General Question

row4food's avatar

Should my cat get the Feline Leukemia vaccine?

Asked by row4food (3037 points ) March 16th, 2009

I have a 10 month old kitten who has not had the Feline Leukemia shot. When I took him in for his first vet visit they told me he wouldn’t need it unless he was going to be an outdoor cat or around other cats.

In May we are going on vacation and a friend offered to take Reggie for the week. She has two cats (both indoor) who have both had the vaccine. Does this mean I still have to get it for mine? Or does their having had the vaccine cover any chances that Reggie might get leukemia from them?

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20 Answers

hearkat's avatar

Yes—cats are quick and sneaky, so even if you intend to keep him indoors, he could still get out at some point. Better safe than sorry.

imhellokitty's avatar

My opinion is no. Your cat is gonna be scared and traumatized enough just by the trip to your friends house (with other cats) for a week. That’s really hard on a cat. I really don’t see the need to make it worse for him with a visit to the vet and a poke with a needle. Of course, if your friends cats have had feline leukemia, then the answer is different.

SpatzieLover's avatar

First of all, it’s not a shot…It’s a spray into the cat’s nose. Second of all, I have a cat that was born to a mom with Panleuk. The question you should ask yourself instead is
“Do I want my cat to suffer a disease I easily could have prevented him from getting?”

If you can live with the consequences on him not being vaccinated, then don’t do it…If you can’t get him to the vet.

hearkat's avatar

I’ve had cats for my whole life and I am in my 40s—none have ever been “traumatized” by a trip to the Vet. They don’t like it much, but they’re over it as soon as we get back home.

SuperMouse's avatar

Yes, get the shot. My beloved cat – who was declawed and an indoor cat – died of feline leukemia because I didn’t realize indoor cats needed it.

casheroo's avatar

I think getting vaccines for cats is always a good idea. You never know if they’ll get out, and you want to give them the best protection possible.
My cats are indoor cats, and we do that vax.

syz's avatar

I am not familiar with any nasal version of the feline leukemia vaccine, but you should be aware that there has been quite a bit of controversy related to the FeLV vaccine and the development of sarcomas.

Because of that possible correlation and because I have seen quite a few cats that react poorly to the vaccine (who feel very crummy for several days), I have opted not to vaccinate my own indoor cats. I test any cat before bringing it into my home (beware stray kittens!). But that is my own individual choice.

As to your cat staying with friends, make sure that those cats have been tested negative for the virus (“But they’ve never been sick” does not count.) If they were positive before being vaccinated, they’ll still be positive. Unless your own cat is particularly sociable, it will probably need to be kept separate from her cats anyway to avoid fights and resultant injuries.

I would not get the vaccine because of this visit. Talk to your vet and make an educated decision about whether or not to vaccinate your cat for this disease. And keep in mind that as an initial exposure, your cat will need a booster in 2–3 weeks. It may take several weeks for your cat to develop an immune response, so giving the shot a day before going to visit will not incur protection. (I always laugh at boarding kennels that give a “kennel cough” vaccine on arrival, as if it creates instantaneous protection.)

Vaccination protocols and recommendations can be found here

Jeruba's avatar

Just get it. You don’t want to be wishing you had.

I agree that being in a household with other cats could be traumatic. Just changing “homes” will be very upsetting. The trip to the vet is nothing.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@hearkat one of my cat’s hates the vet so much, we’re traumatized by taking him. however…I agree…he’s forgotten about it as soon as we get back home!

hearkat's avatar

@SpatzieLover: We had one cat the traumatized the Vet’s staff! They wrote on the top of her chart “MUST USE BODY BAG” (the feline equivalent of a straitjacket)—she was a mean one, and she lived to be 21!

shilolo's avatar

@syz. I’m surprised by this unusual association and the fact that the recommendations were changed to argue against vaccination. What is the incidence of vaccine-associated sarcoma in vaccinated cats versus that of feline leukemia in the unvaccinated? I would imagine that the former, VAS, is much lower than the later, but that is just an educated guess.

syz's avatar

@shilolo Phew! I’ll have to check the most recent literature for those numbers. But as an aside, those protocols are from 2000 (I was too lazy to look for updated ones), and they’ve changed even more – clinics will soon be moving to boosters every 3 years rather than yearly, and there even some recommendations that titers be checked before boostering with some vaccines.

casheroo's avatar

My one cat is always “traumatized” when we take him anywhere. He pees all over the cat carrier. One time we forgot the carrier, and he pooped in my car. He is just scared of the car I think, he’s a spaz at the vet. But, just because I’m scared of the dentist doesn’t mean I’ll avoid it…

hearkat's avatar

“Traumatized” to me implies having lingering personality changes after the event is over.
None of our cats have ever liked the Vet, and they all hate the car even more. They act stressed out in those situations, but they all got back to themselves as soon as they set their paws on home soil… that’s why I say they haven’t been “traumatized”.

marinelife's avatar

My cat got outside, was attached by a stray, and got the disease.

sandystrachan's avatar

simple answer like others have said _
YES!!!!
prevent it from taking a hold of your cat every cat i have had as soon as they were the age (even tho they ere not outdoor cats) got the jabs

SpatzieLover's avatar

@hearkat Ours has a “fractious” personality written on his chart. Only one vet will see him and he prefers not to sedate. If that vet’s out of town, I must sedate to bring in as all other vet’s are afraid of my sweet adorable (terrible at the vet) feline.

row4food's avatar

I decided to go ahead and have him vaccinated so I took him in today to get his shot. He’s back at home and a little mad at me but he’ll get over it… until he has to go back for his booster next month. Thanks for encouraging me to go for it. He will be safer now in case he decides he wants to escape out the door. We are planning on socializing him with the other cats a few times before we head out on our vacation.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@row4food Thanks for the update. Hope he does well while you are away!

sandystrachan's avatar

now ur kittie will be safe welldone you have just qualified as a great pet owner

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