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Feral FeLV+ Neuter Going Bad

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I trapped one of the feral kittens early this morning and brought him in for neutering. The vet did the procedure this morning and the office just called a minute ago. They knew that these kittens were most likely FeLV+, and when he didn't appear to be coming out of it this afternoon, they ran a test and confirmed it. They don't think he is going to make it thru the night. (Stress of the surgery and the compromised immunity.)

OK, so I have 4 other kittens out there from the same mom that I was going to TNR as soon as I can catch them. Please - your opinions on what I do with them now? Risk their lives with the surgery, or risk leaving them out there unneutered? There are 2 females about 5 months old that are about to go into heat.

I hate these kind of days!!!!
post #2 of 22
I'd take them in to get tested first and then decide if it were me.
post #3 of 22
That is so sad I am/was also worried now that my neighbor and I have started trapping the kitties here. Luckily the first two have tested negative but I'm really worried about Prego. I have grown very fond of her.

Its hard, I mean what do you do? Risk their lives and/or have to put them to sleep, or let them roam free, making more babies (that will probly get the disease passed to them as well).

Can they test them before they neuter them?
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
They can test them if I ask, but my vet encourages to put them down when they are positive. He has been very PO'd at me for not putting my Ruby down when he tested positive. I'm not sure that he would attempt to neuter them if positive. He is a country vet and sees all to many instances of this disease in ferals and looks at things from the perspective of the overall community of cats. We don't always see eye-to-eye on things, but he knows my animals and charges afforable rates.

The 2 sisters (darling calicos) are about to go into heat if not there already - saw the rolling, meowling motions in them yesterday. What happens if they attract Tom's and spread this further?

This poor little boy was the friendliest of the bunch which is why I was able to catch him first. Now I'm feeling terribly guilty about all of this.

I think I'm in need of some primal scream therapy right now!
post #5 of 22

You have to either risk it or have them tested first. I know this isn't what you want to do, but you know in your heart you must think of the lives of the as yet un-conceived, unborn kittens.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
The little one didn't make it. And the 4 remaining young-uns alluded my attempts at capture this morning - didn't try too hard today - I've got a touch of the flu.

These are sure the hard decisions to make.....
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
We caught the litter mate of the positive boy this morning and brought him in for testing. Amazingly, he tested negative so they neutered him already and we can bring him home on Monday.

3 more kittens to trap and test!!

The day is looking up!
post #8 of 22

Every once in a while we just have to be thankful for the small blessing that come our way, and hopefully it will make the road easier for the difficult decisions yet to come.

post #9 of 22
Amy - come to any decisions on what you're going to do?
post #10 of 22
I sure don't envy you this situation. You're a wonderful person for caring so deeply and more importantly, taking action.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
I feel so guilty about these kittens. Their mom showed up out of the blue with them, carried them in her mouth up to the house when they were about 3-1/2 to 4 weeks old. A few days earlier, we had just brought in the 4 orphans and 2 hours after she left them, a tornado hit our house. About the time the orphans and house were getting in shape and we could spend time with these guys, we had FeLV hit our indoor household. We spent the next 45 days scrambling around taking care of our 13 indoor babies. These kittens slipped thru the cracks again. At 5-1/2 months old, they are now completely feral and socialization will be a long, difficult process. This is the first litter in the 10 years that I have lived here that I didn't catch at least half if not all of them for socialization and adoption. I borrowed the live trap about a month ago then sat and pondered the "Cat Nation" versus "Individual Cat" quandry.

Everyone at this site has been tremendous with your support and suggestions, and I appreciate the diversity of opinions. I had decided to go forward with the TNR approach - no testing, just trap, neuter and release. When the first one died after surgery and when the 3 new arrivals showed up 2 days later, I have had to rethink the entire situation. I trapped one of the calico's on Tuesday and she was both positive with a URI. I talked to my rescue group, my vet, and did some soul searching. Treatment for the URI can't happen - neither my rescue group or vet can't take her in and I am out of quarantine rooms in my house because of the new arrivals. If left untreated, she would die a slow, agonizing death outside. We all agreed to put her to sleep.

There is one more 5-1/2 month old kitten and one 13 month old cat. The older (male) clearly has a URI right now, is maybe 5 pounds full grown, and the most feral of the bunch. His littermates all tested positive for FeLV and have already died from the disease. I have to assume he will be positive also. The kitten (another calico) appears to be healthy but is in heat. Obviously she cannot be allowed to breed. If either are negative they are neutered and released.

So back to the "Cat Nation" versus "Individual Cat" quandry. My feral colony is very transient - there are hundreds of acres of open land for them to roam in and they do just that. Any cat that wanders up can catch this from the positives by my house, only to spread it to the rest of the colony out there. Winter is coming, and nearly all kittens that are born with the disease will die before they are 1-1/2 years old. Do I want these cats to become sick over winter and die a slow and miserable death? No way. Do I want them to infect others so that they can become sick and die? No way. Do I have anyone that will take in a FeLV positive feral kitten? No. Applying the Cat Nation versus Individual Cat quandry for my individual situation, both arguments point to the need to trap, test, and put them to sleep if positive. Believe me when I say I don't want to do this, but after 3 months of agonizing over this, it comes down to an avoidance of suffering, even if that means putting them down before they are truly sick.

Sorry for the long ramble, I thought it was important for everyone to understand the different arguments around this problem, and why I have chosen this path.
post #12 of 22
I am so sorry Momofmany , I know it is a very hard decition you have made . I wish you live clother , I have a friend she has a house full of FeLV and I am sure she would take the kitten in .
I did not know with my little dumpling Lily if she had it . I think the waiting is the worst part till the vet call and tell you . I would have to put Lily down too if she had that and would not have my friend Goldie . In the beginning of this year I got me a MainCoon cat from the shelter and he come up with the desease , so I had to bring him back to the shelter and they put him dowm . After a few days Goldie told me why I have not brought him to her house .OMG I cryed for weeks about that , he could have a few more good years at her house .Don't beat yourself up so much , we all know you are trying very hard and give your best to do all you can for the cats/kitten ((((((( HUGS ))))))) you are a angel to me
post #13 of 22

Amy, I have to say that although it is heartbreaking, I really believe you are making the right choice here. You will be saving future lives in untold numbers if you can eradicate this horrible disease from your colony.
post #14 of 22
Amy you and I talked about this. Because of the diversity of a feral colony infected with this disease, right away, you lose control of the health of this colony.Prohibitively expensive to euthanize, your move should be to call a rescue group and explain your situation. They should immediately come in and help you trap each one and then get them humanely put down.

We are not talking about one house cat, we are talking about a colony of cats that roam outside, freely infecting all the other cats they come across. Letting the infected ones live, is wrong and I believe you know this. Again, it is all about the control of the colony being taken away from the manager/caretaker (you) Letting the moms breed within this colony is not right either, for it is a strong possibility that the kittens if not diseased will be carriers. Hence you have a huge problem that should never have become one. If this were my colony, each one would be tested, quarantined for 6 months, retested. Any infected ones would be put down, no questions asked. All females would be spayed, all males neutered. The diseased ones, would be humanely destroyed. Again, we are not talking about pet cats, we are talking about ferals and the potential they now have to destroy, not only the wild cats in your area, but the outside pet cats as well. Sick cats will fight, that has been proven time and time again. A feral who does not feel well smells different, he or she will be attacked. You are heading for a huge problem here. One you need to stop now. Therefore, you are doing the right thing if you follow through with your plans,and if you get them tested before all else is done to them.
post #15 of 22
I think it is best to put felv cats down. They can infect other cats fairly easily and that is not a risk that shoule be taken. I have been doing alot of FELV and FIV and it seems that FELV is the worse of the two evils. I'm so sorry you have to go through this it is heart breaking.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone for your support. When all of this started about 3 months ago, I linked up with a rescue group and am starting to get help from them. I have done so well for years with my little colony and this problem is more than I have faced before. My vet has been very supportive - he is charging 1/2 price for the tests, reduced rates on neuters, free deworming, and no charge for euthenasia. Putting the new arrivals in the Help Humane network allows for free testing, neutering and shots, as long as I foster before adoption.

Other than the 2 young ones, all of the other outdoor cats that consistently stay by my house appear healthy and they are already neutered, and I will have them re-tested in the future. Right now I need to get beyond the immediate crisis, and will call in the recruits if more ferals start showing up again. I don't think there is a single source for the feral colony members that roam my way - they don't even show up from the same direction (and I have followed them to see where they go). Finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack - hundreds of acres of unpopulated land surround me on all sides.

*sigh* I will get thru this!
post #17 of 22
Amy, you've made a difficult decision, but I think the right one. It'll be difficult, very difficult, but just keep reminding yourself that what you are doing is for the good of EACH cat and the colony.

I don't remember reading anywhere - are your "indoor" cats indoor/outdoor or indoor only? And I don't think I realized any of them had FeLV. Are they all infected? What a terrible thing to have to go through. I hope I misread your post!
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
I had 1 indoor/outdoor cat that now lives indoors (under great protest). He tested negative (twice). The FeLV came into my house when I brought in 2 trapped kittens last fall (litter mate of one of the ferals still outside). They both had URI's, I brought them to the vet and asked him to test them & check them out to make sure they were otherwise healthy and treat them for the URI. They treated them and returned them to me with a thumbs up except for the URI. They were quarantined until their URI cleared up then brought into the house to socialize with the hopes of adoption. This is where the gross-human error occurred - the vet's office didn't test them for FeLV/FIV. (and yes, I was so p*ssed off that I almost left him)

When one of them got sick 3 months ago, they ran the test and of course it was positive. I tested all of my cats. His brother and my 3 year old fully vaccinated Ruby also had it (vaccines are only about 60% effective). I ran the IFA to confirm the positives. Both kittens became terminally ill and I had to mercifully put them down. I've spent 3 months trying to find a single cat home for Ruby with absolutely no success (that is a story in itself). He has remained in one of my spare bedrooms but is recently showing signs of illness. I know in my heart that his time is close, and I will not let him suffer (I cry for him every day). I live with bleach and disinfectant (I even scrub my feet as I leave the room - but that is another whole story).

For the rest of the negative cats - Muddy and Koko were young kittens at the time and had not finished their full round of vaccinations so they were quarantined in the other spare bedroom until I had the entire household retested 30 days after the first round of tests. I will retest each in turn during their annual vaccinations. I thank heaven for Dr. Elsey, a cat specialist in the Denver area, who is well versed in FeLV (works directly with university research centers) and coached me thru this (on his own personal time). My vet had never run an IFA test until I asked him to on my boys.

My big lesson thru all this? My vet is a great guy - a generalist, a good country vet with a lot of good instinct. He never did me wrong before, does research when I ask him to, and he has helped me thru a lot of hard times.......but (lesson here), I have to take more responsibility in doing my own research, confirming things with specialists, and asking him to do specific things. He really does work with me on trying to control the feral population thru significant discounts and lots of free services (including house calls). I can't find better in my neighborhood.

Anyway, a lot of this has been posted in earlier threads. This is just a brief synopsis and update of those threads.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
And by the way, I did trap the little calico yesterday and she tested positive. She is with her sister now. I tried to catch the 13 month old this morning and trapped the neutered ones 3 times. I will wait until Monday (when my vet is back in town) and trap the neuters, lock them in the garage (most live in there anyway), then trap this very ellusive boy. With that behind me, I can focus on getting all the neutered boys and girls tested that live by my house - that will not be difficult - most have been around for years and allow me to touch them from time to time. I usually don't get new arrivals until Spring, so hopefully I'm almost thru this crisis.

Need positive vibes on catching this boy - he will be the most difficult one that I've ever trapped! It's all uphill from there.
post #20 of 22
My goodness Amy, I dont know how the heck you manage! You are amazing I hope you can catch that older kitten and he tests ok
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to contact some rescue groups specifically geared towards rural feral rescue to see if we can work our neighborhood a bit harder. I'm as concerned as all of you that while I can treat the problem that exists at my house, it is still in the area. I have talked to our neighbors over the years, and there are at least 3 of them that do their part in TNR (some I have to remind but they at least do it). All 3 come to me when they encounter any new cat so I know what happens at their house, coach them on what to do, and I know they will work with me on this problem.

Then of course I have the neighbors whose response to a problem like this is to either shoot them or poison them (they have offered to poison mine many times). The animal hoarder moved out of the neighborhood about 5 years ago (thank heavens!). Unfortunately, I suspect that most of the ones that roam my way come from the neighbors that will simply kill them. I will contact the friendly folks and let them know that they need to test their cats. I'm afraid of telling my problem neighbors that this is happening.

Any ideas on how to deal with the troublesome neighbors? Animal control in my neighborhood usually just puts ferals down.
post #22 of 22
I'm so sorry you had to put down the other little calico girl.

Good luck with the 13-month old!

Re: troublesome neighbors... I have no thoughts other than to not tell them about the FeLV problem, but simply continue to try to convince them to let you onto their property with traps for TNR. Let them know you intend to release the cats onto your property instead of theirs after having been sterilized.

There is a lot of material about TNR vs TNK (trap and kill) on - links in my signature line). Killing the cats doens't work, but sterilizing them does. If they hate cats, I expect that if they can come to understand that sterilizing the cats will end the colony via attrition over time, whereas killing the cats only works if you can kill ALL the cats (which never happens).

Here's a rather persuasive argument against TNK (this is on page 15 & 16 of the powerpoint presentation "The Need for Low-cost Spay/Neuter Programs" - powerpoint version, located in the spay/neuter section of StrayPetAdvocacy (url=]Spay/Neuter Section of SPA[/url])

If euthanization worked as a method of animal population control, the U.S. would not have approx. 60 million feral cats.

The Example of Marion Island – Eradication Does Not Work

Marion Island, southeast of South Africa is a small inhospitable island (12 miles x 8 miles). In 1949, a group of scientists left the island, leaving behind five unsterilized cats. By 1975 there were 2,500 cats on the island preying on ground-nesting seabirds. Deliberate infection with feline enteritis killed about 65% of the cats. The remaining 35% developed immunity and continued to breed. Jack Russell terrier dogs were used to flush out the remaining cats, and between 1986 and 1989 further cats were exterminated by hunting. At that time, it was determined that further poisoning was necessary. Poison that also killed the birds was used to eliminate the balance of the cat population. (14)

It took 16 years to eradicate 2,500 isolated cats from a small island with “rapid†methods of eradication that could not be used in populated areas. How can euthanization be successful as a method of animal control anywhere that new animals can move in and recolonize cleared areas?

(14)“Feral Cats – Extermination is not the Answer,†© 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, Sarah Hartwell.

There are other articles, etc. on the site that you may find helpful.
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