Foothill Felines Spooky Spots; a beautiful silver spotted Savannah queen.
|(PLEASE NOTE: We are NOT veterinarians!! However, we want to share our personal research and experiences regarding these important feline health issues with other cat-lovers!! We will be updating this page often!! Send us your ideas and any comments!!)|
What is FELV (Feline Leukemia Virus)?? FELV is a devastating "retrovirus", and the leading infectious disease cause of death in domestic cats today.
What are the symptoms of FELV?? Some of the most common physical/clinical symptoms of FELV are so numerous that almost any severe, chronic illness may lead your veterinarian to suspect FELV. These symptoms include: jaundice; weight loss; depression; anemia; loss of appetite; constipation or diarrhea; difficulty breathing; bloody stools; loss of energy and stamina; excessive thirst and urination; abortion or kittens; reabsorption of fetus; infertility; and a syndrome not unlike "cat distemper", panleukopenia. Cancer may also occur in some FELV-infected cats.
How long can a cat with FELV live?? Although some FELV diagnosed cats may live several months or even for many years, many more will last for only a few weeks. It varies tremendously depending upon the individual animal, timing and medical treatment, and circumstances, such as age and overall health of the animal at the time the positive FELV diagnosis is made.
How did my kitty contract FELV?? The feline leukemia virus itself is excreted in tears and saliva and possibly even in the urine and feces of an infected cat. The virus is rapidly rendered inactive by warmth and drying, so your cat must have had prolonged, extensive cat-to-cat contact with an infected cat to contract the disease.
Can FELV be spread to humans or dogs?? There is no evidence to date that FELV can be transmitted causing disease to humans or dogs from an infected cat or kitten. FELV is a virus specific to felines.
Is there a cure?? Unfortunately, to date, there is no cure for FELV, although remarkable progress is being made and much research being done. Various anti-viral compounds such as interferon are being used on an experimental basis, as are a variety of chemo-therapeutic regimens, with varying degrees of safety and success. Steroids are often prescribed to help destroy abnormal (cancerous) blood cells that are often present in FELV positive cats. If you have an FELV positive cat, you will need to separate it from all your other cats, take strict precautions to thoroughly disinfect all areas that cat has been in contact with, and work closely with your veterinarian to decide what is the best course of treatment for you and your cat. You should also be aware that there are some wonderful support groups on the Internet for people living with FELV-positive cats.
What about FELV vaccinations?? While no vaccine is 100% effective, there are studies that show FELV vaccines are reasonably effective in preventing persistent FELV infection should your cat be exposed to this virus. These vaccines will cause an immune response that offers protection to most exposed cats, although occasionally, a vaccinated cat will become temporarily FELV positive for up to 12 weeks after exposure, yet not develop the clinical disease itself. Kittens can be vaccinated twice starting at nine to ten weeks of age, with the second dose given three to four weeks after the first. Thereafter, a yearly "booster" vaccination is recommended. Always check with your veterinarian first. There has been some controversy within the veterinary community about the possibility that using the FELV vaccinations currently available may actually increase the odds of certain corona viruses mutating into the dreaded FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). Vaccinations, like any medical procedure, also carry risks, so it is important to carefully weigh the potential risks versus the potential benefits for each animal before administering any vaccine.
How do I test my cat for FELV?? At this writing, there are two methods of FELV testing being commonly used; the first is the ELISA (kit) test, which is done right in your veterinarian's office, and the second is the IFA (Hardy, or slide) test, which has to be sent out to a diagnostic laboratory to have the results determined. Both tests look for a protein component of the virus as it circulates within the bloodstream of the animal The ELISA test can detect FELV in the primary stages before the cat's bone marrow has become infected. At this time, the cat's immune system still has the opportunity to fight off the virus. This test can also detect FELV in the later stage of the disease, when the virus has invaded the bone marrow. At that point, the prognosis is grim, and the cat is considered infectious to other cats. The IFA test detects the FELV virus primarily in the second stage.
By having a "negative" FELV test result, your cat either: 1) has never been exposed to FELV (we want this to be the case); 2) may be incubating the virus at an earlier stage than either test can detect, and may test positive later; 3) has overcome a previous infection and thus not become persistently viremic, or 4) was infected with the virus previously and has developed FELV but for some reason does not have the virus in the bloodstream a the time of the test.
What can I do now to protect my cats?? The only method for protecting your cats is to remove any FELV-positive cat from other cats completely. You should also follow strict quarantine procedures including separate utensils, housing, litter pans for the FELV positive cat, and thoroughly washing your hands, clothing and shoes after handling and caring for the FELV positive cat. Do not breed an FELV positive queen!! If you lose a cat to FELV, it is recommended that you wait 30 days before bringing in a new cat, and then only after the area has been thoroughly scrubbed and disinfected with a solution containing 4 ounces of household bleach per gallon of water, rugs vacuumed completely, and all litter pans, food dishes, bedding, etc. have been replaced.
How can I be sure I have an FELV negative cattery?? No household or cattery can be considered FELV Negative until all cats have tested negative in two sequential FELV tests taken at least three months apart. All FELV cats should be removed from the premises, and the remaining FELV negative cats should then be vaccinated and re-tested every three to six months for the next year. Any cats that become FELV positive during that time should also be removed to another location.
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NUVET PLUS FELINE SUPPLEMENT
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FELIWAY PLUG-INS & SPRAY
~ Click on links above for more information and to order these exceptionally calming Feliway products for felines. Used and recommended by Foothill Felines! Wonderful for cats of all ages, weights, and breeds. Contains natural cat pheromones for extremely effective stress relief and eliminating need for cats and kittens to mark or exhibit other unwanted behaviors. Every multi-cat household should know about these plug-ins; they are odorless to people, yet they are especially helpful to kittens/cats during a move, any change in your household routine, periods of stress of any kind, and queening.
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