Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is responsible for the majority of household cat deaths. It affects all breeds, though it is more common in males and typically occurs in felines aged one to six years old. Outdoor cats and cats in multiple-cat environments are considered the most at-risk for contracting FeLV, a virus spread through warm fluids, such as nasal secretions, saliva, urine, or a mother’s milk. It can also be spread from a mother to her kittens while they are still in the womb. Grooming one-another and fighting tend to be the most common ways in which the virus spreads. Because feline leukemia cannot survive outside of a host, ordinary detergents, including bleach, successfully kill the virus on household surfaces.

The virus only affects cats and cannot be transmitted to humans, dogs, or any other animal. Through immunosuppression, FeLV impairs the affected cat’s immune system and is capable of causing a variety of diseases such as liver disease and intestinal disease as well as certain types of cancer. Because of their impaired immune system, cats with FeLV are also highly susceptible to various general infections.

It should be noted that there is a vaccination available for FeLV, though it is considered a non-core vaccine. Veterinarians usually suggest the vaccination for outdoor cats or cats in multiple-cat households. Please inquire about the vaccination if you consider your cat to be at-risk, as FeLV is often fatal.

What are the symptoms of FeLV? 

  • Avoiding litter box
  • Bladder infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Skin lesions which may or may not be infected
  • Tumors 
  • Uneven pupils
  • Weight loss
  • Wiry, coarse coat
  • Wobbly gait

Diagnosing and treating FeLV

The process of diagnosis for FeLV is fairly simple. A blood test called an ELISA can positively identify the FeLV protein within the blood, making an accurate diagnosis within our veterinary clinic possible. The ELISA test is so perceptive to these proteins that it can identify FeLV infections soon after a pet contracts the illness, even if they have not begun showing symptoms. In FeLV cases that have progressed, an IFA test can confirm the findings of an ELISA test. IFA tests are sent to commercial laboratories for completion. Cats with positive results to an IFA test are unlikely to cure themselves and usually have unfavorable prognosis. Urinalysis and bone marrow biopsy may also be used to aid in diagnosis.

Because there is no known cure for feline leukemia, there is no specific treatment. Numerous therapies have been researched and are currently being studied with no conclusive results. Current treatment includes spaying or neutering an infected cat and keeping them indoors, away from other cats. This protects other cats from becoming infected, as well as protecting your cat from developing any disease or illness they may come into contact with.

Efforts to prolong life include feeding your pet a nutritious diet, preventing exposure to disease, reducing stress levels, controlling parasites, and aggressive treatment of any secondary illness. Generally, FeLV is eventually fatal so ensuring your pet a comfortable lifestyle should be a primary concern.

If you believe your pet has contracted FeLV or you have any questions about the virus, feel free to contact our office at your earliest convenience.


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Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

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