FeLV+--To euthanize or not

Well in my case the decision was already made, but I didn’t agree with it.

Here’s the scenario:

SO goes out of town to visit a friend.
Friend has a friend who has some kitties.
SO brings one back.
A couple of days later, SO gets a call from out-of-town friend saying that the other two kitties from that litter are FeLV+ (feline leukemia positive).
SO keeps kitty for about a year (as an inside kitty), then euthanizes her.
I disagreed with that decision.

If you’re not familiar with FeLV, it’s sort of a feline version of HIV. AFAIK, it’s not really a virus that causes feline leukemia, but that is a common affliction once their immune system starts becoming depressed.

I did some digging and found (of course) there aren’t any easy answers.

Typically, (from what I read) there is about an 85% mortality rate withing 4 years of symptoms starting to appear. I’m not familiar with all the various symptoms, but the kitty at some point starts visibly showing that it’s sick.

But what we have basically no clue on is how long it takes between infection and symptoms. You think it’s hard in people–try to get that info from your kitty.

The vet said in as many words that sometimes they live long lives before showing any symptoms–but they can still infect other cats.

So, her choices were a) keep the kitty as an inside kitty so that it could not infect anyone else’s, b) let it be an outside kitty where it might infect someone else’s, c) try to find someone willing to either risk a or b, or d) euthanize it.

This is not really a great debate–and the matter was settled months ago, but I’d appreciate any feedback on this.

First, let’s clear one thing up. There is feline leukemia and then there is feline AIDS. They are two different diseases.

Feline leukemia is called a retrovirus. It is spread from cat to cat through saliva and eye discharges,urine and feces. It usually takes prolonged exposure for a cat to catch the disease, because it doesn’t last long outside the host.

It is true that one cannot tell how long a cat with FeLV will live. If the cat is kept otherwise healthy it can live for years. Once an infected cat does get sick, however, it must be treated much more aggressively than a normal cat, due to immune system supression.

If the cat was the only cat in the household and was kept indoors, euthanizing it was a premature decision, in my opinion. Unless it was getting sick all the time and the owner didn’t want to see it suffer, the cat could have had a long life ahead of it. I personally know people who have FeLV infected cats and MOST of them do OK. They won’t live as long as a perfectly normal cat but as long as they are not showing signs of illness, why not let them have a happy life?

I crave an art that passionately transcends the mundane instead of being a device for self-deception.–Griffin, from The Griffin and Sabine trilogy.

As a point of information for future kitties: The Elisa or snap test (the basic blood test for FeLu and FIV)can produce false positives. To find out if the virus is in the bone marrow, request an IFA test. If the IFA test comes back negative, wait three months and retest. Either the Elisa will be negative or the IFA will now be positive. In other words, given time, the two will match one way or the other. But I wouldn’t make any final decisions without a positive on an IFA.

I’ll bow to Michelle if she has a different opinion, but the rescue organization I volunteer with has run into more than one false positive, and this double testing has helped a few cats (and sadly, confirmed the illness of a few others).