Should I Vaccinate My Cat?
If your cat already has leukemia, he or she should not be vaccinated. Vaccines are effective in cats when they have healthy immune systems, and any cat with the leukemia virus does not have a healthy immune system. If your cat is going to be vaccinated, killed vaccines rather than live vaccines are used.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) Vaccine
Vaccines help protect kittens from developing leukemia. To be effective, they should be given to kittens under four months of age. Before vaccinating, have your kitten's blood tested to confirm that no exposure to the virus has occurred. If your kitten has been exposed, giving the vaccine is not helpful.
Many veterinarians do not believe the FeLV vaccine protects older cats. Either your cat has been exposed to the virus when he or she was young or not. If not, and your cat has a healthy immune system, there is little chance of your cat being infected as an adult. This is known because researchers tried to give FeLV infections to adult cats, and they could not infect the cats unless they immune suppressed them first.
Some healthy cats develop cancer called a fibrosarcoma when they are given the FeLV vaccine because their bodies react in an unhealthy manner to the material in the vaccine. The incidence of cancer is higher if cats are vaccinated for rabies at the same time and in the same area.
Getting Another Cat
The leukemia virus is not hardy and dies quickly in the environment. Because the virus is easily killed by cleaning with household detergents, it is not necessary to wait a long time to get another cat. Thoroughly wash your bedding, cat beds, cat toys, floors, and counters, and feel confident that your new cat can live a healthy life in your home.