How long does a cat live with feline leukemia?
Feline Leukemia is one of the most frequent and severe viral diseases that affect the immune system especially of younger cats. It is not transmissible to humans but its contagion usually happens more easily among cats living with other cats.
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To demystify feline leukemia and know how to prevent, recognize, and proceed with your diagnosis, you need to know. For this reason, YourCatCareguide wrote this article about how long a cat lives with feline leukemia .
Time Living a Cat with Feline Leukemia
Estimating how long a cat lives with feline leukemia is a complex and difficult issue even for veterinarians. We can say that about 25% of cats with feline leukemia die within 1 year of being diagnosed. However, about 75% can survive between 1 and 3 years with the virus active in their bodies.
Many owners are desperate to think that their cats may be carriers of the feline leukemia virus (FeLV or VLFe), but this diagnosis does not always imply death! In fact, about 30% of the cats infected with FeLV are carriers of the virus in a latent way and do not even develop the disease.
Factors that influence the life expectancy of a cat with leukemia
Overall, the life expectancy of a sick cat depends on many factors both internal and external to its body. These are some of the factors that influence the life expectancy of a cat with feline leukemia :
- Diagnosis stage : Although not a rule, early diagnosis almost always improves the prognosis of feline leukemia and increases the life expectancy of the carrier cat. During the early stages of feline leukemia (mainly between stages I and III), the immune system attempts to “catch” the action of the FeLV virus. If we begin to strengthen the immune system of the cat even during these steps (which requires an early diagnosis), the result may delay the effects of the virus on the bone marrow, which increases the probability of survival of the animal.
- Response to treatment : If we successfully strengthen the immune system of the sick cat and the response to treatment is positive, life expectancy will be higher. For this, certain drugs, holistic treatments and, for example, Aloe vera for cats with leukemia are also used .
- Health Status and Preventive Medicine : A vaccinated cat with regular periodic deworming that maintains a balanced diet that is physically and mentally stimulated throughout its life is more likely to have a stronger immune system and respond better to treatment of feline leukemia.
- Nutrition : The cat’s diet directly influences his quality of life, mood and also the immune system. Cats with leukemia require a diet enhanced in vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients that can be found in premium range diets .
- Environment : Cats that live in sedentary routines or live in negative, stressful or low-stimulating environments can suffer the same damaging effects of stress on their immune system, making them more vulnerable to various pathologies.
- Guardian’s Commitment : The health and well-being of our pets depend on our commitment. This is decisive when it comes to a sick animal. Even if a cat is very independent throughout his life, he will not be able to treat himself, feed himself adequately, strengthen the immune system or provide himself with a better quality of life . Therefore, the dedication of the tutor is indispensable to improve the life expectancy of the cat with leukemia.
Myths and Truths about feline leukemia
How Much Do You Know About Feline Leukemia? Being a complex disease that has caused much controversy and disagreement among veterinary experts for many years, it is understandable that there are many misconceptions about leukemia in cats. So that you have a better awareness about this pathology, we invite you to know some myths and truths.
- Feline leukemia and blood cancer are synonymous: MYTH!
Feline Leukemia virus is actually a type of cancer virus that can cause tumors, but not all cats diagnosed with leukemia develop blood cancer. It is important to make it clear that feline leukemia is not a synonym for feline AIDS , which is caused by the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
- Cats can easily contract feline leukemia: TRUTH!
Unfortunately, cats can contract Feline Leukemia virus through direct contact with the body fluids of other infected cats. Felv usually lodges in the saliva of sick cats, but can also deposit in urine, blood, milk and feces. Therefore, felines living in groups are more susceptible to this pathology, since they remain in contact with possibly diseased animals.
- Humans can get infected with feline leukemia: MYTH!
As we said, feline leukemia is not transmitted to humans , not even to dogs, birds, turtles and other “non-feline” pets. This pathology is specific to cats, although it may have many similarities in symptomatology and prognosis with leukemia in dogs .
- Feline leukemia has no cure: TRUTH!
Regrettably, the cure for feline leukemia and feline AIDS is still unknown. Therefore, in both cases, prevention is the key to preserving the health and well-being of the animal. Currently, we have found a vaccine for feline leukemia, whose effectiveness is around 80% and is an excellent preventive measure for cats that have never been exposed to FeLV. We can also decrease the likelihood of infection by avoiding contact with infected or unknown animals. And if you decide to adopt a new kitten to keep your cat company, it is essential to conduct clinical studies to diagnose possible pathologies.
- A cat diagnosed with feline leukemia dies quickly: MYTH!
As we have already explained, the life expectancy of a diseased animal depends on different factors, such as the stage in which the disease is diagnosed, the animal’s response to the treatment, etc. So, not necessarily the answer to the question “how long does a cat live with feline leukemia?” must be negative.