Understanding Cat Leukaemia: facts, symptoms and prevention

March 4, 2024

As conscientious cat caregivers, it’s vital to remain knowledgeable about potential health risks that may affect our feline companions. One such concern is Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), a severe and transmissible illness that can impact cats of all ages.

In this article, our Vet Darren Partridge explores essential facts about cat leukaemia, discusses common symptoms, and emphasises the importance of prevention through vaccination. To ensure your cat’s wellbeing, we encourage you to take the proactive step of booking a cat vaccination appointment with our veterinary practice in Molesey.

Book your cat’s vaccination


Feline Leukaemia – The Facts:

What is Feline Leukaemia? Vet Darren Partridge gets asked this question by many cat owners and so is sharing these facts below.

  • Viral Infection: Feline Leukaemia Virus is a retrovirus that can affect cats worldwide. It primarily spreads through close contact with an infected cat, such as mutual grooming, shared food and water bowls, or bite wounds.
  • Highly Contagious: FeLV is highly contagious among cats, making it crucial for owners of multiple cats or those whose cats interact with outdoor felines in and around Surrey to be especially vigilant.
  • Various Strains: FeLV comes in different strains, each affecting cats differently. Some cats may effectively fight off the infection and become immune, while others may succumb to the disease.

Common Cat Leukaemia Symptoms:

  • Lethargy: Cats infected with FeLV often exhibit increased fatigue and a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss can be a sign of various health issues, including FeLV. Darren advises to monitor your cat’s weight and contact us if you notice significant changes.
  • Recurrent & Secondary Infections: FeLV suppresses the cat’s immune system. Cats with FeLV may experience frequent respiratory or gastrointestinal infections. They are also more susceptible to secondary infections and diseases such as leukaemia (cancer of the white blood cells), lymphoma, and anaemia.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes are a common symptom of FeLV. If you notice any unusual lumps or bumps on your cat, Darren stresses that you should contact us as soon as possible.
  • Pale Gums and Mucous Membranes: FeLV can cause anaemia, leading to pale gums and mucous membranes. Our cat vets in Molesey can perform blood tests to check for anaemia and assess overall health.

Prognosis, Treatment & Management:

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) poses a potential threat to a cat’s life. Darren explains that the outlook for a cat diagnosed with FeLV can fluctuate, contingent upon various factors such as the cat’s general health, age, immune system strength, and presence of any other medical issues.

Cats can be classified into three main categories based on their FeLV infection status:

  1. FeLV Negative (no infection): Cats testing negative for FeLV typically have a good prognosis, as they are not infected with the virus.
  2. FeLV Positive (persistent infection): Cats testing positive for FeLV are infected with the virus. The prognosis for FeLV-positive cats varies depending on the stage of infection and the presence of associated health problems.
  3. FeLV Exposure (transient infection): Some cats may initially test positive for FeLV due to exposure to the virus but may clear the infection over time. These cats may have a better prognosis compared to persistently infected cats.

Regrettably, there is currently no cure for FeLV. However, Darren emphasises that owners should be aware that supportive care and effective management strategies can significantly enhance the quality of life and prolong survival in cats affected by the virus. This may involve treating secondary infections with antibiotics, addressing symptoms like anaemia or dehydration, ensuring a well-rounded diet, and reducing stress factors. Routine veterinary visits at Molesey Vets are imperative for health monitoring, enabling our veterinary team to adapt treatments accordingly.

Preventing Cat Leukaemia:

  1. Vaccination: Vaccination is by far the most effective way to prevent Feline Leukaemia Virus. Our veterinary practice in Molesey offers safe and reliable vaccines that can significantly reduce the risk of infection. Book a cat vaccination appointment to ensure your feline friend is protected.
  2. Testing and Isolation: If you’re introducing a new cat to your household or have concerns about an outdoor cat’s health, it’s essential to conduct Feline Leukaemia testing and isolate any infected cats to prevent the spread of the virus. Contact Molesey Vets for more information.
  3. Indoor Living: Keeping your cat indoors can significantly reduce their exposure to potential sources of infection in Surrey. If your cat enjoys the outdoors, you might want to consider creating a secure and enclosed outdoor space.
  4. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Routine examinations allow our vets to monitor your cat’s health and detect any potential issues early on so be sure to schedule regular check-ups.

Book a Cat Vaccination appointment:

To ensure your cat’s protection against Feline Leukaemia Virus, Molesey Vets strongly recommends booking a cat vaccination appointment at our Park Road veterinary practice. Our experienced team are dedicated to providing the best care for your feline friends, and vaccinations play a crucial role in preventing and managing infectious diseases.

Don’t wait until it’s too late – take the proactive step of safeguarding your cat’s health.

Book a cat vaccination appointment today


Strictly Necessary

These cookies are required for our website to operate and include items such as whether or not to display this pop-up box or your session when logging in to the website. These cookies cannot be disabled.


We use 3rd party services such as Google Analytics to measure the performance of our website. This helps us tailor the site content to our visitors needs.


From time to time, we may use cookies to store key pieces of information to make our site easier for you to use. Examples of this are remembering selected form options to speed up future uses of them. These cookies are not necessary for the site to work, but may enhance the browsing experience.


We may use advertising services that include tracking beacons to allow us to target our visitors with specific adverts on other platforms such as search or social media. These cookies are not required but may improve the services we offer and promote.

Change Settings

Welcome. You can control how we use cookies and 3rd party services below

Change Settings Accept
Learn how we use cookies