Leukemia Virus (FeLV) - McDowell's Herbal Treatments


Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) causes a breakdown in your cat's immune system, allowing it to become vulnerable and succumb to a wide variety of other diseases or ailments, including FeLV itself. FeLV is transmitted by bodily secretions such as saliva, mucus, urine and feces, and also blood. Therefore, an infected cat can transmit the disease to a healthy cat through such common activities as grooming or fighting, or sharing food and water bowls, or litter boxes. The virus can survive only about 2 hours in a dry environment, and about 48 hours in a damp environment.

There is strong evidence kittens under 4 months of age are susceptible to infection, but by eight months are resistant - hence it is a good idea to keep young pet kittens indoors where virus exposure is minimal or non-existent until about 8 months of age.

Kittens can be born with it, having contracted it from their mother while "in utero". Infection is far higher in city cats, stray or owned, than in rural cats: this is entirely due to the amount of contact the cats have with each other.

There are many possible outcomes as to how successfully the cat's immune system will react to the virus. About forty percent of cats extinguish the virus. Sixteen percent fight it off due to minimal exposure to it. The other twenty-four percent resist the virus at phase four, which will be described later. All of this usually occurs between sixteen to eighteen weeks after the FeLV infection begins. About twenty percent are able to put the virus into a latent stage, in which the virus will remain until the cat becomes stressed causing the FeLV to re-emerge. About five to ten percent of cats go through a sequestered stage in which the virus is limited, intermittent, or absent altogether. Approximately thirty percent of cats go through the disease from start to finish, normally resulting in death.

Once the virus has entered the cat, there are six phases to a FeLV infection:

  • Phase one is when the virus enters the cat, usually through the pharynx where it infects the epithelial cells.
  • In phase two, the virus enters the blood stream and begins to distribute throughout the body.
  • Phase three starts when the lymphoid system becomes infected with further distribution throughout the body.
  • Phase four is the main point in the infection, where the virus can take over the body's immune system cause viremia.
  • Phase five -If the cat's immune system does not fight off the virus, then it goes onto phase five where the bone marrow becomes infected.
  • At phase six the cat's body is overwhelmed by infection and mucosal and glandular epithelial cells become infected

A blood test will determine if your cat has FeLv.

Since FeLV causes a breakdown in your cat's immune system allowing the opportunistic invasion of other diseases or ailments, your cat can become sick from a wide variety of conditions and therefore display a wide variety of symptoms.

Common outward signs can include weight loss, recurring illnesses, the inability to get over an illness, lethargy, fever, diarrhoea, unusual breathing, oral ulcers, wounds that won't heal, and many more.


If a cat tests positive for FeLV there is no one set course for treatment. The disease takes different courses in different cats, and can lay dormant and/or progress on different time schedules. You and your veterinarian will need to asses how your cat is feeling, and whether or not there is risk of it transmitting the disease to other cats (even if a cat with FeLV seems to be outwardly healthy it can still be a carrier for the disease). Some cats that test positive for FeLV live seemingly healthy lives for several years, and sometimes longer. If or when a cat does fall ill either to FeLV or another disease taking advantage of the cat's weakened immune system, the prognosis is usually poor.

Our recommendations are the Maritime Pine Bark & a special FeLV support which includes :- Red clover, Garlic ,Echinacea , Elecampane, Horsetail , Thuja, Scullcap , Astragalus , Goldenseal , Phytolacca, Rosehips, along with the Bach flowers Crab apple, RR, Gorse, Honeysuckle and Chestnut bud.

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McDowell's staff Herbalists can not diagnose your disease or illness. What they can do is offer a herbal program to assist with healing, after you have had advice from your doctor or specialist. If you have unexplained pain or symptoms, seek medical advice.

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