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New Kittens tested positive for Feline Leukemia

August 8th, 2009, 09:40 AM
We took our new kittens in for a check-up yesterday and they tested positive for feline leukemia. :cry: (These are two babies we brought home about 6 weeks ago from a desert by my fiance's office. When we brought them home they had ringworm and had just gotten over that.) We have two other adult cats that we took down to get tested and so far have tested negative. The vet wants us to get them rechecked in a month because the incubation period is 3-4 weeks. I am unsure if I should euthanize these kittens, I don't want to infect our adult cats, or if I should keep these kittens and keep them separated from our adult cats(they have been thus far due to the ringworm) and keep them locked in a room for any longer. Any advice?:shrug:

August 8th, 2009, 10:18 AM
What a crappy situation to find yourself in. I am so sorry. Thank you for taking the kittens in and looking after them.
Most definitely keep them separated from your other cats. At least until you can get them retested.
A site for you to check out. Maybe it will help.

Also, I have sent a PM to Dr. Lee. Maybe he can give you some more info.

Dr Lee
August 8th, 2009, 11:01 AM
Yes, please do not euthanise yet. A positive test does not differentiate between true irreversible infection, infection of a pet that might itself overcome the virus or one that is exposed to the virus. Retesting is important to help differentiate this.

While I would recommend separation from your other cats, adult cats are in a lower risk category for developing feline leukemia. If they are vaccinated against FeLV, the vaccine works very well. Furthermore, adult cats have a natural immunity (some figures state 85%) against the leukemia virus anyways. There was a study that was done trying to infect adult laboratory cats who had never been vaccinated before with FeLV. Due to the fact that they could not get these cats infected, they study was cancelled. This does not mean that it is impossible for adult cats to get FeLV - but I would just separate the new kittens from the adults until we know more.

I am very sorry for all that you must be going through. I hope this helps.

August 8th, 2009, 02:27 PM
I raised a kitten with feline leukemia, and though he only lived 6 months, he had a great 6 months :lovestruck:. I would never euthanize them till they would start to have problems. Even with the disease, they can live several years without being sickly. :pray:

Dr Lee
August 8th, 2009, 07:51 PM
That is a very good point.

August 8th, 2009, 08:43 PM
I had a run in with FeLV before. At this point and time, my opinion is to euthanize FeLV+ kittens. I do feel that if possible you should wait, retest and see if they have any clinical signs. In a shelter environment (what I am used to) I am 120% for euthanizing all positive kittens to keep it from spreading. I had found kittens last summer that were fine when I had them, but when I brought them to my shelter they picked up FeLV because a. my shelter doesn't mass test and b. they don't euthanize positive kittens.

So because of another kitten(s) being positive, my poor little guys caught it, got sick and died.

If your kittens are clinically healthy, I suggest either getting them into a FeLV/FIV rescue or if you have any way to really quarantine them in your house, you can do that too. Most adult cats have a built up immunity to FeLV and even when adult cats do get it, they are usually fine.

If you have no way to properly care for the kittens without spreading the virus to your other cats, I suggest humane euthanasia. It is sad, but I can say from experience that most FeLV kittens that test positive at a young age do not live normal lives. They usually just get sick fairly quickly and only go on to suffer.

There is really no clear cut answer, but you need to do what's right for

-Your other cats
-Your sanity
-The positive kittens

August 8th, 2009, 10:21 PM
Thank you every one for your input. I have the kittens seperated in a spare bedroom for the time being. I was able to find a vet in Las Vegas that has high hopes for the kittens, but does not have any openings until Monday. We're going to take them in and see what treatment options we have before we make the final decision.

August 9th, 2009, 12:48 AM
what we would do and maybe you should ask around local rescues is place them in a positive foster, and they could be adopted to a positive home, a home that has other cats that have also tested positive. If the test results indicate that you should protect your cats. Thank you for being an angel to these babies

August 9th, 2009, 10:10 AM
:grouphug: to you Jewels526. I :pray: that when the kittens have been retested there will be a different outcome. Is it advisable to test again so soon? If your vet said 3 to 4 weeks I would be tempted to wait till then to give the virus a chance to run its' course.
I am afraid I would be in the percentile that would let the kittens live their lives to the best of their ability. Once they started showing signs of being really ill I would euthanize. But I am a huge believer in quality of life. If they are doing fine and don't seem to be suffering I would let them be.
As Dr Lee said, the risks of your adult cats catching it is minimal. You are keeping them separated from the kittens so I don't see the need to rehome. The kittens could live out their lives very happily in one room if they proved positive. As long as they are cared for and loved they wouldn't ask anything else.
I will keep your kittens in my prayers. :fingerscr:goodvibes:

August 9th, 2009, 09:02 PM
I plan on keeping the kittens unless they will be a threat to the other cats. I'm feeling like these kittens are going to have a great life here as long as they are happy and not in pain. Thank you to everyone.

August 9th, 2009, 09:34 PM
i'm so sorry to hear of that. i to had a kitten i feel in love with had her tested for leukemia and it came out positive. we chose at the time not to put her to sleep cause she was so full of life. we had two adult cats and had them vaccinated against it. we still kept her separate from them. she sadly only live another 6 months. if the kittens do still have it 3 to 4 weeks from now they could die by the time they are a year or they can live much longer it really depends on the cats.

Dr Lee
August 9th, 2009, 09:52 PM
Feline Leukemia is a highly contagious disease that affects kittens and juvenile cats. Adult cats have a large amount of natural immunity. When you have an adult healthy cat - it is hard for them to contract feline leukemia. When you have them vaccinated, it becomes even more unlikely. The positive cats should be separated from all cats under a year of age.

August 9th, 2009, 10:00 PM
that is true but well i wasn't taking that chance at the time. i did not want to lose my other two cats as well. so far they are healthy and happy and we have another kitten well she's two now.

Dr Lee
August 9th, 2009, 10:05 PM
An taking no chances is the BEST route!!! :thumbs up My comments regarding juvenile versus adult risks are geared more towards the fear that leads to many people to have a 'knee jerk' reaction to a leukemia positive pet that then leads to euthanasia.

August 10th, 2009, 11:35 AM
My sister adopted a cat 14 years ago that tested positive for feline leukemia when it was a kitten. That cat is still going strong and is now a frisky senior, happy and healthy…maybe a little lonely, since she has always been kept separate of other cats, but actually she doesn't seem to notice :)

August 10th, 2009, 12:14 PM
Thank you for rescuing these kittens, jewels526 :grouphug: and allowing them to have a life, even if it may be just a short one.

August 10th, 2009, 08:50 PM
I want to add my :2cents: to NOT vaccinate your other adult cats against FeLV. It's not a 100% vaccine.. and from what I've heard form vets I have talked to it's really not always safe or effective and there have been cases of cats actually contracting the disease from the vaccine. If your other cats are healthy, just do what you can to reduce the risk. Wash your hands after you play with the other kittens.. no sharing of litter boxes, bedding etc.. easy common sense stuff.

If the kittens start becoming sick and are sneezing alot then you probably don't want to dwell.. when they are spewing snot and boogies all over the place they can easily shed quite alot of the virus and get it in the environment... that can spell bad news for the other kitties.

Just do what feels right. Don't be heartbroken if they don't make it as you've clearly tried what you could do :grouphug:

August 10th, 2009, 08:59 PM
kathryn - Your words are always so ....... visual. Let's see what happens with the retesting before sentencing these babies.

Dr. Lee - Can you get a false/positive reading with FeLeuk? Or is that something else I am thinking of?

August 15th, 2009, 01:53 PM
I'm happy to say that the kittens are looking better. Spunky had what the vet thoguht was a food allergy, so we have started both kittens on a hypoallergenic diet. For the leukemia, we are giving both kittens Interferon (Spunky is getting shots and Sparky is getting it orally). Spunky has lymphnodes, but they seem to be getting smaller with the combination of the change in diet and the shots. The food allergy has cleared up as well. One thing that is worrysome is the fact that Spunky started eating litter on Tuesday morning. I took the litter away and am now using shredded paper from my office. I will give Spunky the shots for 2 and a half weeks and take the kittens back to the vet for a check up and see hoe they are doing. I am hoping this treatment will help keep them healthy so they can enjoy life. :) I'm just glad we can finally hold and play with the kittens. :D (they had ringworm when we first brought them home and were diagnosed with the leukemia when we found out the ringworm was gone. :sad: these kittens have had a rough go of life. :sad: )

August 15th, 2009, 02:53 PM
I'm happy that things are looking better for these two little ones. I have to say as well that the more I hear about your Vet's proactive stance, the more relieved I feel.

I'll mention one thing about the "eating litter thing" may mean nothing,as there can be several reasons (most innocuous), but sometimes it can indicate a low red blood cell count - the cat bordering on or being anemic. If that were the case, there would be other signs as well...low or lower energy level, lethargic, pale (less pink, more whitish) gums, cooler body temperature. These are all things you should monitor.

FeLV+ kitties have a very special meaning for me - I lost a very special little one - not to the Feluk but, to the incompetence of a Vet and to my own ignorance of even the most basic of rules, to get a second opinion. This was all before I learned about the wealth of information and supports available via the Web.

One thing I've learned since, something I would do now if I were to face this again and something I would urge you to at least consider is to join a group of people whose focus is the management of their FeLV kitties health. You can find them here