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Unread 01-30-2007   #1 (permalink)
Catrancher99
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Angry Don't Give Up On FeLV+ Cats

FELINE LEUKEMIA VIRUS (FeLV or FLV): don't just give up. FeLV is a subject of some concern to me, so for the last couple of months I've done some research and I'd like to pass on some info. This is also in memoriam of three little kittens; Xavier, Yoni & Zoe were left on my front lawn on Friday 25 August 2006 by some kid who apparently knew of my interest in cats (anybody with eyes can see the 4-5 who gather for breakfast & dinner every day). These kittens were only about 2 weeks old. Why he did this I have no idea, as he sprinted off and around the corner by the time I got outside. I'd heard their mewling just outside my window. I gathered them up and took them inside, put them in a box with towels for the moment, and drove to a nearby pet store for KMR. I already had tiny bottles from when another kitten, Jinxy, had to be hand nursed. At the expense of my beauty sleep (which never has worked, anyway) I hand fed the tiny things, had them vaccinated and wormed in due time, then took them to a local ASPCA-affiliate no-kill shelter called Greenhill on Monday 30 October for adoption. I estimated them to be about 11-12 weeks old at that time. The following Sunday I received a phone call that these babies had been euthanized because they'd tested positive for FeLV. First I was sickened, then later I was angry - I figured they should've called me before they killed those babies I'd nursed and socialized. I would've taken them back. A woman that I know who works to TNR feral cats mentioned that cats with FeLV can live reasonably happy lives for years if properly taken care of. She even gave me the phone number of a woman who adopts FeLV+ cats when she can. FeLV is not an absolute death sentence. In fact, kittens under 16 weeks can actually falsely test positive for FeLV, and some cats can shake the disease off and become immune and live a normal life. One very inportant thing I've found out is that the most common test done for FeLV is not to be trusted as certain proof the cat has the disease. This test is called ELISA (for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay). It is usually done in the veterinary clinic and can give both false positives and false negatives. If your beloved Flossie tests positive it is wise to request the other test for FeLV. The IFA test (for Indirect Fluorescent Antibody) is considered more accurate, but the testing sample has to be sent to a lab. Both tests have certain requirements for them to be accurate based on the state of the disease and other factors (do a web search if you want details). Only one of my sources mentioned a DNA test, but they can be done according to a post in another forum about FeLV. The test apparently detects the RNA of the virus, and I'd expect it to be quite accurate - and expensive. FeLV is incurable according to most authoritative sources, but the cat's immune system can be boosted, under a vet's care I'd suggest. There are several sites that promote holistic & homeopathic remedies for sick cats, but these courses of treatment are controversial themselves. I don't discount them, but they should be considered "unverified" if you look into them. The essential point about FeLV is that if sweet Flossie means enough to you that you want her to live as long a life as possible, she can, as long as she's protected from contact with other cats - and they're protected from her, as she can transmit FeLV to them - and given special consideration as far as nutrition and health care. Do not just surrender her to the needle based on one perhaps faulty test. Also, if Flossie is FeLV negative, have her vaccinated against it. Vaccinations are not always 100% effective, but it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. A good and brief starting point for a layman's source of information on FeLV see here, but note that some of their reference links are broken:
Fighting FeLV
 
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