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Input wanted for Felv+ kitty

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm a newbie here. Someone suggested this forum to me, so here I am!Let me start out by telling you that we have 4 dogs, 5 cats, 2 buns, 3 hermit crabs, and a betta. It's a pretty full house!

One of our cats adopted us back in August and we decided to name him Joey. We always quarantine our animals before introducing them and we always have a checkup before letting them settle into our family. A week or two after feeding Joey, we brought him in for his neuter and found out he had a weak positive for Feline Leukemia. I'm not sure how many people here know about this disease, but it's very contagious to other cats when they come into contact with them and haven't been vaccinated against it. (Just another reason to have your pets regularly vaccinated!)Joey is a very young cat, so we're guessing he was born with it, unfortunately. He has been living in our playroom off of the garage with a couch, a kitty bed, a heater, good quality food, and lots of toys and we try to give him as much attention as possible. Is this cruel? We have a shelter about an hour away from us who takes in leukemia positive kitties, but it would cost me money to house him there.. and I've grown very attached to him, and so has my family. What would you do? He seems to be happy as he plays with anyone and loves to cuddle.. we even put classical music on for him. I just worry about him getting bored, yet I know a lot of cats have it way worse than him.

The vet said he could live 10+ years with health monitoring and she doesn't see anything wrong with keeping him the way we've been keeping him. Sorry this is so long, I really want advice! I've also never given away an animal.
Also, the room he is in is about 400 sq. feet.
post #2 of 18
Welcome to TheCatSite.!!!

I am not up on Leukemia +'s.

You mentioned a "weak" reaction. Do you know what that means? The reason I ask is because IF a cat has been vaccinated for Feline Leukemia, they will show a positive on the test, because of the antibodies in their system. Since Joey is a stray, you have no way of knowing if his former family got him that vaccine and the vet can not tell either. He may not "have" Feline Leukemia, he may have been vaccinated for it.

Sorry I am not of much help here, but there will be others that will stop by and help you much more.

By the way, thank you for taking that little one in.
post #3 of 18
I've had several FELV+ kitties. Some have done really well...living 7+years. One of mine, Missy, lived with all the other cats for 2-3 years and did not spread the disease. The others were all current on their FELV vaccinations and retested after she passed away. None came back positive.

I imagine your vet recommended that you have Joey retested after 30 days, which I would suggest you do.

If he comes back + a second time, you might consider getting a second FELV+ from the shelter you mentioned, although I would be careful to make sure the cat was not already showing symptoms. Perhaps they will be willing to work with you on the cost of health care, since I imagine they are not easily adopted out. If you do consider placing him there, make sure he's not going to be caged.

With attention I think a kitty would be happy in the space you've provided. I've not regretted keeping my FELV+s. They were well worth the extra effort.
post #4 of 18
Welcoe to TCS NatalieG!

I see you said you have all grown really attached to Joey, but should you want to re-home him, I would consider seeing if the FeLV+ shelter would list him on Petfinder as adoptable while you foster him.

I honestly don't see any problem with the living situation you have arranged. I would consider the possibility of adopting another FeLV+ kitty, provided you think there's space in Joey's home/he would like the kitty/you can afford to.

I would have Joey re-tested if you haven't already, better double check to be sure.

Those are just the few thoughts that came to mind when I read your post! I sure hope you stick around, we'd love to see pics of your whole family!
post #5 of 18
If the vet ran a test that showed weak positive, it was the Elisa test. That particular test will test for antibodies in the cat's system and basically means that it was exposed to it long enough to take in the virus. It does NOT mean that the cat is FeLV+. The only test that is completely accurate is the IFA test, where the vet will need to draw a vial of blood and send it to a lab. Too many cats are rejected with an inital Elisa test and that is simply wrong.

Contrary to your statements, FeLV is not as contagious as you suggest. Kittens that are born to a FeLV mom are highly likely to contract the disease (about 90%) and most of those will die before they reach 2 years old. Young and old cats with lengthy exposure to FeLV+ cats can contract it, and it is most likely through mutual grooming or poor hygiene practices by their owners. Cats that contract it after birth can live for many years with dilligent health monitoring. Some cats are simply more predisposed than others to contract the disease.

Cats that are exposed, vaccinated or not, can contract the disease. Cats that are vaccinated have less of a chance for it to become full blown FeLV (where the virus migrates to their blood) and from the reading that I've done, about 10% of vaccinated cats can contract the disease. It is much higher with unvaccinated cats, probably in the 25-35% range. No one is really sure.

When a cat is exposed (vaccinated or not), the virus may or may not enter their system. If it does, the cat tests positive on the Elisa test. At this early stage, the cat's system is trying to ward off the virus. A positive Elisa test will turn negative if the cat successfully wards off the virus, which depending on which medical research you read, happens in 30-60 days (more current research indicates its within 30 days). That's why you always retest a FeLV cat - the initial positive is often inaccurate. If they cannot ward it off, it enters their bloodstream and becomes full blown FeLV. The IFA test confirms it at this point. There are cats that bounce from positive to negative Elisa tests for months. They are simply trying to fight off the virus.

I don't suggest you make any permanent decision until you go for a retest, and to be safe have it done in 45-60 days. If it comes up positive again, test with the IFA - it is more expensive and must be sent to a lab, which is why most vets don't offer it up front. Elisa is only the screening test.

(and yes, I lived thru this with a feral cat colony and gained a lot of knowledge at that time. My Lucky was born to a FeLV+ mom and he lost his mom and all of his siblings but was one of the "lucky" 10% that survived. I also lost a fully vaccinated adult cat to it.)
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by KittenKiya View Post
Welcome to TheCatSite.!!!

I am not up on Leukemia +'s.

You mentioned a "weak" reaction. Do you know what that means? The reason I ask is because IF a cat has been vaccinated for Feline Leukemia, they will show a positive on the test, because of the antibodies in their system. Since Joey is a stray, you have no way of knowing if his former family got him that vaccine and the vet can not tell either. He may not "have" Feline Leukemia, he may have been vaccinated for it.

Sorry I am not of much help here, but there will be others that will stop by and help you much more.

By the way, thank you for taking that little one in.
I would just like to point out that a vaccinated cat will NOT test positive, this is an EXTREMELY informative bulletin on FeLV: http://www.aafponline.org/resources/...Guidelines.pdf
Also the vaccine is only about 85% effective, so I would never take the risk of exposing your positive to the negatives, vaccinated or not, but that's just my opinion. I have cared exclusively for positives for the last 6 years and I can tell you that there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to this disease, there are no rules, it basically does whatever it wants. I think the arrangement you have for him is just fine, and since you care for him, it would be better for him to stay in that environment. That's great that there's a shelter in your area, but speaking from recent experience, the number of cats in one place with this disease is directly correlational to how much sickness you'll have, Joey will be much healthier in you playroom Getting him tested again with the IFA test is also a very good idea, and if he restests postive I also second the idea of perhaps getting him a friend from said shelter, obviously one that appears very healthy, no runny eyes, no sneezing, not thin, etc etc. If you have any other questions feel free to PM me
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wow, I didn't expect so many replies in such a short amount of time. You guys are awesome!

We had another Feline Leukemia positive kitty named KiKi about 4 years ago, and we only had him for 2 years because the disease took his life way too soon. He was also housed away from our other cats, but ever since I saw him die, I've been very scared of this disease and don't want to risk my other 4 cats good health. They're my babies and I would forever kick myself if I let them get it.

I know it's a hard disease to understand, as is FIV and FIP. I have a very close vet technician friend who vaccinates a lot of our animals and we did vaccinate him the day before his Elisa test, and I did wonder if it had anything to do with the weak positive, so thank you for clearing that up for me! We did another Elisa test a month after the first one, and it was still a weak positive, that was probably 2 months ago, should we do it again? I really appreciate all your input and you're all teaching me so much! I'm really glad I found this forum

By the way, do you think he got it from his mother and is there a big chance of him dying before the age of 2? When he first came to us in August, he still had a baby face, he was probably only 4-5 months old, so it's hard for me to think he got it from another cat in the area, since there aren't that many strays around here. I'm really hoping he doesn't actually have it and I'm crossing my fingers that he tests negative the next time we test him and he can join our household. He won't join until he tests negative quite a few times, as I'm very paranoid.

I'm sorry I have so many questions, but you all seem very knowledgable. I heard from somebody else that only kittens get Felv and you don't even have to vaccinate your cats who are older than 5, is this true?? It sounds fishy to me. All 5 of our cats are vaccinated, including Joey. I think we'll do another Elisa in a month or two, just to make sure.. and if it's positive, I'll ask about the IFA.

momofmany- I'm very sorry about your loses from this disease, it's so horrible.

I'm very sorry I'm rambled on this much, so here's a picture of him to make up for it!
post #8 of 18
I guess I should explain Missy. I thought she had been tested and was negative. When she began experiencing health problems about 3 years later we had bloodword done and were quite surprised to find out she was FELV+. A bit of checking revealed the FELV test had never been done, so she would have been + from the time I took her in. During that time she lived inside with 10-12 other cats. At that time, we did remove her from the rest of the cats and her illness progressed quickly. Although the others had all been vaccinated I was certain several would come back positive, but I guess I was lucky that none did. Prior to that I had two house cats, one of which was FELV+. Spunky (the+) lived with Buddy for about 7 years until she died of kidney failure at age 15. Buddy, who was vaccinated, never did contract the disease and died at age 18 from lymphoma. Like you say, there's little rhyme or reason to the disease sometimes. I've had some bad experiences with it also. I wouldn't introduce an FELV+ intentionally into my group now, but if I were dealing with only two or three and found out one was + I'm not sure I would isolate it. (of course I'm referring to a cat not showing symptoms) I think it's sad that so many people consider FELV and FIV as an immediate death sentence though, when with a bit of extra effort these cats can have years of quality life. to Natalie for checking out the options.

I think KittenKiya probably meant FIV when she mentioned the vaccine would cause a positive on the Elisa.

And no, I've had older cats contract FELV.
WOW....he is handsome!
post #9 of 18
My most abject apologies to NatalieG and grateful thanks to katiemae1277 for setting me straight.

The feline leukemia vaccine does NOT cause positive results in testing, the Feline IV vaccine does.

I am very sorry for the confusion.
post #10 of 18
Cinder~ that's what I meant, I would never intentionally expose positives to negs, but cases like yours happen all too often, and then its like what are ya supposed to do?? I'm very glad you were so lucky and no one else contracted it

I believe that older cats are better able to fight off the disease, but if there is any possibility of exposure I would continue to vaccinate, just for piece of mind. And I would also spring for the IFA test too, if it comes back positive then Joey is a definite positive and you would no longer have to wonderat least. He is a very handsome boy!
post #11 of 18
Oh my he is gorgeous!

My understanding is that, like Katie said, adults are better able to fight off the disease. That is why you see more kittens(or I have seen more kittens) that are FeLV+ than adults.

I would think you would be OK to have the IFA test done ASAP & that whatever the results are would be correct.

As for him dying before he is 2, there is no way to tell. You don't really have any way to know when he was infected or how long he'll live so my only advice is to treasure each day like it is his last.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NatalieG View Post
I'm sorry I have so many questions, but you all seem very knowledgable. I heard from somebody else that only kittens get Felv and you don't even have to vaccinate your cats who are older than 5, is this true?? It sounds fishy to me. All 5 of our cats are vaccinated, including Joey. I think we'll do another Elisa in a month or two, just to make sure.. and if it's positive, I'll ask about the IFA.
My adult cat (the one vaccinated) contracted it around 3-1/2 years old. We had brought in a pair of littermate kittens that we thought had been tested and had not. One of the kittens became seriously ill at about 9 months old when we found out he hadn't been tested. We had 13 indoor cats at the time. The littermate was positive and my older boy was also positive (thru IFA). That was when we started looking at the effectiveness of vaccines and realized that about 10% of vaccinated cats can get it if exposed long enough. These kittens lived in the house for 7 months before anyone got it.

If you are in a household where you take in cats at a regular basis, you should always vaccinate. Some vets recommend stopping vaccinations around 5 years old, but only in stable environments where you don't have the cat revolving door. Any cat that goes outside should be vaccinated for life.

If your vet pushes back on the IFA, either demand the test or find a vet that will do it. My vet at the time (a country vet who was a general practicioner) had never once ran the test and actually pushed back on me about having it done. I stood firm and insisted that he do it. He had heard of it but had to look up the protocals on how to conduct the test and had his staff actually call the lab to make sure he drew enough blood. It isn't a simple stick test, they actually remove a small vial of blood.

If you run the IFA too early, it may not yet be in his bloodstream. The IFA is typically run when there are positives for 2 or more Elisa positives in a row.

He is adorable btw!!
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
I can't tell you how much you guys have helped me.. you are fantastic! Thank you so much, I'll let you know what happens.. but for sure I'm keeping him, I've made up my mind.
post #14 of 18
Hi,

I have the same problem--we had 1, who tested a faint positive in Oct.; has tested that again; and now, today,I got the news that the other 2 fosters in the litter (there are 4) all have faint positives. Vet said to give them to a cat hospice in the organization; I have 5 of my own cats; had to have them tested today (all ok); gave them the vaccine. The other 3 had been living with them, as the foster place gave me the wrong advice after #1 tested positive (that the don't re-test negs, and that the others in the litter could live with our other cats). Now, they have to go back into the quaratine room with #1, and have to be given up to hospice. Meanwhile, my other cats have be exposed to FeLV, and frankly, I'm so angry at the person's advice--now my cats could die because of it (ALWAYS ASK A VET'S ADVICE, NOT THE FOSTER AGENCY'S, YOUR NEIGHBOR, CO-WORKER, FAMILY, ETC. NO MATTER HOW WELL-MEANING THEY ARE!!!!). Admittedly, my cats had not be vaccinated, as they never were at risk--they are indoor cats.

If you have other cats, you may have to give up the FeLv one for their safety. Ask your vet first.

Sorry to seem so nasty--today has been a $$#*$%)^* nightmare. I was planning to adopt the fosters; we fell in love with them--now my others cats could have it too. I've been crying all day, and just feel exhausted and depressed.

I wish you the best of luck--I know how you feel--I love my babies so much, too.
post #15 of 18
Hi,

I just had this happen with one cat (2 faint ELISAs; 1 negative IFa). The vets (2 opinions) said this simply means the virus has not gotten into their bone marrow, and they will probably turn out to be a positve later.

MargeCat
post #16 of 18
i dont know if this will give you any reassurance, but my cat lived felv+ for 15years. About a month ago i had to put him to sleep due to congestive heart failure. I don't know if the leukemia had anything to do with it, but he lived a long happy life. I also had another cat while he was alive, she's 1 1/2 now and is doing fine (she was vaccinated against felv). They were separated most of the time, but everyday i let her run around in the same rooms as him, just keeping a careful eye.
post #17 of 18
Thank you so much! I'm feeling so disheartened right now...it's been such an awful day for us. My vet did say I should send them away, though; and I think the best we can hope for is that the other 6 cats don't get it. It;s going to break my heart to give up the 3 positive cats; even though they were fosters, we had just decided to adopt them (except for the 1st one), as the others had tested negative awhile ago. We fell in love with them; I'll particularly miss the little girl--what a sweet baby she is.

Thanks again,

MargeCat
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MargeCat View Post
Thank you so much! I'm feeling so disheartened right now...it's been such an awful day for us. My vet did say I should send them away, though; and I think the best we can hope for is that the other 6 cats don't get it. It;s going to break my heart to give up the 3 positive cats; even though they were fosters, we had just decided to adopt them (except for the 1st one), as the others had tested negative awhile ago. We fell in love with them; I'll particularly miss the little girl--what a sweet baby she is.

Thanks again,

MargeCat
MargeCat: I know the emotional roller coaster you are on right now. Reread some of the advice in this thread. Your emotions are still raw and you are reacting to those, not thinking this thru thoroughly. I suggest you open up a thread on your particular situation and let people help you through this ordeal.

*hugs*
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