Home » Pet Health » Feline Infections and Viruses » How Do I Prevent the Spread of FeLV?


Although FeLV is highly contagious, a FeLV vaccine is available for your healthy cat. The vaccine contains inactivated FeLV viruses, which allow your pet to develop immunity against FeLV infection if they encounter an infected cat. The American Association of Feline Practitioners suggests vaccinating the following:

    • Newly born kittens
    • Cats with possible outdoor exposure
    • Cats living with other FeLV-positive cats
    • Cats in shelters
    • Adopted cats

All cats should test negative for FeLV before they are vaccinated. The vaccination consists of two doses given approximately 3 to 4 weeks apart, a booster dose after 1 year, and another 1 to 3 years afterward. Kittens are first vaccinated at 8 to 9 weeks old, while older cats can get a booster every 2 to 3 years since older cats are less susceptible.

To prevent the spread of infection, keep your FeLV-positive cat indoors, provide a healthy diet, and avoid high-stress environments and crowded litter boxes. The FeLV virus cannot survive outside the body for more than a few hours, so frequent hand washing and disinfecting of toys and food bowls can efficiently reduce the risk of spreading FeLV to other cats.

What does a positive FeLV test mean for my cat’s quality of life?

With proper care and management, cats infected with FeLV can live for many years with a good quality of life. Although a weakened immune system can lead to secondary infections, they are preventable and treatable.

Factors such as dietary nutrition, stress on the body, and genetics may also influence the development of FeLV-mediated cancer. While your cat’s genetics are beyond your control, you can help by reducing stress in its environment and giving it proper nutrition.

If a vet diagnoses your cat with FeLV, regularly monitor its weight, appetite, activity, behavior, and appearance of the mouth and eyes. If you notice any abnormalities, consult your vet.

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Last Updated: September 21, 2022

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The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page:

Lutz, H, Addie, D, Belák, S, Boucraut-Baralon, C, Egberink, H, Frymus, T, Gruffydd-Jones, T, Hartmann, K, Hosie, MJ, Lloret, A, Marsilio, F, Pennisi, MG, Radford, AD, Thiry, E, Truyen, U & Horzinek, MC 2009, ‘Feline leukaemia. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management’, J Feline Med Surg, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 565-574.

Richards, JR, Elston, TH, Ford, RB, Gaskell, RM, Hartmann, K, Hurley, KF, Lappin, MR, Levy, JK, Rodan, I, Scherk, M, Schultz, RD & Sparkes, AH 2006, ‘The 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel report’, J Am Vet Med Assoc, vol. 229, no. 9, pp. 1405-1441.

Sykes, JE & Hartmann K 2014, ‘Feline Leukemia Virus Infection’, Canine and Feline Infectious Diseases, pp. 224–38

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.