Should Indoor Cats Still Get The Feline Leukemia Vaccine?

Posted on: 13 April 2016

Veterinarians often recommend feline leukemia vaccinations as part of a comprehensive vaccine schedule, but if your cat is indoor-only, you may wonder if that shot is really necessary. Because feline leukemia virus is spread from cat to cat through close physical contact, any pet who stays inside should theoretically be protected already. But reality isn't always so simple, and the lethal nature of feline leukemia makes it a smart move to have your cat vaccinated against it anyways. 

Learning About Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia is a type of carcinogenic retrovirus. It is found in as much as 3 percent of the cat population in the United States and is shed through bodily fluids like saliva and urine. Although the virus can have serious health impacts on your cat, including blood disorders, its primary danger is immunodeficiency, leaving your cat vulnerable to secondary infections. There is no permanent treatment for this disease; the best you can do is manage each new illness until the cat eventually succumbs to the condition. 

Testing Your Cat for Feline Leukemia

Because of its health ramifications and the potential for exposure to other cats in your household, every new cat you take in should be tested for feline leukemia before being exposed to any other cats. The quick test will be able to rule out feline leukemia, giving you peace of mind and ensuring that the vaccination is effective. If the test is positive, you will also need to test any cats that have come into contact with the infected individual, so keep your new pet quarantined until the results come in. 

Protecting Your Pet From Other Cats

Even the most isolated indoor cat stands a good chance of someday meeting another cat, whether it be at the vet's office, the groomer's or a boarding kennel. When your cat does go out in public, you want his or her immune system to be well protected against the many diseases cats carry, including feline leukemia. Because of this, routine feline leukemia vaccinations are still recommended, if not mandatory, for indoor cats. 

Preparing for Possible Escapes

You should also be prepared for the possibility that your indoor cat may one day escape into the neighborhood before you can get the door closed. When this happens, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your lost pet contracting a fatal illness while out on a little adventure. With so little associated risk and so much potential benefit, it isn't difficult to understand why many veterinarians still recommend vaccinating against feline leukemia virus no matter what your cat's likelihood of catching it actually is. Visit a local vet, like those at Chicago Cat Clinic or a similar location, for more help and information.