Feline Leukemia Virus Being Studied #thankstomaddie
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a contagious virus that compromises the immune systems of infected cats. In the U.S., approximately three percent of cats are estimated to be infected. In many shelters, a feline leukemia diagnosis is a death sentence. At Austin Pets Alive!, we know that FeLV-positive cats deserve forever homes just like any other cat!
Because we save so many FeLV-positive cats, we have the opportunity to learn a lot about a poorly-understood disease, and to put that knowledge to work saving more FeLV+ cats in the future. APA!, in partnership with Dr. Julie Levy from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, launched an 18-month feline leukemia research study made possible by a grant from Maddie’s Fund®. #thankstomaddie
So, what are we hoping to learn?
Some cats, after an initial positive diagnosis, will spontaneously test negative on routine FeLV antigen tests. Their immune systems seem able to contain the virus, and these cats go on to live normal lifespans and can even live with other cats! Over the course of this study, we’re interested in learning how many cats will test negative within six months of their initial diagnosis. We may even discover trends that can help future researchers understand how and why some cats are able combat the virus this way, while others aren’t.
As each cat will undergo a variety of tests commonly used for FeLV diagnosis, we hope to examine the agreement between different testing methods, what information conflicting test results provide, and the accuracy of different types of tests.
Over the long term, we hope that a better understanding of feline leukemia will lead to more effective treatment of feline leukemia cats and more shelters opening their doors to give these cats a chance.
Several of our resident FeLV-positive cats are already enrolled in the study, and we plan to save more FeLV+ cats than ever before as our research continues. As for the study participants themselves, these very special kitties get to reside comfortably in our newly-renovated FeLV adoption center or a foster home, and remain available for adoption.