Prevention of FeLV

Several vaccines can protect cats from contracting FeLV. The vaccines are generally safe, although the cat may appear sick or sluggish for a few hours, to a couple of days afterward. Some cats may have an allergic reaction (e.g., fever, diarrhea, malaise).

FeLV vaccines are not 100 percent effective. Vaccinated cats may develop a short-lived infection after exposure to FeLV, but rarely do they develop clinical disease.

Kittens should be vaccinated at 9 to 10 weeks of age, again 3 to 4 weeks later, and then annually.

Keep a FeLV-infected cat indoors and away from other cats. If the cat dies from FeLV, the Cornell Feline Health Center recommends a waiting period of at least 30 days before getting another cat. The house and cat supplies should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before bringing a new cat home.

An FeLV-positive cat that is not sick is probably still shedding the virus. FeLV-positive cats should not be housed with other cats.

Deciding what to do with an FeLV-positive cat in a multicat household can be very difficult. There are several options, including:

  • Euthanasia
  • Finding a home for the FeLV-positive cat where it will be the sole cat
  • Isolating the FeLV-positive cat within the home, by keeping it in a separate room and providing a separate litter tray and feeding bowl

Because FeLV can be spread through litter trays, water and food bowls, and bedding, these should be disinfected with a solution containing 4 ounces of household bleach per 1 gallon of water, or they should be replaced after isolating the FeLV-positive cat. Floors should be cleaned and disinfected with a bleach solution, and rugs should be thoroughly vacuumed.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Mar 2001

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014