Blast from the Past: All About Feline Retroviruses

While there are many retro trends that are cool, fun, and nostalgic, not everything retro is welcome. When it comes to our cat patients, feline retroviruses are a group of infectious diseases the feline fanatics dread. These bugs, otherwise known as feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia, are far from quirky friends; they are rather serious diseases that cat owners need to know about.

All About Feline Retroviruses

There are many types of retroviruses (the most notorious in people is HIV), but the two that are of concern for cat lovers are feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia (FeLV).

Feline leukemia is one of the leading causes of feline deaths each year and is contracted when cats are exposed to the saliva or blood of an infected cat, or during gestation from an infected mother.

When a cat is exposed to FeLV, the body may be able to fight it off. In some unlucky cats, though, the virus makes it into the bone marrow and other tissues in the body where it stays hidden for some time. Within a few years, it begins to cause problems that can include changes in the bone marrow or lymphoma (cancer) within the other body tissues.