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Home > Cats > 6 Best Foods for Cats with Feline Leukemia in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

6 Best Foods for Cats with Feline Leukemia in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

tabby cat sitting next to a food plate_Veera_shutterstock

If your beloved cat has been diagnosed with feline leukemia, our hearts are with you. It is heartbreaking for every pet parent to learn that their pet suffers from a potentially fatal illness. But aside from following the recommendations and treatment offered by your veterinarian, there are some things you can do to support your cat’s overall health and well-being.

One of those things you can manage is the diet of your pet. This “treatment” is not a panacea, but it will help boost your cat’s immune system by providing a healthy number of essential antioxidants, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Our product reviews will help you find the right foods for your cat’s needs. Here are the six best options we found for cats with feline leukemia.

Disclaimer: The foods reviewed here were chosen because they have certain characteristics that might help with some of the causes or consequences of this medical condition. However, they are not a medical treatment or a substitute for medical treatment. Keep in mind that each medical case is different and what works for some pets may not work for others. Your veterinarian is the right person to advise you on the best diet for your pet’s individual case.

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A Glance at Our Winners in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Turkey Cat Food Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Turkey Cat Food
  • Made with real chicken and turkey
  • Great for appetite stimulation
  • Low in carbs
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Iams ProActive Protein Cat Food Iams ProActive Protein Cat Food
  • Packed with essential nutrients
  • High-quality protein
  • Contains prebiotics
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    PureBites Wild Skipjack Cat Food PureBites Wild Skipjack Cat Food
  • Has only two ingredients
  • Great option for kitties on a restrictive diet
  • Contains protein in its purest form
  • Best for Kittens
    Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food Hill's Science Diet Dry Kitten Food
  • Recommended by vets
  • Clinically proven antioxidants and vitamins C y E
  • Support immune system development
  • Blue Buffalo Protein Grain Free Cat Food Blue Buffalo Protein Grain Free Cat Food
  • High protein
  • Ingredients rich in antioxidants and vitamins
  • Great for hairball control
  • The 6 Best Foods for Cats with Feline Leukemia

    1. Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Turkey Favorites – Best Overall

    Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Turkey Favorites Variety Pack Canned Cat Food

    First ingredients: Chicken or turkey, wheat gluten, liver
    Protein: 11% min
    Fat: 2% min
    Moisture: 80% max

    A cat that suffers from feline leukemia needs food that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and low in carbohydrates. Purina Pro Plan is our best overall food for cats with feline leukemia because this mouthwatering wet food fulfills all of these criteria while being recommended by vets. It also helps stimulate the appetite of kitties, which is greatly appreciated by cat owners concerned about the nutrition of their sick cats. The antioxidants in this wet food are also excellent for promoting the feline immune system. However, for all the goodness of this food, some cats just don’t like it, much to the chagrin of their well-meaning owners.

    Pros
    • High-quality protein
    • Packed with essential nutrients for a healthy immune system
    • Made with real chicken and turkey
    • Great for appetite stimulation
    • Low in carbs

    Cons
    • Some picky cats don’t like it


    2. Iams ProActive Health High Protein Cat Food – Best Value

    Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken & Salmon Recipe Dry Cat Food

    First ingredients: Chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn grits
    Protein: 38% min
    Fat: 18% min
    Moisture: 10% max

    Caring for your sick pet shouldn’t cost you all of your money. That’s why we investigated a great value option: the Iams ProActive Health High Protein Chicken and Salmon Recipe won us over. The high concentration of protein helps support the muscles of the less active feline and maintains optimal heart health. As for them, prebiotics and beet pulp work wonders for your cat’s digestive health. This is not a grain-free option, however, and cats with allergies or other intolerances will not benefit from it.

    Pros
    • Packed with essential nutrients
    • High-quality protein
    • Contains prebiotics
    • Budget-friendly

    Cons
    • Not a grain-free option


    3. PureBites Wild Skipjack Wet Cat Food – Premium Choice

    PureBites Mixers 100% Wild Skipjack Tuna & Alaskan Salmon Variety Pack Cat Food Trays

    First ingredients: Tuna, water
    Protein: 13% min
    Fat: 1% min
    Moisture: 85% max

    PureBites Mixers is a real treat for the sick cat, even if you only use it as a topper to make their dry food more appealing. The list of ingredients is as simple as it gets: tuna and water. You won’t find any traces of corn, wheat, by-product flour, or those artificial flavors you don’t want to see on foods for a sick kitty. It is, therefore, a great option for cats that must follow a restrictive diet, as directed by your veterinarian. But it’s definitely not a good choice if you are on a budget or are concerned about the tuna population in our oceans.

    Pros
    • Has only two ingredients
    • Contains protein in its purest form
    • Great option for kitties on a restrictive diet
    • Can be used as a topper

    Cons
    • Very expensive in the long run
    • Not tuna-friendly


    4. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Kitten Food – Best for Kittens

    Hill's Science Diet Kitten Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food

    First ingredients: Chicken, brown rice, wheat gluten
    Protein: 33% min
    Fat: 9% min
    Moisture: Max 8%

    Unfortunately, kittens are not immune to contracting the feline leukemia virus. Indeed, they can contract the disease in their mother’s womb or through her milk. This is why there is no age limit to start giving a diet that reinforces the immune system of your little feline. And with Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Chicken Recipe, it’s hard to go wrong. This highly recommended vet brand has ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins C and E that have been clinically proven to boost the kitten’s developing immune system. This option is expensive, although you may have the opportunity to switch to a cheaper option once your kitten has reached adulthood.

    Pros
    • Recommended by vets
    • Supports immune system development
    • Clinically proven antioxidants and vitamins C and E
    • High-quality protein

    Cons
    • Expensive


    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-free Cat Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    First ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, tapioca starch
    Protein: 36% min
    Fat: 12% min
    Moisture: 9% max

    Blue Buffalo is a well-established brand that has delighted many pet owners, as well as their furry companions. A cat with feline leukemia will benefit from this high-protein formula which is also grain-free: this is great for lowering the overall carbohydrate content. However, the ingredient list is not stellar, as it contains chicken meal, tapioca starch, potato starch, and fish meal. That doesn’t make it a bad option, it’s just that for the relatively high price tag, one would expect more “whole foods” in the main ingredients. However, it does contain added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support cats with weakened immune systems.

    Pros
    • High protein
    • Ingredients rich in antioxidants and vitamins
    • Great for hairball control
    • Contains no corn, wheat, or soy

    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Contains tapioca starch


    6. Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Dry Cat Food

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor Complete Chicken with Lentils & Salmon Recipe Natural Dry Cat Food

    First ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brewers rice
    Protein: 34% min
    Fat: 12% min
    Moisture: 9% max

    Rachael Ray Nutrish is an excellent dry kibble option for indoor cats; the ingredient list contains real chicken, which provides a good source of protein for your feline. Lentils are also a great source of protein while being low in fat and high in fiber, which is perfect for your cat to maintain a healthy weight. However, what caught our attention is the addition of cranberries, berries that are very rich in antioxidants, one of the main attributes of which is to support the immune system of the cat. The guaranteed analysis also meets the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). However, the kibbles contain corn gluten meal, which does not make them a grain-free option. Additionally, some buyers have reported that their cats are not fans of this product at all.

    Pros
    • Rich in antioxidants to support the immune system
    • Meet the AAFCO standards
    • Good for sensitive stomachs
    • Affordable

    Cons
    • Contains corn gluten meal
    • Might not work for all cats

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    Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Food for Cats with Feline Leukemia

    What Is Feline Leukemia?

    Like AIDS in humans, feline leukemia (FeLV) is caused by a retrovirus. This virus infects the white blood cells of cats and induces immunosuppression. The immunocompromised cat is then more likely to catch all kinds of infections.

    Unfortunately, the virus can also cause cancer of the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) in addition to causing disorders in the cells of the bone marrow and blood. The disease is, therefore, potentially fatal.

    What Are the Signs of Feline Leukemia?

    This disease produces very variable signs, sometimes subtle. The affected cat may show non-specific signs such as decreased appetite, depression, general discomfort, and fever. You may also notice weight loss, swollen glands, diarrhea or chronic loose stools, respiratory and eye problems such as rhinitis, sinusitis, conjunctivitis, and various infections such as gingivitis, dental infections, and abscesses.

    In addition, in the long term, cancer and blood disorders can also create all kinds of various signs.

    How Is Feline Leukemia Transmitted?

    The virus is transmitted between cats mainly through saliva, but also through all other body fluids or secretions such as urine, nasal secretions, and even breast milk! Usually, adult cats become infected when virus particles enter their mouths or noses, but sometimes transmission takes place during gestation, via the mother’s uterus.

    Because this virus is quickly eliminated once in the environment, close feline relationships are required for transmission to take place. Thus, cats that live together are more at risk.

    A cat at risk of being infected with this virus will be:

    Usually, an adult, often unsterilized, going outside and having contact with other cats. Of course, unneutered males who go outside tend to fight or bite each other and hang out with unspayed females too! But these are not the only ones.

    In fact, very social cats living together or having close contact with each other such as mutual grooming, sharing food and water bowls, and litter boxes, are at greater risk of infection. Finally, kittens born to a FeLV-positive mother are definitely at risk of contracting the virus too.

    tired sick cat
    Image Credit: natata, Shutterstock

    How to Treat Feline Leukemia?

    At present, there is no treatment capable of completely eradicating feline leukemia; this virus causes the death of nine out of ten infected cats within four years. On the other hand, the treatment protocol consists of taking charge of the pathologies, infections, and dysfunctions that result from viral leukemia. This support is therefore adapted on a case-by-case basis. This goes for example by:

    • Rehydration
    • Appropriate diet
    • Blood transfusion
    • Chemotherapy

    At the same time, the animal must not be in contact with other cats in order to limit the risks of contamination for them.

    Unfortunately, even after treatment, the cat remains infected with the FeLV virus. But the latter can remain dormant as long as the cat’s immune system is strong enough. Conversely, infected cats with weak immune systems end up getting sick, and for eight in ten of them, the outcome is fatal within a few months or at most three years.

    How to Prevent Your Cat from Contracting Feline Leukemia?

    • Keep your cat in the house, out of contact with other cats. Have any new kitty that you want to adopt tested before even presenting it to your other felines.
    • Have your cat vaccinated annually against feline leukemia if he goes outdoors or lives with other cats.
    • Get your new kitten vaccinated against feline leukemia whether he will go outside or not.
    • Before buying a cat from a breeder, make sure its parents have been tested.

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    High-quality cat food is an important part of fostering a long and healthy life for your cat but the right cat food and water dish will promote good posture, offer whisker relief, and aid in good digestion. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite bowl since it offers all of the above and is beautifully crafted to meet modern home stylings. The wide tray design catches any food and water spills and the entire setup is dishwasher safe. Learn more about the Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl here.

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    Final Thoughts

    Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is the second leading cause of death in cats after trauma. Since the virus suppresses the cat’s immune system, much like AIDS, it can predispose cats to deadly infections.

    The key here is therefore to strengthen the immune system of the cat, since there is no treatment to date, other than the vaccine, to contain this fatal virus. The food choices we have presented to you, while not magical, help support your pet’s immune system. Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Turkey Favorites and Iams ProActive Health High Protein are, respectively, the best overall option and best value for money that we have found. In any case, do not hesitate to seek the advice of your veterinarian, because your kitty’s diet is not to be neglected.


    Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

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