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General Health Advice for a cat with FeLV

March 6th, 2011, 08:03 AM
Hi all,

I haven't posted here in a while but I was hoping for some advice.

A number of months back I took in a cat with feline leukemia. Everything has been going well so far. I gave her and my dog a few weeks to become accustomed to one another and now they're great together.

Anyway, I googled feline leukemia and a lot of hits came back. I know that the Internet has some great info, but I also know some of the stuff is bunk. I'm just wondering if I should be doing anything different with a cat that has FeLV. I talked to the vet at the shelter that I'm fostering the cat from and I was told that there wasn't really anything. I trust the vet at the shelter, but I know they're overworked and understaffed and a all that.

The cat also has a few little bumps that appear to be scabs around her the neck. I don't think they're from my dog - every now and then he acts like he's grooming her, but I'd think if he were doing it hard enough to break the skin that the cat would, at the least, get up and move away from him. Any ideas? The vet said maybe she was just scratching herself and not to worry about it unless it got worse (which it hasn't).


March 6th, 2011, 08:51 AM
My opinion, when any animal has a chronic health condition, quality diet is key. The immune system in conjunction with the organs need to work at maximum efficiency.

March 6th, 2011, 09:36 AM
I agree with L4H, a good diet is a start. There really isn't much you can do with FeLV cats. Some of them live perfectly healthy normal lives without showing really any illness, but for the ones that show illness they usually pass away at a young age. Out of the people I know from shelters who have either fostered or owned FeLV cats, I only know of one situation where the cat reached the normal age of a cat before she passed away.

For the bumps, they could be any number of things. They could be tumors, hives, just regular scabs... my friends FeLV & FIV+ cat had bumps too, but she died before we got a chance to figure out what they were. I think they were going with some kind of lymphoma. It's more likely your cat is just scratchign yourself though.

I assume you don't have any other cats, correct?

An important thing to remember is you have to know when it's time to let a chronically ill cat go. I know you are probably thinking "what is this girl talking about??", but too often I see FeLV or FIV+ cats that are really sick and their owners won't do the right thing. I have a cat that is FIV+, and she's only about 4 or 5 and she is crashing quickly. It's sad, but it's something I try to be upfront with caregivers of these types of cats, because especially with FeLV, it's not a fun thing to live with once the kitty becomes really symptomatic.

Hope that helps.. stick with good food, as much canned food as possible. Dry food can become hard for them to eat because positive kitties often have dental disease (mine does). Plenty of access to fresh water, a nice spot in the window and that's really all you can do.

March 6th, 2011, 10:02 AM
I've been feeding her dry Natural Balance brand, any suggestions for a good brand of canned? (is there a cat food sub-forum? I only saw one for dog food, but I'm doped up on cold medicine right now - accidentally took night-time formula, so I could be overlooking it!)

She's definitely the only cat in the house and isn't allowed outside. And I know what you mean about knowing when it's time to let her go, but hopefully I won't have to cross that bridge for some time.

As for what I think are scabs, they are very, very small (I only notice them when I touch her neck - she doesn't seem discomforted when I do it). I may be looking for problems where there aren't any - I'm new to caring for cats.

Thanks for the tips!

March 6th, 2011, 11:46 AM
I've been feeding her dry Natural Balance brand, any suggestions for a good brand of canned?

Would be good to get her on only wet food, as the highly processed nature of kibble can stress the immune system. Look for a canned food with quality muscle meat (not by-products) and little to no grains. Wellness, Nature's Variety, Go! Natural, By Nature, Merrick, ZiwiPeak, Nature's Logic, are some good ones. More info on feline nutrition here:

(is there a cat food sub-forum?

Yup, right here: (it's a sub-forum of the dog food forum :rolleyes:).

It's important to keep her immune system functioning in top form, and there are some supplements that might help with that. Look into Transfer Factor or colostrum capsules, some co-enzyme Q10, and maybe a multi-vitamin by NuCat. There are also a few FeLV Yahoo groups that could be a good source of info from caregivers who have been dealing with this for a while.

March 6th, 2011, 03:40 PM
Oh, also some people may recommend interferon, but that's questionable. It did not help those who I know tried it, and I've not tried it on my FIV kitty. It's inexpensive at some places so it probably doesn't hurt to try, but if it is costly and you can't afford it I'd say not worth it.