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Feline Leukemia

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I just recently took in a stray kitten. I brought her to the vet today to get the necessary shots and check ups and she came back with Feline Leukemia. Now the doctor said there is a 30-40% chance that in 5 months she will be tested negative...but if she is positive, there is not much we can do about it short of putting her to sleep. Now i was just wondering if anyone on this board has had a kitten with FeLV and if the cat did produce a immunity to it? and if so what should i do in the meantime?
post #2 of 8
I just wanted to say it is so sweet of you to take on a stray and I'm sorry about the test results I hope the next set of tests brings better news.
post #3 of 8
I took an infected kitten into my house with 3 other cats. I had been assured it had been tested and was fine. He boned with one of the cats, my dear Leo, and infected him. The little one had to be put down at 12 weeks, and poor Leo had to be put down a year later. He seemed to be fine, in fact the new vet was very sirprised to find out he was sick. He went downhill in a matter of days, and had to be put out of his pain. His liver failed. I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but I wish someone would have told me to be prepared. It was heartbreaking to see this beautiful red tabby boy get so sick so fast. I am so sorry you and your kitties are going through this.
I guess it could have been worse, though. The rest of them were not infected. I could have lost 5 cats instead of 2.
post #4 of 8
My very first cat - Harry Flashman - got Lukemia, goodness knows from where. He was a strong boy but it took its tole and he went down hill very quickly. I had 4 others at the time and they were all very close. None of the others caught it and I still have the youngest who was a kitten at the time - 17 years later! It is a heart breaking, horrid desease but please dont let it put off taking other little strays in. Hope the other tests come back with good news - thinking of you.
post #5 of 8
It is possible that the stray might test negative. I wouldn't hold out much hope, but it can happen. The test could have been a false positive or the cat could shake the virus from it's system before it infects the cells. If you have other cats, keep them seperated from each other. Also, if you don't plan on keeping this cat if it does test positive again, start looking for someone to take it. There are people that will take FeLV+ cats as well as sanctuaries that will. No need to euthanize if you can find a good home for it. I have 1 myself right now and have had two in the past. Yes, they die much earlier than a negative cat would, they can still have a good life until that point. But you need to start looking for someone now as it can take a while. If you have no other cats, consider keeping this stray. They can give a ton of love and they deserve to live the longest life they possibly can.
post #6 of 8
Just went thru the same situation 2 months ago with some feral rescues and have done a lot of research on this topic. Unfortunately, kittens have very weak immunity systems and the odds are truly against your guy. An older cat that contracts FeLV has a higher chance of building an immunity to it. Both kittens that I rescued got terminally ill at 10 months old - most do not make it beyond a year and half.

Below is information that I received from Best Friends in Utah on placing a positive cat, and a great Cornell University Web site on the disease. I suggest that you read thru this carefully before you decide what to do. In the mean time, do NOT let this kitten interact with any of your cats. One of my adult, fully vaccinated cats did contract the disease from the kittens.

From Best Friends, on the topic of finding my adult FeLV a home:

Your best bet is going to be to place Ruby directly into a home yourself (rather than give him or her up to a shelter). The most likely options for placement are to try to find a home with another FeLV-positive kitty or a home with no other cats. You could try contacting local vets to see if they have clients with FeLV+ cats, or with experience with FeLV, who might be interested in adopting another cat.

For more advice on locating a new home, you might want to read our guide called "How to Find Homes for Homeless Pets." You can download this booklet from our website at:


I would also recommend that you post the cat for adoption on the following websites:

A few tips about advertising: It makes a huge difference to include a photo of your pet. Also, whenever possible, describe the traits, likes and dislikes, habits, and some of the little things that make Ruby special. Photos and descriptions really help people form a connection to an animal.

I'm also attaching a list of organizations that work with FIV/FeLV positive cats.

There is a lot of helpful information regarding the care of FeLV+ cats on the Internet. Cornell University has FeLV info at:

I wish you great success at your efforts. This will not be easy for you.
post #7 of 8
I had an older stray show up years ago here. When Captain Midnight first appeared, it was quite clear he was ill. It took some time for me to bond with him. He wouldn't go near a trap! I finally grabbed him up one night and we rushed him to an ER Vet clinic (only choice because he only showed up at midnight) He tested positive and I had him put down. Scared, I raced home and I scoured all the surfaces outside he was known to have lurked. I used bleach full strength. I threw out bedding and scrubbed cages and waited for the inevitable to happen and the other feral kittens here at the time to come down sick. None did- he was the only one I lost.

The older ones usually can survive this. The babies really don't have much of a chance. Their immune system becomes compromised and most kittens living outside are stressed to begin with. They do test false positive at times, my vet won't even test now until they are 6 months old.

There is a place where you can list your sick cat up to adopt. We just ran an ad for them in our newsletter. I will find the ad and put the link in this message-

Take care and I wish you and the kitten the best of luck!

Here is the link:

Purr for a Cure
post #8 of 8
We have webpage for our Freddie, you can see it. He is FIV+, and 6 months. FIV and FeLV are similar n viral structure and yes, a kitten that young may test positive which is reflecting the viral presence of leukemia antibodies passed in the womb. He can test negative again, at 6 months, but test again and again to ease your fears. Just because he has leukemia doesn't mean he can't live. He will have to have FeLV booster shots once a month. Many times the virus lies dormant for a long time, until a specific overload of stress on the cat's immune system. Ou Freddie has an ear infection and fever, and on antibiotics we pray will work. We found out the exact same way: he went in for neutering and tested positive w/routine tests. I was devastated, as I just lost Sasha's mama, the love of my life of 11 years, to a coyote May 18. I was unprepared for any more sadness.
We are choosing to give Freddie the best possible kitten life ever, and let nature fall where it may. If he begins to truly suffer we will deal with him in a very humane way. Here is the best site for quick, straight facts: www.drpetra.com
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