What is Feline Leukemia (FeLV)?
FeLV is a virus that weakens the feline immune system, similar to HIV in humans. At other shelters, cats with this disease are killed as soon as they are diagnosed. Friends For Life takes a different view, allowing FeLV+ cats to live the years they have with dignity in a loving, low-stress environment, while looking for a forever home.
Can I get it?
No. FeLV is not contagious to humans or other species. It is not airborne and dies rapidly in the environment. The virus cannot be carried on clothes or skin.
Why are FeLV+ cats separated from other cats at the shelter?
FeLV can spread to non-infected cats through saliva – specifically deep wound bites, and less commonly through urine, feces, mutual grooming or shared food and water bowls. Many people have FeLV+ cats in their home with FeLV- cats, as there is an extremely effective and safe vaccination to help protect uninfected cats from acquiring it.
Can I adopt a cat with FeLV?
Absolutely! We (and they) would love it! The FeLV+ cats we have available are just as healthy at this time any other cat available for adoption. They do, however, have an increased risk of getting sick. So, feeding a high-quality diet, keeping their environment clean and addressing health problems as soon as they arise are critical. You wouldn’t know a cat had FeLV by just looking at it. The average life span after diagnosis is 2-4 years, although many cats will live asymptomatically much longer.
Will adopting a FeLV+ cat be more work?
Not while they are healthy. But if they get sick, they may need more care than a normal cat. When the FeLV+ cat stops responding to treatments and quality of life is no longer good, we consider them to be “symptomatic.” At the time they become symptomatic, and only this time, we believe euthanasia to be the humane option for the FeLV+ cat. Friends For Life firmly believes that there is no reason an asymptomatic FeLV+ cat should have to die. They can have many years of being a loving companion ahead of them!