Feline Leukemia

Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is transmitted from cat to cat via saliva and nasal mucus. It is also commonly transmitted directly from an infected mother to her kittens. Cats in direct contact with one another are the most likely to transmit the disease. This virus suppresses a cat’s immune system much like AIDS disease does in humans. The signs of FeLV are therefore varied and often reflect secondary diseases that develop due to the FeLV-infected cat’s compromised immune system. The most common signs are fever, anemia, appetite loss, and inactivity. Treatment of the disease may help for a while, but it is eventually fatal. FeLV does not affect people or dogs. The disease can affect cats of any age but is especially common in the young and the old. Approximately 1 or 2 cats out of any 100 visibly healthy cats have the feline leukemia virus. Approximately 99% of cats who carry the virus in their bloodstream will die within 5 years of contracting the virus. (Approximately 50% succumb within 6 months.) In other words, a cat with FeLV may appear normal and be contagious to other cats for up to five years after contracting the virus.


Feline Leukemia Vaccine

Protection Against:

  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

Recommended Protocol for vaccination


Kittens: Two doses 3-4 weeks apart from 8 weeks of age

If starting with an adult cat:

  • First check disease status – only vaccinate negative cats
  • 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart .

Annual vaccination not always necessary unless risk is high.

Recommended Lifestyle:

If a cat will, or might have any direct contact whatsoever with outside cats (even just sharing food or water bowls or the occasional escape), the cat should be vaccinated annually against feline leukemia. Vets recommends that every cat be vaccinated at least once in its lifetime for FeLV, even if they are an indoor cat in a single-cat household. Indoor cats can escape or have direct contact with outdoor cats through window screens.


FeLV Blood Test

The feline leukemia test is a simple blood test that detects the presence of feline leukemia virus (FeLV). A vet will draw a small amount of blood from your cat and it will be submitted to a national laboratory for testing.

The test is about 90% accurate; i.e., about 10% of cats with FeLV in their blood will come up negative on the test. A small percentage of cats that test positive for FeLV will subsequently clear the FeLV from their blood and, thus, will test negative 30-60 days after an initial positive test. For this reason, a second FeLV test is recommended 30-60 days after a first positive test. Cats that test positive for FeLV should be brought to a full-service veterinary facility immediately for further diagnosis and treatment.

From: VIP Petcare

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