Feline Leukemia

Anyone know anything about feline leukemia? If I were to sit for a cat with this what concerns should I have and/or what questions should I ask? It was not mentioned in the listing at all (kind of a red flag) and the HO just mentioned it briefly in the video chat, just saying he has it but is fine. The HO really downplayed it and I’m wondering if anyone has any experience or good information about this before I make a decision. I’m very experienced with cats, but have not run across this in the past.

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I don’t know anything about this either but I’ve just Googled it and there’s a lot of useful info. Thanks for making me aware.

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Yeah, I googled it too, but am hoping someone on the forums might have some experience with it.

I have volunteered at shelters with cats that have it. Most are happy and healthy. The only concern is to other cats. People were able to handle them as normal on the days we interacted with them. We just could not interact with other cats THAT days because we would have on the same clothes etc. These cats are often isolated unless the owner has two with the disease because they should not live with cats without it. I would not hesitate to sit for one.


@mam1996t Thank you for the info! I’m planning to take the sit just wasn’t sure if there were any specific issues I should be concerned about. I currently don’t have another sit scheduled right after, but I won’t schedule anything starting the same day, I will leave a few days in between just to be safe. Although, from what I read the virus can only live outside the cat’s body for a few hours at most. It’s a longish sit so I want to be prepared to take good care of him should any symptoms arise.

I also volunteer at a cat sanctuary with cats that have feline leukemia, it is not harmful to humans and can only be passed on to other cats. Cats at the sanctuary are kept separate from otherwise healthy cats. Cats with feline leukemia usually live contented and happy lives and enjoy human interaction.


This is an aside:

I saw a social media post about a rescuer who routinely travels between shelters, transporting cats from shelters where they sit unadopted to shelters where they are.

She said on one trip to a shelter, she happened across the room where cats with leukemia were kept. Apparently adopters and staff rarely went in, breaking her heart for the cats.

Over her partner’s resistance, she eventually adopted one of them and he was a lovable character who lived for four happy years with them.

She says now, she makes a practice of adopting leukemia cats, so they have a good home. Otherwise, many folks don’t want them. I thought that worth noting, in case I can ever adopt a cat. (Can’t now, because my dog would make them miserable.)

Maybe if more folks knew, more of these poor cats would get homes.


If I were you, when this came up in the video chat, I would have asked the owner those questions.

As many have pointed out, so long as they are on the right health regimen, they’re perfectly fine; they just can’t mix with cats who don’t have it. As a carer, nothing should really be different for you other than it’s best not to interact with other cats or feline wildlife while on that sit so you don’t passively infect them.

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@smiley I did ask her questions. I just like to get information from multiple sources if it’s something that’s new to me.

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I use to work for a Veterinarian, feline Leukemia can be passed on to other cats. I believe they do have a vaccine to prevent it, but haven’t kept up to date. I would check with ask. Vets.com and find out. Where is the sit?

Thank you all for you input. I was a little concerned since she didn’t put it in the listing. But I think she was just worried about getting a sitter and is fairly new to the process (only one previous sitter). I feel good about going forward with the sit. I just like to gather information (can’t seem to ever take off my researcher hat even when I’m not working :grinning:). I’ve already looked at google and google scholar. I just wanted a bit of qualitative info from members about personal experiences with cats with leukemia. Thank you!

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I would give her feedback that it may seem a bit dishonest not to disclose something like that. For instance, an HS may have cats of their own. Knowing his information would just allow them to be better prepared.

I’d encourage the HO to disclose that as it will help you and future HS with expectations. There’s nothing wrong with FL but it’s important enough to be noted.


@bakindoki Great point. Sitters could be going home to their own cats or right to another cat sit after so it is important to disclose. I will definitely mention it to her so she can add it to her listing for future sits.

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@systaran The other point you might like to raise with the owner is they are now being star rated on ‘Accuracy of Listing’ and omitting this condition of the cat is likely to impact this rating.


I take it this is an indoor cat?

It should have been mentioned in the listing, just so sitters are aware. Is the kitt symptomatic?