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Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy Felv feline leucaemia disease information


If cancer develops, the lymphatic system is most likely to be involved and it is highly likely to be malignant. The signs seen may initially be subtle and will depend on the site of the tumour and a variety of different sites may become infected like the chest, kidneys, lymph nodes and spinal cord. Sadly the condition is likely to progress rapidly once the first signs are seen and the outlook is likely to prove very poor.

Pale gums

Anaemia associated with FeLV infections can be severe and this may be associated with a cancerous process, or a number of other mechanisms

Immune suppression

Infected cats maybe much more vulnerable to other infections and health problems as a result of their poor immunity

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of feline leukaemia for the past three years.

This is not necessarily an indication of what areas the disease is more prevalent in, as the data captured by these labs is likely to be a small proportion of the suspected number of cats that might be affected by the disease.

This is, however, an indication that this disease is present in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of cats being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your cat is protected against feline leukaemia

Report Density
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How is it spread?

The virus is very fragile and is therefore spread directly, mainly via the saliva or blood from a persistently infected cat and exchanged, for example, by mutual grooming or sharing of food bowls. In addition, the infection can also be caused by a bite from an infected cat or contact with urine and faeces containing the virus. The virus can also pass from a queen to her kittens either in the womb or after the kittens are born, via infected milk.

Prevention and Control

There are several vaccines which offer protection for up to three years against FeLV. Vaccination helps to prevent cats from becoming persistently infected. Vaccination is recommended in all situations where cats have a risk of exposure to the virus and is commonly advised for all those that go outdoors and/or in contact with potentially infected individuals. It is therefore commonly included in kitten primary vaccination courses.