Feline Leukemia Vaccine Administration

Administering your cat with the feline leukemia vaccine can help to reduce the animal's risk of becoming infected with the virus in the future. Unlike many vaccines, however, the feline leukemia vaccine is not always one hundred percent effective, so it's still important to restrict the cat's contact with the virus, even if it's already been vaccinated.

What is the Feline Leukemia Virus?

Feline leukemia is one of the most fatal diseases commonly infecting domesticated cats. It is caused by a virus of the retrovirus classification. Retroviruses are characterized by their use of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to store the virus's genetic material. The feline leukemia virus attaches to a host feline cell and injects its reverse transcriptase, which makes its way into the host cell's nucleus. There, the host cell mistakes viral reverse transcriptase for its own DNA, so it carries out the instructions encoded in the viral genetic material as well as the instructions encoded into its own DNA. In this way, a feline leukemia virus can hijack the cell's chemical machinery to make the cell constantly make more viruses. The infected cell continues to manufacture more and more viruses until there is no room left inside and it ruptures, releasing the new viruses into the cat's body.

Why Feline Leukemia is Dangerous

Because of the way that the feline leukemia virus affects a cell's DNA, infected cells are prone to mutation, which means that a feline leukemia infection can significantly increase a cat's risk of contracting cancer. The disease can also potentially give rise to various blood disorders, such as a state of immune deficiency that leaves the cat unprotected against secondary infections from other harmful microbes. An immune-deficient cat has no natural way to fight these secondary infections, so they can become quite serious if left untreated.

Treatment Using the Feline Leukemia Vaccine

The vaccine for feline leukemia is a weakened or damaged form of the feline leukemia virus that cannot infect or harm the cat's body. It resembles the real virus to the cat's immune system. The immune system naturally responds to invading particles by creating certain chemicals, called antibodies, that are designed to stick to the invading particle and attract white blood cells, which then destroy the particle. The feline leukemia vaccine works because, when it's injected into the cat's body, the immune system creates antibodies that respond to it, and because the vaccine so closely resembles the real virus, those antibodies will also work on the real virus. This way, the cat's immune system is already prepared to fight off a feline leukemia infection, before it ever comes into contact with the real virus.

The feline leukemia virus is one of the most deadly diseases that your pet cat could contract. It's highly recommended to vaccinate your cat to reduce its chances of contracting this dangerous disease.