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feline leukemia questions and opinions needed.

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
For a week now, I have been reading everything I could get my hands on regarding feline leukemia ....

I put a cat down last week who was ill... Festus...He went to the vet three weeks in a row. Week one was due to me thinking something was in his throat due to eating problems. He had fever. He was put on antibiotics to clear his gums up and was to come back the following week to get his teeth cleaned. We went back and he still had fever plus a sinus infection. By this time, I had been reading about the causes of gingivitis and the thing that kept popping up was cat leukemia. When he went back to the vet, he had fever 104 and was still very sick. The vet tested him and he came back positive and we made the decision to put him to sleep. Then the real nightmare started.

I have 22 beloved ferals. About 5 let other humans touch them. The rest are strictly wild kitties w ho only like me and hubby and some still aren't sure of us. The last one we took in was two years ago. These cats have history together. Some have been with us nearly 10 yrs. Several.

Within the next two weeks, I should know the results of whether the rest of my cats are infected. They had all been vaccinated.. Two others are displaying symptoms.. Weight loss, puny, changing hair coat but still very energetic. They are my sweet little Honeysuckle and Angie. Both have always been special.

My vet has suggested after the results are in, i need to pts the infected cats.......if any

This is killing me to even consider this.... I have a cat enclosure but also feel cruel to consider separating them in this manner... It is like I am waiting for the to die. Everything I have read says to put them down. EVERYTHING

Then I found this article below and a small glimmer of hope started to shine.


I have attached it. I want to know 'from experience' if this is a wise stand.... I put the part that gave me hope in red.

I guess what I am asking, is since they are already exposed, can we just keep living as we are and stay indoors??? I need opinion on this from someone who cares for leukemia positive cats.

My vet informed me that IF I CARE [and i do care] about my well animals, i will put the others down so the well ones can live a long quality life. I care about all of them. Sick or well. Is it cruel to put or leave well/sick cats together.

We have sanitized the house. We removed all carpeting and burnt it. We have tried to sterlize every nook and cranny of our house including the cat enclosure. By the way our present enclosure has three beds but is only 10 x 20. Not big enough to house sick cats. My husband is very against leaving any of our potentially sick babies outside by the way.

If this comes across wrong, I am sorry. I am very very stressed and have been crying for days about my babies. I don't want vibes. I want answers. I can't handle sympathy because I will fall apart right now. I am trying to be strong and I have never felt weaker.

I am just trying to figure out what to do before I know the results....

I told elly the best solution is for all to either test negative or all test positive .

Thank you in advance,
post #2 of 43
I hope this turns out ok so you can read it......My experience with FeLV was a sad one.......I adopted two kittens and had what you call a false negative with a CITE test.....I then merged them with my other two cats. My oldest cat had zero to do with them...she hated them...my 1 year old male was in hog heaven......Before one was a year old he had a tumor pop up behind his eye almost overnight.......It really flipped me out because I knew in my gut it was FeLV or FIV...I just did....and I was right....He tested HOT positive for FeLV...so I knew his brother had it and in the end my year old Mushu got it to from playing with them..in the end three out of my four were positive. Within a year I had to put down three of my four cats who were vaccinated but had fluke test results......

This is what I chose to do: I separated my cats those with FeLV and the one without it..which was quite easy since she liked the bedroom only.....and mine were domesticated.....indoor only cats.....I then treated the symptoms if they were treatable and if they were not I euthanized. It made for a very hard year for me so while I don't recommend putting your cats down simply because they are FeLV positive I can say I would only keep them alive if you can indeed separate them completely from your own cats that test negative and if they are INDOOR only.....If you can't do that to me it isn't right to knowingly spread the disease....and while I understand your sadness....it killed me I do know of people who keep FeLV cats in their houses separate from their well ones and they all reside happily but they are completely separate and they do not ever see the outside thus there is no chance to spread the disease. A cat can even carry FeLV for awhile and be asymptomatic but I have to agree with your vet those that test negative you should separate. I am not saying put down those who don't but I do think separation is a must and if you do have those who test positive you have alternatives that may take some creative thinking but cats adapt and you can make your situation work I bet. I hope. Maybe you won't have to worry about it at all....I am praying you won't.
post #3 of 43
FeLV is a fatal disease...but that doesn't mean you should kill your cats.

PM katiemae1277....she rescues FeLV+s. She can offer a world of advice.

Yes, their lifespans will be shorter, but that doesn't make them any less deserving of a chance to live. Unforutnately, if they are displaying symptoms of being ill, there may be little to nothing you can do.

I'm very sorry you're going through this. If you need anything, PM me.
post #4 of 43
Thread Starter 
It's 3am and I am drinking my first cup of coffee..........

I guess the thing to do is wait and see who is positive and who is negative.....

There is only one stray cat in our area. I can handle him. Due to large wildlife and hawks, mine have always been inside the majority of the time. Since finding out about Festus, no one can went back outside except Toe. He uses the restroom outside and then lays on the porch. He doesn't wander off. He is old and like the fresh air. All the others, I have kept inside.

Since the kit I am ordering has 3 extra tests in it, I am going to test the stray cat too...... We nicknamed him "Stray" and he comes around every few days or so.

I have already pm's Katie. I just haven't heard from her yet....

Thank you so much....... and Caroleen, that is a heartbreaking story........ You have lived it. You know exactly what I am going through.. You have given me much to think about. I hope your one kitty is still healthy....

I have several cats that are loners. They don't play and they stay to themselves. And they don't groom other cats. And as far as I know, have never fought the others or been scratched.

Minny ** the ultimate loner... I feel she will test neg.
Socks ** another big loner... The other cats avoid her.
Cleo ** She growls loud and the others stop what they are doing.
Toe ** He is just mild mannered and doesn't care. He just watches them run and play.
Jimmy ** the newest cat. He watches them also.. He doesn't create waves at all.
Kissy ** She would prefer to be an only child.

My biggest fear is Felix......... He appears healthy. But he is Festus's brother. He is a loving cat but extremely jealous and strikes out at the others on occassion. Dovey is the same way.

All the others play hard together.....

This is a nightmare.

post #5 of 43
I am so sorry. When my cat had FIP I was terrified of losing Mary too but the vet said that she had already been exposed so there was not much I can do.
I have heard of FeLV cats living a long time.
I would not euthanize any of them unless they are showing symptoms and are suffering. The odds are actually on your side since no others except for tow seem ill.
post #6 of 43
I am so very sorry you are going thru this. I went thru the same problem 5 years ago and that is when I joined this site for answers. You are having the exact reaction that I had at the time. Your posts mirror my reaction at the time. I also pts the first cat that tested positive. Here is what I learned.

If you have vaccinated all of the cats, there will be about 10% chance that one of them is truly positive, and not simply exposed. If unvaccinated, the odds go up to around 25%-33%. Realize that when cats are exposed, they will test positive on the Elisa (or stick) test. That does not mean that they have the virus. Only the IFA test can identify if the disease has settled in their systems. It takes anywhere from 30-60 days for an exposed cat to have time to try to beat the disease and during that time they will continue to show positive on Elisa. This is why they suggest retesting after 30-60 days (you will find mixed information on the topic).

You cannot do anything until you have the results back in. Take any positive cats back to the vet for an IFA test. If that test is positive, then you can make a decision. If that test is negative, then you should isolate the cat for another 30 days and have the test repeated. I recommend this because you are obviously stressed about the decision (I certainly was) and you will want to make any decisions based on facts.

At the time this happened to me, I consulted with the head of a no kill Humane Society. I had both an outside feral colony and 13 cats from that colony living inside my home. My cats were testing positive both inside and outside the house. Her advice was that there are times when you have to consider the needs of the greater cat nation over the good of an individual cat. It is very harsh advice, but as I thought thru the reality of my situation, I really struggled putting all of my cats at risk to keep a few alive.

My very personal decision was to euthanize the cats that were proven to be positive (thru IFA, not just Elisa test). My heartbreak was my 3 year old Ruby. He was in his prime, healthy until that time, and in spite of the fact that he was vaccinated, he was the one that contracted it (my 10% statistic). His brother Pinky successfully fought off the disease. He also showed symptoms but came up negative. The 2 of them were closest to the 2 kittens that I brought in from the feral colony that had the disease (long story why my vet didn't test them when I brought them into my home). I isolated him for a while, but the stress of being separated from the other cats (he was very social) made him very ill. FeLV positive cats do not do well when they are under stress. For the outside feral colony my choice was easier. I lived in an area where free roaming cats were the norm and there were always new, unneutered cats visiting my house. I felt the need to prevent the disease from spreading to the outdoor population.

In total, I lost 3 of my indoor cats (the 2 kittens and Ruby), and 6 in the colony. I cried every day throughout the 4 months that I went thru this challenge and lost 40 pounds out of stress.

This is going to be the worst experience you've gone thru in your life. Take a deep breath and arm yourself with information. Challenge your vet about simply euthanizing any cat that tests positive. At the time this happened to me, my vet had never run an IFA test. He simply suggested euthanasia. He had a good sense, but he wasn't current in the medical literature available on the topic.

You will find a wide variety of opinions from the folks here, including my own. You must find a way to make the decision based on your own personal situation and what you can live with long term. No one will judge you for the decisions that you make.

Sending you the strongest possible for you to find a way to work through this situation. If you want to talk about it, just PM me.

post #7 of 43
Yanno Jenn dun fear Felix yet and I say it because of this....I know you said they are inside but were they before you got them? Because if not there is a chance that if he and his brother were outdoor cats at one time you don't know if their mother gave it to them or if maybe one of them contracted it after birth, later in life from another cat. I know how hard it is not to know but soon you will and then you can decide. Since they are indoors my thoughts would be separate if you have any others that test positive, which you may not if they didn't have much to do with each other unless they shared the same food bowl. It honestly is a crap shoot and until you know the results I'd just plan on how you can separate your positives (if you have them) from your negatives and read up on the disease. FeLV is a death sentence, or sounds like it when you find out yours have it but it isn't always Jenn. Not all cats develop symotoms so you have a chance of NOT having to put them to sleep if you can just find a place to separate them. It can be done. When I was a vet tech I took care of one of our clients cats while she was gone (she had 45 plus cats). Her house was immaculate yet she had ferals, FeLV positives and just your average joe kitty all in one house, all perfectly divided. Yours are indoors and since you are used to them there I think you can do this. I know it'll hurt and it will be an experience that no one wants to go through but I also know of cats who have lived long lives being FeLV positive. I also know you said yours were vaccinated so you know you might just fare better in all this then you are expecting and since you are keeping them indoors you have no reason to euthanize unless you have to and you'll know when that will be. Mine lived for a year symptom free. My best friends lived 5. Some are just carriers. The possibilites of life expectancy are endless and euthanasia would be your choice if they were outside but since they are in and I have mucho faith that you can separate yours euthanasia IS NOT your only option, love them until the time comes, if it does and try to have a happy groups of kittens. I am praying for you and your kitties.
post #8 of 43
Originally Posted by CC12 View Post
I would not euthanize any of them unless they are showing symptoms and are suffering. The odds are actually on your side since no others except for two seem ill.
that's probably what i would do, too, especially since they've been vaccinated.
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
mom of many,

Thank you for your post ....... I am so sorry.. You are so right about this being the worst experience that I will ever go through. I have cried till I think I can't cry anymore and then it starts again....

I have been looking around the net for santuary's that the positive ones could go to.

I found this... http://www.homeforlife.org/vision.htm

It looks like an awesome place. I am fixing to send them an email and see what's up about it. Everything else I found is not something that my 'babies' could live with in my opinion. We are just country folk but we love them, well or sick, and I can't just put them anywhere that I think they might suffer one little tiny bit.

I will not be able to keep them separated at my house. It is not possible. Our house is tiny and our enclosure is small. Only 10 x 20 and it has no auto heating or cooling. I could not put my cats out there to permanently stay when they are used to lounging on the bed and in my arms at any given time. They would not understand that. They would feel that I didn't love them. And that....would cause stress to them.

I could not turn it around and put only well cats outside either for exactly the same reasons.

My life will never ever ever ever be the same happy life as it has been. I will never get over this.

I just finished mopping my entire house with bleach to kill today's supply of germs.... There were two piles of vomit on the floor when I got home from work. I don't know who did it.

Ive got to contact this santuary and pray they can help me before I have to euthenize.
There is a stark reality going on in my house that I cannot escape from.

Nothing is going to change that. I am already grieving and it is making me crazy.

The only easy solution is for them all to test positive or for them all to test negative.
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
I sent them an email......... We will see if they respond.

I am hoping with everything in me.... I gave them the cat site info in case they need to read about my kitties.

I told them I am buying the tests on the 2nd when I get paid but I am trying to think ahead of what to do.

I called Juan and told him and he said we could drive up there together with the positive ones if they accept us.

We'll just have to see. If everything is as it appears, it would be a dream come true for a nightmare of a situation. It is around Stillwater, Minnesota.
post #11 of 43
I replied to your PM, Jenn, and I'd also like to add that article is excellent if you have any further questions let me know
post #12 of 43

I'm sorry. I only had three and I can safely say that situation is one that was devastating to me. I'm sorry you are in it and not really in a situation where you can separate either. =( I hope that the sanctuary will help you. You might want to check your local humane society or even your vet to see if they know of anyone who adopts FeLV positive cats. There are rescue groups for them. I googled FeLV positive rescue and pulled up quite a few that maybe you could place yours with IF you have any. I'm hoping you simply don't. When will you find out the results? I guess your vet had to send them off? I wasn't sure I know I had one ran today and knew within minutes so I know 2 weeks would be utterly awful. I'm sorry you are in that state of wait but I have hope. Lots of good ones.

post #13 of 43
Thread Starter 
I am ordering the saliva tests on my next payday. That's why I am waiting........ waiting to get paid so I can pay for it..... It's 3:50am and I have about 10 minutes before I get ready for work.....

I can't put them in just any place. I can't put them in the shelter even if it was a no kill facility to live in a cage for the rest of their lives after rescuing them. I can't do it.

I can't put them in just any home either. I have special cats with special needs. Some are crippled, three legged, old broken bones and feral. They are not your fun of the mill cats.

99 percent would be absolutely terrified of any other human being. They don't come out and lounge around when people come over. They disappear and hide...

I"ll just have to wait and see who is positive and who is negative and see what I can do at that time.

I also just checked my email. The place in Minnesota will help me. I have to do the IFA test and test for FIV first....... thank god....

I am checking at work today on our flex plan to see if vet care qualifies......
post #14 of 43
Good luck......I didn't even know they did saliva tests. Been awhile since I have been in the vet business. Are they any cheaper? I know the blood test is outrageous here unless you go through an agency. I had to pay for one yesterday. =( I don't know maybe I am just crazy but if you are in a isolated area would it be the end of the world to vaccinate any new ones that happen to find you and leave things as are? I don't know where you live and who is around you "in thar hills" but if it is rural....I don't know...Maybe that is wrong but it is hard to part with your kids. I wish there was a great answer. =( I feel bad for you.
post #15 of 43
You might want to call around the shelters in your area to see if they can refer you to a low cost vet to help with the testing, or can you use one of their vets? The shelter where I volunteered was charged the cost of the test by their vet (about $7). If you can find a no kill shelter in your area, they would be a good one to work with for referrals.

Plead your case with them. Let them know the origins of your cats - they are the cast offs from society or feral cats that you took into your home. They will be more willing to work with you if they understand your background. You are not looking for a free ride. You are looking out for the welfare of your family. A lot of the people that come to shelters are those that really don't care about their pets and it is always refreshing to them to help someone who does care.

Continued as you work thru this.
post #16 of 43
Thread Starter 
I am keeping them all... I can live with this..

I am doing the saliva test next week and vaccinate the neg ones.

I am putting the neg ones outside for about two weeks so the shot can kick in... I cannot put the sick ones outside....

Then I am putting them all together and let them continue to live their kitty lives..

Anything other than this will cause major major stress and would shorten their time. And I don't want to put them down..

Putting them down would be kinder than 'displacing them at another location' as far as the leukemia goes...And since they are feral, it would be a double whammy to them.

We have a nice calm household the majority of the time.

Thank you everyone.!!

But this is what I have to do. Some of you will agree with this and some of you will disagree but this is what I can live with...

When I got home from work today I was against this even though Katie has suggested just keep them all together.

Then KittenKrazy told me her story.... And that is what did it.... and i especially thank you for sharing.

Right now I am still worried about them healthwise but I feel a huge load off my shoulders with this decision.

The vet is going to disagree with me but that's ok. He is a great vet that I trust and I will continue to value his opinion and I will continue to take all my animals to him because of his loving care.

And I'm sure others here will also disagree but ..... this is what I have to do. For me and for them.

All my babies have been thrown away at least once. I cannot do the same.

I still have a lot to do but at least I have a feasible plan in action...

I am going to bleach/disinfect daily till I know what's up....

With a lighter heart,

p.s. I have a sneaking suspicion several are sicker than I know. I have got to make some charts. I have shot shots, frontline charts, cat charts and now I need symptoms charts..... I have to keep track.
post #17 of 43
Originally Posted by jcribbs View Post
All my babies have been thrown away at least once. I cannot do the same.
This statement rings so true, Jenn.

I feel in my heart this is the best decision for you and your fur family I am always here if you need anything
post #18 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thank you Katie....

You are a real gem........ I thank you from the bottom of my !!

And I really really mean that.... Thank you all.... I don't mean this trite at all. I am very serious.

It's not over but like I said, I have a plan of action now so I can start doing ..... I know who can help me when I hit a bump in the road too and that means a lot as well.

I think I will sleep better tonight..


p.s. There is a huge storm on the horizon but it is calm in the house once again. And I mean that literaly. I need to unplug the computer. I think 'hail' is coming.....
post #19 of 43
Jenn, I support your decision 100% and am so glad you're at peace with things. Those kitties are so lucky to have you!
post #20 of 43
I honest to God couldn't see displacing mine......
or euthanasia even until they no longer had quality of life......
So to me....
There is no wrong in your decision......
If they have lived together thus far those that are negative simply are meant to be I feel.....
You can vaccinate them....
Not have total emotional upheaval more than you have already.....
And have a plan on doing something everyone can live with.....
It may not be ideal but you know it never is with FeLV involved....
It just punches you in the gut but once I had direction.....
I at least knew what to expect and what I needed to do.....
That gives you some comfort....
It did me anyway and at that time I could use all I could get....
I hope you the best in all of this.....
I kept mine until they reached the second stage of viremia and had to be put down but you know some cats test positive because they have the first stage but their immune system kicks in and halts the progression of it to the second stage......
I am just thinking optimistic thoughts for you......
and "negative" ones too....
I hope you get lots of negatives.....
post #21 of 43
Many years ago I faced a similar problem, and I made the same choice that you have. It was the best choice for everyone. The positive ones didn't all show symptoms.
I'm glad you have made peace with your decision.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
post #22 of 43

I have no advice or judgement, just that everything goes as well as possible for your and your babies.

It is more than evident by your posts that this awful event is tearing you up and your love for your furries will guide you in the best decision for your home.

I wish you all the luck in the world and hope that you get some good news along the way. I can't imagine being in your shoes.

post #23 of 43

I have no advice for you, because thank God I've never had to deal with Feline Leukemia.
But I agree 100% with your decision.
You've given all of these cats a happy home with lots of love and attention..something that they'd never known until they found you and Juan.

If I were in your shoes I'd have made the same decision.
Bless your heart, I'm be keeping you, Juan and all the furbabies in my Prayers
post #24 of 43
Fingers crossed for them - but cats can shed FeLV, and they do build up a natural immunity to it. Another thing you need to be aware of is that the FeLV vacc is only 85%, which is the same as their natural immunity. I do think you are doing the right thing, and to be honest, i am not sure about testing them, as even if one tests positive now, it could have just come into contact and be dealing with it, especially if you are only doing a saliva test. It can take up to 3 months for them to fully deal with it, so unless you retest any positive cats, you might not have an accurate picture.
post #25 of 43
Thread Starter 
i plan on resting a few times a year........... the negative ones...

And thank you everyone for the support. It has brought tears to my eyes. I was expecting an onslaught of negativity due to my decision.. This site never ceases to amaze me....

I love you all.........
post #26 of 43
Originally Posted by booktigger View Post
I do think you are doing the right thing, and to be honest, i am not sure about testing them, as even if one tests positive now, it could have just come into contact and be dealing with it, especially if you are only doing a saliva test. It can take up to 3 months for them to fully deal with it, so unless you retest any positive cats, you might not have an accurate picture.
This is a very good point that I'll expand upon. If you really aren't going to do anything differently with the negatives and the positives, then why bother testing them? Whether they come up negative or positive at this time, that can change. The positives could just be fighting off the virus and will turn negative, and the negatives could eventually be exposed to the true positives and turn positive.

Vaccinations are not fully effective and remember that about 10% of vaccinated cats can contract it under the right conditions (fighting, mating or very prolonged contact).

You know we all support your decision on this.
post #27 of 43
Thread Starter 
The difference is huge....... with current vaccinations. I can't even fathom NOT testing them. What is only one cat test is positive??? I will make a decision based on that one cat... If there are 15 positive, then I vaccinate the rest. But if only one is positive, I will probably put that one down. The tests are very important.

The shot averages about 85 percent success rate and mine have been vaccinated but they are not current.

In a closed in environment, such as a house , the chance of catching it -- if not up to date on the vacc's -- has a 40 percent higher chance than normally. And by normally, I mean unvaccinated cats that are around feline positive cats. And with that scenerio, t here is I think a 30 percent change of contracting it. Those same cats in a house, IF NON VACC, have a 70 percent change of getting sick. With vacc's it drops to 10-15 percent even in a house in a closed environment. I am not willing to play russian roulette with my pistol fully loaded. I plan on having it at least half empty. I want them to live.... not exist to die. There is a difference.

There is no way I am not going to test them. That would be very foolish on my part.

Look at those sweet little faces. They are counting on me and I am going to do the right thing by them -- like I always have. Vaccinations are a part of life when you have animals. The saliva tests have a 97.9 percent accuracy. That is right along beside the blood test. There is only a slight difference. And if it's in their saliva, they are spreading it. I will know what is going on and I will make my vaccination decision based on that. It is nothing but a thing to retest later in a few months to see if any change has taken place.

post #28 of 43
It is your decision, but not sure whether the saliva test will tell you whether they just have antibodies or whether they have the illness, I have never heard of it, I just know there are 2 different blood tests - one can show a 42% false positive. Also, if I remember rightly, once they have come into contact with it and dealt with it, they are immune for life, regardless of vaccinations. I do hope for your sake there is only one positive, but I do think with that number of cats, you will never know the true extent of it.
post #29 of 43
Thread Starter 
i know............ there is a lot of uncertainty...

But for now, this is the test I can afford so I can do them all at one time...... It is just the beginning.

And I have not read about a lifetime immunity.. I have read about immunity for an undetermined length of time however.

I am still reading everything I can get my hand on.... Most stuff is copycat info but some of it is really good. I am still in a learning mode.

And I did not mean to sound harsh in my earlier post. It's just that I have to vaccinate. I have to. That is not optional in my mind.

Also, I am doing a little research on a vitamin C diet. The lady at the place in MN told me a man in UTAH turned a colony around with this particular diet and a local lady there in MN has been using it for TEN year with excellent healing results.

So...... I will post more on this as I gain info. She is sending me some stuff about it. I will post more after work.
post #30 of 43
I am fully supportive of your decision. I can relate to wanting to at least get a handle on what is going on. If you have one positive then you can go further and get the in depth blood work. But if you have 5 or 15 then you have to come up with a different strategy. But it has to be something you can live with.
If you know which ones tested positive then you can keep an extra eye out.
I understand the logic of not testing but I also understand a need to know too.

Sending you loads of positive vibes.
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