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Understanding FeLV: Loving and Living With FeLV Cats

Guest post by Joni Gallo

We asked Joni to share her knowledge and understanding of cats with the Feline Leukemia Virus with us. Joni is a lifelong cat lover who has had several FeLV cats in recent years, without planning to. She has learned about the condition and about living with and caring for cats who carry the virus. Despite well-meaning recommendations and advice encouraging her to euthanize her cats upon diagnosis, Joni chose to let them live and give them the love and care they deserved.  She has a mission now, to encourage others to give FeLV kitties a chance at life and happiness.

Sienna, who was discovered to have the virus as a kitten

As I hung up the phone, I began to cry. The vet had just told me that the new kitten I’d brought home had tested positive for the feline leukemia virus. She told me I shouldn’t keep him. I had five other cats. I was torn. Little 3 month old Sienna had been found in an abandoned house with his mother and had nowhere else to go. He would have been “euthanized” at a kill shelter. He would have been spared at a no-kill shelter but would most likely never get adopted. I couldn’t give him to anyone. No one would want him.

Fortunately, as it turned out, I did keep Sienna because I found out a month later, that he was not the only cat I had that carried the feline leukemia virus.

What is the Feline Leukemia virus and why is it so feared? FeLV is a retrovirus that only infects cats. The virus spreads by inserting copies of its own genetic material into the host cat’s cells. The cells are then transformed into cancer cells or cells which do not function the way that they should. (greenbriervet.com)

FeLV is passed along from cat to cat through bodily fluids and requires repeat exposure such as that which occurs in cats sharing a household or living together in the same room at a shelter. Mutual grooming, sneezing, the sharing of dishes and litter pans can all spread the virus. FeLV is sometimes confused with FIV, which is more like human HIV. With FIV, white blood cells called T helper cells are destroyed, leading to a depression of the cat’s immune system. FIV is mostly spread through bite wounds and so is more common in unneutered males. (winnfelinehealth.org)

Colt

When a cat tests positive for feline leukemia and has been exposed to other cats, all the cats should be tested immediately. I made the mistake of only having one other cat tested, Colt, the one that had spent the most time with Sienna. When his test turned up negative, I stopped there. A little over a month later, it was discovered that my two girls, Dharma and Karma, both carried the virus.

Retests are important with FeLV. The test that is performed at the vet’s office is called the ELISA test. This test checks for the presence of a protein component of the virus as it circulates in the bloodstream. (vet.cornell.edu) Since it is possible for the cat to produce an immune response that sheds the virus, another ELISA test should be done a few weeks later. There is also a second test called the IFA test which is sent out to a diagnostic laboratory. This test can be used to confirm the cat’s FeLV status.

40% of the cats exposed to FeLV will successfully shed the virus from their systems. (greenbriervet.com) This occurrence is more common with an adult cat, then it is for a kitten. If the virus is not shed, there are two other outcomes. 30% of the time, the cat will become persistently infected. In this case, both the ELISA test and IFA test will be positive for feline leukemia and remain positive for the cat’s whole life. Cats that are infected will typically remain healthy two to three years after exposure and then eventually succumb to a FeLV-related disease such as lymphoma, leukemia, or an untreatable infection. 15% of FeLV+ cats do, however, make it past the four year mark.

Dharma

In the second outcome, 30% of cats exposed to FeLV will become latent carriers of the virus. When the virus moves into the cat’s bone marrow, it becomes undetectable in tests. At a later date, the cat will either shed the virus or become persistently infected. (greenbriervet.com) This last scenario is how a cat that was previously negative can become positive even without new exposure to the virus. Most likely, my cats, Dharma and Karma, were latent carriers. Sienna, being so tiny, was unlikely to spread the virus to adult cats and although there is a small chance that Dharma and Karma passed the virus to Sienna, it’s more likely he got the virus from his mother. (Sienna’s mother was taken into another home and had not been tested the last I heard.)

Karma

When you have a household of both feline leukemia negative and positive cats as I do, you can do two things. First, you can keep the cats separated. In other words, the positive cats can be kept in one room or on a separate floor to prevent exposing the negative cats to the virus. This is the safest option. Second, you can have the cats that tested negative vaccinated against feline leukemia. This is what I opted to do and it has, so far, been successful. Those cats that are negative stayed negative. The vaccine is not considered 100% effective but it can work by creating an immune response to the virus that will protect the exposed cats.

Some vets will suggest euthanizing a cat that carries FeLV, though not all vets do. If you opt to euthanize, you must realize that you are destroying a cat that only has the potential to be ill but is not necessarily currently ill or in any distress. Doing this is not giving the cat’s immune system the chance to possibly shed the virus. Also, if you euthanize, you will never know if the cat could have been one of the 15% that may have lived a long, healthy life.

Gabriel

There are people who believe that euthanizing cats that are positive for FeLV is helping to prevent an epidemic against the whole feline population. This is incorrect. An epidemic of feline leukemia would only be likely to happen in a hoarding situation. Cats that live outside (even in feral colonies) do not live in close enough proximity to each other to spread the virus. For instance, it is estimated that only 2-3% of cats in the United States carry the virus at any given time. (vet.cornell.edu)

If you decide to keep your FeLV+ cat, know that you are doing a very noble thing. You are giving a chance to a cat that doesn’t have much of a chance. Although the cat’s lifespan may be shorter than that of a normal cat, that life can be filled with happiness for both you and the cat. Good care is important. Feed the cat a high quality diet and try to find a vet who is knowledgeable about the feline leukemia virus, which you would be more likely to find in a “cat’s only” practice.

FeLV+ cats should always be kept indoors for their own safety and for the safety of any strays that may wander onto your property. Due to their weakened immune system, it is important to treat an infection in a FeLV+ cat immediately with antibiotics. Eye and gum diseases can be especially common and should be watched for. An immune booster such as interferon is sometimes given which can help protect against the growth of tumors. In a controlled research study (Weiss et al. 1991) found that feline leukemia positive cats that were given interferon had a 75 percent reduction in symptoms. (aboutcatsonline.com)

Sadly, the story with my cats that carried FeLV did not end well. Sienna was euthanized at 6 months old after developing spinal lymphoma. Dharma and Karma were healthy for about 3 years after testing positive for the virus, they both then succumbed to a mixture of cancer and bacterial infections. Colt, unfortunately, tested positive for the virus before he could be vaccinated. He is coming up on the three year mark but is so far still healthy. He now has an FeLV+ companion, Gabriel.

Although it was hard watching Sienna, Karma, and Dharma go, and it is sad that their time with me was cut so short, I could not imagine having lived without them. Their joyful, loving spirits endured until the end and I’m glad that I gave them the chance to live out their lives.

Cats with the feline leukemia virus face a tough struggle. They do not need the added burden of people’s ignorance and fear. If you ever find yourself in my situation, please do what I did and get all the facts before making a decision. That way at least you know, that whatever decision you make, you have thought it through and did not just cave into the hysteria that usually accompanies any discussion involving the feline leukemia virus. These cats deserve no less than our full consideration and respect.




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25 comments

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    September 13, 2011 9:25 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Cheryl

    All such precious babies. Sienna’s paws so adorable. I know you miss them all, but they were so lucky to have found you! Best of health to darlings Colt and Gabriel.

    Reply
    • September 15, 2012 2:59 amPosted 1 year ago
      Nina

      Thank you, Joni. Your experience answers many questions for me in regard to FeLV. I have a recently rescued kitten about 8 months old who just tested positive for FeLV. She was starving and had many problems. She continues to be stronger and healthier. She will be placed with my Mom to be her cat’s companion. First of course the current cat, Patches will be tested and vaccinated (assuming he is negative). The month waiting to be safer while Tula will be spayed and have her vaccinations.
      Thank you all for your comments especially those who have the experience of having vaccinated cats living with FeLV positive cats. I wanted first hand experience after the veterinarian information.
      My favorite supplement for Tula is biosuperfood microalgae. You can find out more about it at http://www.optimumchoices.com
      My resident rescue cat of 3 years, Shamana, looks like Gabriels twin.

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        January 17, 2014 1:06 pmPosted 6 months ago
        steve robertson

        Feed that cat HALO Cat food or you will be visiting the vet at least once a month. Check into LTCI treatment for cats as soon as possible. I’m a cat man,always have been. Give that cat love. Felv will kill a male cat,,where a female will survive it. I’ve studied it for the past two years on the net. it will give the love back to you.

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  • September 13, 2011 10:58 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Brenda Cregger

    I totally agree. We had a stray cat come in the cat door one day Tiger . At that time we had Patchie who was an indoor/outdoor cat. He was so hungry and so affectionate. After some inspection he was really sick. It makes me cry that someone just put him out (or whatever). I had to have him put to sleep but for a short while he was loved, warm and fed. It still brings tears to my eyes. He was so loving even to the short end. Patchie also had the virus. She lasted a short time but I would never have given up the five years we had with her. Every life no matter how big or small is special. My vet said some people would choose not to keep a cat with the virus ….we choose to. Thank you so much for this post.

    Reply
  • September 14, 2011 5:15 amPosted 2 years ago
    Deb Robichaud

    What a truly informative article! You will help so many people keep their cats diagonosed with this virus and most importantly, give them some much-needed hope. Thank goodness for people like you who have a kind heart.
    Thank you so much for writing this article. This information needs to reach the public. Great job!

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    September 15, 2011 2:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
    shelley satterfield

    Joni thank you for such a great informative article…..I love your furbabies!!!

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    October 6, 2011 5:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    AC

    I sadly, am fighting this situation right now. I brought home Mick, a sweet little black and white 5.5 month old kitten with a black nose and black pads–not to mention a big white skunk stripe down his back–on September 17th. He had an URI, and I got him medicine, but it didn’t go away. My other kitten was not feeling well either so I took them to the vet. I had had Lazlo much longer as he was rescued from near death in a rain storm in a field where he was abandoned at 3 weeks old, and he had been vaccinated.

    But poor Mick tested FeLV+.

    My home is not setup to separate cats, so Lazlo has temporarily moved to my mother’s house while I figure out what to do.

    I don’t believe that I will be lucky enough to be able to keep Mick around for several years. And not because I don’t want to.

    Mick has persistent diarrhea. He urinates three times as much as he drinks, which is a sign that his kidneys may be shutting down. He screams so loud when he throws up that you can hear it from the other side of the house–he threw up 5 times yesterday. He hides most of the time and spends about 22 hours a day sleeping, if not more. He also has trouble eating and has a persistent URI that will just not go away.

    As I am dealing with the reality of Mick’s situation every day, knowing that the right decision for this poor little soul is to go in peace, and not be made to live in pain, I get angry.

    Angry enough that I’m pursuing a new law that will require shelters to test, separate and vaccinate. You can sign the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/micks-law

    I am heart broken and infuriated that Mick is suffering. He is such a sweet, loving little kitty. I wish I could just make him better. I have told myself to give it time, to give it another 30 days and see if he gets better. But every day, he seems to get worse.

    I feel so guilty because I don’t feel that it’s my right to make this decision for this poor little kitty who I barely know, but love with all my heart.

    What do you do when this happens???

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      October 10, 2011 12:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Joni

      I’m sorry to hear about poor Mick being so sickly, AC. You can only do so much for your FeLV+ cats. If the quality of their lives is poor and they are suffering and the vet can’t help them anymore, euthanasia can be a kindness. My Sienna was only around 6 months old when his pain became so severe that he became unable to use his back legs and I made the decision. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I cried and cried and prayed for a miracle but it didn’t come. I often find myself wondering what he would have looked like if he’d been able to grow up and be healthy and what my home would be like with him in it. Although it hurt, I opened my heart and home to other FeLV+ cats. I just took in another one last week named Thorin after my older cat Pippin (who did not carry FeLV) passed away from kidney failure.

      I know the no-kill shelters around here do test for FeLV and separate these cats. If the cat is a latent carrier of the virus, the test can come up negative so periodic retesting is important. I would also test any new cat that came into my house just for the safety of the cats already there, if they were negative. I think the cost to vaccinate all cats against FeLV would be too much for most shelters and the there seems to be a small number of cat that are not protected from FeLV by the vaccine.

      I hope things get better for Mick and that you find a home for him.

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      May 10, 2013 1:13 amPosted 1 year ago
      Rick

      Sorry to hear about Mick’s illness. One thing I’ve learned from nursing cats with chronic illness is that even vets sometimes do not sort out what issue arises from what cause. For example, one could have an underlying cause that leads to Chronic Renal Failure (CRF), in turn expressing as a variety of symptoms. There are things that can be done to support a CRF kitty, even when the original insult cannot be undone. Blessings for Mick and you in the days ahead. And Joni is right. Those tough road kitties have become very close relationships, cherished even years later.

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      December 22, 2013 5:21 pmPosted 7 months ago
      marissa

      Have you tried interferon for Mick? Not sure he is still with us.. as this is an older posting.. but wanted to ask, as i have had so far great success with my cat PUMA who is FELV positive.

      Reply
      • January 10, 2014 2:46 pmPosted 6 months ago
        Marcus Acosta

        Hi Marissa, when did you start giving Puma Interferon? My cat Wolfie has Leukemia, was diagnosed as a kitten. He will be 5 this May. He’s now showing complications of the disease; eye problems. I was wondering if Interferon would benefit at this stage. Worth a try. Where do you purchase yours?
        Thanks and glad to hear your success! The positive posts bring hope!
        Blessings!

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          February 8, 2014 10:37 pmPosted 5 months ago
          Erin

          I bought interferon from my vet it was $40 for a three month supply.

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        January 17, 2014 1:22 pmPosted 6 months ago
        steve robertson

        Try the new LTCI treatment for cat. On the net. Interferon did not work on my cat.

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    February 5, 2013 11:28 amPosted 1 year ago
    Tanisha Thomas

    Thank you so much for all the information about those cats that lived long term. My Sylvia, 7-month old adopted from a kill shelter, was diagnosed today and what seemed a routine trip to vet for a possible food allergy. She was also diagnosed with Colitis, so I now you she was Godsent, as I was diagnosed with Colitis a year before we got her. Completely empathetic to her situation because I was misdiagnosed for two years and felt like the doctors were just throwing my life away like just another number. Sylvia is my children’s first pet and a third child to me. She was feral and extremely reclusive when we brought her home. I spent the better of two weeks coaxing her out of hiding and nursing her with a respiratory infection while the shelter told us just bring her back to us and we’ll “trade her out”, basically. Well I knew what that meant. Just fortunate God gave us the forsight to stick by her side. I told my kids, “mommy wouldnt just give up on you if you didnt come as perfect as I expected”. Dont know what to tell them yet but no matter what the outcome she will have the best last days that she can.

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    March 30, 2013 8:01 pmPosted 1 year ago
    Andie

    Great article. It’s nice to see other who have had success housing vaccinated negative cats with positive cats, and I’m also glad to see others giving these cats the chance they deserve.

    About a year ago, I found a lovely little long-haired tortoiseshell near my boyfriend’s house. I’m pretty sure that she used to belong to one of his neighbors and that they abandoned her when they moved a few weeks prior. She was incredibly sweet and friendly, but definitely underweight, so I took her home, hoping to get one of my friends to adopt her. But soon enough, she won all of our hearts and earned a permanent place in our home, where she was named Molly.
    I had two boys at home, so I kept her separated from them for the first two days, just until I was quite sure that she was healthy, and then I let her have normal reign of the house with the boys. When I dropped her off at the vet’s to be spayed, examined, and vaccinated, I decided to have her tested for FIV and FeLV just in case, because I knew there were a lot of feral cats in the area I found her. I really wasn’t expecting anything positive though – she seemed totally healthy! But she came up with a ‘light positive’.
    On the test, a dot will turn blue if the cat tests positive, and her test returned a very light blue dot, even upon retesting a couple months later.

    I was heartbroken and sick over it. Molly was the best cat I’ve ever had, and it killed me to know that she had this. Especially once I started researching FeLV online and found so much awful information and horror stories. People were saying that she should be euthanized, and I should NEVER even consider housing her with FeLV- cats, vaccinated or not.

    However, I decided to keep her and just make sure that my boys are always up-to-date on their vaccines. (They were already vaccinated against FeLV a few months prior, thankfully.) She was a wonderful cat, I already loved her, and I couldn’t just get rid of her because of her virus status. Who would ever want to adopt her knowing about it, anyway? She’d never have a chance. I was her only chance, and I couldn’t give up and take that away from her.

    Now she’s going to be 2 in a month, and so far she’s completely fine. Really, my veterinarians never made it sound too awful, nor did either ever mention euthanasia or say that I shouldn’t house her with my other cats. She goes in for her vaccines and exam at least once or twice every year, they check her a little more slowly and thoroughly than they might for a normal cat, and that’s all. They always seem quite surprised, but pleased when she checks out with a totally clean exam, and I think both the vet and I breathe a sigh of relief when it’s done. Then they tell me to keep doing what I’m doing, not to hesitate to call if I notice any changes or have any questions, and they send us on our way.
    I think that my vets know enough about the virus that they don’t consider it an immediate death sentence, since they never made it into a huge deal and recommended euthanasia or getting rid of her. However, judging by how they act around Molly, it seems like they don’t get to see very many FeLV+ cats that have been as healthy as long as she has been. I really hope we keep surprising them. Regardless of how long Molly lives, I’ll be there with her through it, and I’ll be sure to make whatever time she has into the best life that I can give her.

    I’m in college to be a veterinary technician now, and Molly is kind of my inspiration. Because of her, I’m dedicated to informing other cat owners about FeLV – Preventing it with the vaccine for one, but also to help provide information, experience, and HOPE to those who may receive the unenviable diagnosis. I’m hoping for a cure someday, but until then, the best thing that we can do is make sure that we inform people to the best of our ability and try to stop the spread of not only the virus – but all of the hysteria and false information surrounding it.

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    April 7, 2013 10:28 amPosted 1 year ago
    Christine Taylor

    Thank you all for sharing your stories. I’ve been combing the Internet for the past few days looking for information and first-hand stories. The other night, my husband and I rushed our 14-year-old cat to the emergency room–she collapsed from weakness that we found out was caused by anemia. After testing, we were shocked to learn that she was FeLV positive–she tested negative as a kitten and was vaccinated for the virus. Apparently, she has been latent all these years and only just now has shed the virus with complications. After a few blood transfusions, she is stable, and the vets cannot find any other secondary infections that may have caused the anemia. So we’re hoping that they can prescribe a treatment that will help. We were given the option to euthanize her–not because of her positive status, but because of the potential costs involved in diagnosis and treatment. We’re hoping for the best.

    But we have five other cats in our home, so now everyone must be tested. I’m so afraid for the others, but after reading your stories, I feel more hopeful. All my cats get along well, so I would hate to separate them and if they can potentially live together via vaccination and treatment, then that’s what we’ll do.

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      July 8, 2013 3:29 pmPosted 1 year ago
      Leanne

      Hi! Reading your story about your cats. So sorry to hear. What was the final outcome with all the others?

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    May 10, 2013 7:34 pmPosted 1 year ago
    AGould

    Thank you for this. I just found out that my 7 year old cat has been FeLV positive for the 4 years that I’ve had and loved him. He came from a hoarding situation of about 40 cats so naturally I had him tested before introducing him to my others. I never would have thought he was sick the whole time, but he’s indoor only and has never left my house. I kept having him tested for parasites and ear mites due to his drooling and his diarrhea. This was NEVER on my radar. My vet thought he had a diaphragmatic hernia the other day when he could hardly breathe. When he opened him up to repair it he found lymph fluid in his lungs and abscesses throughout.

    I have been kicking myself for the last day (I found out yesterday) that I inadvertently may have spread this to my other cat. I went in today and the vet had a syringe ready to euthanize, but as soon as I started petting him he began purring. My vet says you don’t put a happy animal down. I agree! While I’m completely heartbroken I’m happy to see that your animals made it so long. I haven’t had my other cat tested, but I plan to soon.

    Thanks again.

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    August 16, 2013 3:23 amPosted 11 months ago
    Courtney

    My mom had a beautiful little kitten with leukemia, his name is Charlie. We got Charlie when he was three months old, he had a eye infection at the time. We thought it would just go away with medicine, it didn’t. Charlie was suppose to be a friend to my younger brothers, a pet they could grow up with. Charlie passed at 7months. The people we got him from could not care less. The best thing for Charlie was that he had a home and was loved so much for the months he lived. We always said we would keep him no matter what, as long as he felt no pain. One of my brothers has a pretty bad and often seizure condition, when we told the boys about Charlie he said he got sick sometimes and so does Charlie. He thinks him and Charlie were meant for each other, a little sick kitten for a sometimes sick boy. Charlie was the hardest thing we have ever dealt with, I have never met a cat like him. He was so sweet and loving. Charlie died when his liver shut down, he could not eat, drink or pee anymore. We tried droppers of liquid and ivs for him, it just didn’t work. Our vet told us we could try a few more days with pretty much shoving liquid down his throat, we all decide it was just time for Charlie. On the day Charlie passed I was on the couch with him, I asked Charlie if he was going to pull through or not, he just placed his head on and shut his eyes. I knew we could not let him be in pain, we made a promise to him. Our biggest fear was coming down stairs one morning and Charlie had passed by himself. We all went to the vet and stayed with Charlie until he was gone.

    Its been a year since Charlie passed we have a new kitten, Tucker. We seem to have some luck because our vet believes Tucker should also be check for leukemia since his mother was a outside cat. We have to wait three weeks for Tucker to get tested(age). If he has leukemia, he will have one great long or short life with us.

    Rip: Charlie, orange beautiful tabby. Loved to act like a dog, would greet when you enter the home. Love to put his paw down in the change bottle. Major liter boy lol. This cat would jump in the liter pan and throw liter everywhere even when he wasn’t using it. Brought so much joy to two little boys.

    We made the decision to let Charlie go to a better place for the benefit for him. Keeping him alive when he was really sick would of been selfish of us. I believe putting a cat down with leukemia for the fear of what’s to come is wrong. Every animal has to pass at some point.Why does it matter if its leukemia, cancer or getting hit by a car? Every life has a meaning, no matter how short. Charlie has forever changed ours.

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      April 2, 2014 5:15 pmPosted 3 months ago
      Dave

      Courtney
      I have a very similar story-My cat Patrick was an orange tabby, who was a real rascal and a great cat. When we got him he also had an eye infection and an upper respiratory infection. He also had chronic constipation problems, but with all that was the happiest guy I have ever known. He tested negative for FeLV as a kitten and we thought he was on the road to recovery. when he was 2 he got a terrible eye infection, which led to corneal ulcerations. He was a trooper and made it through the eye surgery, but a month after he had a few seizures. I took him to vet and blood tests confirmed he was FeLV positive. I was stunned. Poor Patrick remained happy but he dropped weight fast and he only made it 3 more months to the age of 2 1/2 and we had to put him down, and he purred to the end. He was a true survivor. He was found in the engine of a car, and was born with 3 paws and a back stump, which never slowed him down. Your story reminded me a lot of my friend Patrick who is gone now 2 weeks, but I am very grateful of my time spent with him, he definitely changed my life forever.

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    January 17, 2014 1:53 pmPosted 6 months ago
    steve robertson

    People these little babies need us. I just buried my Kiki,2 yrs. Felv. Vet said to put down 2 yrs. ago. Hell No. there is still plenty of love left in these cats. if you are a real cat person, you will try to keep them alive as long as possible.

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    March 16, 2014 1:59 pmPosted 4 months ago
    Melanie

    I read all of these comments. I cried a great deal. We, animal people are a bunch of saps :)

    Anyway…insert rescued little barn kitty into my life last week now known as Quinnie. She is sweet, playful and eats like a pig of I let her. Took her to the vet and she tested positive for FelV. I am crushed just as all of you are and were. There is no way I would EVER have her put down. She will live her life happy in my home!

    I do have questions though. She is estimated at about 3 1/2 months old. Vet said we will test her again in a few months as it is possible that she could rid herself of the disease. Is this even possible? I am not finding too much information on that so I assume it is probably rare.

    Breaks my heart when I look at this little baby all full of joy…
    -Melanie

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    June 1, 2014 3:41 pmPosted 1 month ago
    Katie

    Absolutely great article! Thank you and keep putting this information out there! I will do the same. I recently had the same situation happen to me. And it didn’t end well nor did it end the way I wanted it to. I plan to let more people know about this because it is more serious than people know, inclusive of myself.

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    July 10, 2014 9:31 amPosted 16 days ago
    Ann

    A male semi-feral tabby cat adopted us by living on our front porch in the winter time. We named him PK, for Porch Kitty. One day he was very sick, so I took him to the vet and they said he had a rhino virus. I also found out he was FeLV+. This was confirmed with a positive IFA test in November 2011. Two 1/2 years later, PK is a full-fledged member of our household and still exhibiting his normal energy and behavior. However, I worry about him and watch him like a hawk, because I absolutely dread the day he is diagnosed with lymphoma. His blood panels are ok, but not great. His hematocrit is low — his vet thinks because he has fleas that could be causing anemia. We are currently treating him with a low-dose flea collar and waiting on test results for possible bartonella infection. We also just started him on Interferon to boost his immune level, at the suggestion of our vet. I am not ready to lose my Peaky. I sincerely hope he turns out to be one of the 15% that survive with this virus for many years.

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    July 14, 2014 6:56 pmPosted 11 days ago
    Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing your story. My boyfriend and I rescued a little 3 month old kitten (about 4 mths ago) who was on the brink of dying. He had dried up snot COVERING his entire face & ended up testing positive for Felv. We weren’t giving up on him though! We had him re-tested just the other day (4 months after the initial testing) but he still had it. We did what you mentioned & actually brought him to a feline only cat practice and I’m so glad we did. The vet informed us that since he was running a slight fever & had enlarged lymph nodes (common signs in a felv+) it was in his best interest to hold off on his vaccines & neutering as of right now & sent us home with antibiotics. We are waiting to see if they help rid his body of these early signs. We have had him in a separate room (basically a king’s suite) because we do have 5 negative cats of our own. We were scared at first of having the virus transmitted, but after reading hundreds of articles I am comforted in knowing that direct contact is the only true way of transmission. I know both vets were inclining that we euthanize, but my boyfriend & I were not putting down a cat that still has life to live. We named him Rain, because I grabbed him while it was raining back in March. We love him so much & he has the sweetest personality. We are prepared & happy to give him a home for however long he has left to live. Your story was very touching & I’m so glad there are people out there who also believe that every life matters.

    Best wishes for you & all of your kitties,

    Stephanie

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