What happens when a cat has feline leukemia?
What are the first signs of feline Leukemia?
How long can cats live with leukemia?
Should a cat with feline leukemia be put down?
These are just some of the questions that will be answered during the Second Annual Online Feline Leukemia Day, July 17 – a virtual event with presentations by FeLV experts from across the country sponsored by the Community Cats Podcast where you can find out more about what happens when a cat has feline leukemia.
We are also a participant in the Community Cats Podcast affiliate programs and the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Paws wrote about this incredible conference last year, and this year, we are happy to let you know we have signed up as an affiliate for the Community Podcast Educational Programs. Follow this link to register, and put in the code BBangs. You might also sign up for some of their upcoming 2021 programs, including:
- Online Return to Home Day (Sunday, September 12) *new for 2021!
- Online Fundraising Day (Saturday, October 16)
- Online Diversity Day (Sunday, October 17) *new for 2021!
Want access to our full 2021 lineup? Get the all-inclusive Community Cats Pass! For one flat rate, you will have access to past and future 2021 events. Don’t forget—include the affiliate code, BBangs to purchase. This will help Paws continue to share Great Content about our favorite topic: cats.
Did you know Feline Leukemia no longer a death sentence to shelter cats, at least, it does not have to be?
Many cage shelters allow FeLVs (cats with leukemia often are often affectionately referred to as FeLVs, pronounced Felvies) to be showcased right along with other cats. Some even take FeLVs to cat cafés for adoption. While FeLVs are likely to have a shorter lifespan, (the average being three years after diagnosis) they can be wonderful, loving pets for the time they are here.
Years ago, a cat diagnosed with feline leukemia taken to a shelter was automatically euthanized. While some shelters may still follow that norm, there are many that don’t. And there’s an advocacy movement to get Kansas to change and give FeLVs in shelters to have a second chance.
What’s changed so Feline Leukemia is not a death sentence to shelter cats?
New guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners, say FeLV+ cats can be adopted into homes as an only cat or with other FeLV+ cats.
With reduced stress, better diets and good veterinary care, these cats are living longer lives. Because of this more shelters are accepting FeLV+ cats and adopting them out.
Now fewer animal shelters are euthanizing FeLV+ and FIV+ (Feline Immunodeficiency) cats that come into their care, however, there are still some facilities that euthanize FeLV+ cats based on a single test).
Other questions you may have about feline leukemia will be answered during the Community Cats Podcast as well. Common questions include:
- Final stages of feline leukemia?
- What about kittens born with feline leukemia?
- How do you care for a cat with feline leukemia?
- How common is feline leukemia?
- What are Feline leukemia symptoms??
Some quick facts about Feline Leukemia
- It is specific to cats only
- FeLV infection is found worldwide in approximately one to two percent of the cat population
- There is no cure
- If all cats were spay/neutered, FeLV would be eliminated as the disease is caused mostly by bites and scratches during mating, or passed on from a mother queen to her kittens.
- It is spread through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. FeLV is not a highly contagious virus, as the virus cannot survive longer than a few hours in the environment outside of the cat. This means that if you pet a cat with FeLV and then pet another cat, the risk of transmission is essentially zero.
- Transmission requires a prolonged period of close contact between infected and susceptible cats, including bites.
- Susceptible cats are kittens and adult cats with weakened immune systems.
What is Feline Leukemia Virus?
Feline leukemia virus, also known as “FeLV,” is the cause of a variety of diseases. As a retrovirus, it replicates itself inside living cells, making it impossible to cure. Specifically, FeLV invades and replicates in cells of the cat’s immune system and tissues that create blood cells. FeLV is specific to cats and does not pose a risk to other animals or people.
What diseases does the virus cause?
In many cats, FeLV infection results in suppression of the immune system. This means that the cat is less able to defend him/her-self against a wide range of infections that would not normally cause a problem in healthy cats. A variety of symptoms could develop, and there is deterioration in their health over time. However, a FeLV cat can live for many years without illness.
How common is FeLV?
FeLV infection is found worldwide in approximately one to two percent of the cat population. The proportion of cats infected differs according to the geographical location, environment and the lifestyle of the cat.
Infection is more common in colonies of cats that are un-spayed/un-neutered and where there is close contact between individuals for long periods of time.
How is FeLV transmitted or spread?
A cat with FeLV sheds virus in bodily fluids such as saliva, urine and feces. FeLV is not a highly contagious virus, as the virus cannot survive longer than a few hours in the environment outside of the cat. This means that if you pet a cat with FeLV and then pet another cat, the risk of transmission is essentially zero.
Transmission requires a prolonged period of close contact between infected and susceptible cats, including bites. Susceptible cats are kittens and adult cats with weakened immune systems.
If you are enjoying this article, you might want to check out some of our cat-related health blog posts.
- Managing Diabetes just got easier due to AAFP Toolkit
- Early Spay Neuter will reduce explosive cat overpopulation
- Compound Meds may not be the best choice for your cat
- Happy cats make happy owners
The July 17th podcast starts at 10 am Eastern Time and if you have questions or are just curious to learn more about Feline Leukemia, you definitely want to register.
From 10:15–11:45 am, Dr. Julie Levy, Fran Marino Professor of Shelter Medicine Education, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program Will talk about new breakthroughs in her presentation:
New FeLV Testing Breakthroughs for Diagnostic Confirmation and Predicting Long-Term
The FeLV Project is a research initiative of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and the Austin Pets Alive! animal shelter designed to unlock the secrets of practical FeLV diagnosis and long-term outcomes of infected cats.
By following a cohort of 130 infected shelter cats over their lifetime (four years since diagnosis so far), the team discovered the most reliable testing strategies for confirming diagnosis and predicting outcomes of infected cats. Attendees will learn how to use valuable testing resources for the best overall support of feline lifesaving programs and how to interpret test results in challenging cases.
About Dr. Julie Levy:
Julie’s work at the University of Florida focuses on the health and welfare of animals in shelters, feline infectious diseases, and humane alternatives for cat population control.
She founded Operation Catnip, a nonprofit, university-based community cat trap-neuter-return (TNR) program that has spayed, neutered, and vaccinated more than 65,000 cats in Gainesville, Florida since 1998.
In 2008, she joined Dr. Cynda Crawford to found Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine, an educational and discovery initiative with a global impact on the care of homeless animals. In 2014, she joined Dr. Kate Hurley to launch the Million Cat Challenge, a shelter-based campaign that has saved more than three million cats in shelters across North America.
From noon to 1:30 pm, Dr. Heather Kennedy, Director of Feline Operations, Kansas City Pet Project will address De-escalating FeLV
When we treat FeLV kitties like little ticking time bombs that are dangerous to other cats, that’s how people think of them. We create unnecessary fear and make it more difficult to adopt them out.
We actually increase their risk of death by making it more difficult for them to leave the shelter. FeLV is transmissible, but not easily so, and while FeLV+ kitties may live a shorter life, they can still have a good quality of life. We need to overcome our own fear of the disease and learn to talk frankly to adopters about adopting a cat with a shorter life span.
About Dr. Heather Kennedy:
Heather is the director of feline operations at KC Pet Project. Her role encompasses all aspects of feline operations, including animal care, health and enrichment, behavior, and feline fostering.
Her career helping cats started as an experienced cat trapper, colony caregiver, and foster caregiver. She went on to attend U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where her singular commitment to cats earned her numerous scholarships, as well as the AAFP Outstanding Scholar Award.
In 2017, after four years in feline-only private practice, Heather decided to focus on the welfare of shelter cats. She is recognized as an expert on the humane care of feral cats and currently sits on the AAFP Committee on Free-Roaming Cats and speaks at national conferences on her work in sheltering.
She was mentored by Dr. Niels Pedersen, a nationally recognized expert on feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and she often provides consults to other veterinarians on the diagnosis of the disease. She managed the Alley Cat Allies emergency shelter after Hurricane Katrina and was instrumental in helping Santa Barbara County (CA) become no-kill through TNR and RTF (Return to Field). She started and managed a feral cat clinic in Yolo County (CA), where she mentored students on TNR and the humane care of feral cats.
After a half hour lunch break, the conference resumes at 2 pm with an hour and a half presentation by Monica Frenden, Maddie’s Director of Feline Life Saving, American Pets Alive!
The Four Stages of FeLV: Making Sense of the Latest Test Results
New research has brought us four distinct stages of FeLV infection: abortive, focal, regressive, and progressive. Learn what each stage means, gain technical understanding and practical advice on how to manage each, and find out what studies are showing the prognosis is for cats in each stage.
About Monica Frenden:
Monica is the director of feline lifesaving at American Pets Alive!, an instructor for the American Pets Alive!’s Maddie’s® Lifesaving Academy, and a City of Austin animal advisory commissioner.
Before teaching the Austin No Kill Model to students, she founded aTNR organization in rural Illinois and pioneered one of the nation’s first and largest working cat programs. In 2012, she joined Austin Pets Alive!, where she served as the cat program manager, led her team to an 88 percent growth in cat adoptions, and helped Austin achieve a citywide 98 percent live release rate for cats.
Monica is a frequent speaker and advisor on innovative ways to save every cat, including cats with feline leukemia, community cats, and shelter cats in need of medical care.
From 3:45-4;45 pm, Midge Grinstead, Kansas State Director, Humane Society of the United States will talk about the Kansas Project.
Adoptions for FeLV+ Cats in Kansas:
Kansas is one of the only states that does not allow adoption or transfer of feline leukemia-positive cats/kittens. We have a law meant for livestock that includes cats and dogs and is very archaic.
Advocates were able to get the Kansas Dept of Agriculture to allow the adoption or transfer of non-symptomatic FIV+ cats two years ago, after years of working toward that goal. I’m going to talk about the journey, grassroots, laws in Kansas prohibiting FeLV+ cat adoptions, and how we can work to change it all.
About Midge Grinstead:
Midge has been in the animal welfare field for 25 years, including over 14 years as the executive director of Lawrence Humane Society and 10 years as the Kansas state director for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Midge has worked in Kansas to support animal welfare legislation, fight animal cruelty in all forms, and engage citizens to promote the protection of all animals. She offers training for law enforcement, shelters, and county animal response teams. She helped to overturn or block breed-specific legislation in multiple counties and worked on the passage of the state’s cockfighting legislation.
She co-founded Humane Kansas Legislative Network, a group that was instrumental in passing Kansas’s felony animal cruelty bill into law, and served on the Governor’s Board for Companion Animal Legislation. Midge also helped the Kansas Animal Health Department in the seizure and housing of animals from hoarders, substandard kennels, and other situations involving animal welfare violations.
Additionally, she was instrumental in helping to form the Kansas State Animal Response Team, Douglas County Animal Response Team, NE Kansas Regional Response Team, Pet Animal Coalition of Kansas, and Kansas Horse Education Advocacy Resource Team. Midge is currently a board member of the Kansas Animal Control Association. She has been married to Mark Grinstead for 34 years and has a son, step-daughter, nine grandchildren, and a wonderful puppy mill rescue dog named Cooper.
Sounds like a dynamite line-up, and you won’t want to miss out on this important podcast. Don’t forget to register here, and use the affiliate code BBangs. This will help Paws be able to continue to bring your credible cat news year-round.
More about The Community Cats Podcast:
The Community Cats Podcast is the brainchild of Stacy LeBaron, who has over 20 years experience working with Community Cats in Massachusetts. She was the president of the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society for 16 years and since 2011, she ran the MRFRS Mentoring program, assisting over 80 organizations with setting up TNR programs and getting funding to support those programs.
To provide education, information, and dialogue that will create a supportive environment, empowering people to help cats in their community.
What Community Podcast Does:
Community Podcast offers a podcast, an informative blog, a grant and mentoring program, online conferences, and networking and sharing opportunities. They participate in cat-related events, and offer consulting and visioning workshops for organizations.
About Host Stacy LeBaron:
Stacy LeBaron has been involved in animal welfare for over 20 years. She currently hosts a weekly podcast called the Community Cats Podcast where she interviews nationally and internationally renowned experts helping with the problem of cat overpopulation and cat welfare.
In addition to the podcast, Stacy is committed to the model of virtual education by holding three weekend conferences, the Online Cat Conference, The United Spay Alliance Conference and the Online Kitten Conference.
She hosts day-long sessions covering specific topics around Feline Leukemia, Behavior and Fundraising. At the end of 2020, she partnered with Neighborhood Cats to hold monthly virtual trapper training and certification workshops to better introduce individuals to best practices for trapping community cats.
Sounds like a dynamite line-up, and whether you have had or have heard about what happens to cats with feline leukemia, you won’t want to miss out on this important podcast. Don’t forget to register here, and use the affiliate code BBangs. This will help Paws be able to continue to bring your credible cat news year-round.