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Feline Leukemia

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I found out yesterda that a friend of ours's kitten was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia. I know that it is fatal but that is about it. Has anyone else had any experiences that might help them through this? They would very much appreciate it.
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phenomsmom
I found out yesterda that a friend of ours's kitten was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia. I know that it is fatal but that is about it. Has anyone else had any experiences that might help them through this? They would very much appreciate it.
I might be wrong but isn't feline leukemia livable? I mean they might have a shorter life than average but they can still live for a while? Maybe I'm thinking of something else... I just know that they can't be around other cats once they have it since its contagious.

Thats tough . These illnesses are horrible.
post #3 of 15
I had a cat (named speck) we got back in 1988 as a kitten and she had Felv. She had some sickness when she was a kitten but after she hit a year old you would have never known she was sick. She never got vaccinations and pretty much the only time she saw a vet as an adult was when she got spayed. She was strictly an outdoors barn cat. Never came inside for anything. My mom found her dead in her sleeping spot on the carport in 2003. She lived a long life ( i think 15 years is a long time for a strictly outdoor cat) for such a bad disease. Even at the end she was at a healthy weight and still hunted daily as well as eating special kitty brand dry food. ( please take into consideration that this was before i had been educated on the values of good nutrition for animals.)

When i was in vet school, they told us that if a cat presented with FELV symptoms and that it tested positive that it was best to put the cat down. When i told one of my teachers about my cat at home she said that it was a lie- I brought a dated picture of my cat, as well as the reciept from our vet at home showing the positive feluk test. they wanted me to bring my cat in so they could "study" it but i refused as she hadnt been anywhere but at our home since we got her in 1988 and was semi feral. I felt no need to deliberatly stress her out by trapping her and putting her in a moving vehicle for a 2 hour drive only to be "studied"

i guess im just saying that this disease is not always fatal ( yes my cat could have succumbed to it but i like to think she died of old age at 15 yrs old) and does not always take cats lives early. I think that with any animal with any kind of leukemia you need to be vigilant on recognizing sypmtoms of illnesses as they will have a supressed immune system. Im sorry i cant offer more information but im sure others will pop up to share advice and their experiences.
post #4 of 15
I am assuming the cat is a kitten - correct me if I am wrong.

First thing is to go back to the vet and ask for an IFA (immunofluoro assay) test. This test gives a different kind of information about the cat's FeLV status. It will either confirm the diagnosis or leave things more ambiguous.

If the cat does indeed have FeLV, it's not the worst thing ever. I think of FeLV as a "life shortening condition" more than a "fatal illness". By this I mean that cats with FeLV live very healthy lives, they just die at a young age. Most live from 18 months to 3 years and are healthy and have excellent quality of life until very near the end. They're basically normal cats with shorter lifespans - not much different from having a pet mouse who has a similar lifespan.

The news is very sad, but hopefully your friends will be able to focus on giving their cat a great life even if it is short. For now Kitty has a lot of life to live, a lot of love to give, and a lot of fun to have.
post #5 of 15
The normal test that a vet runs is an Elisa test, which tests for exposure to the disease. In order to confirm the diagnosis, you must have the IFA test run - this tests for the actual virus within the blood. Some cats will test positive with an Elisa but negative with the IFA.

When a cat is exposed, their systems build up antibodies to the disease in order to fight if off. It is at this time when they test positive on Elisa and negative on IFA. It usually takes about 30-60 days to fight off the disease, so you must wait that long to run the IFA test.

Kittens that contract the disease in the womb have about a 99% likelihood of developing the full blown disease and typically pass within 18 months. Vaccinated cats that are exposed as a healthy adult have a high likelihood (about 90%) of fighting it off. Those adults that do contract it can live for years if given a healthy environment with low stress.

There was a litter of kittens born in our barn where 1 did fight off the disease. I frankly don't know if he tested positive at one time as I didn't catch him to test him until he was about 5 months old.

I would suggest to your friend to wait 2 months and have them run the IFA test to confirm the diagnosis. If their vet doesn't know about it (and some vets don't), ask them to look it up.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phenomsmom
I found out yesterda that a friend of ours's kitten was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia. I know that it is fatal but that is about it. Has anyone else had any experiences that might help them through this? They would very much appreciate it.
According to Amy Shojai, only a third of the cats that get FeLV die from it.

I found out on July, 04 that two of my cats had it. I had to have sweet Roger put to sleep last April because he was getting sick from it. So far Baxter seems to be doing OK.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen55
According to Amy Shojai, only a third of the cats that get FeLV die from it.

I found out on July, 04 that two of my cats had it. I had to have sweet Roger put to sleep last April because he was getting sick from it. So far Baxter seems to be doing OK.
& it's similar to AIDS, in that it suppresses the immune system. so a well-protected, indoor cat would be likely to live a fairly long time, unlike a cat exposed to myriad diseases. there are also supplements to help boost the immune system that can help.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen55
According to Amy Shojai, only a third of the cats that get FeLV die from it.
That sounds really low. Is that because FeLV cats have repressed immune systems and die from other opportunistic infections? I know that information is very mixed about the disease, but I thought I read consistently that cats with the full blown disease can live years, but eventually it will take them.

What is more in line with the available literature, is that 1/3 of cats exposed to it catch it - and those are the unvaccinated ones.

FeLV ran through my house and my feral colony 2 years ago. I did a tremendous amount of reading and consulted with researchers in the field at that time.
post #9 of 15
<<That sounds really low. Is that because FeLV cats have repressed immune systems and die from other opportunistic infections? I know that information is very mixed about the disease, but I thought I read consistently that cats with the full blown disease can live years, but eventually it will take them.>>

I believe she said 1/3 of the cats with FeLV will die from it, 1/3 will be able to fight the disease off and I don't remember what she said about the other third.

""What is more in line with the available literature, is that 1/3 of cats exposed to it catch it - and those are the unvaccinated ones.""

I had 8 mostly indoor cats (formal ferals) that were exposed to FeLV. I have had them vaccinated for the past 5 years for FeLV but Roger and Baxter still got it. I know the vacine is only 80 per cent.

<<FeLV ran through my house and my feral colony 2 years ago. I did a tremendous amount of reading and consulted with researchers in the field at that time.>>

I have the same problem. How did you deal with it?
post #10 of 15
I had a vet tell me that feline leukemia is not the same thing as human leukemia. Most of them may not live as long as thye would have, but they actually die from either getting sick (usually an infection) that they can`t fight....but that they can live for a lot longer than most people think.
These kitties need to be fixed and kept INDOORS. Their biggest danger is fighting and or mating and becoming injured . (Or females giving birth can be like an injury)
post #11 of 15
My sister brought me a kitten that had FeLeuk, and in a very short time, he passed it on to my precious RB kitty, Leo. He lived about another 2 years before he began having symptoms and went downhill very quickly. We had to make the hard decision to end his suffering. I hope this does not sound mean or uncaring, and many of you will probably not agree with me, but if I had known that the kitten was ill, (I was lied to and assured it was healthy and had tested negative) and would ultimately end Leo's life, I would have rehomed him to a special needs home, or had him euthanized rather than have him suffer and lose one of the dearest cats I ever had. I am lucky it only spread to one of my cats, and not all of the other 3 I had at the time. That is just my experience, I understand that many others have been more fortunate. I am sorry your friend and her kitty are going through this.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227
& it's similar to AIDS, in that it suppresses the immune system. so a well-protected, indoor cat would be likely to live a fairly long time, unlike a cat exposed to myriad diseases. there are also supplements to help boost the immune system that can help.
What kind of supplements and where would I find them?
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen55
What kind of supplements and where would I find them?
try a holistic minded vet
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen55
What kind of supplements and where would I find them?
i've read mega c powder is good. fortunately, i've never had to use one - but i know there are other supplements, as well. i think a holistic vet would have some good suggestions.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellen55
What kind of supplements and where would I find them?
Try Lysine and CoenzymeQ10. You can get those at healthfood stores.

My Lola was recently diagnosed with FeLV, but by this point, her chest is already filling up with fluid, which I understand to be the point of no return. My other boy is negative and vaccinated.
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