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Does my cat have feline leukemia?

Species: Cat
Breed: MIXED
Age: 5-8 years
have a 6 year old female cat with up to date FeLV and FIV vaccinations. She has the third eyelid showing in one eye and the cornea of the same eye is smaller than the other eye.

She has undergone 5 ELISA tests at 3 different laboratories - 3 positive and 2 negative.

Is it possible she does not have FeLV and has something else? If so what?

I am also considering strating interferon treatment for her - have had very good results with another cat, however, if she has no immuno condition, will the treatment effect her adversely?

Please be as thorough and exacting as possible in your response

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I have a few questions for you before typing out a full answer.

Do you know if Zorro has had any other types of feline leukemia tests done such as an IFA test?

Does she seem to be sick?

Does she go outdoors?

When you say that the cornea of the eye is smaller on one side, do you mean the pupil (i.e. the black part in the center)?


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Customer reply:

To answer your questions.

1. She has not had an IFA test done yet. I just received the last ELISA test yesterday. The IFA test is the next step.

2.Currently she seems to be here own grouchy self. However, her issues started about 2 months ago:

i)she would eat and after a while vomit. We were told by the vet to give her 'Primperan' syrup every day for 3 days. It has worked.

ii)At the same time she would walk around the house trying to poop and/or urinate but could not. We took her to the vet and the vet undertook a blood count test that showed here white blood cells to be very low. She was put on antibiotics - Zinadol - twice a day for a week after which another blood test was done and showed all to be normal. The vet did an ELISA test and it was positive. The ELISA test was repeated by the same vet 2 weeks later and was again positive. Since then, a further 3 ELISA tests have been carried out by 2 separate laboratories - 2 negative and 1 positive.

iii) since then, she seems to be eating regularly and well - no apparent loss of apetite.

iii)the third eye lid of her right eye appeared about 1 month ago.

iv) about 5 days ago the pupil of her right eye suddenly became smaller.

v) currently, with the exception of here right eye, she seems like her old grouchy self.

3. Yes she does go out but we have given her vaccinations, which are up to date. I gave her a Drontal tablet for worms about 10 days ago as it appeared that she had worms - she did appear to be a bit more grouchy but after the tablet, she improved and eats better- and about 3 days ago I gave here a Stronghold spot on the back of her neck for parasites.

I hope this helps. If you need anything else please let me know.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for the detailed response!

Even with that information this is a tough question to answer. You have described a number of things that fit with feline leukemia. Two positive ELISA tests mean that FELV antibodies are likely there. The IFA will tell us if it has settled into bone marrow. But even then, these tests don't have 100% accuracy and they can be hard to interpret.

What you are describing with the third eyelid being elevated and the pupil being smaller is something called Horner's syndrome. Horner's syndrome has been associated with cats with feline leukemia as well.

I have seen some cats have elevated third eyelids when they have parasites, but if this were the case you would see both eyes affected, not just one.

Unfortunately no one is going to have an answer for you here. If the IFA comes back positive then this really does make the case for feline leukemia stronger.

Interferon is not a bad idea although no one knows for sure if it really helps. It definitely won't hurt.

There is no cure for feline leukemia. But, I have had some patients with feline leukemia that have lived for years.

I really hope she does ok!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.