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Common FeLV Questions

FeLV, or Feline Leukemia Virus, is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats.

This virus can weaken a cat’s immune system and may predispose them to developing other conditions. Below are some common questions regarding our space and the Feline Leukemia Virus.

Why are you hosting FeLV-positive cats at NEKO?

We want to spread the word that cats with FeLV are just as deserving of loving homes as other cats! These cats can still be fantastic pets and lead very happy lives.

By showcasing these cats at NEKO, we hope to get them adopted faster and provide them with a great place to live while they wait to find their forever families!  

Is it safe for me to visit cats at NEKO if I have cats at home?


FeLV is spread through close personal contact between cats, usually involving saliva. The virus is only transmittable among cats; it cannot be spread to humans, dogs or other animals.

What do adopters need to know about FeLV-positive cats?

FeLV-positive cats can live very happy lives. Adopters should know that these cats may have a shorter life span and they should be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible if a problem is noticed. We recommend that adopters schedule wellness visits with their veterinarian regularly.

FeLV-positive cats should live indoors only to prevent infection to other cats and reduce their risk of getting sick. They should not live in a home where they would have contact with non-infected cats. However, it is okay for these cats to live with children, dogs and other types of animals.

What is the life expectancy for a cat with FeLV?

While a cat with FeLV might be prone to getting infections and may have a shorter life expectancy than one without the virus, it is important to realize that FeLV-positive cats can still lead very happy lives.

The median survival time for cats after FeLV is diagnosed is 2-3 years. However, some cats that test positive for FeLV continue to live their normal lifespans. There is currently no definitive cure for FeLV.

How is FeLV transmitted?

Cats can get FeLV from an infected mother, or from other cats through a bite or mutual grooming. Rarely is FeLV acquired through the shared use of litter boxes and feeding dishes, given that the virus does not last long outside of a cat’s body.

Can a cat with FeLV live with other non-FeLV cats?

RASKC advises against adopting a cat with FeLV if you have other non-FeLV cats at home.

What kind of care is involved for cats with FeLV?

Cats with FeLV should live indoors-only to prevent infection to other cats and to reduce their exposure to infectious agents.

We recommend that adopters schedule wellness visits with their veterinarian regularly. Once a cat has been diagnosed with FeLV, careful monitoring of weight, appetite, activity level, elimination habits, appearance of the mouth and eyes, and behavior is an important part of managing this disease. Any signs of abnormality in any of these areas should prompt immediate consultation with a veterinarian.

For more information on FeLV, check out these resources:

Feline Leukemia FeLV Faqs

Cornell FeLV Brochure

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