Feline Leukemia is the leading viral killer of cats today. The virus is spread by prolonged cat-to-cat contact and through bite wounds. The virus is shed in saliva, tears, urine, and feces. It is unstable in the environment and easily killed by warmth and drying. Fifty percent of these cats also have Feline Infectious Peritonitis. Half of these cats die because of Secondary Infections and ninety percent develop cancer.
FACT: A pregnant cat infected with leukemia can transmit the disease to her unborn kittens.
Signs for FELV and FIV can include those of any severe long-term illness because both viruses interfere with your cat’s natural ability to ward off infection.
The most common signs for leukemia are:
* Pale whitish gum color instead of normal bright pink color and weakness (occurs due to red blood cell loss which is called Anemia.)
* Yellow discoloration to skin called jaundice (occurs due to liver failure )
* Depression, appetite and weight loss
Feline Immuno Deficiency Virus is abbreviated as FIV and occasionally referred to as Feline Aids. Aggressive outdoor non-neutered male cats are most often infected and the virus is usually spread through bite wounds. Feline Immuno Deficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus both attack and impair the body’s immune system and interfere with the cat’s natural ability to protect himself. Secondary infections cause the majority of symptoms and are the major cause of death in FIV infected cats.
SYMPTOMS / SIGNS OF FIV
Severe chronic gum disease (gingivitis) and recurrent mouth infections in fat cats are the most common signs seen in over half of FIV cats.
Appetite Loss, poor hair coats and a fever are also common. Late in the disease, weight loss and severe wasting occur.
WHAT YOU AND YOUR VET CAN DO
Blood tests accurately detect Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immuno deficiency Virus. A cat infected with FELV can live for months to years. Cats with FIV rarely survive over two years. True life expectancy is impossible to predict. Since both viruses suppress the cat’s ability to naturally protect himself, they become much more susceptible to other infections and cats are affected with a variety of recurrent illnesses, interspersed with periods of relatively normal health.
PREVENTION-Vaccination for leukemia is the key to prevention. Vaccines are available for FIP and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus but remain contraversial. Discuss these options with your vet
DIAGNOSIS OF FIP
A tissue biopsy of the affected site or analysis of affected cells called a cytology are the only ways to confirm FIP diagnosis.
THERAPY FOR FELV & FIV & FIP
There is no cure for any of these diseases. All cases are ultimately fatal. A variety of anticancer medications have been tried, some produce temporary remission. Various antiviral compounds, including Interferon, are being used. These are safer than anticancer therapies and some extend the remission period. None produce a permanent cure.
New therapies being used for FELV, FIV and FIP with some success but not yet approved, are geared to stimulate the immune system and stop viral replication.
1. Human alpha Interferon- an oral solution, 30 units per day, squirt in mouth seven days on, seven days off until signs subside. Use along with L-Lysine. (Vet must prescribe.)
2. L-Lysine Tablets – available at health food stores. 250 milligrams crushed to powder mixed into meal twice daily.
3. Epogen- a hormone injected to boost red blood cell production. Combats severe anemia (vet must prescribe).
4. Vitamins A, C, E to stimulate immunity, added to meals.
* A – 10,000 IU (international units) per week.
* C – 250 milligrams powder three times a day.
* E – 400 IU week.
5. Herbs to stimulate immunity:
6. B Vitamins and Iron for Anemia.
7. Nutritional yeast- source B vitamins: 1/8 teaspoon per meal
8. Raw liver- source of Iron and B vitamins: add one minced teaspoon to meals three times weekly.
9. Good Diet
FACT: All three viruses can be transmitted from a mother to her kittens. Cats apparently recovered from FELV, FIP and FIV can act as “carriers” and shed the viruses.
FACT: None of these three viruses live long in the environment. Six weeks is the maximum and that’s for FIP. Disinfectants like bleach easily kill all three viruses.
FACT: Viral diseases that suppress the immune system like FELV and FIV can reactivate FIP.