Felis ISSN 2398-2950


Synonym(s): Myeloproliferative, lymphoproliferative disease

Contributor(s): Prof Bernard Feldman, Jo Morris


  • 13% of all feline neoplasms are hematopoietic.
  • The presence of excessive numbers of abnormal, neoplastic cells in both peripheral blood and bone marrow.
  • Both myeloproliferative and lymphoproliferative diseases, classified as acute versus chronic and by cell lines affected (see below).
  • Signs: non-specific, due to consequences of disease process, eg cytopenia, hypercalcemia.
  • Diagnosis: peripheral blood smears, bone marrow aspirate/biopsy.
  • Treatment: supportive, symptomatic, specific cytotoxic agents depending on type of leukemia.
  • Prognosis: favorable in chronic forms, poor in acute.




  • Neoplastic transformation of cells involved in hematopoiesis   →   massive proliferation of neoplastic cells.
  • Transformation of stem cells or early precursors   →   proliferation of immature cells incapable of maturation   →  acute leukemia  →   large numbers of immature cells in bone marrow and peripheral blood   →   severe non-regenerative cytopenia   →   may result in bleeding (thrombocytopenia), sepsis (neutropenia), profound weakness and lethargy (anemia).
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation   →   bleeding diathesis.
  • Transformation of late precursor cells   →   proliferation of mature, differentiated cells   →  chronic leukemia  →   less severe cytopenia.
  • Excessive numbers of circulating cells/hyperproteinemia   →   hyperviscosity   →   decreased oxygen transport to capillary beds   →   microthrombi of tumor cells.
  • Production of humoral factors   →   stimulation of osteoclasts   →   hypercalcemia of malignancy   →   renal failure.


  • Acute leukemia progresses rapidly over days/weeks.
  • Chronic leukemia over months/years.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Dobson J, Villiers E & Morris J (2006) Diagnosis and management of leukaemia in dogs and cats. In Practice 28 (1), 22-31 VetMedResource.
  • Shimoda T, Shiranaga N, Mashita T et al (2000) Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia in a cat. J Vet Med Sci 62 (2), 195-197 PubMed.
  • Breuer W, Hermanns W & Thiele J (1999) Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic myeloproliferative disorder (CMPD) in cats. J Comp Pathol 121 (3), 203-216 PubMed.
  • Grindem C B, Perman V & Stevens J B (1985) Morphological classification and clinical and pathological characteristics of spontaneous leukemia in 10 cats. JAAHA 21 (2), 227-236 VetMedResource.
  • Gilmore C E & Holzworth J (1971) Naturally occurring feline leukemia clinical, pathological and differential diagnostic features. JAVMA 158 (6), 1013 PubMed.
  • Holzworth J (1960) Leukemia and related neoplasms in the cat. 1. Lymphoid malignancies. JAVMA 136, 47-69 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Ward H & Couto C G Myeloid leukemia. In: Consultations in feline internal medicine 3.pp 509-513.
  • Sherding R G (1994) In: The Cat - diseases and Clinical Management. Ed R G Sherding. 2nd edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone. pp 789-796.