New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

FeLV

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is my first post on this site and I'm hoping to get some information on FeLV. I just found out that my 5 year old female cat (Hannah) has FeLV. She has been healthy her entire life and we've had her for 4 years. She just recently stopped eating, had a fever and diahrrea. She's at home now and seems to be doing fine besides a bit of sneezing. We have two male cats living in the house as well. Elroy has been with us for 3.5 years and Quigley just under 2 months. We took the males in to get tested and it turns out that Quigley has also tested positive. We know that Quigley was tested by the shelter before we adopted him and his results were negative. My vet wants to retest the males in 6 weeks. She also wants me to keep the cats separated which has been exhausting and emotionally draining in itself.

Any help or advice anyone might have as to what we might do to lower the risk of exposure to Elroy would be greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone has any experience with FeLV, I'd love to know what you have done and what has helped. Thanks so much.
post #2 of 10
Welcome to TCS! I only wish it were a different reason which brought you here.

Almost four years ago, I found myself in almost the same position....

Out of the blue, the love of my life who had not had a sick day in his seven years collaped, made sounds that I have not heard to this day, lost control of all bodily functions and struggled to breathe. The following few weeks were a nightmare from which I hope you may be spared.

At that time I was totally alone, was unaware of the most basic resources (like this site) and was even unaware of the commonly suggested "get a second opinion" which is frequently shared here.

Since then I have learned of resources which were available back then...too late for my James, but with any luck, will aid you both to get through the immediate crisis and ensure that both Hannah and Quigley go on to live long, healthy and happy lives.

First, know that a diagnosis of FeLV is not a death sentence. Then, should it be suggested to you that euthanasia is the best option, find a competent Veterinarian who is willing to work with you. Many Vets do recommend it - in my opinion, these individuals are either incompetent (to include ignorance) or unwilling to engage with treatment.

I will tell you what I would do today if faced with the same scenario. First, I would "connect" with owners/parents of other FeLV+ cats...there are a number of groups of such people online, many of whom have been successfully managing their kitties' health for years. You will find one here and a second here. I am sure you will be warmly welcomed and that you can expect the best, up-to-date advice available 24/7/365.

These groups are not substitutes for competent Veterinary care, but - and I'm sure you will quickly discover this - the collective knowledge and experience of the groups far outweighs that of any individual Veterinarian.

The second to-do for me would be to begin educating myself about FeLV - one of the best resources on the Internet can be found here. People in those specialized groups may recommend others.

Fo information sake, it may be that Hannah may not have infected Quigley and that he was already infected when tested at the shelter. The common FeLV test searches for antibodies, not the virus itself, and these may not have developed when the testing was done.

I wish you the very best - and, please, do join up with those other caregivers. I only wish I had known about their groups. (BTW - lots of emotional support to be found there too!)
post #3 of 10
Hello and welcome to TCS I'm so sorry about Hannah's diagnosis, but also very glad she seems to be recovering.

I agree with your vet in that re-testing the boys in 6 weeks is a good choice. Since Elroy has been with you for 3.5 years and he tested negative, there is a good chance that he fought off the disease when initially infected and is now immune, but keeping everyone as separate as possible until the re-tests is best, even though it can be difficult.

I personally have been somewhat of a leukemia haven for the last 8 years, all 15 of my cats are positive. I have seen all the bad and the good that leukemia has to offer. If you ever need to chat, please feel free to PM me.

I agree with blaise in that education is the key, although many sites have conflicting info because FeLV is not that well of an understood disease. The sites I recommend are
http://www.catvets.com/search/search...=search&q=Felv
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/felv.html
post #4 of 10
I have no experience with this but I wish you Prayers and good for all your little guys.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
As it turns out, our vet did tell us to euthanize Hannah the day we found out about the FeLV+ status. We couldn't bare to do it so quickly so that is the reason we decided to take her home with us. And we're very happy we did because she seems to be having pretty good days so far.

One of the biggest mysteries for us right now is whether Elroy has built up an antibody in his system from having been around it so long or if the likely answer is that he had it but then "kicked" it. Any ideas?

Also...what do you guys think about the leukemia vaccine? My vet says she would recommend that for Elroy but not for Hannah or Quigley. Possibly in the future for Quigley if he ends up testing negative in 6 weeks.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsai View Post
As it turns out, our vet did tell us to euthanize Hannah the day we found out about the FeLV+ status. We couldn't bare to do it so quickly so that is the reason we decided to take her home with us. And we're very happy we did because she seems to be having pretty good days so far.

One of the biggest mysteries for us right now is whether Elroy has built up an antibody in his system from having been around it so long or if the likely answer is that he had it but then "kicked" it. Any ideas?

Also...what do you guys think about the leukemia vaccine? My vet says she would recommend that for Elroy but not for Hannah or Quigley. Possibly in the future for Quigley if he ends up testing negative in 6 weeks.
good for you I get so disappointed when i hear of vets that do that

FeLV is a mystery in this area, some people say that a cat can "kick" the virus, eg, shed an infection, others say that a cat can develop an immunity I really don't know what the correct answer is.

As far as the vaccine, if you are going to continue to have all three of your cats and one is definitely positive, the vaccine is better than nothing. It has been shown to be only about 80-90% effective. The vaccine does nothing for already positive cats and the vaccine will not give false positive test results in the future.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsai View Post
As it turns out, our vet did tell us to euthanize Hannah the day we found out about the FeLV+ status....
Oh my, that would be a red flag to me.....from what I have observed, most "ordinary" Vets do not do well with chronic feline diseases....

I'm going to PM you one example from "elsewhere" which demonstrates the differences in Veterinarians and how expertise from a specialized support group saved one (very fortunate) kitty's life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katiemae1277 View Post
...I agree with blaise in that education is the key...
...combined with observation skills...you'll need to watch Hannah and Quigley like a hawk and almost develop a "sixth sense" so that you pick up any subtle changes in behaviour, appearance, etc. As well, I have seen many instances where parents of chronically ill kitties pick up on something peculiar, but choose to take a wait-and-see stance...this is dangerous, because time is often of the essence in initiating treatments. Underlying all is having a competent Veterinarian who is willing to work with you.....
post #8 of 10
I first came to this site nearly 6 years ago with the same question that brought you here. My heart goes out to you for your situation.

Many vets are not well versed with FeLV. I don't blame them, its a disease that is not well understood outside the research community and most vets don't keep up with the research. FeLV follows a very similar progression as HIV in humans - you can get infected with the virus, but it may or may not progress to full blown AIDS.

The tests that vets will run in their office only test for exposure to the virus, not the actual disease itself. Your vet would have run an Elisa test, also called a stick test, which is not sufficient to make a ruling on full blown FeLV. Only the IFA test, which is a more extensive blood test that must be sent to a lab can accurately diagnose FeLV. My vet had never run the test when I first met him, but I demanded that he do it in my case. Many vets are completely unaware of this test - mine had to read the protocal for the test before he could do it.

Cats that are exposed to the virus will test positive on the Elisa test. It then takes roughly 30 days for their systems to either fight it off, or for it to turn into full FeLV disease. That is why they want to retest your other cats, to see if they have either started to develop it (your older boy), or have fought it off (your younger boy).

I suggest that you wait the 6 weeks and ask for an IFA test for Hannah. She could also be in that transition phase and may not actually have the disease. If either of your boys test positive, ask for the IFA test for them also.

Kittens often do not show up as positive until they are a bit older, so if the shelter ran the test while he was very young, it could have come up negative. Do not get upset with the shelter for this.

As for vaccinations? If they are actually positive, a vaccination is not going to help them. If they are negative, the vaccinations will help prevent them from getting it, but that is not 100%. Roughly 1 in 10 vaccinated cats can develop FeLV if exposed to it for a sufficiently long period of time. FeLV is not spread thru casual contact. It usually occurs during mating or fighting, but can occur with resident cats that share food/water bowls, litter boxes, bedding, and groom each other. But that type of contact typically takes months to infect, not any single exposure. The FeLV virus is actually very fragile outside of its host, so disinfection, etc is not really needed.

Katiemae is our resident expert on the care of FeLV positive cats and I agree with the links that she posted.

I hope that none of yours are actually infected and send vibes your way to keep up your strength as you work through this ordeal. I know I was a complete wreck and lost about 40 pounds from worry. We are here if you simply need to vent or have a good cry.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi all. Just wanted to come back and give you an update on my 3 beautiful babies. We had Quigley and Elroy retested for FeLV. Quigley tested positive 2 months ago and Elroy tested negative. Quigley retested positive on the Elisa and Elroy retested negative on the IFA. We did not have Hannah retested this time around. Elroy was vaccinated when we found out that two were positive.

All seem to be fine now...eating, playing and enjoying life. I just hope I can keep them around for many more years to come. Thank you for all the support and advice!
post #10 of 10
Thank you for the update!

The key to longevity in a FeLV is preventative care, so if you notice the littlest thing 'off" in your cats' behavior, straight off to the vet you must go. Strong anti-biotics at the first sign of illness is my recommendation
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health