Cats that spend a large portion of their time outdoors are more susceptible to contracting feline leukemia.
Feline leukemia is a viral disease that attacks the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Feline leukemia is transmitted from cat to cat through intimate nose to nose contact and eating out of the same bowls. There is no cure for feline leukemia and treatment consists of managing infection and supportive care. The feline leukemia virus is a progressive disease and is always fatal in cats that exhibit symptoms; however, approximately 30 percents of cats exposed to the virus do not develop the disease.
Twenty five percent of cats that test positive for feline leukemia and exhibit symptoms of infection will die within one year while the remaining 75 percent of these cats will succumb within three years. Traditional medicine begins treating the infected cat upon the manifestation of symptoms with a focus on treating the infection while holistic medicine begins treating the patient from the initial diagnosis and focuses on supporting the cat as a whole, slowing the onset of symptoms, thus prolonging and improving the cat’s life.
Holistic veterinarians take a much different approach to treating feline leukemia than mainstream veterinarians. Since the leukemia virus can stay sequestered in the bone marrow for months and even years, the cat may not exhibit any outward symptoms for an extended period of time after exposure. That does not mean that the virus is not causing damage to the immune system during that time. As a matter of fact, the disease may be significantly progressed by the time the cat starts exhibiting symptoms. Holistic veterinarians begin treatment long before most traditional veterinarians do. By providing the cat with immune system boosting herbs, holistic veterinary medicine encourages the cat’s own system to mount a defense.
Good supportive care involves treating the cat as a whole. Good nutrition is the building block to good supportive treatment. Providing a cat with feline leukemia with a premium diet with high quality protein sources and a good balance of vitamins and minerals gives his body the tools necessary to keep his immune system as strong as possible.
Other treatment options that many holistic veterinarians use are immune system boosting drugs such as ImmunoReglan and antiviral medications such as AZT. This is the same antiviral medication used in humans to help combat the human HIV virus.
Commonly used herbs that are used to boost the immune system of cats include astragalus root, echinacea, resihi mushrooms and L-cysteine. Most of the beneficial results have been recognized in humans and more and more veterinarians are trying them in their feline leukemia patients to see if the results can be duplicated.