Feline leukemia is a high-mortality disease caused by the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). FeLV produces immunosuppression, meaning the body is unable to fight off disease, which can then lead to other disease or infections such as respiratory or gastro-intestinal disease. Cats that survive these initial diseases may later develop some form of cancer, hence the name feline leukemia. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with infected cats or with contaminated food dishes or litter boxes.
ALL CATS are at risk
All it takes to spread feline leukemia is contact with bodily fluids from an infected animal. Any of these situations could put your cat or kitten at risk:
- Social Grooming
- Common litter boxes
- Shared food and water bowls
- Bite wounds
- Loss of appetite
- Slow but progressive weight loss, followed by severe wasting late in the disease process
- Poor coat condition
- Pale gums and other mucus membranes
- Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and mouth (stomatitis)
- Infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract
- Persistent diarrhea
- Seizures, behavior changes, and other neurological disorders
- A variety of eye condition
Feline Leukemia is a serious but preventable disease. Unfortunately, many FeLV infected cats are not diagnosed until after they have lived with other cats. It is important when adopting any cat to have a Feline Leukemia test done, particularly if they have not been previously tested or if they have not been routinely vaccinated. A small amount of blood is taken and the test is run at the hospital. A FeLV vaccination is available and can be given to kittens at their 10-12 week examination and a follow up booster at 14-16 weeks. It is then important to get the Feline Leukemia vaccination routinely to prevent this serious disease.
-Meghan Burnell, AS
The great majority of feline respiratory diseases result from two easily transmitted infections, feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR), caused by a herpes-virus, and feline calicivirus (FCV), pronounced (kah-LEE-see virus). FVR and FCV infections result in similar illnesses, characterized by nasal and ocular discharge, conjunctivitis, ulcers of the oral cavity, anorexia, depression and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Cats usually recover in one to two weeks, although cats with FVR can become persistently infected after returning to normal, shedding the virus during periods of stress. FVR can result in abortion of infected fetuses. Kittens are at greatest risk of FVR and FCV because they usually have had no prior vaccination or exposure and are highly susceptible to infection. Chlamydia psittaci (klah-MID-ee-ah SIT-ah-kye) bacteria are a less common cause of feline respiratory disease but can increase the severity of FVR or FCV infections. Vaccines are available for FVR, FCV and Chlamydia psittaci.
Cats are wonderful companions. They give us joy, affection and unconditional love. IT’s no wonder we regard them as special members of our families. The least we can do is give them the care they need and deserve.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is an acute viral infection that can affect all warm-blooded animals – including dogs and cats. The disease is almost always caused by the bite of an infected animal that has rabies virus in its saliva. Younger animals are usually more susceptible to rabies infection. And it’s always fatal once clinical signs appear.
What if my dog has possibly been exposed?
If your pet has been bitten by or exposed to a wild or potentially rabid animal, talk with your veterinarian right away and report it to local animal control authorities. Even if your pet has a current vaccination, you should still contact your veterinarian. Your pet may need to be quarantined for a period of 10 days after the exposure or immediately re-vaccinated.
Signs and Prevention
Once the rabies virus enters the body, it travels along the nerves to the brain. It can take a matter of days, weeks or months for your pet to show signs of the rabies virus.
- Infected animals often show anxiety, aggression, restlessness and erratic behavior.
- They also may develop weakness, poor coordination or tremors.
- Wild rabid animals commonly lose their fear of humans.
- Species that are normally nocturnal may be seen wandering about during the day.
Dogs, cats or ferrets that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in strict isolation for six months. Check with your veterinarian or local public health official for requirements.
Vaccinate Your Pet
Your veterinarian is committed to helping you make the best choices for your pet’s health. To give your pet the protection it needs, our hospital complies with the law and vaccinates your pet with rabies vaccine.
Why do I have to vaccinate my indoor cat?
“We were carrying groceries in and the cat ran out.”
“The realtor showed our house and our cat escaped through an open door.”
“We wanted an indoor cat but this kitten was definitely an outdoor cat.”
Vaccines provide our pets with the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives. Vaccines allow veterinary professionals to vaccinate against potentially life threatening diseases such as rabies, Feline leukemia, and panleukopenia. A common question that we get asked is “Why do I need to vaccinate my cat if they are indoor only?” There are several reasons to vaccine an indoor pet. Your kitten may start out as an indoor pet, but you may quickly come to the realization that the cat wants to go out all the time. Also, we have had several clients whose cats have accidently gotten out through no fault of the own. Cats that stay indoors can also be exposed to infectious diseases. For example, panleukopenia infection in cats is a potentially fatal and spread through contact with bodily fluids such as urine and feces. Panleukopenia can live in the environment such as bedding, food bowls, toys, litter boxes and other items for a long time. So if a cat owner is exposed to a cat or items in the environment contaminated with infection and fail to change clothes or wash hands they can spread the infection to their indoor cat without even realizing it. Not only do vaccinations protect your pet but you are creating a safer environment for you, your family, friends, community and other pets.