Our cat Cassie joined our family in early 2011 after she was found as an emaciated kitten wandering near I-85 in Greenville County, South Carolina following an ice storm. Last week was the first time she’d been sick since she was a kitten.
Last week we paid her vet a visit due to some tummy issues. Her blood work was good but the clinic wanted to test her for FeLV/FIV since she lived with our FIV boy Brinkley until he passed(at age 15) in January 2018.
Cassie had been listed as ’emaciated’ at the time we adopted her. She’s grown into a stunning black beauty who hasn’t been sick except for the upper respiratory infection she came home with from the shelter. She tested FeLV/FIV negative at the shelter in 2011 and she tested negative last week at her personal vet.
When Cassie started losing a bit of weight we didn’t hesitate to have her checked out. The blood panels done showed she was in good health. She checked negative on internal parasites (worms). Even with the good numbers, her vet wanted to do the ELISA test to make sure she was negative.
I’ve learned to expect the shock when our vet learns how many good years our FIV+ cat Brinkley had with us. FIV isn’t a death sentence and even some veterinarians have a tough time wrapping their brains around that. Our vet was truly shocked to learn we’d had Brinkley from February 24, 2012, until January 2018. He was at least 15 and we had been giving him sub-q fluids three times a week for kidney issues during his final year.
We’ve done a lot of ‘preaching’ to veterinarians who care for our cats, especially when asked how we keep them healthy for so long. That’s an easy one. As soon as an FIV+ cat shows symptoms of ANYTHING it’s off to the vet. Which cat owners should do with ANY cat.
There are groups on Facebook for those with FIV and FeLV cats. I read the same thing over and over and am glad I’ve learned as much as I have. Sometimes I feel as soon as a diagnosis is made that a cat is positive, the next thing out of the vet’s mouth is “so are we going to euthanize today?”
No! No! NO! There are homes out there for FeLV kitties and there are even more homes for FIV cats. FeLV is more easily spread, but there are also a lot of false positive tests results, especially using the SNAP test. FIV required a deep puncture or bite would to pass it from one cat to another.
We have a lot of blood work done during checkups and when a cat is sick. If anything is ‘off’ we have further tests run. We have yet to have a cat who started out FIV negative to turn positive.
Some aren’t so lucky when it comes to FeLV. I watch those in the groups as they share stories. Sometimes the cat can live a good life, even if it’s shorter than a healthy cat. FeLV cats deserve cats too! I’ve read stories where a cat can go for several years without any life-threatening issues.
If you arm yourself with information (including experimental treatment options), you’ll feel a lot more comfortable dealing with the diagnosis. Never agree to immediately euthanize based only on the diagnosis. It’s a decision you’ll regret for the rest of your life.
Please share this article with those who are thinking of adopting an FIV+ kitty. Anyone with a FeLV cat is welcome to share knowledge on whether you have other cats (especially if they’re negative) and how you handle the illness.
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