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Need advice about FeLV+ kitten in multi-cat household.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi. This is my first post here, I was referred from Pet Finder because I am trying to get as much info as possible before making a really tough decision.

I have a BIG dilemma. My new kitty, Tessa, went to the vet today for what looked like a cold. She was spayed, vaccinated, and tested negative for FeLV on 4/19 and I adopted her on 4/23.

Today, 4/29, she was tested again because the shelter skipped FIV (and my vet uses a combo FIV/FeLV test) - but now she's gone from leukemia negative to leukemia positive.

She has been playing with my older kitty all week. So Midnight might already be positive. We're taking her to the vet on Monday for testing and vaccination, regardless of what we decide about Tessa.

Should we keep her, and run the risk of infecting Midnight?

If Midnight is already infected, the point is moot. We'll just keep them both, vet bills, shortened life, and other baggage along with it.

If she isn't infected, according to the papers the vet gave us, we run a 85% risk of her getting infected, even with the vaccine. If she's in that 15%, she has a 40% chance of devoping an immunity and never being affected, a 30% chance of being a carrier for any number of years before she become affected, and a 30% chance of dying within the next 3 years. (Which are Tessa's odds right now.) So basically, if we leave Tessa in the house, and Midnight is currently negative, Midnight runs a 9 in 100 chance of dying young due to contracting leukemia post-vaccine, according to the vet info. But I've seen MUCH worse odds on several internet sites BY other vets, claiming that cats will die within weeks or months and should be IMMEDIATELY removed from houses with negative cats.

So if Midnight is currently negative, we could get rid of Tessa to insure that Midnight stays negative, thereby condeming Tessa to those same odds, only alone and in a cage.

Or, absolute worst case, Midnight is negative on Monday, but then shows positive three months down the line, and we've already gotten rid of Tess - thereby losing Tess and still not helping Midnight.

Meanwhile, we're worried about the quality of life of either cat with this disease.

What should we do? We're so upset and confused. This is all compounded by the fact that the last time I was in the vet office, a month ago, I was told that Dot, my first and most beloved cat, was dying and had to put her to sleep. Tessa has already worked her way into my heart, because I adopted her to fill that empty space Dot left at my feet - and she's doing such a great job. She's so darn sweet and lovable and purred on my pillow all night last night.

HELP! Does anyone have experience with FeLV positive cats?
post #2 of 7
Boy do I understand your delimma! My Tigs tested FeLv positive in July of last year, after he had been living in my house and with my other kits since June of the year before!(why I didn't have him tested earlier? looong story). I decided that since my kits had been exposed to him for that long, to be sure to keep their vaccinations up to date and have them tested. Thus far, none of the ones he'd been with at this point in time have tested positive for it.......but one of my tamed ferals, who is part of his bloodline passed away from it just two weeks ago.

My choice is not the most popular choice, I will warn you of that right now, but it works for me, and that's what matters most to me! Good luck, and if you need anything, just let me know, I'll see if I can help!
post #3 of 7
This was one of the hardest situations I have had to face as well. We had Abby tested for Felv when she was a kitten and she was negative. We had her retested when she was about 1 year, 3 months and she was positive. We had another cat, Annabelle, whom we had had for about 6 months. Annabelle had also been vacinated. The vet told us that Annabelle had a 15% chance of getting the virus after she turned one year. After the cat becomes an adult their risk is much, much lower. The vet suggested that we test Annabelle every three months if we decided not to put Abby to sleep. I didn't have the heart to take a perfectly healthy cat and put her to sleep. She had kept it hidden for a year, which apparently isn't all that rare. It was a risk I was willing to take because I loved Abby so much and I know that Annabelle did too.

Abby died three months later. The symptoms came on very suddenly, just as the vet said they would. She started vomitting continuously and she had diarrhea. She could no longer eat or drink, but she would sit by her bowl as if she wanted to. We tried various treatments, but the vet said that if the cat starts vomiting at that point there isn't much they can do. Other symptoms are usually treatable. I had a year and a half with the most wonderful kitty in the world and it was more than worth it to me. Annabelle was retested three times over the course of four months after Abby's death and came back negative each time.

I can't tell you what to do. It is definitely up to you to decide. Just know that the risk of transmission goes down substantially if the unifected cat is vaccinated and an adult.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Well, here's what's happening:

We took Midnight in to be tested. She's still negative, currently. BUT, she got Tessa's cold, so we have to wait to vaccinate her for two weeks.

We've completely isolated the cats from each other with a closed bedroom door, and are giving them both amoxicillan for their colds.

We had Tessa's blood sent to a larger lab for verification of the positive result.

We've decided that if Tess stays positive (there's always the possibility that she'll become immune) we'll possibly keep them isolated, and definitely immunize Midnight but keep Tessa.

If Tess returns to negative, or we decide it's worth the risk, we'll let them mingle.

I don't know if we made the wisest decision, but it's the only one that works for our hearts.

The really stinky part is, we signed Tess up for ShelterCare right away, BEFORE her positive result. But they said that if we convert to a paid plan, the FeLV is considered a pre-existing condition, even though we're covered by ShelterCare, because it's a temporary policy. Which I think is pretty bratty of them. She was negative when we signed her up, darn it!

Oh well. At least I have the friendliest kitty known to humankind. She is just so darn loveable!

I appreciate your advice.
post #5 of 7
The Elisa (or stick test) does not prove FeLV+. You must have an IFA test run. Elisa will test for exposure to the virus but not test for presence of the actual virus within white blood cells.

I had 2 kittens come into my house with FeLV. Long story on why they weren't tested, but after living in the house for close to 8 months, 1 out of my 11 fully vaccinated cats contracted FeLV from them.

Casual contact does not spread the disease and vaccinations are not 100% effective. If you read and read and read more about it, about 10% of vaccinated cats will contract the disease after prolonged exposure. It has to do with the effectiveness of the vaccination, the health of the exposed cat, and their ability to fight off the virus.

Don't make any decision until you test all cats in your household with an IFA test. You don't want to get rid of one only to find that others have it and you gave up one for naught.

My thoughts are with you - I've gone thru this and it is an agonizing ordeal!
post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by Momofmany
I've gone thru this and it is an agonizing ordeal!
Ain't that the truth!
post #7 of 7
My Sis was diagnosed last week (Snap test). We've had her for 5-6 yrs and my other cat Storm for 10 yrs. I really have no way to separate them, as Storm will not go outside and Sis can't (she's been declawed) and obviously because of the sickness. She has not responded to Baytril or Prednisone much but she isn't vomiting as much as she was. She's had diarrea for several weeks and the traditional vet says our only recourse is to put her down. Storm has tested negative for FelV and was vaccinated last week. I love both of these cats and am so torn! We took Sis to a holistic vet this week and she did acupuncture and started her on some natural remedies. We go back again on Monday. I also started her on Transfer Factor last week. She's seems to be a little better but also has up and down days.
So hard to know what decision to make - SO wish she could talk!
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