So sorry to hear about your little one. It is always difficult to our 4-legged friends, especially if it is unexpected. Take comfort in knowing that Pepper is in a better place with no more suffering and now is always with you.
I, like you, am new to this group and to FELV. My outdoor cat, who was vaccinated annually against FELV, was just diagnosed a little over a week ago with FELV and FIV. I, like you, thought the vaccines would protect her and was shocked when I learned through my research and the helpful people here that the vaccine is actually only 70-80% effective. It would seem to me that a vet should have recommended that Allie be tested periodically since she was so high risk living outside and being exposed to other cats, but I guess that is water under the bridge now. From what I understand, FELV and FIV are highly contagious among cats through bite wounds (saliva to blood contact), although many people on this site have had FELV + cats cohabiting with FELV - cats. Several people have told me that interferon is a realistic treatment which can be helpful in boosting the immune system, but I don't know what the recommendations are for asymptomatic cats. (My Allie just started becoming symptomatic with high fevers which she is having trouble fighting on her own which is how we ended up find out the diagnosis). There is apparently a difference between human interferon and feline interferon (feline interferon is difficult to get in the US). Also, there is low-dose and high-dose human interferon. With the low-dose option the cat doesn't have as much of a chance of developing resistance for future treatments. I am going to contact a vet who does interferon injections to discuss the options. If I learn anything in my consultations I will pass it along to you.
I will also forward you a manuel that one of the members forwarded me. It has a wealth of information on FELV.
Ashleigh Smith <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
My name is Ashleigh. I lost my cat of 7 years last night. Pepper was FeLV+.The long story starts several years ago. In 1991, I adopted a cat, Fred, from a no-kill shelter. He was 3 at the time and very healthy. I faithfully got his annual vaccinations for everything, including FeLV. In 1998, Fred got a lump on his neck. It was vaccine-associated sarcoma. Even though we knew it was a long shot, we elected to have the mass removed and hoped that he'd be in the minuscule percentage of cats for whom VAS doesn't return. He wasn't. The lump came back, and we eventually had him put to sleep when he could no longer eat or drink well on his own and had a poor quality of life. It just about killed me. To think that I bascially killed him by being what I thought was a good cat mom by never missing his annual shots tore me up.A few months after Fred died, in 1999, I got Pepper from a co-worker whose cat had had kittens. That solid black furball was so sweet. When he was a tiny kitten, he used to sleep on my chest, right below my neck at night. Unfortunately, about that time, I started getting sick a lot. Since my workplace had roof leaks when it rained, I suspected a mold allergy, and went to get allergy tested. I was horrified when tests showed that I was VERY allergic to cats. (The doctor said some cats are worse than others for allergies--just a crap shoot. He said it wasn't starnge that I could've been around Fred without getting sick a lot but not Pepper.) I tried everything to keep Pepper inside--wekkly baths, MSM supplements for me, allergy shots for me. Nothing worked. Therefore, Pepper went from being an indoor-outdoor cat to being an outdoor cat. He liked being outside, and I'd still go pet him outside--I'd just have to wash up when I got inside.Now, when Pepper was a kitten, I'd gotten him his vaccinations. However, given Fred's horrible death from over-vaccinating, I did my research before blingly following veterinary advice with Pepper. Just about everything I read said that vaccines every 3 years were sufficient, so that's what I did. I also had the vet use adjuvant-free vaccines and never give them in his neck. He did get the FeLV vaccine as a kitten, as a young adult, and just last year. I assumed he'd be safe from kitty diseases.Last February, I got another cat. She is a special breed that is supposed to be much less allergenic that others, and she was. She was able to live in my house without making me sick. When we got her, we had all of her vaccinations done EXCEPT FeLV. We didn't think it was necessary since she is a 100% indoor cat, and since Pepper had been vaccinated for FeLV for those rare times when he comes inside. Remember, I was very leery of vaccines, especially since Fred had died of VAS, and didn't want to vaccinate more than was absolutely necessary.Well, since Hurricane Katrina, Pepper just hadn't been himself. (We live on he Missisippi Gulf Coast and had 4' of water in our house. The cats were okay, and the house has been gutted and re-sheetrocked. With my home uninhabitable, I moved to Louisiana to my mom's house with my indoor cat. Pepper stayed in Mississippi where my husband was "roughing it," and David kept feeding him and taking care of him--even though David was living down the street at a neighbor's house that was higher than ours and didn't flood. The indoor cat, my daughter, and I moved to my parents' hosue where they live with their cat.) We've always had a few feral cats in the neighborhood, but their population has skyrocketed since Katrina. My cat food bill is high since I feed not only Pepper but also a ton of feral strays (and a raccoon) in the neighborhood who come eat his food.Over the past 2 weeks or so, Pepper had lost a lot of weight. Since one of my students is my vet's daughter, I mentioned to her mom that Pepper was looking really skinny and that I was going to bring him in in a few days for a check-up. She told me that he might've gotten worms and that they'd check him. Well, when I got home that afternoon, I couldn't find Pepper. I went through the neighborhood calling him and couldn't find him. I feared the worst--that he was really sick and had gone off to die. Well, yesterday afternoon, Pepper returned. He was limping, and his right back foot was swollen and infected from a bite. Infection had set in, and you could smell the decay. Flies were around him (and he's always been a very fastidious cat).I rushed him to the emergency vet's office, where thay saw that something had bitten him--possibly a snake or some other animal. They worked up an estimate to fix him up and were going to do an FeLV/FIV test as a routine matter. I didn't expect anything to show up since he'd been vaccinated for FeLV. Well, the vet called later last night, and he was FeLV+. Given his poor condition and the fact that his ELISA test was a very strong positive, plus his WBC's were low, and he had some anemia, his prognosis wasn't good. I talked with my husband, and we decided to have him put down. The vet said it would take a very long time for him to heal given the FeLV, if he would heal at all.I wanted to be with him when he died, and I wanted to get my indoor cat tested, mainly as a precautionary measure. I didn't think she'd have it, since they've never been around each other except for when they were both inside when we evacuated for Katrina--only for a few days. (It's a long story why we had to leave them at home. It was hek trying to get a hotel room, but we found one a few hours away in Alabama--just north of Crestview, FL. However, pets were not allowed. Normally, I'd have just stayed home, but we have a pre-school daughter, and riding out a storm was not in my realm of possibilities, considering our daughter. (I stayed in LA when Andrew hit, and it wasn't so bad, so I figured the cats would be okay. I couldn't take a chance, though, with my child, that everything would be okay.) I considered trying to sneak the cats into the hotel, but I feared getting kicked out of the hotel with nowhere for us to go with our daughter. (We couldn't go to my mom's in Louisiana because the roads were all blocked from Mississippi so that they could get New Orleans evacuated in time. Overall, it was a heck of a time--very stressful and hectic. We couldn'r even think staright. We just threw stuff in the car, left a bunch of food and water out for the cats, and got out before it was too late.)Needless to say, my indoor cat tested positive on the ELISA test, but the vet said she almost thought it was negative until she saw a very faint dot a couple minutes later. She said that I should get Bella retested by a lab later to see if she was able to fight it off herself or if it was a true positive.Pepper was put to sleep, and it was horrible for me. I know that it was best for him, and he went very peacefully, but it was horrible for me (not to mention how hard it is for my daughter). Now, I'm faced with my other cat dying as well. It is just horrible.I stayed up until 2:00 a.m last night reading up on FeLv, but, frankly, I'm overwhelmed. I feed Bella a high-quality diet (California Naturals by Innova-, which is corn-free). Right now, she is asymptomatic and is healthy but for the FeLV+ test. She will not have contact with other cats.What is he best way to keep her healthy? Enzymes? EFA supplements? Interferon? (I'm leery of the interferon just because the vet said that studies are inconclusive--plus, she's not sick right now. I'm worried that she might become immune to the interferon and not have that in our arsenal if she becomes symptomatic.) Generally, I'm worried that an un-proven "remedy" might do more harm than good.Does anyone in here have good advice for me? I'm not exactly very clear-headed right now, and it's hard for me to make sense of all the information about possible treatments. I feel terrible about not having Bella vaccinated. It just never occurred to me that Pepper might get it, having been vaccinted. It was only last night that I read that the vaccine is not 100% effective, especially if the cat has prolonged contact with FeLV+ cats--and I bet those ferals in the neighborhood have it since Pepper had to get it somewhere. Plus, I'm worried about Mom's cat since Bella lived at her house during September and October. Could she have been contagious then? I'm not sure if Eli's been vaccinated for FeLV . . .and Mom is out of town.I basically feel terrible. I should've had gotten Bella the FeLV vaccine even though she was an inddor cat, but it's too late now :-(Thanks in advance for any advice you migth have for me and Bella.~Ashleigh (who now has to bury Pepper next to Fred and make him a cross and plant some flowers, per my daughter's instructions)
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