Cats who have tested positive for Feline Leukemia Virus present many unique challenges for pet owners. Owners must take precautions to isolate their cat from uninfected cats, pay extra attention to their health, and maintain a regular relationship with a veterinarian to assist when probems arise. And sadly, cats with Feline Leukemia Virus often have shorter life spans. But in many ways raising an FeLV positive cat is like having any other cat! Well Pets' team member and veterinary technology student Sarah Glenn shares about her personal experience with her young, energetic tabby cat Sebastian and the steps she takes to care for and protect him.
What is your cat's name and age?
My cat's name is Sebastian and he is 1 year and 6 months old.
How did you two meet?
My boyfriend, daughter, and I had just moved into our first home a couple of months before hand and I (obviously, with my career choice) was so ready to add a furry child to our family. We had our eye on one kitten at Pawmetto Lifeline that I wanted to meet. We went and met that kitten and were going to adopt her the next day. Whenever my daughter and I went back to Pawmetto, she had already been adopted. I was so sad. As we were leaving, we saw Sebastian looking out the window at us and I was just drawn to him. When I told the volunteer that we wanted to meet him, she informed me that he was FeLV positive. I was a little cautious at first, but decided to put that aside in my mind. He was going to be our only kitty and he deserved a chance at love and a home. As soon as we went into the room with him, he jumped into my lap and it was game over.
What are his favorite things to do?
Sebastian is CRAZY! He loves playing with his toys, especially his little jingly ball. Of course, he thinks everything in the house is a toy. We have a cat tree for him that we keep by the window to the porch and he loves watching the birds at the bird feeder. About every 10 minutes, he bursts across the house at 100 mph. At night he cuddles up with us on the couch or in the bed.
What do you have to watch out for as the caretaker of an FeLV positive cat?
As the owner of a cat with feLV we have to be sure that he stays inside. His immune system is more susceptible to infections or disease. We have to stay on top of his health and make sure he stays as healthy as possible since he body will have a harder time fighting anything off. We also can not let him be exposed to other cats that do not have feLV. It's transmitted through bodily fluids, so it is easy to contract.
Has he had any health concerns since his adoption?
Whenever we adopted Sebastian, he already had a history of gingivitis. He had previously had teeth extracted due to that. Next month I will have to schedule a dental for him to have the remaining teeth behind his canines extracted. He has had on case of conjunctivitis. Other than that, he is a healthy little boy!
What are some things you do differently as a cat caretaker due to his diagnosis?
He is our only cat and it has to stay that way unless we adopt another cat with feLV. Also, as I mentioned before, he must stay inside. Every morning and night I mix in Viralys gel into his food for immune system support.
What things are the same as caring for any other cat?
Owning Sebastian is just like owning any other cat. If you were not told that he had feLV, you would never know. He has the same attitude as a younger cat would and looks no different. He does have to stay inside, but that is just like having an indoor kitty. He eats the same food as a "healthy" cat would. I will say, he is the sweetest boy I have ever owned and I don't regret opening up my home to him one bit.
What would you tell someone who was considering adopting an FeLV positive cat?
I would tell them to go for it! Cats have a hard enough time getting adopted, so adding in the special needs just knocks down their chances even more. When I went to adopt a cat, I did not even think about looking at the cats with diseases. I'm so glad Sebastian chose me. He really is the same as any other cat and has not caused me any trouble. He is healthy and most of all, happy and loved, which is what matters most. As long as they have no other cats and can keep them inside, they should absolutely consider offering their home to a special needs cat. They need love too and make the purr-fect companions.
Feline Leukemia Virus is preventable with a yearly vaccination. To find out if this vaccine is right for your cat, please call or text us at 803-732-3883.