Feline leukemia, also known as FeLV, is a common disease that affects 1-2% of the global cat population, and anywhere from 2-3% of all cats in the United States.
How is FeLV transmitted?
FeLV is typically transferred through the exchanging of fluids from already infected cats, such as from bite wounds, nursing, mutual grooming, and litter boxes, as well as from touching noses and using shared feeding areas.
Also, infection rates can be higher for cats that are already sickly or have weakened immune systems, and kittens are often more prone to infection while their immune systems are still developing.
However, when it comes to adopting an FeLV-positive cat, whether you are introducing a new cat into an already existing group of cats, or if you have an empty home, there are some simple and effective precautions that you can take to prevent any further health issues.
Rest assured, even though there is no known cure for FeLV, FeLV-positive cats can live long, happy lives without requiring too much maintenance or extra care, regardless of your living situation.
So, in this article, we will give you some important information about what to expect when adopting a FeLV positive cat, as well as giving you some useful tips about how to provide your FeLV positive cat with what it needs to live a happy and healthy life.
At A Glance: Things To Consider When Adopting A FeLV-Positive Cat
- Quality of Life – Although FeLV will most likely shorten the lifespan of your newly adopted cat, FeLV-positive cats typically live very fulfilling lives without the need for constant, medicinal care.
- Proper Diet – All cats should be fed high-quality food, and this is especially true for FeLV cats. So, make sure that your FeLV-positive cat gets food that is full of vital nutrients to help keep its immune system strong.
- Regular Vet Visits – Since FeLV cats are more prone to health issues, you must take your FeLV cat in for routine checkups at least twice a year, even if it doesn’t show any signs of illness.
- Proper Home Environment – FeLV-positive cats are more prone to additional health issues, so be diligent about keeping them indoors at all times to prevent them from contracting other diseases and infections.
- Vaccinate Your Other Cats – FeLV can be easily spread among cats, so if you have other cats in your home who are not FeLV positive, make sure that you have them vaccinated to prevent a potential outbreak.
- Prevent Breeding – Having your cats spayed or neutered is always a good idea in the first place, and it’s an especially good idea for FeLV-positive cats to prevent any further illnesses in their offspring.
Things To Keep In Mind When Adopting A FeLV Positive Cat
In this article, we’ll expand on some of these important things to consider when adopting a FeLV-positive cat.
And, remember, all cats have their own unique personalities, so you may have to do some experimenting to discover what works best for your cats, and what works best for you. Still, FeLV cats can enhance almost anyone’s life, and you can definitely enhance the lives of the FeLV-positive cats that you adopt.
FeLV Cats Can Live Long, Happy Lives
Even though FeLV has no known cure and can shorten the lifespan of cats, that doesn’t mean that FeLV-positive cats can’t live for several, enjoyable years once they are adopted. Typically, FeLV cats don’t require any special attention or constant medicating and can live their lives in the same manner as unaffected cats.
FeLV weakens a cat’s immune system, which can eventually lead to additional infections and other health problems down the road, but it is still a disease that can be easily managed.
Providing your FeLV cat with the proper environment is key to its health and longevity, but there is usually no need to get too overbearing about it. To put it another way, FeLV-positive cats don’t know that they are infected, and want to live happily like all other cats.
FeLV Cats Need A Healthy And Balanced Diet
Just like all cats, FeLV-positive cats require a healthy and balanced diet to help keep their immune systems as strong as possible. Making sure that your FeLV-positive cat is receiving the right nutrients is essential to its well-being, and something that should not be overlooked. And, just like all animals, a healthy and balanced diet is an important aspect of their daily lives.
So, don’t cut corners when it comes to feeding your FeLV cat. Provide your FeLV positive cat with high-quality dry and wet foods, and be sure to dispose of any uneaten wet food promptly to prevent any harmful bacteria from growing. Lastly, be sure to give your FeLV cat access to a steady supply of clean, fresh water at all times.
FeLV Cats Need Regular Veterinarian Visits
It’s a very important aspect of cat ownership to take your cat to see a veterinarian regularly, but FeLV cats need to see a vet more often than non-affected cats. Unaffected cats should see a veterinarian at least once a year for a regular check-up, but FeLV-positive cats should see a vet at least twice a year due to their condition.
Due to their weakened immune systems, FeLV cats can develop other infections and ailments more often than unaffected cats, but these other health conditions are not necessarily a death sentence for your FeLV-positive cat.
Most additional illnesses that stem from FeLV are easily treatable and can be managed without too much trouble or expense. Still, it’s very important to pay attention to any potential signs of additional illness so that they can be treated immediately.
Provide Your FeLV Cat With A Healthy Home
Since FeLV-positive cats are more prone to additional health issues than unaffected cats, it’s important to make sure that their home is a safe and healthy environment. Doing so will help to prevent them from developing any additional side effects of having FeLV, which will contribute to their overall health and longevity.
One of the most important things regarding keeping a FeLV-positive cat healthy is to make sure that they stay indoors at all times. If a FeLV-positive cat is let outside, even for a short while, it can potentially come into contact with other, infected animals, which can lead to it contracting additional diseases and infections.
And, your FeLV cat can inadvertently infect non-FeLV cats in your neighborhood. Also, keeping your FeLV cat’s food and water bowls, toys, bedding and litter box clean is another important aspect to help stave off any additional infections and health issues.
Vaccinate Any Non-FeLV Cats In Your Household
FeLV can be spread in several different ways; such as through shared food and water bowls, communal litter boxes, mutual grooming, nursing, bite wounds, and even from simply touching noses.
Basically, anything that involves the exchanging of bodily fluids can potentially cause unaffected cats to be infected by a FeLV cat. So, it’s especially important to be mindful when introducing a FeLV cat into a home with unaffected cats.
You can easily get your unaffected cats vaccinated against FeLV by a veterinarian, typically at a very reasonable cost. Doing so will help to prevent a potential outbreak and also help to alleviate any additional problems for you or your cats down the road.
Keep in mind that vaccinations may require more than one trip to the vet, and a new, FeLV cat may need to be quarantined from your other cats for anywhere from three to five weeks at first. However, FeLV is a disease that is unique to cats, so there’s no need to worry about getting vaccinations for any other types of animals that you may have, or even for yourself.
FeLV Cats Should Not Breed
It’s a good idea to get all of your cats spayed or neutered in the first place, and this is especially true when it comes to FeLV cats. If FeLV cats produce kittens, they will most likely pass along the disease through genetics or nursing, which will only continue to spread the infection among the feline community.
But, getting your FeLV positive cat spayed or neutered before (or soon after) you adopt it will be another way for you to prevent additional feline health issues in your home. FeLV cats don’t need any special treatment when it comes to getting them spayed or neutered, so check with your local veterinarian, shelter, or rescue organization and have your FeLV cat fixed as soon as possible.
FeLV cats can live very happy, healthy, and long lives, and don’t need very much extra attention to do so. However, there are a few important things that adopters should definitely prepare for before adopting to ensure that they remain healthy and to increase their longevity and quality of life. With the right food, home environment, and medical care, FeLV-positive cats can enjoy very fulfilling lives, just like all cats.