Can a Cat Recover from Feline Leukemia in Santa Clarita, CA?

Cat Laying On Bed

Feline leukemia can be a scary disease, especially if you don’t know very much about it. This is a severe disease that continues to affect many cats around the world. However, if you look more into exactly what feline leukemia is and how it works, you may be able to put your mind a bit more at ease. The short answer is that a cat diagnosed with feline leukemia will not be cured and therefore can’t completely recover from the disease. However, cats with FeLV can still live a whole and happy life. There may not be a cure for feline leukemia at this time, but this does not mean that a cat diagnosed with this disease has to suffer or have a short lifespan in every case.

Signs and Symptoms of Feline Leukemia

The signs and symptoms of feline leukemia are varied, but there are a few that are common to this disease.

  • Eye problems (extended third eyelids, yellowing of the white part of the eyes, or even cancer on the eye)
  • Light-colored gums
  • Continuous or recurring fever
  • Changes in appetite or eating behaviors
  • Inflamed lymph nodes
  • Neurological disorders such as seizures
  • Weight loss
  • Digestive system changes (such as diarrhea)
  • Coats may lose shine or look generally unhealthy
  • Infections (especially in the skin, upper respiratory system, and bladder)

Diagnosing Leukemia in Cats

The way feline leukemia is diagnosed is through a series of tests to confirm the presence of the disease.


The first blood test is called the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and is commonly known as the ELISA test. This is performed by a veterinarian as a screening for the first detection of feline leukemia when it is suspected in a patient, and the results can be determined at the animal hospital. If this test comes out positive, there will be a second test to confirm the disease without a doubt.

IFA Test

This blood test is called the indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay or, more commonly as the IFA test. This test is sent out to a lab for evaluation. Most cats that test positive for the IFA test remain positive for the rest of their lives.

Prevention of Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia can be passed from cat to cat. This makes the only way of preventing the spread from keeping uninfected cats away from infected cats. This can sometimes be difficult to accomplish, especially in outdoor cats. When a cat is allowed to be outdoors and roams the neighborhood, you have no real idea what other cats it may encounter. If you are worried about your cat contracting feline leukemia, it’s best to keep them inside. If you have a home with multiple cats and one of your cats is FeLV positive, you must isolate them from your other cats to prevent them from getting the disease.

Treatment or Care of Cats with Leukemia

Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for cats with leukemia at this time. There is a vaccine that is shown to be effective but not all of the time. Cats that test positive for FeLV can be put through some therapies that have been known to reduce the amount of disease in the bloodstream, which can allow the cat to live longer with less intense symptoms. These therapies and treatments come with their side effects and are not recommended for every cat, so cat owners and veterinarians need to have honest conversations about options and what’s best for their cat on a case-by-case basis. Most of the time, the treatment associated with feline leukemia is about treating the symptoms of the disease and not the disease itself. Vets may prescribe antibiotics for infections that came from leukemia. They may also do blood transfusions when a cat positive with feline leukemia has severe anemia in the late stages of the disease. Treatment of feline leukemia is about making the cat as comfortable and pain-free as possible for the remainder of their life.

Prognosis of FeLV Positive Cats

The sad truth is most cats only live a few years after being diagnosed with feline leukemia. However, many cats may live longer and more comfortable lives with the correct care. It’s essential to manage their weight and keep it at a healthy level due to the ease at which FeLV-positive cats lose weight. Any change in behavior around eating, digestion, cognition, balance, and eyes should be immediately addressed with your veterinarian to treat the symptoms before they take a toll on the cat’s immune system.

Call Stevenson Ranch Veterinary Center

Feline leukemia is a serious condition that can be a lifelong disease in cats. There is no current known cure for this disease. However, with treatment and proper care, cats diagnosed with feline leukemia can still live happy lives. The first step is to know the signs and symptoms of feline leukemia. If you suspect your cat may have feline leukemia, but you don’t have confirmation, you should book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your cat will undergo blood tests to either confirm or rule out feline leukemia. Most cats that test positive will remain positive for their entire lives. The best way to prevent feline leukemia is to keep them away from other cats whose FeLV status you do not know. A great strategy is to keep your cat indoors so you can control which cats they come into contact with. Cats with feline leukemia may not have as long to live as other cats due to the lack of treatments available. However, many cats may live longer and healthier lives when their care is prioritized, and their symptoms managed adequately.

Call (661) 799-0655 or book an appointment online to talk with Stevenson Ranch Veterinary Center about feline leukemia.

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