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Feline FIV vs. Leukemia - thoughts/input?

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  • Feline FIV vs. Leukemia - thoughts/input?

    Our barn recently had a new, VERY sweet kitty dropped off. She developed an ear infection - was shaking her head, walking funny, etc, so I took her to the vet because an ear infection can be treated, but if it was neurological, etc - just wanted her to be okay and/or not spread something to the other barn cats. Well, long story short, yes, it is an ear infection, BUT she tested positive for FIV.

    I did a lot of research, and we are not euthanizing her. I will take her to our small business property and let our caretaker tend to her. I have other cats at home, but in my research, apparently FIV isn't nearly the big deal that leukemia is. First, the FIV+ cat can live a normal life, no issues, and secondly, much less communicable than leukemia - must be blood exchanged or sexual contact. This cat is already spayed and completely non-violent, but my other cats might attack her, so I'm not comfortable integrating her into my existing cat family at home. Plus, I'd be borderline the cat-hoarder at that point! HA!

    My vet did NOT say I had to put her to sleep, but did note a lot of people do due to the risk. But a friend said her sister, who is a vet, has an FIV cat in her home with other non-FIV cats, and no issues with any of them. Just wanted to learn if others had opinions/experience with FIV+ cats. I am glad I didn't just say "put her down" without doing some research, and I'm very happy DH is so wonderful about cats and we have a totally safe, viable option for this one.

  • #2
    There does seem to be a trend toward not euthanizing cats just because they are FIV+. IF they are totally indoors, IF they are not likely to bite an uninfected cat, or IF they can live with other FIV+ cats, they can lead a good life.

    The other cats not accepting her and forcing her to defend herself at this point would be my main concern. But a life as an indoor cat at your other property seems very reasonable.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

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    • #3
      great lives, but when they go south, it happens quickly

      I kept a stray yellow kitty that tested positive for FIV in the house with "healthy" cats. The others were all vaccinated and did not become sick from exposure to him. He lived a happy healthy life for sixish years, then got sick. Did a couple of blood transfusions for him and that helped for a while, but the last one only had him feeling good for a day, so it was decided to let him go. He was a great kitty, and I still have the others 5 years later. It is probably a risk so maybe not for everyone.

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      • #4
        I have an FIV+ cat who is going to be 16 in the spring. He was born at Laurel Racetrack, then I got him as a kitten and he was first a barn cat, then indoor, then barn again, and now indoor again. He is very happy and apparently quite healthy, one of the best cats I've ever had.

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        • #5
          As long as she is indoor only it isn't a huge issue. She may be more susceptible to dental disease especially reabsorbtive lesions.

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          • #6
            My brother has had his FIV+ cat for 5 or 6 years. My parents have one with FLV+ that they've had for almost 4 years. It's very hard to make the decision to euthanize one that is apparently healthy and I'm not sure I could do it. I'm glad you were able to work something out.

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            • #7
              I have my FIV+ kitty who is about 5 living with my other 3 (was 5 cats when we got him) non fiv cats. We did a very very slow introduction over 1-2 months and everyone gets along extremely well. He is very non combative to begin with, was a stray on my friends property and after about a year of watching me tend to my friends horses he finally felt he could start approaching me. I had to bring him to the vet when he had a bot fly in his side and unfortunately the wound wouldn't heal (later found out that his FIV was the cause of that) so he came home to stay for 2 weeks while on antibiotics in a clean house. This was when we found out he had FIV. I was not going to bring him back to the barn where I found him because I did not feel that was right, so we kept him. My vet is wonderful and was so supportive about everything. They share food and water bowls nobody else is at risk unless there were some major deep bite fighting (which I do not believe will happen at this point) He's been with us about 3 years and wants nothing to do with going outside, he knows how good he has it.

              I do agree that when they go downhill it can be very quick and bad but we are prepared to deal with that if we need to. I came across this http://tcyte.com/?gclid=CPKTxMvdmLICFedlOgodQ3gAVg a few months ago and we are giving it a try. Timmy does not look like a cat with FIV at all BUT his bloodwork has always been horrible. We did a cbc before starting the T-cyte treatment and will be doing another cbc next week to compare but so far the people I have spoken with that have tried this have felt it to make a difference for their FIV+ kitties.
              The one good thing about repeating your mistakes is that you know when to cringe.

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              • #8
                My kittie is FIV +, diagnosed at 1. Hes about 12 now, and never had a problem. He also lives with3 other cats and for the past 11 years they have all tested negative. All are indoor cats. SO many cats are FIV+ and owners will never know.

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                • #9
                  I picked up my FIV cat when he was 4 as someone had thrown him out of a moving car. I discovered they probably disposed of him because he peed in the house, he spent a week locked in the bathroom, got his manly bits removed, and not another problem with peeing.

                  When I got him I took him to my vet to see if he was healthy, when the test came back positive the vet said "you can leave him here and we can put him down for you." I got another vet.

                  I had him for 4 wonderful years, he got sick once and kicked it, but then got sick again and died in my arms at home the morning I decided to take him in to have him PTS. He was a wonderful cat and it broke my heart to lose him so soon.
                  http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I found in research that the FIV test can't tell if the cat has the antibodies from actually being infected or the vaccine! So, if one of my cats ever got loose, and someone tested them, they'd be told my cat had FIV, when it was just vaccinated! My husband mentioned microchipping as a way to maybe prove a cat had a vaccine, but how awful? We will see how this new kitty does, and may try integrating. She's already spayed, so likely just vaccinated, not really FIV+. Still a gamble, but we have integrated all the others with no blood drawn. At least we have options, we can keep her safely segregated as well. Sooooo glad I did some research and didn't kill her! She is utterly adorable, all the vet techs loved her and were so happy we didn't euthanize. Hope she lives a long, healthy life like some, but she'll have it good as long as she sticks around!

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                    • #11
                      I kept a FLV+ cat in a home with 3 "healthy" ones for three + years; it's extremely likely that he FLV+ cat was infected when he came to our home and we just didn't know. The "healthy" cats are still negative, many years past the FLV+ cats death.

                      The times, they are a changin'. We know so much more about transmission and maintenance of these diseases than we did years ago. A thoughtful home can keep mixed company with very minimal issue. I would not worry about choosing to keep your addition around, especially in a safe indoor environment. It's a good thing your doing.
                      bar.ka think u al.l. susp.ect
                      free bar.ka and tidy rabbit

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LilyandBaron View Post
                        I found in research that the FIV test can't tell if the cat has the antibodies from actually being infected or the vaccine! So, if one of my cats ever got loose, and someone tested them, they'd be told my cat had FIV, when it was just vaccinated! My husband mentioned microchipping as a way to maybe prove a cat had a vaccine, but how awful? We will see how this new kitty does, and may try integrating. She's already spayed, so likely just vaccinated, not really FIV+. Still a gamble, but we have integrated all the others with no blood drawn. At least we have options, we can keep her safely segregated as well. Sooooo glad I did some research and didn't kill her! She is utterly adorable, all the vet techs loved her and were so happy we didn't euthanize. Hope she lives a long, healthy life like some, but she'll have it good as long as she sticks around!
                        There are different tests that can be performed. Usually when a snap test has come back positive, a DNA is sent off for confirmation - this test is not affected by vaccine status. Regardless, FIV is not a death sentence AT ALL.

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