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|3 Other Feline Infectious Diseases to Watch Out For|
In addition to feline leukemia, several other types of serious feline infectious diseases are common in cats, including:
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) also weakens your cat's immune system and can cause many of the same symptoms of feline leukemia, such as weight loss, diarrhea, poor coat condition, cancer, anemia and eye disorders. FIV is transmitted when your cat is bitten by another cat. The FIV vaccine will help protect your cat from developing this fatal disease.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline infectious peritonitis is spread by inhaling contaminants in the air or by contact with infected feces. Cats with weaker immune systems, including kittens and older cats, are more likely to develop this often deadly disease. When your cat is approximately 3 years old, his immune system will be stronger, and he will be less likely to develop feline infectious peritonitis. The disease is more common in homes with many cats or in facilities with multiple cats, such as shelters or boarding facilities. The wet form of the disease affects body cavities while the dry form affects the organs. This disease is also fatal; although you can keep your cat comfortable by treating symptoms, such as diarrhea.
Feline distemper, or panleukopenia, is a contagious viral illness that can kill your cat. Luckily, a vaccine can help prevent the illness. Feline distemper is particularly deadly in kittens, due to their weak immune systems. Cats get feline distemper when they come in contact with the feces and urine of an infected cat. It can also be spread by fleas or by transmission from a mother to her kittens. Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders.
How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia
Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. The virus is spread in saliva, urine, feces, nasal secretions and milk from nursing mothers. When an infected cat bites or grooms another cat, that cat may develop the virus. If a pregnant cat has feline leukemia, the kittens might be born with the disease or may develop it after nursing. Because kittens have weaker immune systems than older cats, they are more likely to suffer from the virus. Cats can also spread the virus by sharing food dishes or litter boxes; although this does not happen very often.
Symptoms of Feline Leukemia
There may be no symptoms of the disease during the earlier stages. In the later stages, symptoms may be similar to those that are also typical of other types of viruses. Depending on the stage of the disease, a cat infected with feline leukemia may experience:
Diagnosis and Treatment
Feline leukemia is diagnosed via a blood test that detects a protein found in the virus. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. Many infected cats die within two to three years of being diagnosed. Although there is no treatment for feline leukemia, symptoms can be treated to keep your cat more comfortable. If weight loss is a problem, nutritional supplements will help your cat receive necessary nutrients. Your cat may get sick more often because of his weakened immune system, but these infections can often be treated with antibiotics.
The FeLV vaccine will help prevent your cat from developing feline leukemia, but it does not offer an absolute guarantee that your cat will never get the virus. The best way to protect your furry friend is to keep him or her indoors. When cats roam, they are more likely to come in contact with infected cats that may transmit the virus through a bite.
Before you bring a new pet into your home, make sure that it has been tested for the feline leukemia virus. If one of your cats does develop the virus, separate it from your other cats to prevent the spread of the disease.
Has your cat had an examination and feline leukemia shot recently? If not, give us a call to schedule an appointment.
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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.
The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.