoid any source of stress for the feline, as this can weaken the immune system and enhance the effect of the disease on the cat's body. Removals, arrival of new pets at home or changes in routine should be avoided to the maximum.
  • Do not allow the animal to contact with felines outside or without vaccinating, as this could transmit diseases that weaken your immune system and health.
  • Keep the cat properly dewormed both internally and externally. This work should be done every 3 months because it will help to prevent the spread of diseases caused by parasites.
  • Make sure that the animal keeps its vaccines up to date, which will reduce the possibility of contracting diseases. In some cases the veterinarian may recommend the intake of antibiotics to control possible infections.
  • Take the cat to the veterinarian at least 2 times a year for routine check-ups, in addition to any signs of illness you should go to a specialist for a quick and effective treatment.

There are medical treatments, such as Interferon, which help strengthen the feline's immune system and make the infection more bearable. This treatment is applied through injections under strict supervision of the veterinarian and following its recommendations, afterwards the reaction of the organism of the animal is evaluated and the treatment to be carried out in the future is traced.

Taking care of all these aspects we will try to keep the cat as healthy and happy as possible, making the condition bearable for both your pet and you.