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Cat Health > Feline Leukaemia Virus and cat behaviour

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,

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