APA has several wonderful cats available for adoption that need a special person to open their lives and hearts to them. The following Blog series written over the next few weeks will highlight these special cats and hopefully show people the truth about FeLV+.
FeLV, or Feline Leukemia Virus, is a virus that attacks the immune system of a cat. It isn’t a form of cancer, but is actually a virus that weakens the immune system, similar to human HIV. Like HIV, cats with FeLV can live for years healthy and happy- the average life span after diagnosis is 2-4 years. Historically cats with this disease have been killed the minute they are diagnosed. APA has taken a different stance, allowing FeLV cats to live out the years left to them with dignity, but we can only continue to save these cats if people are willing to foster and adopt them.
Is FeLV Contagious? only to other cats. It is spread primarily via saliva – because it can be spread relatively easily it is recommended that FeLV+ cats are indoors only, and that they don’t live with other cats or only live with other FeLV+ cats. If you’d like to have more than one cat but are interested in adopting an FeLV+ cat, you could adopt 2 from us to be friends! FeLV is not airborne and dies rapidly in the environment – you won’t have to worry about carrying the virus on clothes when you leave the house or have friends over.
Are the FeLV+ cats available for adoption sickly? No. The FeLV+ cats we have available are just as healthy at this time as the other cats we have available for adoption. They do, however, have an increased risk of getting sick. So feeding a high quality diet, taking them to the vet regularly, and addressing health problems as soon as they arise are critical. You wouldn’t know a cat had FeLV by just looking at it, and many people have FeLV+ cats in their home and don’t even know it because they never got them tested.
Do FeLV+ cats need special medication or care? Not while they are healthy. If/when they do eventually get sick they will usually get really sick quickly and may need more care than a normal cat since their immune system doesn’t work as well. Some vet clinics recommend keeping FeLV+ cats on anti-viral drugs to help keep the virus from replicating, though the efficacy of these drugs is debatable.
Why do people usually automatically kill FeLV+ cats? It is very difficult to find people willing to adopt or foster FeLV+ cats – the ones we have in our program we have had for many months hoping to get them homes. Most organizations don’t have the time and resources available to keep these cats for the long haul. While APA! currently has the ability to continue saving these cats, if we don’t get some of our current ones adopted and into forever homes,we may not be able to continue saving them in the near future.