Monday, March 14, 2011

Caring For Feline Leukemia Cat in Multiple Cat Home

Feline Leukemia Awareness Postage stamp

Caring for a Feline Leukemia cat in a multiple cat home is not an easy task however it is a task that is worth the effort.  Feline Leukemia is a virus called (FeLV) and infected cats spread the virus through saliva, nasal secretions, tears, urine and feces. Feline leukemia is contagious; therefore keep your cats indoors.

Many people will choose euthanasia when they learn that their cat has tested positive for feline leukemia.  They do not want to expose their other cats and they are afraid the FeLV cat will suffer.  

The decision is yours, however if your FeLV cat is in the early stages and do not have symptoms the cat may be able to eliminate the virus by the fourth stage.  Therefore if you want to give your cat a chance to eliminate the virus, then learn how to care for feline leukemia cat in a multiple cat home.

Have all of your cats tested for Feline Leukemia. The ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay) test is a way to determine if your cat has been exposed to the Feline Leukemia virus.  Your veterinarian will perform the test in their office. If the tests are negative then have your cats vaccinated.  

I needed to wait three months before I could have my cats vaccinated because they were exposed to my FeLV cat named Sam.  My veterinarian explained that it would take that long for the cats to show a positive so to be on the safe side I needed to separate my cats in my home. By separating the cats I was providing Sam with a stress free area where he could rest and heal and I was protecting my other cats from being infected.   

Set up Safe Room:
Survey your home to determine if you have a room with door for you feline leukemia cat.  You will need to set up a safe room for your cat that features toys, bedding, purchase new litter box, food and water bowls and a cat tree would provide hours of activity. 

A room with a window is ideal.  This room will need heat and air conditioning. A home office makes for a good safe room as it allows the cat to interact with people.  

A sun room that has heat and air would also be a good safe room for your cat. If you use a guest bedroom then remove some of the furniture, so there is room for your cat and their needs. Set up the separate living area for your FeLV cat that does not permit any access to your other cats.  

Choose the safe room wisely because this is where your FeLV cat will live while they have the virus or until your veterinarian gives you the okay to reunite the cats.

Use caution before you enter the safe room put your healthy cats in another room and shut the door.  This is a safety measure to protect healthy cats in the event the cat with FeLV gets out when you enter the room. Your cat may be infected with the virus but they still are playful and loving cats and want to run through the house.

Cat Diet 
Continue to feed your healthy cats their food and feed your FeLV cat a high protein food with antioxidants. Sam eats a high-protein diet that is similar to what a wild cat would eat. Blue Buffalo wilderness canned food is high in protein and has no grain fillers.  

The canned food will also aid in keeping cat hydrated. I mix half a can with two tablespoons of water or organic chicken broth and my cat Sam loves it. I also feed Sam hard crunchy kibble to remove the plaque from his teeth. You can also feed your cat a raw diet that is formulated for cats.

  • Wash the food, water bowls with antibacterial dish soap daily.  Provide cat with fresh clean water daily.  Clean litter boxes daily and wash the litter box with antibacterial soap once a week.
  • Remove your shoes before entering the room that houses your FeLV cat. This is a safety measure to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Administer heartworm pills and protect your cats from fleas, ticks, mites. Do this especially if the cat's plays with dogs. Keep your cat up to date with vaccines. Keep cat hydrated.
  • Allow the family dog to visit with the FeLV cat; that is if they get along. 
  • Feline Leukemia virus infects cats only.
  • Install a separate thermostat in your FeLV cat's room. Set the thermostat at 74. The room must have a comfortable temperature at all times. Your FeLV cat cannot be in a draft.
  • Watch for colds, runny eyes, swollen lymph nodes, and or cough. If your cat vomits or has diarrhea call your veterinarian.  If suspect any illness make an appointment for your cat to see your veterinarian.
  • Keep all veterinarian appointments. Your  cat needs to have routine blood tests twice a year. These tests will indicate the progression of the virus.
  • Spay or neuter all cats in the household

Learn More about Feline Leukemia 
Educate yourself by reading as much as you can about the virus feline leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus   This will help you to understand the treatment tips prescribed by your veterinarian and it will enable you to care for your cat.  

Please leave me a comment if you have any questions and I will respond.


mao's said...

hi, what if your cat is to far into leukemia, can they still get better.i have been told my cat may have to be put to sleep if she dont start to inprove over weekend, i dont want to do this, but if this is what i have to do then i have to.

Sgolis said...

mao's: Sorry for the late response my computer had a virus. I am also sorry that your cat is infected with Felv.

Once Feline Leukemia infects the cat there are 6 phases. If the cat cannot fight off the Felv infection with their immune system that the virus will take over the cat’s immune system.

Sam was able to fight off FeLV in Phase 3 and he became totally immune. I do not know the phase of the virus your cat is in. But I do know that if your cat is ill and sufferings then I think it is best to put the cat down.

You need to find out what phase of Felv that your cat is in. The development of lymphomas is considered the final stage of the disease.

I hope this comment helps you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I have had a FeLV positive cat, Howie, for 8.5 years now and he has had the virus since he was under 1 year old. Never had any health problems until recently and I am willing to try anything. I have always feed him high quality food and gave him tons of love. So far it has worked, but now his white blood cells and red blood cells are starting to decline :( not sure if it's the FLV doing it or cancer in his bone marrow. On then fence about trying the Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator (LTCI) treatment on him. I hope I can have him for several more years. He is the best cat in the world! I hope that others can give them a chance too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for your helpful info on FELV cat care. I have a FELV positive cat and am wondering the best flea/heartworm etc monthly preventative medicine for him? I currently use Advantage multi, but didn't know if there were any other products better for FELV cat? Any thoughts from you are much appreciated. Amy

SGolis said...

Amy: I published Safe and Natural Flea Treatment for Cat This article may help you in learning more about flea treatments. I have used all on my FIV cat Sam.

SGolis said...

Amber: You did take good care of Howie to live 8.5 years with FeLV is a good quality of life. It is really sad when the cats blood changes and their immune system weakens.
The lymphocyte T-cell immune modulator is one of the treatments for feLV It is very helpful in regulating the lymphocyte. I think it would be wise for you to discuss the treatment options with your veterinarian. When the cats suffer from the anemia, lack of red blood cells then it is serious. Howie could go down ill very quickly.

I talked to a women in the UK that had a FeLV cat for several years and all of the sudden the virus progressed and her cat became acutely ill. She told me that her veterinarian recommended blood transfusion. The last time that I heard from her she told me that her cat’s health had improved.

You and Howie are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I had 2 cats who were positive, but didn't know until I had to put one down last summer at 9 years of age. Both cats suffered with ear infections pretty much their entire lives. I believe they got FLV from their mother, as I have kept them indoors since they were adopted as kittens. My other little guy is still alive, but I worry terribly about him every day. The vet has never been able to determine the cause of the ear infections, and both cats had tumors removed from their ears last year. I'm still a newbie learnign about this disease, but it seems like they were both at stage four for their entire lives. Is this normal with cats? The first one hit stage 6 (I guess that's what it was, as he suddenly stopped eating and just layed there. The vet had me force feed him and we gave him strong antibiotics, but it was too late.) and we had to put him down 3 days later...that was almost exactly a month after his tumor was removed. The other one has gone a little over 3 months now after his surgery. I really don't want the one I have left to go through the same couple of end days the other had. Are there any signs to look for before that happens?

S Golis said...

Cats that are FeLV positive but show no symptoms of the virus can live many years after diagnosis provided they have a high quality happy life. One writer tells me that his cat was diagnosed with FeLV 8 years ago and has never been ill.

However some cats are not as lucky and develop cancer, infections, and blood disorders. Because of the cats poor immune system they cannot fight off the illness and they end up getting sicker.

One writer told me that her cat was not suppose to live past the weekend, she had an emergency blood transfusion and her cat came out of the illness and to this day the cat has lived 18 months.

I can understand that you do not want your cat to suffer. Your cat will tell you when their end of days are near. The cat will not want to be close to you, will not want to be picked up or cuddle with you on the sofa…instead your cat will hide under the bed, dark closet or under the sofa. Your cat will also want to get out of the house, to run away, hide from you and pass from this earth. (it is what cats do in nature) I advise you to put your cat down and to not allow it to suffer, from what I understand; FeLV is very painful in the end stages. If it were my cats Sam or Missy I would not want them to suffer. It would break my heart, but I would have them euthanized.

jlove said...

I lost my cat Pulo to Lukemia 2 years ago. He lived a healthy comfortable life. I adopted him and he was never exposed to other cats after I had him. I bought a seal point siamese in August of 2010 and he has been an excellent addition to our family. Unfortunately we did not have him fixed and he got out and was gone for a while. When he came back he was beaten up a little so we took him to the vet. While there, we learned he tested positive for leukemia as well. He is still very active and is eating well. He is in the early stages so we are hoping he responds well to the medication. We are having him neutered and we bring him home tomorrow. His name is Jinx and he is the most loveable cat. Please keep him as well as my family in your prayers.

S Golis said...

jlove and Jinx you are in my prayers. Since the FeLV in in the early stages maybe jinx can eliminated the virus before the 3rd stage. That would be wonderful and I pray that he is able to do so. Feline Leukemia like Feline AIDS is very contagions and that is why it is important to get all indoor cats vaccinated.

All of my cats are vaccinated even thought they are indoor cats. I do this because if one happens to get out, it does not take much for the cat to get sick. Jinx got into a fight, but it could be spread through sharing the same food bowl-saliva. It does not take much to infect perfectly healthy cats.

Thank you for your comment, please stay in touch and let me know how Jinx is doing.

S Golis said...

8.5 year's is a good life for a Feline Leukemia cat many of the cat do not live that long. The FeLV is causing your cat to get the cancer symptoms and the decline in blood cells. It is really hard to see your cat get sick. You feel so helpless.

I heard from a man in the UK and he told me his FeLV cat was diagnosed and then lived 8 years symptom free before getting sick.

I heard that the LTC treatment is helpful. We all do what we can to provide our cats with a better quality of life.