Ask the Vet About Feline Leukemia in Cats

Ask the Vet About Feline Leukemia in Cats
Dr. MichaelDym
Dr. Michael Dym


As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Dym has over 19 years of experience and dedication to enhancing the overall health and well-being of pets. His commitment and passion for pet health continuously drives him to learn more about the art and science of homeopathy through ongoing training and education.

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Date: Jun 24, 2020
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: Cat
Topic: Puncture wound??
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Question:My cat who has FIV has what looks like a puncture hole near his genitals. It has a greenish fluid under the skin surrounding the hole. He is having trouble sitting down and is licking a lot. Could it be a warble? He is still eating and drinking. Thanks.

Answer:Probably not if he is licking it a lot - they only get those wolf worms it places they can't groom very well. That sounds like an abscess that needs antibiotics, especially because he is FIV positive. Make sure he is an indoor only cat to lessen the probably of bite wounds like that (they usually get them from fighting with another cat, but not always - we also worry about him giving FIV to other cats).

Date: May 29, 2020
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Kittens with Panleukopenia
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Question:Am looking after 2 stray kittens tested positive with panleukopenia. They are currently admitted and will be released in 2-3 days. I have 2 vaccinated indoor cats of my mine. Will keep these kittens isolated. How long will I need to keep isolated? As i cannot keep them forever and will need to release them back outside. They used to live below my building and were looked after by me and the bldg security. It?s raining kittens in the city i live in- so finding a foster or permanent home will be very difficult. Pls advice

Answer:Here is a really good article about panleukopenia (feline distemper) written by another veterinarian from a site that I trust: https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952250

Date: Apr 25, 2020
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: How old to get vaccinated?
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Question:How to get vaccinated?

Answer:It depends on the type of vaccine and the age it is labeled for. We usually give one feline leukemia vaccine at around 12 weeks, then another 3-4 weeks later, then yearly after that.

Date: Feb 4, 2020
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: my cat has leukemia what should I do?
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Question:I took my male Siamese cat to the vet today and they diagnosed him with feline leukemia and I want to know if there is anything I can do to help him. Are there any kind of treatment that help or vitamins or medicine I can give him? I know it?s a matter of time but if there is anything I can do to make him feel better

Answer:Definitely start lysine - it is an over-the-counter anti-viral supplement - there are many formulations (gels, chews, powders, etc.) developed specifically for cats. The powder is most cost effective long term or for multiple cats - here is a link to a powder: https://www.1800petmeds.com/Viralys+Oral+Powder-prod12025.html

Date: Nov 29, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Positive for both
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Question:We rescued an outdoor stray April 2018, we had him tested when we had him neutered and put him in our spare bedroom. Fast forward to October 2019, he had some bouts with diarrhea and constant ear itchiness. We took him back to be tested and he tested positive for FIV and Feline Leukemia, we have another indoor cat that was not vaccinated, he is 12... the one we rescued is around 6. He was in a brutal fight the day before we took him in April 2018. He was negative then, but positive for FIV and Feline leukemia just recently. If he has a positive for feline leukemia on a duo snap test, would that mean at his age and the duration it has gone to his bone marrow I'd he is showing a positive? The FIV diagnosed I suspected which is sad he has both....

Answer:FELV and FIV can be kind of sneaky viruses like that. It is impossible to tell which cats will and won't do well and live relatively normal lives. You are right that it is unfortunate that he has both but it still doesn't mean he can't get through his issues now and go on and live many good quality years. Lysine is an over-the-counter supplement that has some anti-viral properties and seems to help some cats - here is a link to read about one such product, with the price: https://www.1800petmeds.com/Vetri+Lysine+Plus+Soft+Chews-prod11239.html

Date: Oct 13, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: FeLv+ transfer
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Question:I had 3 cats and took on a cat that was FeLV+. My 3 cats went through a 3 part vaccination so they did not contact the disease. And every year get a booster. They have been tested for the virus with a negative. I see some shelters and rescues act like if you have a FeLV cat it cannot be around others? What is true? I have 3 cats that say yes if they go through vaccinations.

Answer:Since no vaccine provides 100% protection, it is not recommended, not ideal, but with the cat over-population problem, I feel like it's an acceptable risk for some situations.

Date: Jun 19, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: euthanize
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Question:My 11 year old cat became ill. Symptoms were dermatitis, anemia, lethargic, and losing weight. Though vaccinated each year for FeLV she tested positive for FeLV. Testing suggested probable bone marrow was compromised. I authorized euthanasia. After the fact I am having doubts. Were there any other alternatives I should I explored?

Answer:This is always a hard decision but her prognosis, since she was FELV positive, was poor. Some cats do ok after a blood transfusion but it's usually the FELV negative cats and, even then, the odds are not great. Many cats get a transfusion, feel better, and then go downhill again immediately, only to have to euthanize then, which would've put her through a lot and been super expensive so you did the right thing.

Date: Mar 25, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Supplement
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Question:My young cat tested positive for feline leukemia. She is not gaining weight real well. Is their a supplement that you would recommend giving her?

Answer:Yes, a supplement like this one that contains lysine may help her: https://www.1800petmeds.com/Vetri+Lysine+Plus+Soft+Chews-prod11239.html

Date: Mar 3, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Feline leukemia
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Question:Had to put my cat to sleep yesterday She seemed fine until the other day when she stopped eating Took her to the vet and they said she was very sick and there was nothing they could do She tested positive for feline leukemia How could she become ill so fast I was shocked and heartbroken

Answer:I'm so sorry for your loss. Cats are notorious for hiding illnesses until they are on deaths door unfortunately.

Date: Feb 2, 2019
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Feline leukemia test
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Question:My kitten tested negative for feline leukemia and was given his first vaccine against the virus. He gets his second one next Saturday. 2 of his litter mates recently tested positive. Is my kitten protected from getting the virus?

Answer:That is a really good question - I would definitely have your kitten retested with that history - it is uncommon but there are false positives and false negatives.

Date: Nov 3, 2018
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Testing
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Question:If a kitten has a positive ELISA test, what are the chances that the IFA could come back negative?

Answer:It is possible but not very probable, but definitely worth retesting.

Date: Oct 22, 2018
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Feline leukemia
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Question:I think a couple of simi farel cats in my yard have passed from fmi can i by the vaccine an give the ones that i can catch the vaccination or is it necessary ? Thank you for your info

Answer:I don't know what you mean by "FMI" - FIV? FIP? or maybe FELV, which is the abbreviation we usually use for feline leukemia. I would not recommend vaccinating until you have them tested - they are probably all positive and giving the vaccine, especially if they are sick in any way, can be really bad for them.

Date: Oct 21, 2018
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Feline leukemia
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Question:I am a small cattery with show persian and himalayans. I sold a 14 week kitten to a couple. They took it to their vet and had the snap test done. It came back low positive for feline leukemia. My cats are all tested but not innoculated for feline leukemia. I have a closed cattery. None of my cats are sick. They are all eating well and active. The kitten is showing no sign of illness and is eating and active. Can you tell me how accurate the snap test is? I have been reading about false positives. What can cause this to happen?

Answer:It depends on the exact test they used - most of us use the Idexx Snap test which tests for FELV antigen (the actual virus not antibodies to it). They claim that it is 98.6% sensitive and 98.2% specific = in other words, very accurate. I still always send blood to another lab for further testing (IFA) to confirm the diagnosis. Have your other cats tested as well, starting with her mother.

Date: Sep 24, 2018
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: Life expectancy With leukemia
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Question:Have been fostering some kittens that tested positive for leukemia. Shelter talked to me about adopting them and said they could live many years if kept from other cats and remained indoors. Infections from othe cats and cancer were the dangers. They seem very healthy now. How long have you seen cats live under these circumstance?

Answer:Great question - I agree with your shelter 100% - keep them inside and away from other cats entirely and often they seem to live almost normal lives. It depends on many things like the potency of the virus, their viral load, their individual immune system, etc. = bunch of things out of your control. The other school of thought is to immediately euthanize them to decrease the amount of the virus in the world and there is a strong argument for that . . . but I can never bring myself to do that when they are happy, healthy and in a home that promises me they will stay inside.

Date: May 18, 2018
Category: Feline Leukemia
Pet Type: 1
Topic: non regenerative anemia
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Question:My cat started hiding recently and I knew something was up. she ate ok, no vomiting, no pooping problems, shiny coat, bright eyes, goodbreathing and heartrate. Her bloodwork shows non regenerative anemia and one high liver enzyme. she had multiple ultrasound and a chest xray and a spleen asipirate and so far no evidence of cancer or lymphoma. negative FIA test. she's been taking prednisolone and antibiotics and is back to her totally normal frisky awesome self.. no more hiding. she still has anemia with an undertermined cause. Looking for some guidance.... every condition has symptoms she doesn't have... she is not lethargic, vomiting, anorexic, or in pain.

Answer:They can get "autoimmune hemolytic anemia" that responds to steroids - that sounds like what she has but it's hard for me to say without seeing all of her test results - it sounds like her veterinarian is taking good care of her.

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