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Trying to find a home for a cat with FeLV

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by Bo Bugajski, Feb 4, 2021.


  1. Bo Bugajski

    Bo Bugajski PetForums Newbie

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    TL;DR Found a stray cat and it tested positive for FeLV, already have another cat that is healthy so I need to find a home for sick one.


    Hi all
    This is my first post so sorry about asking for help as a new user. Some time in December me and my partner found a cat trapped in plastic bag. I managed to set it free and it was a most friendly, ginger and white, male kitten. Gave us head butts, purred, demanded attention. We left it where it was, there are a lot of cats in that neighbourhood and such a friendly one, we thought it must have a home.
    Couple of days later we found him again, but this time he followed us all the way home and demanded to be let inside. So we did. After few weeks of searching for owners and advertising him locally we decided that we will keep him and took him to vet to be neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. We were advised that there are strays with FIV around and to check him for that so they did FIV/FeLV test, and unfortunately he tested positive for FeLV. We asked to have another test done and had blood samples sent to the lab, but again, they found the virus.
    On its own it wouldnt be a problem, we would give him comfortable home to live however many years he have. Unfortunately we already have a cat and its not infected, and we cannot risk it catching leukemia. We are trying to find some place that could take him from us. Shelter or a private person. It seems to be in great health right now, loves human contact, loves climbing around and eats like a bear, it's less than one year old.
    Please help us.
     
  2. Lunarags

    Lunarags Dedicated cat slave

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    Have you tried putting a post up on Facebook? There might be someone in your area who would want him. You could also join the Facebook page for some local rescues and post him there. Not much else I can think of to do other than keep him well away from your healthy cat in the meantime.
     
  3. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hello @Bo Bugajski and welcome :)

    Have you contacted any Shelters so far? I know there are some who will take in cats who are FIV+ and possibly cats who are FeLV+. But it would mean the cat having a life kept in a pen on their own, until such time as they either tested clear for FeLV or died. Not much fun for such a young cat to live in a pen.

    FeLV is not always a death sentence, about 70% of cats who catch the virus are able to eliminate it on their own. But a cat who is fed a good diet and is treated promptly by the vet for any opportunistic infections is going to stand the best chance of recovering. There are various anti-viral treatments available, but their efficacy is not guaranteed.

    It would be useful to know if the cat was diagnosed with FeLV from an ELISA test or an IFA test. (or both). The ELISA is a 'snap' test done in the vet surgery. It identifies any FeLV proteins in the blood. It's a very sensitive test useful for identifying early infections. Some cats with early infection will manage to clear the FeLV infection within a few months and will then test 'negative'.

    The IFA detects the progressive phase of FeLV, and cats with positive results are unlikely to eliminate the virus. The IFA test is carried out at a lab, rather than in the vet’s surgery. Cats who test IFA-positive generally don't have a good long-term prognosis.

    In terms of getting a Shelter to agree to take him in and care for him, it would helpful to know at what stage of the illness the cat is.

    Has the cat now been neutered btw? A Shelter is more likely to consider taking him in if he has been neutered.
     
    #3 chillminx, Feb 4, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2021
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    p.s. Possibly you would be best to try Cat Rescue Sanctuaries rather than straightforward rehoming Shelters. I know the Celia Hammond Trust has a Cat Sanctuary in Hastings, Sussex. and they take in sick and injured stray cats. It might be worth having a word with them.

    If you are way outside their area, they may be able to tell you of other Sanctuaries in your part of the UK.

    Good luck, I hope you can find somewhere for this poor boy.
     
    #4 chillminx, Feb 4, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2021
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  5. QOTN

    QOTN PetForums VIP

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    if you are prepared to give this kitten a home and pay for any veterinary care he needs, surely the best solution is to vaccinate your other cat. Then you can keep them both.
     
  6. Lunarags

    Lunarags Dedicated cat slave

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    FeLV vaccine would reduce the risk for the healthy cat but wouldnt eliminate it as there is not a vaccine with 100% protection xxx
     
  7. QOTN

    QOTN PetForums VIP

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    As far as I know, the Felv vaccine is effective at preventing disease although not 100% in preventing infection. If the kitten is already positive that is not a consideration. Obviously the cat must test negative before the vaccination.

    (Herpesvirus and calicivirus vaccines do not protect from disease. They only reduce the severity of symptoms but panleukopenia vaccine is considered effective as long as it is given when the MDI has waned and the cat's immune system responds to the jab.)
     
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  8. Lunarags

    Lunarags Dedicated cat slave

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    That's what I'm saying. The healthy cat is negative and could go and get the vaccination and still catch FeLV anyway because its not 100% effective
     
  9. Jaf

    Jaf PetForums VIP

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    I had a cat with FeLV. My understanding is that only very young cats catch the virus, as they develop an immunity by a year old.

    I kept Steve in a room on his own, to protect him from germs from the other cats. He lived a year with no health problems but got poorly very suddenly. However being semi-feral he was miserable and I’m not sure I could go through that again.

    Steve’s littermates, Lottie and Mari are 7 years old now, so I’m confident that they do not have the virus. I do test any cat that goes to the vet, just in case!
     
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  10. QOTN

    QOTN PetForums VIP

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    When the Felv vaccination was first introduced, it was emphasised that the Felv blood tests that breeders have to do before mating their cats would still work. It was also stated that those blood tests must still be carried out since, whilst the vaccine would protect from disease, it would not necessarily stop the cat becoming infected and therefore able to pass the infection to other cats.

    In this instance since the kitten is already infected, the problem would not arise.

    As @Jaf says, young cats are more at risk. This is why many owners only vaccinate their cats against Felv while they are young even if they are free roaming.
     
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  11. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    Can you tell me where you are? Is the cat feral/semi-feral? Surely he would need to be kept indoors and he probably wouldn’t like that.
     
  12. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    I’m confused. The FeLV vaccine could be given to the healthy cat yes? It wouldn’t protect 100% against infection but it would guarantee protection against disease, ie there is no chance any eventual infection could be symptomatic and therefore a risk to well-being. Would that mean the infection would clear itself eventually via natural immunity or would the cat always carry the virus but just remain a asymptomatic (like HIV in some people where the virus just remains latent and doesn’t cause disease though the carrier can infect another person).
     
  13. Lunarags

    Lunarags Dedicated cat slave

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    Unfortunately some cats cant eliminate the virus completely, although many can and those who become seriously ill from it are luckily in the minority
     
  14. Summercat

    Summercat PetForums VIP

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    @Bo Bugajski
    Hi,
    I don't want to confuse the situation further but this is my experience.
    I adopted a FELV positive cat from a shelter ( not in the UK) a few years ago. He tested positive on a blood test after being picked up by the animal warden outdoors. He was around a year old when admitted to the shelter.
    In the shelter he lived in an enclosure with other FELV positive cats.
    I was told I could have him retested after three months. Some cats clear the virus from their system. He did retest as negative and my vet ran the bloodwork twice to be sure.

    In your case, as this is a kitten, I think he should adjust ok to indoor living. It is possible he can clear the virus but no guarantee.

    If you cannot keep him, try to find a private rehome if there is not a shelter that takes FELV positive cats.
    Or a shelter may help you find a home while he is still in your care but they can advertise him and do home checks,
    Do not give free, as sometimes cats end up in bad hands. Ask a nominal adoption fee. Best to see if any friends or family want a friendly cat as an indoor cat. The virus is not a risk to dogs or other animals, so the kitten can go to a home with other pets.

    I have a feeling as he is young and getting good care he will clear the virus but he should remain an indoor only cat until a negative blood test.

    Check with your veterinary clinic about the FELV vaccine and risk to your cat from the kitten. If they do not fight or mate, I think the risk is lower only sharing litter boxes and other living space items, so with a vaccine your cat may be fine but best to check with a vet.
     
  15. QOTN

    QOTN PetForums VIP

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    I assume that, if the kitten passed the virus to the previously negative but then vaccinated cat, it might catch the virus but would eliminate it in due course which actually happens with the majority of infections anyway. Felv is very infectious but needs prolonged contact to transmit. Grooming and sharing food bowls are considered to be risks.

    This is an interesting piece of research comparing Nobivac and Purevax vaccines. The study cats were first immunocompromised with massive amounts of steroids which is probably unlikely to happen in real life.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4478526/
     
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  16. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Excellent, informative article @QOTN. Thank you for posting the link. :)
     
  17. Lunarags

    Lunarags Dedicated cat slave

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    Thanks for this xxxx
     
  18. Douglas’ Dad

    Douglas’ Dad PetForums Senior

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    I knew steroids had nasty side effects but I didn’t know they could mess up your immunity like that.
     
  19. QOTN

    QOTN PetForums VIP

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    The immune suppressant effect comes with large doses as in a long lasting injection or similar. (Obviously the study used very large doses.) I had herpes carriers for years but they were able to have steroids for multiple conditions without problems because my vet was aware of their history. The only time things went wrong was when a different vet gave an injection to an already stressed cat.
     
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  20. Dreamiesburglar

    Dreamiesburglar PetForums Newbie

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    Yes, steroids are immunosuppressant drugs and that's why they are usually prescribed when someone has autoimmune conditions as they work by suppressing the immune system.
    An autoimmune disorder is when your immune system is overactive and attacks your own cells by mistake.
    Depending on which cells it attacks you have various conditions: with skin cells you get psoriasis for example, when it's joints you get rheumatoid arthritis and so on.
    The fact steroids work by suppressing the immune system means they make someone more susceptible to infections as a side effect. This especially on large doses.
    They are also given after transplants to prevent rejection as they suppress the immune system so the foreign tissue isn't destroyed by the recipient's immune system.

    Sorry about the OT. I'm into pharmacology so just wanted to explain that in simple terms.
     
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