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How FeLV Can Cause Anemia In Cats


Anemia is a decrease in total red blood cell count (RBC) or hemoglobin concentration and a subsequent drop in oxygen-carrying capacity and tissue distribution. Anemia is not a diagnosis, but rather a symptom of the underlying disease process.

FeLV can induce anemia in cats by causing secondary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), neoplasia (lymphoma or leukemia), myelodysplastic syndromes, or abone marrow suppression. The anemia associated with FeLV infection is usually mild to moderate. The anemia associated with FeLV infection carries a poor prognosis. Some cats with FeLV have hemolytic regenerative anemia.


As soon as you experience any of the following signs, seek urgent veterinary attention:

  • Pale gums
  • Yellow discoloration of eyes and mouth
  • Loss of weight
  • Appetite loss
  • Greasy or matt coat
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes


Good diagnostic tests are readily available to FeLV. Easy ‘in-clinical’ blood tests are used by many veterinarians. These tests detect protein formed during replication of the FeLV virus, which is normally present in the blood of cats that are persistently infected with the virus. These tests are simple, relatively inexpensive, and are generally very accurate. Often the kits test for FIV at the same time, since many clinical symptoms of FIV infection are close to FeLV infection.Your veterinarian can make a conclusive diagnosis of megaloblastic anemia by conducting blood tests. These can include a full blood count, a blood chemical profile, and a blood examination. Bone marrow biopsy can also be used to confirm the existence of megaloblastics.


Treatment of Felv-related anaemia includes supportive treatment, including immunosuppressive agents, antibiotics in the presence of infectious diseases and blood transfusions. Currently, no new therapies have been shown to be successful, although techniques using immunomodulatory, antibody and antiviral drugs are still under study.