Recognizing Leukemia in Your Cat:17 Signs

Recognizing cat leukemia early will ensure appropriate treatment starts as soon as possible. Sometimes going unnoticed for years, feline leukemia is initially caused by exposure to the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

A contagious disease, feline leukemia is spread through cat-to-cat contact with saliva, tears, mother's milk, urine and feces. Generally speaking, feline leukemia harms the immune system, making your cat susceptible to most any type of infection or health problem. If your cat is constantly sick, FeLV may be why. This article will discuss signs of leukemia in your cat.

Differing Ways Feline Leukemia Progresses

Feline leukemia may be present in one of four ways, or may change course, making prognosis difficult:

  • Some kittens or cats fight off FeLV and never become ill.
  • Some cats and kittens harbor FeLV in the bone marrow or central nervous system, becoming ill only if the immune system fails, contracting a "latent infection."
  • Some cats may tolerate FeLV but remain carriers, contracting a "persistent infection."
  • Some cats die from the initial FeLV infection.
  • Because different symptoms may occur at different times during the disease, carefully monitor all symptoms in a cat infected with FeLV.

4 Initial Symptoms of Leukemia in Cats

Two to four weeks after exposure to FeLV, your cat may experience these acute-phase symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes

13 Additional Symptoms of Cat Leukemia

Feline leukemia may severely compromise any or all of the bodily systems. Along with the symptoms listed above, these symptoms may signal complications of an FeLV infection in your cat:

  • Visual impairment
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic, persistent infections anywhere in the body
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Pale or inflamed gums and mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Spontaneous abortions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor coat condition
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Anemia
  • Cancer