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Feline Leukemia

July 15, 2023

Today is Feline Leukemia Day. This is one of the more serious kitty holidays on the calendar, but it is an important topic. Feline leukemia is much more common than any of us would like: it affects between two and three percent of our furry pals. A Brampton, ON vet goes over some basic facts about the disease below.

It Affects Fluffy’s Immunity

The FeLV virus compromises Fluffy’s immunity, leaving her very vulnerable to secondary infections, such as skin or respiratory problems. She’ll also be at higher risk of developing certain cancers. The disease can also significantly shorten her lifespan.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors to keep in mind. Kittens born to FeLV-positive mommas are of course at greatest risk. Males are also more likely to be infected than females. Living with an infected cat also increases Fluffy’s odds. Outdoor cats are also at elevated risk, as are those in multi-cat homes.


Don’t worry: you can’t catch FeLV. However, it is quite contagious between kitties. Bites and scratches are common forms of transmission. However, Fluffy can also get it by sharing bowls or litterboxes with an infected cat.


The best way to protect your kitty from FeLV? Get her vaccinated! The vaccine is usually administered to kittens when they’re around two months old. Fluffy will also need boosters. Ask your vet for recommendations.


Some cats are able to fight the virus off, which will effectively render them immune to it. However, even if Fluffy is asymptomatic and purrfectly healthy, she could still transmit it to other cats.

Warning Signs

FeLV is typically asymptomatic at first. It doesn’t always progress at the same rate; however, symptoms can appear in just a few weeks. Some things to look for include lethargy, weight loss, respiratory issues, and fever. However, because it’s an immunity issue, this disease can present in many ways, such as through skin infections. Ask your vet for more information.


A FeLV-positive diagnosis isn’t good, but it isn’t the end of the world. Fluffy will need some extra TLC: you’ll need to be diligent about keeping her things clean and making sure she stays inside. FeLV-positive cats also need more frequent veterinary appointments. However, with good TLC,  your furry friend can still lead a wonderful life … or nine!

Do you have questions about FeLV? Contact us, your Brampton, ON pet hospital, today!