Feline Leukaemia Virus and cat behaviour

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.


Member Since
Purred: Tue Jul 30, '13 9:45am PST 
We have just had to euthanize a cat infected with FeLV, that we adopted through a reputable adoption agency. Although it was only 9 months old, it had developed cataracts in both eyes high intra-ocular pressure in one eye and may have had problems with smelling, because, toward the end it had to be placed close to food before eating. The latter may have been preceded by infrequent (perhaps two or three times a day) but persistent sneezing which we noticed from day one after adoption.

He was the most appealing cat we had ever owned, to the point of apparently wanting to cozy up to every human he encountered and we were devastated by the problem. Although we considered its persistent kneading charming when we first encountered it, it became obsessional, and we began to wonder whether it was a symptom of the infection, too.

We first recognized a problem when the cat became very passive one day and refused to play or budge from a closet that it had not previously occupied for long periods. Our vet provided medication that eased the behaviour, which she attributed to the eye problem and thought to stem from the virus infection. However after a week or so, he became lethargic again, while still medicated.

I am glad to say that the cat was never allowed to leave the house and that the cats with which he lodged during a fostering period have so far proved to be virus free. We do not know where the infection came from, but the adoption organization involved (this is its first reported case of FeLV) will not use the source of kittens from which our pet came again, they say.

The point of this note is to ask whether there is any evidence that FeLV infection produces behavioural changes in cats, particularly those which make for exceptionally friendly animals? One can conjecture that it would be of advantage to the spread of a virus if it tended to make kittens more attractive to pet owners. This may simply be a silly suggestion on my part, but if it is correct, then it is certainly worthwhile for it to become part of general knowledge,

Sable - ~Love you- Always~

Ride the Wild- Wind
Purred: Thu Aug 1, '13 2:27pm PST 
I've been in the unfortunate situation of owning two cats who tested positive after multiple negative tests, and after having them as solely indoor-only animals. There's no correlation between the virus and behavior that I know of, apart from the cat acting sick once the virus decides to rear its ugly head.

FELV is pretty weird, though. Sable tested negative at least three times, and Chloe twice. I only had Sable tested when she came down with a slight cold, and I'd had this odd feeling of "Maybe she should be retested" despite having more than one negative result. I honestly believe that it's present in a lot of the cat population and only crops up when something else in the cat's body lowers their immune system enough for it to "wake up".

It's not even that uncommon, as I've personally seen numerous senior/adult cats suddenly test positive when they had been negative and indoor only for years, with the reason for testing being that the cat had come down with a sudden illness.

Edited by author Thu Aug 1, '13 2:29pm PST


Norman DB#93- 2001-2013

I know you have- chicken & I want- it.
Purred: Tue Aug 6, '13 8:31pm PST 
Honestly your description of symptoms and behavior sound more like FIP, as I have heard explained in the Yahoo FIP Support group, which is almost impossible to confirm without invasive test. Doesn't mean FELV wasn't part of the problem, but cats can live a long time with FELV. We have one that tested positive eight years ago and is still in perfect health.