Feline leukemia is a deadly viral infection that causes a range of unpleasant symptoms, including extreme lethargy, bladder infections, weight loss, and anemia. Cats who are infected from the virus do eventually die from it or from a related secondary infection; there is no cure. Cats are most susceptible to feline leukemia when they are young. Thus, it's important to know how to protect your new kitten from this dangerous disease.
Have your kitten vaccinated.
There is a vaccine for feline leukemia, and the first dose can be administered when your cat is as young as 8 weeks old. Often, a second dose is required a few weeks later. If your cat will be spending any time outside when he or she is older, or if you plan on ever taking him or her to a kennel or other areas where exposure to other cats is a possibility, then having the cat vaccinated is recommended.
Vets do not always recommend vaccinating cats who will spend their entire lives indoors and have no contact with no other cats, since there is a risk of serious side effects with the vaccine. Whether or not the vaccine is right for you will depend on your situation; a professional vet, like those at Stroudsburg Animal Hospital, can help you make this decision.
Keep your kitten indoors.
Even if you do decide to have your kitten vaccinated, you should keep him or her indoors while he or she is young. The vaccine will take a few weeks to have an effect. Your vet can tell you when the vaccine is likely to be active and when it is safe to allow your kitten outside.
If you do not have your kitten vaccinated, then you should always keep him or her inside – even into adulthood. If your unvaccinated cat comes into contact with a cat carrying feline leukemia while exploring outdoors, there is a good chance your cat will become infected.
When you go away, have someone watch the kitten in your own home.
Sometimes cats can become infected with feline leukemia and not show symptoms for a few weeks or even a few months. Thus, even if a friend's cat appears healthy, it is not wise to let him or her mingle with your kitten if the friend's cat has not been vaccinated. Cats and kittens at kennels may also be infected with feline leukemia. Thus, the safest place for your kitten is always in your own home – not at a friend's house or in a kennel. If you cannot find someone to pet sit in your own home while you're away, there are services that will do this for you at a reasonable cost.
By keeping your kitten inside, not taking it anywhere with other cats, and having it vaccinated if you have plans to let it ever leave your home, you can prevent feline leukemia.