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Published: Apr 06, 2012

Feline leukemia virus, also known as FeLV, is an infectious virus that may affect cats and cause a number of diseases to develop over time.  A cat can be infected with this virus but not show clinical signs for a period of time, therefore, it is important for owners to remain vigilant about routinely testing their cat when they visit their veterinarian.

Over time, FeLV will lead to the development of a number of possible conditions which usually have clinical signs that are relatively easy to spot. Conditions that may develop as a result of the FeLV virus include anemia, cancer, intestinal inflammation, ocular diseases or even neurologic conditions. FeLV can be found with a simple blood test, so it's worth asking your veterinarian for one if you suspect your cat has any of these problems.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, approximately 1 to 2 percent of all cats are infected with feline leukemia, with many more at risk of exposure. Cats who live with multiple other cats as well as those that are allowed outdoors are more at risk for FeLV infection.  FeLV is often fatal, with 80 to 90 percent of cats dying within three to four years of the initial diagnosis. There is a vaccination available for FeLV and you should speak with your veterinarian to determine if this vaccination is right for your cat.  No vaccine is 100 percent effective, so owners need to be on their guard with routine testing if they have an at-risk cat.