As a cat caretaker you will not be able to self-diagnose FeLV. It is a complicated disease made more complicated by the fact that it suppresses the cat’s immune system, thereby increasing the effect of other illnesses that are allowed to develop and which have their own symptoms.
However, it is said by vets that about 25% of all sick cats seen by vets have FeLV. That information is a diagnostic tool. FeLV is reponsible for other cat diseases. It is the 2nd most common cause of cat deaths after injury (trauma).
The first signs occur 2-6 weeks after exposure. The initial illness last from 2-16 weeks.
The difficulty is that the signs of FeLV initially are “non-specific”. In layman’s language they are unclear and don’t point to this disease.
Signs include fever, apathy, loss of appetite and a loss of weight.
The cat might vomit.
There may be diarrhea or constipation.
The cat’s mucous membranes might be pale indicating anemia. Mucous membranes can be seen in the mouth.
The disease developes in various ways. Cats with “persistent viremia” (the virus is in the bloodstream) allow other diseases to develop with a wide range of symptoms causing a complexity that requires the attentions of a good vet.
I am sure vets may misdiagnose! If the initial signs as metioned are present this has to be a visit to the vet as soon as possible.
Vets employ two types of blood test to diagnose FeLV.