First things first. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is NOT cancer. I know from experience that it’s easy to be scared by the word leukemia, but FeLV is a virus and cats who’ve been diagnosed with this do not need to be euthanized or given up on.
It is true that this virus is highly contagious but not all infected cats will show symptoms or even test positive for FeLV. A strong and healthy immune system is key to stopping this virus in its tracks. Studies show that around 30 percent of cats exposed to the virus won’t catch the virus at all. Another 30 percent will develop an infection that only lasts for a short time and their immune system fights it off within about 3 months – at which point they are no longer contagious and the virus disappears from their blood stream. About 5-10 percent of cats infected will continue to carry the virus in their bone marrow but not in their blood or saliva glands and will only emit the virus again under severe stress. The rest of cats infected with FeLV (about 30-35%), will be the unlucky ones. They will continue to carry the virus in their bodies and, without the help of immunity builders or anti-virals, will become very sick with their life expectancy greatly diminished.
Be on the positive side of the statistics by giving your cat with FeLV nutritional supplements before the virus grows.
Many years ago, our baby boy Tigee was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia Virus. One weekend, we noticed he didn’t want to eat and would sit by the water bowl without ever drinking. He was weak and lethargic. Monday morning we took him to the vet. When they called and told us he had feline leukemia, they said they would put him on an IV and we would need to decide if we could afford the $2500 dollars it would cost for chemotherapy. We felt heartbroken and helpless. I wasn’t sure exactly what FeLV was at the time, but when the vet suggested that they do chemotherapy – I obviously assumed that it was cancer. (Leukemia in humans is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Feline leukemia, however, is a virus… that, if left untreated, can possibly cause cancer.)
Panicked, we met with the cancer specialist who informed us that Tigee only had a 30% chance of surviving the chemo… which was not guaranteed to cure the leukemia. He offered his objective opinion that it would be inhumane to put Tigee through the chemo, given the fact that his condition was already so grave. Even now, my heart is in my throat as I remember how difficult it was to make the decision… It was time to say goodbye.
I often think of all I’ve learned since Tigee passed… I can’t help but regret that I didn’t know more at that time – maybe things could have been very different. What I do know is that the experience of losing Tigee is part of what drives me to learn everything I can, share with everyone I can, and grow a little more every day.
We now work directly with an expert nutritional animal scientist who explains that Feline Leukemia is a virus in the digestive tract and most cats who are infected with it will suffer and/or die from dehydration because the virus makes them stop eating and drinking…. a painfully familiar memory to me. However, I am now encouraged by this analysis because it gives hope to those of us who feel so helpless when given this horrible diagnosis.
What you should know is that about one third of cats who are infected with FeLV can develop a virus related cancer that is more like lymphoma than leukemia. It is very rare that an infected cat develops leukemia. So don’t be like us and let that term scare the crap out of you. If your cat has been diagnosed with Feline Leukemia, keep your spirits high and get your baby healthy.
The immune system of a FeLV-positive cat is weak. Feeding the healthiest of diets and supplementing with natural anti-virals and immunity boosters is very important for the longevity of life for these cats. Even if your cat has a severe case of FeLV (like FeLV-C which causes severe anemia), he can still have a good life, and possibly a long life, if given the right amount of care.
So, in closing, please know that there is still hope for a cat who has Feline Leukemia Virus. There are so many cats who are euthanized because of this and we need your help to spread the word that this isn’t necessary. Please share this post and contact us if you have questions about your cat with FeLV.