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How Do Indoor Cats Get Feline Leukemia

Vaccines Not Needed For Indoor Cats

What you need to know about feline leukemia

The following vaccines arent strictly required for an indoor cat that cant escape, is otherwise healthy, and has no exposure to other cats. Keep in mind you should reassess your cats need for these vaccines if you decide to let your cat outside, expose your cat to other pets, or your cat needs to stay in a kennel.

Treatment For Feline Leukemia

Unfortunately, 85% of cats persistently infected with FeLV die within three years of diagnosis. As you may notice, this infection is a deadly one if we dont diagnose it as early as possible.

Fortunately, regular vet checkups and proper preventive health care are good enough to keep these cats feeling well and protect them from other infections on top of this one.;

This regular checkup can include twice-yearly physical examinations, lab tests, and parasite control that can prevent other diseases, complications, and identify problems quickly to be able to treat them fast.

Your vet will tell you to keep the infected cat with FeLV indoors and to be neutered. If you have multi cats, then you should keep them away from the infected cat.;

Sadly, there is no cure for FeLV infection. All is there just supportive treatment for the infected cats.

Cat Leukemia: Symptoms Testing And Prevention


Although cat leukemia, also known as feline leukemia virus or FeLV, can be a difficult virus to manage, pets with it can still live happy, relatively long lives. Understanding feline leukemia symptoms can help you better care for a cat with this disease. Additionally, by being familiar with FeLV itself, you may be able to detect it sooner or prevent it altogether.

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Injection Site Sarcomas In Cats

Vaccines are more controversial in cats.

The reason for the controversy boils down to one word:


Its a tumor of the connective tissues that are created from where your vet injects your cat.;

Injection sites for these are normally located between your cats shoulder blades, their back legs and in their hip area.

How are injection-site sarcomas diagnosed?

Your vet will most likely have to do a biopsy via surgery to be certain thats what it is.; Ive read that sometimes these issues are thought to be a vaccine reaction or;granuloma on aspirates.

So, its best to take the route that will be definitive.

How are they treated?


Not to be super detailed but this basically entails that the removal of the tumor to be wide and deep, because ss the;tumors grow by sending root type pathways of tumor cells within the tissues.

They need to cut out everything for a, what they call, clean margin surgery.

Again, this may not solve the issue as the tumor can grow back. In this case, your cat will probably be prepped for radiation treatment and chemotherapy.

Many suggest doing this upfront after the surgery to prevent a regrowth.

These are just a very difficult thing to treat.

Note:;Cats that have been treated for an injection-site sarcoma should not receive any future vaccinations.

How can you prevent these?

In my opinion, and my suggestion is to reduce the frequency of your cats vaccinations.;

Beyond that

Or even better.

About Dr Pete Wedderburn Dvm

Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats

Dr Pete Wedderburn qualified as a vet from Edinburgh in 1985 and has run his own 4-veterinarian companion animal practice in County Wicklow, Ireland, since 1991. Pete is well known as a media veterinarian with regular national tv, radio and newspaper slots, including a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph since 2007. Pete is known as “Pete the Vet” on his busy Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, regularly posting information on topical subjects and real-life cases from his clinic. He also write a regular blog at His latest book: Pet Subjects, was published by Aurum Press in 2017.

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Why Is It Important To Understand Felv And How It Is Tested

Consider this scenario: A cat with no signs of health issues is brought to an animal shelter. Shelter staff conduct a routine FeLV test, and the cat is found positive for FeLV. As a result, the cat is killed. Though she showed no symptoms of FeLV-related health problems, the test was still treated as a life or death matter.

This cat, and many others just like her, could have had a high quality of life in indoor homes with people or outdoors with their feline families. On top of that, the test may have been incorrect. FeLV tests are not diagnoses and can be unreliable for multiple reasons.

Whether you have a cat who has tested positive for FeLV, are trying to decide which tests to include for a Trap-Neuter-Return program, or are answering questions from others on FeLV, the information below will help you save lives.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Has Feline Leukemia

Blood testing is the only way to tell whether your cat is infected with the feline leukemia virus. A screening test requires only a few drops of your cats blood and usually can be performed in a matter of minutes. If the screening test is positive, your veterinarian may recommend further blood testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Its a good idea for all cats to be tested for feline leukemia. Without a blood test, it is impossible to determine whether a cat is infected with FeLV. Seemingly healthy cats can test positive for the virus.

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How Often Should Cats Be Vaccinated For Feline Leukemia

Duration of immunity depends on the precise vaccine used and the immune response of your cat: this can vary from 12 months to two or three years. Revaccination also depends on other factors such as the risk of your cat to exposure to the virus. The topic should be discussed with your own veterinarian at your cats annual veterinary check as part of their routine health care.

How Do Indoor Cats Get Parasites: 10 Primary Ways To Note

What Vaccinations Do Cats Need?

People ask how do indoor cats get parasites a lot, and in this post, we will outline all the ways a cat can get parasites.

Getting parasites is a common problem among cat owners, and there are many ways an indoor cat can get parasites.

Indoor cats often get parasites as to when compared to outdoor cats.

This is to say that it is easier for an outdoor cat to get or contact any parasite than an indoor cat that lives in a better environment.

Also, check out What To Feed A Cat With Diarrhea And Vomiting.

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First A Word To The Wise On Prevention

Well get into exactly how indoor only cats can get parasites and unlikely-for-them-to-catch diseases in the next section, but first, a word to the wise on prevention.

Just because you have an indoor-only cat, does not mean you should pass up keeping your cat up to date on vaccines and regular vet visits. While you may not feel its possible for your house cat to get sick in similar ways to an outdoor cat, life throws curve balls sometimes, and ever-so-unlikely things do happen every so often.

Im hoping that by reading through the next section, youll realize how very difficult, if not impossible, it would be to completely prevent your indoor cat from getting parasites and other improbable diseases. Since its impossible for an indoor cat to be fully inoculated against risk, the best course of action you can take for your cat is to assume things may go awry in ways you didnt expect.

How? Obviously start with keeping up to date on vaccines and having those regular vet visits. What else? Do regular checks on your cat. Inspect feces always as gross as it may feel. Cat scratching a little more than usual? Do spot checks around the regularly-scratched area to see if there are any sign of ticks, mites, fleas, or other parasites. Cat begin to vomit or have any other symptoms? Dont delay, call up your vet and ask if he or she should come in for a check up immediately.

Lifestyle Vaccines For Cats

Some cats will need lifestyle/ non-core vaccinations depending on the lifestyle they live. Your veterinarian will let you know which ones your kitty should get. This type of vaccine protects you cat from the following conditions:;

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukemia ;- These vaccines usually are only recommended for cats that are outdoors often and protects them against viral infections which are contracted from close contact exposure.;
  • Bordetella;- A highly contagious bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections. Your vet might suggest this this vaccine if you are taking your cat to a boarding kennel or groomer.
  • Chlamydophila felis;- This vaccination is often part of the distemper combination vaccine. It protects your cat from Chlamydia which is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis.;

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Should Your Cat Get The Feline Leukemia Vaccine

Feline Leukemia vaccine is classified as a non-core vaccine under the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners feline vaccination guidelines, meaning that the need for vaccination is dictated by geographical location, lifestyle and exposure risk.

Indoor cats that never encounter other cats should not be at risk of picking up Feline Leukemia, so vaccination may not be necessary. However cats that roam outdoors, coming into contact with other cats, are likely to be at risk, so vaccination may be recommended. Every cat owner should discuss this topic with their own veterinarian, making a decision based on the individual risk of the cat.

Also Read:;Should You Let Your Cats Outside?

Its important to distinguish FeLV from another retrovirus infection, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus , and from Feline Infectious Peritonitis , a type of coronavirus infection. These disease names may sound similar to a cat owner, yet they are entirely different diseases, and will be discussed in different articles.

Best Practices For Veterinarians And Animal Shelters

Cat Leukemia: Causes, Signs, & Treatment

A cat who tests positive for FeLV at a veterinary clinic or shelter should not be euthanized unless she is already ill or suffering beyond what can be treated. FeLV testing should be done with a plan to help the cat if she tests positive, not to end her life.

No veterinary hospital or shelter should prohibit a cat who tests positive for FeLV from leaving with her owner or caregiver. People should be allowed to take their cat regardless of test result. If a healthy community cat is brought into a veterinary clinic for spay and neuter as part of Trap-Neuter-Return , she should not be tested for FeLV at all.

Alley Cat Allies recommends that adoptable cats in shelters be tested for FeLV in-house only if they will be placed for adoption regardless of the result rather than euthanized. Shelters can also simply advise adopters to have their new cat tested for FeLV at a veterinary clinic and not test in their facilities at all.

All shelters should implement programs that help find homes for adoptable cats who test positive for FeLV. Many shelters already have model programs that can be used as blueprints.

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What Is Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia is one of the most common infectious diseases of cats in the world. The disease is caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus .

The virus has a profound effect on the immune system, the bone marrow and blood cells of the cat, and there are up to six stages of infection: infected cats can be asymptomatic carriers for many years, but the clinical signs and the long term prognosis is variable, depending on a number of factors.

Clinical signs may include weight loss, gingivitis , stomatitis , and a range of other possibilities. While some cats can live a healthy life, with a normal lifespan, other cats can have a mortality rate of around 50% in 2 years and 80% in 3 years.

How Often Do Cats Need Shots And Other Preventative Treatments First The Basics

In fact, there are answers to the question, How often do cats need shots? but theyre not very satisfying. Some plausible answers to the question, How often do cats need shots? are It depends. Nobody knows.

The correct answer to, How often do cats need shots? is it varies depending upon life stage, lifestyle, geographic location and immune system function.

People who seek a simple answer no doubt will be put off at this point. Although there is no straightforward, simple answer to, How often do cats need shots?;there are some guidelines that can help to make sense of cats and vaccines, as well as cats and preventative measures.

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How To Test Cats For Felv

Thankfully, there are several tests available to check for FeLV infection. All cats should be tested for FeLV before being added to a home with other cats to prevent spreading the disease. The AAFP also recommends testing all sick cats, as feline leukemia can appear similar to a variety of health conditions.

The most common test used in clinics is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that checks for the protein FeLV P27 in a small blood sample. These tests only take about ten minutes to run, are very sensitive, and can pick up early infections before the cat shows any symptoms. Ideally, the test should be done 30 days after a known or possible exposure to FeLV to prevent a false negative result.

If your cat tests positive for feline leukemia on the in-house ELISA test, your veterinarian will likely recommend sending out samples for additional testing to confirm whether or not your cat truly has FeLV and to get an idea of what type of infection he has. Confirmation tests include polymerase chain reaction testing, virus isolation, and indirect immunofluorescent antibody assays . The IFA detects the presence of FeLV P27 in white blood cells, which indicates a progressive infection and a poorer prognosis.

If your cat comes up positive for feline leukemia but clears the infection on his own, he will test negative in the future.

Where Should Vaccinations For Cats Be Administered

Adopting an FIV cat new animal friend

In lieu of Sarcomas, there are certain areas that cats are now administered their vaccines.

Below is a breakdown:;

  • Rabies vaccines:; administer in the right rear leg,;below the knee
  • FeLV vaccination: administer in the left rear leg, below the knee;
  • Vaccines for respiratory viruses: below the right elbow

Let it be known

The panel says that vaccinations shouldnt be given on the upper legs or hips AND between the shoulders.

Please dont let your vet administer ANY vaccine to the scruff of your cat.

They need to be given at the lowest part of the limb as possible. ;

So, in case, VAS occurs.

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Pet Insurance And Felv

Pet insurance can help you manage the costs of treating a cat with FeLV. Those costs can rise quickly, especially if hospitalization, chemotherapy, and other advanced treatments are needed. One ASPCA Pet Health Insurance customer filed a claim for more than $1,765 for an infected cat.* You can also get reimbursed for screenings, vaccines, and annual visits if you add preventive care coverage at a low additional cost.

Dont wait until your cat is sickget a free quote now!

*Internal Claims Data, 2016

*Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For all terms and conditions visit Preventive and Wellness Care reimbursements are based on a schedule. Complete Coverage reimbursements are based on the invoice. Levels 1-4 reimbursements are based on usual and customary eligible costs. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Discounts may vary and are subject to change. More information available at checkout.

What Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need

In my world of raising 4 cats, I always went with what my veterinarian recommended when it came to vaccines. Until I let almost 4 years go by without a visit.

Guess what?

They were fine.

This led me to rethink if they really needed these vaccines every year. For this question, there is no simple answer.

So, what vaccines do indoor cats need? For me, the most important list of vaccines for indoor cats are:

  • FVRCP Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis , Calici, Panleukopenia every 3 years
  • Rabies

Understand, the best way to know what vaccines your cats may need, and the frequency is to do a consultation with your vet to look into your situation.

An awesome vet sits down, takes the time to discuss your cats entire situation with you:

  • lifestyle
  • background

Again, I have 4 indoor only cats that range from 11-13 years old.

So, because theyre older and indoor, they arent at as much risk for panleukopenia or feline leukemia.

The AAFP Advisory Panel, however, recommends that the following core vaccines for cats be:

  • Feline panleukopenia feline panleukopenia
  • Feline herpesvirus-1
  • Feline calicivirus
  • AAFP UPDATE 2013: They removed Rabies from the core due to the area of a cats would risk exposure to infectious disease. You can read the panel report here.

Should rabies be included as a core vaccine? Tell me what you think in the comments below!

Ive listed these vaccines below for cats that arent suggested for my situation:

Just suggestions.

Basically, to sum up:

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From Outdoor To Indoor Cat: Making The Adjustment

Securing the home

When you first confine your cat he will be alert to any opportunities to escape so take extra care to close all windows, lock cat flaps and shut doors. Also make sure that washing machine doors are kept closed and chimneys are blocked off.

Its best to move any household plants that could poison your cat should he try to chew them ).

Litter trays

You will need to provide litter trays, which should be placed in a quiet, but easily accessible position away from his feeding area.

If your cat is shy or you have a busy household then a covered tray may provide your cat with more privacy. If your cat has not used a litter tray before select a soft litter and leave your cat in the same room as the litter tray until he has used it.

Scratching posts

Outside your cat may have exercised his claws on trees and fencing posts. To prevent damage to your home and furnishings you will have to provide a substitute scratching post.

Making your cat feel safe

As your cat no longer has the option to move away from situations he may find stressful, you will have to provide additional resting and hiding places for him.

Cardboard boxes with a towel over the front, or high shelves with comfortable bedding can both provide places he can go to feel safe and secure.


Provide activities to prevent boredom, provide an outlet for hunting behaviour, and to help keep your cat fit and reduce the risk of weight gain.


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