Feline lymphoma in the post-feline leukemia virus era

J Vet Intern Med. 2005 May-Jun;19(3):329-35. doi: 10.1892/0891-6640(2005)19[329:flitpl]2.0.co;2.


Lymphoma (lymphosarcoma or malignant lymphoma) is the most common neoplasm of the hematopoietic system of cats and reportedly the cat has the highest incidence for lymphoma of any species. A 21-year retrospective survey of feline lymphoma covering the period 1983-2003 was conducted with the patient database at the Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital (VMTH) at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. This period comprises the post-feline leukemia virus (FeLV) era. Feline lymphoma historically has been highly associated with retrovirus infection. Mass testing and elimination and quarantine programs beginning in the 1970s and vaccination programs in the 1980s dramatically reduced the subsequent FeLV infection rate among pet cats. The results of this survey confirm a significant decrease in the importance of FeLV-associated types of lymphoma in cats. In spite of this decrease in FeLV infection, the incidence of lymphoma in cats treated at the VMTH actually increased from 1982 to 2003. This increase was due largely to a rise in the incidence of intestinal lymphoma, and to a lesser degree, of atypical lymphoma. A high incidence of mediastinal lymphomas in young Siamese or Oriental breeds also was observed, supporting previous studies. Associations of intestinal lymphoma and inflammatory bowel disease and diet should be further considered.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cat Diseases / virology
  • Cats
  • Leukemia Virus, Feline / immunology
  • Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma / veterinary*
  • Lymphoma / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Retroviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Retroviridae Infections / veterinary
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / veterinary
  • Viral Vaccines


  • Viral Vaccines