Feline Leukemia - Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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Tess Thompson

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus, meaning that it can transcribe its RNA into a c-DNA provirus and incorporate the same into the cells it has infected. It is a virus that affects only cats and is a threat to all cats worldwide. It is possible that an infected cat may halt the disease in its first stage by itself, but once it progresses to the second stage, the disease it is often fatal.

It is common for many cats not to show any symptoms in the early stage of the disease. If some symptoms do manifest themselves, these are usually blood disorders, low fever, enlarged lymph nodes and general sickness. Anemia, tumors, leukemia and other forms of feline cancer usually develop in the second stage.

Leukemia is a malignant neoplasm of blood-forming tissues characterized by abnormal proliferation of white blood cells to the extent that it hampers their normal immune functions. The second stage of infection with FeLV is marked by diarrhea or constipation, weight loss and extreme leanness, recurrent infections, icterus (jaundice) and blood in the stool.

It is not necessarily that all cats are in danger of developing these symptoms after infection. Many cats have hereditary immunity to the virus, while others may develop immunity after experiencing the symptoms for a short period. In either case, the immunity tends to be lifelong with no risk of infection later in life.

There is no known treatment for feline leukemia. However, the most important thing to remember is that viruses tend to infect on a regular basis, and in most of these cases, they die their own death. A healthy immune system can effectively neutralize them. Also, feline leukemia is cat cancer of a type that is different from other types of feline cancer. It attacks the immune system to such a great extent that secondary infections pose a bigger threat than the initial infection.

Conventional treatments like chemotherapy are usually ineffective, and even if the cat does respond to treatment, there is a strong possibility of a relapse with renewed vigor. Cat owners are often presented with a dilemma whether to proceed with treatment or take refuge in herbal and natural cat cancer remedies, which can at least provide a good quality of life for as long as the cat survives.

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