Is Feline Leukemia Contagious?

The feline leukemia virus, also known as the abbreviation FeLV, is one of the most potent and deadly virus strains to affect cats anywhere in the world. To be brief, it is highly contagious between cats, although the virus cannot be spread through vectors and hosts like humans or other animals that will not display symptoms but can carry it. For this reason, it's very important that you take the necessary steps to prevent your pet from succumbing to this virus.

Feline Leukemia Overview

FeLV can cause a number of different medical conditions in cats, although feline leukemia is the most common of each of these. Of cats that are infected with FeLV, roughly 50% will show symptoms of a disease that is related within two years, and roughly 80% will die within three years if left untreated. Some of the many different symptoms that can occur as a result of FELV in your c at include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Loss of coat sheen and color
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Gum irritation and swelling
  • Persistent infections
  • Fever

Unfortunately, because there is no single disease that is associated with every case of FeLV in cats, there is no way to provide a single list of symptoms that is associated either. Therefore, you should be aware of any of these or other symptoms of your pet feeling uncomfortable or in pain as potential signs of feline leukemia.

How Feline Leukemia Spreads

Feline leukemia is easily spread from cat to cat. It can spread between blood, saliva, mucous or any other host of bodily fluids as well. Your pet will need to make contact with another infected cat's bodily fluids in order to receive the virus, as the virus itself cannot survive outside of the body for very long. There are some situations in which baby kittens can receive the virus from their mother, such as those situations in which they're suckling as newborns.

Preventing the Spread of Feline Leukemia

One of the best ways that you can protect your cat against feline leukemia is by providing him with the feline leukemia vaccine as a baby. This vaccine has very low risk of side effects and will protect your cat from any subsequent contact he may have with the feline leukemia virus. If you live in an area where your pet is likely to be outside for a good portion of his life, and where he may run into other cats that could be infected, this is an invaluable investment to make in order to protect his health.

Many vets are recommending that cats who generally live inside and have little interaction with other cats actually not receive the feline leukemia vaccine. The reason for this is that the vaccine is unnecessary if your pet will not interact with other cats, since the virus can only be spread through direct contact.

Speak with a veterinarian for more information.