Just curious about this illness. I was looking at adoptable cats at a local shelter, and more cats have Felv than don't.
Is this an epidemic? Why do so many cats have this illness and is it getting worse?
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Felv is common among young cats, who live wholly or partial outside. It is a terrible disease if left untreated, often taking the cat's life within 3 years. However, those willing to care for an infected cat can, many times, extend their life greatly.
TRANSFER OF FELV: The disease is transferred cat to cat. It's a cat disease only, i.e., dogs, people, and other animals can't "catch it." Felv is mostly transferred through saliva and blood (fighting, grooming, biting, using each other's food and water dishes). It also has a small possibility of transferring through urine and feces (e.g., outside or litter box). Kittens are usually infected through the infected mother.
WHY SO MANY: As far as your question regarding why you are seeing so many infected cats - this is because you are going to a shelter that will accept Felv cats. Most shelters will not accept the cats or will euthanize them. If this shelter is actually accepting the cats without euthanizing, that is why they have so many. They are probably the only shelter in the area to do so, and everyone, therefore, is taking their infected cats to them.
ON THE DECLINE: PetMD says that they are actually seeing less cases of Feline Leukemia over the last 25 years. Here's the link, if you would like to read more:
Hope this helps!