Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Heartsick - FeLV Strikes

One of the main reasons that I have fallen behind in my blogging this summer is that I have been fostering kittens.  Even the most trouble-free litter takes up a lot of time and energy, and when juggling foster care with care for my own animals, work, and yes, trying to get some much-needed R&R, there isn't much time OR energy left over.

But this last litter...  this last litter is determined to not only break my heart, but to stomp it into little tiny pieces.

On Monday, after being sick with diarrhea for several days (even with the prescription medication) Amelia, named after Amelia Earhart, died.  Her intestines had telescoped inside of themselves, and there was no cure.  Nothing could be done.

The very next day, her sister, Nellie, got very sick.  She had a 106 degree fever, and was hospitalized at the shelter's clinic for four days.  She rallied, came back home with me, then got worse again on Monday... this time, the site where she received sub-q fluids swelled up to nearly the size of a golf-ball, and she couldn't use her front legs as a result.  She was literally trembling in pain... BUT  she rallied yet again after a change in antibiotics, and we thought that was the end of it.


But today was by far the worst.  The entire litter was retested for FeLV,  and even though they originally tested negative, today they tested positive.

And I am so at a loss.

The shelter cannot adopt them out to a normal household.  I can't keep them indefinitely - I have my own cats to think of.  The vets are fairly certain that the very limited contact that my cats have had with these babies has not infected them, but we can't take chances with prolonged contact,  and we can't keep them in quarantine indefinitely - that's no way for a cat to live. The reality is that these babies have nowhere to go.

They are sweet, innocent little kittens, and it is not their fault that they have a disease.  They are face-kissers, nose nuzzlers.  They are perfect lap-cat material and have no fear of humans, dogs, other cats.  They should have been some of the most adoptable kittens available.

But any windows of opportunity that they once had due to their cuteness are closing.

Does anyone know of someone who already has an FeLV positive cat that might want a kitten?  Multiple kittens?  A sanctuary that wants a three-pack of adorable kittens?   We're in Western Pennsylvania, if that makes a difference or helps.  I don't have the authority to place these kittens - they're fosters, not mine, but the shelter is willing to attempt to place them if a suitable situation is found.



  1. Oh my, that is heart wrenching. They all look so sweet. I so hope they can find a home. There is a sanctuary here (near Seattle) for FeLV+ and FIV+ kitties, however, they always seem full. I'll ask around here to see if anyone knows of any possible options.

  2. I am speechless at the moment catching up on your blog and hear such sad heartbreaking news. I am so sorry to hear about Amelia but I love that how you gave her a chance to experience all she could before her time. You will be in our thoughts and prayers and hope for a home for the rest of the little ones.

  3. Oh dear. My heart is breaking for you. I can't imagine how stressful and heartbreaking this must be. You are an angel for taking them in. There is a special place in heaven for people like you. I wish I had something more to say to help you out.
    I wish I had some solutions for you, I hope you can find homes for these little guys.



  4. I have heard of sanctuaries for FeLV cats. I don't know of any specifically that would be close, but I'm betting that if you do a search, you'll find something. I'm very sorry they have it!

  5. I am so sorry......I went through this last spring and my heart breaks for you. Sometimes they can throw it - but that requires waiting about 6 weeks to retest them. Our kittens were exposed to my adults and while I did have my crew tested, my vet reassured me that since mine are healthy, the risk was relatively low (not that I didn't worry very much). I know Best Friends has an FeLV house, but I don't know their openings.

  6. I wanted to give you this link as well:

  7. Oh, no! I am so so sorry about this! A friend of mine works at a vet office and her two cats were adopted as kittens (they were strays who tested positive for FeLV and could not be adopted out to anyone else, and she didn't have any other cats at the time).

    The good news is that when she tested them again when they were about five months old, she got them at about six weeks), they tested negative, and they tested negative again a week or two after that. From what I understand this happens rather often, so if you are able to keep them awhile longer and they can be retested, it may be that they will be negative the second time around.

  8. Also wanted to add ... they are nine years old now and the picture of health!

  9. catster just did an article on a shelter called shadow cats. they take in the cats that no one else will take. here is the link to the article:

    perhaps they will take them in. if transport is needed there is a facebook group that may be able to help. here is the link to their page:

    we will be keeping you and the kittens in our prayers.

  10. i was doing research on fiv to learn more about it since my buddy boy has just been diagnosed as fiv+. this is an excerpt from an article i found that comes from which is sponsered by dr.foster and smith. this is the link:

    Young kittens may have positive test results for 12 to 16 weeks after birth because of the passive transfer of FIV antibodies from the mother through the colostrum. Only a small percentage of these kittens who test positive are actually infected. A positive test result in an uninfected kitten is called a 'false positive.' Conversely, an infected kitten may have a falsely negative test if it has not yet had time to develop antibodies. Kittens tested at less than 6 months of age, regardless of the test result, should be retested after 6 months of age.

    are the kittens over 6 months of age? if not, maybe they were retested too soon. it may be a long shot but it may be worth a try. i am really praying it is a false positive.

  11. Thank you, everyone, for the helpful advice. I will check with the shelter and see what they want to do about the possibility of retesting.