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FeLV, Living With in a Multi-Cat Household

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Try as I might - I cannot find anything definitive regarding practical advice of how to live with a FeLV cat in my multi-cat household.

This article - on this website - addresses General information, but not specifics.
http://www.thecatsite.com/Health/87/...mia-Virus.html

Frankly I am weary of all the varied information as to how long this virus lives outside of the body. Some say hours, some say days. (?)

One source hits on more of the points, but, frankly - I'm not confident of the scientific information as I would be from a website such as Cornell.
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...9102022AAjUs7l

Here the questioner asked about spreading the virus via human contact.
This question is exactly what I'm interested in.

Buddy is confined to his room 24/7, and has been for the last eleven (11) months.
I am in and out of that room many times a day. I touch him, hug him, and love on him as much as I can - spending at least two hours in his room with him each night.

The Answer to the Questioner is close to the practical answer that I need.
Here's a portion of the answer:

Quote:
FeLV, feline leukemia, isn't as easy to spread as once thought. While it CAN be spread via saliva and casual contact, most cats with healthy immune systems are not susceptible, it turns out. Even with regular contact. The owners over on the FeLV lists on yahoogroups have been discussing this a lot. FeLV is also a virus, and technically you CAN carry it on your clothing and hands if the clothing and hands are damp - and still have it sort of viable 20 minutes later, but once dry, the virus is dead. So even if a FeLV cat sneezes on you and you don't wash your hands, once it's dry, it's dead and not an issue.
Each time I leave Buddy's room, I concentrate on getting my hands washed. One source says to scrub my hands for two verses of "Happy Birthday" - the time in which it takes to kill the virus. (?)

I have forgotten on about 4 occasions - and have touched another cat, only to run for the alcohol to clean his/her coat. Not sure that would help, but since I don't know - I do it.

I've given up on changing clothes after leaving Buddy. I do try to wear a long shirt that I remove before I leave Buddy's room, but not fanatical about my clothing - the vets don't seem to change their lab coats after handling each cat - so ??.

I did go and join one of the Yahoo Groups - but, yet again, I am looking for reliable information on how I can practically care for my FeLV cat while not infecting the others. (I'm not in favor of the vaccine - heard too much bad about it. )

Maybe you have a source? Cornell doesn't help me, I'm hoping someone here can provide some Resources. My hands are beginning to suffer. Wearing gloves while loving on Buddy just doesn't work.
post #2 of 17
I'll put some time into and see if I can come up with anything.
post #3 of 17
OK, here's the chain of thought.

MOST FeLV information sites state that the virus does not live outside the body for more than a few hours - and requires a moist environment. Here's an example, and I'm sure you've seen this a lot: http://www.lbah.com/feline/felv.html "It is caused by a retrovirus (FIV is also caused by a retrovirus) that is spread from cat to cat by saliva and respiratory secretions. It is found in the urine, but this is not readily transmitted this way.

The virus does not live more than a few hours outside a cats body unless it is in a moist environment, like a water bowl. This means that cats that share litter pans and feeding bowls, along with cats that fight, are at risk."

I found this site: http://www.maybeckvet.com/felineleukemia.html. It is not particularly accurate, and like all the other sites, the information is not cited. But it did say something interesting and in a slightly different way than other sites: "Retroviruses, as a general rule, do not survive well in the environment outside the host."

So rather than look for information on FeLV in particular - as the only scholarly articles I could find didn't address the issue of how long it survives outside the body - I searched instead on retroviruses. Found this very interesting information: http://www.think-fitness.de/html/hiv_critics.html "HIV stands for "Human Immune deficiency Virus." But, of course, no scientist today still believes HIV is a virus. Most call it a retrovirus, some more advanced researchers call it a harmless viral particle.

The history of medicine mirrors the advances in microscopes. Each stronger microscope reveals new stuff. Doctors and drug companies immediately posit that this new little thing is the "probable cause" of whatever condition lacks a profitable treatment. Then they devise a way to kill the new speck - or at least measure it.

Retroviruses, being smaller than viruses, were discovered more recently than the "HIV" label. Unlike viruses, which can live outside of the body, retroviruses are not complete beings. They can only live in another complete being."

This led me to this information - it's from the CDC, but via a different website: http://www.thebody.com/content/art17220.html?ic=2004

This confirms that retroviruses are not complete beings and require the host to reproduce... which, to me, confirms that in a dry environment (on a surface), they do not exist long. In a moist environment, they will live longer (like in the water bowl). But according to the CDC "no one has been infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface." I know FeLV isn't HIV... but there has been SO much more work done on HIV - and as FeLV, FIV, and HIV are all retroviruses, it seems the information about retroviruses is what answers the question.

Given this information on retroviruses, it seems to me that petting Buddy with your hands, washing them, and then drying them... and then not petting your other kitties for an hour or so after you've washed your hands - should be more than sufficient precaution. IF Buddy drooled on your clothes or shoes and IF your other kitties lick that spot, that might be a risk. But that seems quite unlikely - doesn't it?

Oh shoot - I did find a study that indicated that 17% of cats in multi-cat households became infected with FeLV when NOT separated from FeLV positive kitty. I didn't bookmark it. But that is also partially what makes me think that just keeping him separated with the hand-washing and time-to-dry precaution is sufficient.
post #4 of 17
I'm glad that Buddy is doing well. I have done lots of research, but cannot improve on what LDG told you. This is my fourth year loving my Felv positives. They have their own room, I wash my hands, and either change shirts or turn them inside out while I am in there. Bedding, bowls, litter boxes or food are never mixed or exchanged, same with kitty carriers.

You are doing the best you can to keep Buddy happy and your other furbabies safe.

I copied your screen door idea, though not for my Felv girls. Its great! Kayenne was finally joined by another companion in May... so she is no longer lonely. It did take them awhile to warm up to each other though...

Can Buddy have a friend?

Good Luck!

Lisa, Kayenne and Portia
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
OK, here's the chain of thought.

MOST FeLV information sites state that the virus does not live outside the body for more than a few hours - and requires a moist environment. Here's an example, and I'm sure you've seen this a lot: http://www.lbah.com/feline/felv.html "It is caused by a retrovirus (FIV is also caused by a retrovirus) that is spread from cat to cat by saliva and respiratory secretions. It is found in the urine, but this is not readily transmitted this way.

The virus does not live more than a few hours outside a cats body unless it is in a moist environment, like a water bowl. This means that cats that share litter pans and feeding bowls, along with cats that fight, are at risk."

I found this site: http://www.maybeckvet.com/felineleukemia.html. It is not particularly accurate, and like all the other sites, the information is not cited. But it did say something interesting and in a slightly different way than other sites: "Retroviruses, as a general rule, do not survive well in the environment outside the host."

So rather than look for information on FeLV in particular - as the only scholarly articles I could find didn't address the issue of how long it survives outside the body - I searched instead on retroviruses. Found this very interesting information: http://www.think-fitness.de/html/hiv_critics.html "HIV stands for "Human Immune deficiency Virus." But, of course, no scientist today still believes HIV is a virus. Most call it a retrovirus, some more advanced researchers call it a harmless viral particle.

The history of medicine mirrors the advances in microscopes. Each stronger microscope reveals new stuff. Doctors and drug companies immediately posit that this new little thing is the "probable cause" of whatever condition lacks a profitable treatment. Then they devise a way to kill the new speck - or at least measure it.

Retroviruses, being smaller than viruses, were discovered more recently than the "HIV" label. Unlike viruses, which can live outside of the body, retroviruses are not complete beings. They can only live in another complete being."

This led me to this information - it's from the CDC, but via a different website: http://www.thebody.com/content/art17220.html?ic=2004

This confirms that retroviruses are not complete beings and require the host to reproduce... which, to me, confirms that in a dry environment (on a surface), they do not exist long. In a moist environment, they will live longer (like in the water bowl). But according to the CDC "no one has been infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface." I know FeLV isn't HIV... but there has been SO much more work done on HIV - and as FeLV, FIV, and HIV are all retroviruses, it seems the information about retroviruses is what answers the question.

Given this information on retroviruses, it seems to me that petting Buddy with your hands, washing them, and then drying them... and then not petting your other kitties for an hour or so after you've washed your hands - should be more than sufficient precaution. IF Buddy drooled on your clothes or shoes and IF your other kitties lick that spot, that might be a risk. But that seems quite unlikely - doesn't it?

Oh shoot - I did find a study that indicated that 17% of cats in multi-cat households became infected with FeLV when NOT separated from FeLV positive kitty. I didn't bookmark it. But that is also partially what makes me think that just keeping him separated with the hand-washing and time-to-dry precaution is sufficient.
Boy! Laurie, you've given me a lot of meat to chew on - this is exciting help! I never would have even thought to take your research path and start researching retroviruses - mainly because I was just thinking a virus is a virus. duh!

So, while I chew and digest all that you've provided here, - would alcohol be of benefit - it also dries quicker than water on my hands? I guess I'm looking for something quick because waiting an hour to handle the other cats could be a problem.

I'm thinking about putting a hairdryer outside of Buddy's room - maybe that's too crazy of an idea - but, sure would be a big reminder to wash up before I go any further down the hall.
post #6 of 17
Well, the alcohol will be harsh on your hands. I also don't know if it would help. Let me see if I can find that study that indicated that 17% of cats in a multi cat home with an kitty with FeLV wound up with just 17% of the cats being infected.

The bottom line is that a healthy immune system must be able to fight off FeLV - otherwise it would spread uncontrollably throughout stray/feral cat populations given sharing of food, water, mutual grooming, &etc.

If you google information about transmission of viruses, which are complete beings and some can live on surfaces for several days, you find that the main thing that helps prevent them spreading is simply washing your hands. So with THAT information, I have to think that just washing your hands well with soap and water should be enough. I threw the let them dry for an hour in there just to be extra cautious. But it probably isn't necessary at all.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Docs Mom View Post
I'm glad that Buddy is doing well. I have done lots of research, but cannot improve on what LDG told you. This is my fourth year loving my Felv positives. They have their own room, I wash my hands, and either change shirts or turn them inside out while I am in there. Bedding, bowls, litter boxes or food are never mixed or exchanged, same with kitty carriers.

You are doing the best you can to keep Buddy happy and your other furbabies safe.

I copied your screen door idea, though not for my Felv girls. Its great! Kayenne was finally joined by another companion in May... so she is no longer lonely. It did take them awhile to warm up to each other though...

Can Buddy have a friend?

Good Luck!

Lisa, Kayenne and Portia
Thank you for the encouragement - glad to be able to help with the screen door thingy - this website, with the members here, have given so much, it good to hear when I've been able to also contribute.

RE: friend for Buddy
Sorry I have to speak frankly here ... What stops us from getting a friend for Buddy is the problem of our (my Husband and myself) ages (60's). It's going to be hard to outlive the 8 we already have - they could easily reach 20 years old - even Gray who has tested positive for FIV. I sometimes want to weep thinking that the cats would have to be separated to find other homes (or put into a cage) should we become ill and not be able to care for them.
Otherwise, Buddy would have a friend in a heartbeat. Right now he seems to be okay with just little 'ol me.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
Well, the alcohol will be harsh on your hands. I also don't know if it would help. Let me see if I can find that study that indicated that 17% of cats in a multi cat home with an kitty with FeLV wound up with just 17% of the cats being infected.

The bottom line is that a healthy immune system must be able to fight off FeLV - otherwise it would spread uncontrollably throughout stray/feral cat populations given sharing of food, water, mutual grooming, &etc.

If you google information about transmission of viruses, which are complete beings and some can live on surfaces for several days, you find that the main thing that helps prevent them spreading is simply washing your hands. So with THAT information, I have to think that just washing your hands well with soap and water should be enough. I threw the let them dry for an hour in there just to be extra cautious. But it probably isn't necessary at all.
Alcohol - yep - I think that's when my hands began to be dryer. I would be interested in the study you found.

I'm relying on the other cats having the healthy immune system for any accidents that I happen to make forgetting to wash before touching them. ?

On some terms, the cats that are out and about on their own must have a giant dose of healthy immune system. We bring them inside to protect them from all the dangers of roaming around outside - but then, may be introducing them to other troublesome things that may promote other health issues. (?)

Okay, now back to my Googling with all the new words and ideas that you've provided. I appreciate you, Laurie! Thank you!
post #9 of 17
I'll just tell you about my experience. My cat Princess had Leukemia, when I found out I got so scared, so i tested all my kitties, Baddy was also positove, the rest were negative, they all had some contact of course, but Lucas
( who was tested twice) Fuzzy and Flaqui are all negative.

Whne I foudn out Princess and baddy were FeLv positive I confined them to one area of the house and I played with them and hug them and gave them all the attention and love they deserved, then I washed my hands and that was it. THe vet told me to wash my hands and to clean the house with Lysol. he told me not to let them be together or eat together. Also, if I held one of my FeLv kitties I changed my clothes as a precaution.
post #10 of 17
This is not the study I found yesterday. It's older (1976), but very interesting! Basically it was written before the FeLV vaccine existed, and it was seeking to determine if the epidemiology of FeLV was such that it made sense to pursue a vaccine. But one of the outcomes of the study was the determination that a) cats exposed to FeLV can develop immunity, and b) in this study, 12% of non-infected cats became infected in a multi cat environment. I don't know if this study was larger than the other one or not. Either way, here's the study: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/co...2/582.full.pdf
post #11 of 17
hey gloria, I hear you about the cats outliving you......

Its something that haunts me OFTEN.... Buddy is a sweetie ! You do the best you can ......

Lisa
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/news/docs/FLVirus.pdf

Quote:
It has recently come to the attention of the Feline Health Center (FHC) at Cornell University that some cat owners who are caring for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) positive cats have strong but varying opinions about the survivability of FeLV in the environment. Does FeLV survive in the environment for any length of time? Is the statement “if it dries it dies†accurate for FeLV or other feline viruses? Let’s look at the facts.
Virology 101
Viruses come in two main categories, enveloped and non-enveloped. Non-enveloped viruses consist of only nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) and a protective protein coat, with no envelope or lipid making up the viral particle. As such, they are generally very stable and resistant to inactivation by common environmental factors and many commonly used disinfectants. ...
...
Results of studies on other parvoviruses, herpesviruses, and coronaviruses of animals were consistent with our findings. [Brown, Am. J. Vet. Res. 42:1033-36, 1981] I have attempted to find published controlled studies that address the survivability of FeLV in the environment, but to date I have been unable to find a creditable report in the literature. Absent such a study, what can we learn from other studies that can reasonably predict what occurs with FeLV.
...
FeLV, HIV, and FIV all belong to the same virus family, retroviruses. It is reasonable to assume that the survivability of FeLV on a contaminated surface will be similar to that of HIV–days to weeks rather than minutes to hours. There is no scientific evidence to show that the simple process of drying of FeLV immediately renders it inactive or not infectious.
Published March, 2008

(FIV and FeLV are "enveloped".)

So, the absent of evidence causes different "reasonable assumptions".
Great!
post #13 of 17
I read one study that said that cats over 18 months old have only a 10%-13% chance of contracting FeLV even if living closely with a FeLV+ cat. And that's with constant contact. Somebody on a forum I was a member of previously had a FeLV+ cat living with her 9 other FeLV- cats, and had the negative cats vaccinated for FeLV. After the positive cat died she had all the other cats tested and none had contracted FeLV. I don't think the disease is as contagious as some believe (although kittens are very likely to contract it if exposed). I would say that if the cats don't share a litterbox or water dish the chances of transmitting the disease are basically zero.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/news/docs/FLVirus.pdf

Quote:
FeLV, HIV, and FIV all belong to the same virus family, retroviruses. It is reasonable to assume that the survivability of FeLV on a contaminated surface will be similar to that of HIV–days to weeks rather than minutes to hours.
Published March, 2008

(FIV and FeLV are "enveloped".)

So, the absent of evidence causes different "reasonable assumptions".
Great!
But this information published by Cornell - oddly, appears to be incorrect:

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/transmission.htm

Quote:
Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well outside the body, making the possibility of environmental transmission remote. HIV is found in varying concentrations or amounts in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, saliva, and tears. To obtain data on the survival of HIV, laboratory studies have required the use of artificially high concentrations of laboratory-grown virus. Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours. Since the HIV concentrations used in laboratory studies are much higher than those actually found in blood or other specimens, drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the theoretical risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed–essentially zero. Incorrect interpretations of conclusions drawn from laboratory studies have in some instances caused unnecessary alarm.

Results from laboratory studies should not be used to assess specific personal risk of infection because (1) the amount of virus studied is not found in human specimens or elsewhere in nature, and (2) no one has been identified as infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface. Additionally, HIV is unable to reproduce outside its living host (unlike many bacteria or fungi, which may do so under suitable conditions), except under laboratory conditions; therefore, it does not spread or maintain infectiousness outside its host.
It's the same information as before - but this is the link to the CDC.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
But this information published by Cornell - oddly, appears to be incorrect:

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/transmission.htm



It's the same information as before - but this is the link to the CDC.
No wonder I'm confused!
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Willowy View Post
I read one study that said that cats over 18 months old have only a 10%-13% chance of contracting FeLV even if living closely with a FeLV+ cat. And that's with constant contact. Somebody on a forum I was a member of previously had a FeLV+ cat living with her 9 other FeLV- cats, and had the negative cats vaccinated for FeLV. After the positive cat died she had all the other cats tested and none had contracted FeLV. I don't think the disease is as contagious as some believe (although kittens are very likely to contract it if exposed). I would say that if the cats don't share a litterbox or water dish the chances of transmitting the disease are basically zero.
Boy, I'd love that to be the case. It would make my life (and those caring for FeLV cats) a lot easier!

Just as Laurie said -
Quote:
... just washing your hands well with soap and water should be enough
Still researching.

Thing is, I'm not at peace about having the FeLV negative cats vaccinated. I'd rather favor the idea that all the other cats are older and have healthy immune systems so that if I accidently touch one of them without washing my hands they'll still be okay. (?) Maybe I'm playing Russian Roulette, but right now I don't like the vaccine more, I think. (?) Argh!
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
or maybe of any threads that I'm following?

So, I've been a little late reading the information being given on my question.
If I'm still having problems tomorrow I'll report it to the Webmaster.
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