Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can cause anemia, lymphoma, and a suppressed immune system in cats that are infected. While some cats that are exposed to FeLV are able to fight off the virus on their own, many cats that are infected die within a few years. However, veterinary care can help keep a cat who is persistently infected with FeLV comfortable and may extend the cats life by treating secondary infections caused by a suppressed immune system. If you own a cat, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of FeLV so you can take your cat to the veterinarian. Common signs of FeLV include:
Lack of Appetite and Losing Weight
Most healthy cats are excited to be fed each day and will happily eat all of their food. If you notice that your cat is not eating his normal amount of food, despite not changing the brand of food, there may be cause for concern. Another red flag is your cat losing weight. Loss of appetite and losing weight can be a symptom of several medical problems, including FeLV, so it is important to make your cat an appointment with the vet if he is displaying these problems.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Just like humans, cats have lymph nodes that can become swollen when the cat is infected with a virus or bacteria. As you pet your cat, pay attention to how his lymph nodes feel. If you notice that he has swollen lymph nodes, your cat needs veterinary care. Your vet will most likely draw blood to test for a number of issues, including FeLV. The sooner your cat sees a vet after the swollen lymph nodes are discovered, the better.
Since FeLV can drastically suppress a cat's immune system, it is not uncommon for a cat with FeLV to begin to experience a number of infections. Many cats with FeLV have infections of the skin, bladder, and upper respiratory tract. Any time your cat has an infection, he should be seen by a vet. If your cat suffers from multiple infections in a short amount of time, the vet will most likely test for FeLV.
Change In Color of the Mouth and Eyes
A simple visual inspection can help you determine if your cat may be infected with FeLV and need veterinary care. In most cats with FeLV, the whites of the eyes and the tissues in the mouth will take on a yellow color. Take the time to look at your cat's eyes and mouth regularly to look for any changes in color.