Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  FeLV Kitties! (Testing, Re-testing, Adoptions, etc.)

    Posted 04-19-2019 11:53 AM

    Hey everyone!

    So it's been almost a year since I took the Feline Lifesaving Master Class, and ever since I've been wanting to start a Felvie adoption program for our rescue.  Shockingly, in all that time, we haven't had a single FeLV cat come in (which I'm sure everyone in the rescue has been grateful for).  
    That changed this week when I assisted our local animal control with a new hoarding case, and we are still working to remove cats from the home.  Our city doesn't have it's own animal control "shelter" it has a few kennels in the basement of our Police Headquarters.  So as we remove cats, get them vetted and bring them to the station, I try to move them out into foster care (we are a foster based rescue and do not have our own shelter) as quickly as possible.  

    Out of our hoarding cats that our rescue planned to pull, we had 10 cats total that we took on Tuesday for testing, vetting, etc. to our local clinic (low cost s/n clinic).  9 of the cats tested negative (they use the abaxis tests), and 1 tested a very faint positive.  Out of the 9 we took 2 to our Petco (already neutered) and left 7 for s/n.  I took the faint positive to our full service vet, as she was also severely anemic, very sick, and overall didn't look great.  At our FSV we retested her with serum instead of whole blood (on idexx snap) and she was a strong FeLV pos.  HCT was at 6.8% and we were told to transfer to ER if we were going to try and save her.  Unfortunately she was tanking fast, and ER strongly urged for euthanasia, which ended up being the case.  

    That left us wondering about the other cats.  The following day the clinic called to say they didn't want to neuter one of the cats because he was starting to show URI symptoms.  I picked him up and took to our FSV for an exam and meds (could have gotten meds at clinic, but had a weird gut feeling about him).  At our FSV I had them run a snap test.  It came back positive for FeLV (on an idexx snap), even though he was negative at the clinic the day before (on abaxis test).  We reran with serum, and he was still a strong positive.  So yesterday, we took the remaining cats to be retested, and long story short: out of 9 cats, we have 3 that are FeLV+.  

    While I am comfortable accepting that result with serum snaps, we did also send out IFAs since our local FeLV sanctuaries require them, and since we are asking them to add these guys to their waiting lists (though I intend to have our ED list them for adoption anyway, since I'd rather them find homes instead of go to sanctuary).  Only reason we are having them added to waiting list for the local sanctuary is because we are foster based, and we are not sure if we will have willing fosters for these guys (working hard on finding some!)

    For the 6 that were negative, we are currently planning to wait 6 weeks and retest since they were all from the same hoarder.  Any advice regarding this?  We are working on fosters who can keep them separated from their own cats (or who have no cats).  I also want to get them up for adoption (just tell people they need to be retested in 6 weeks, so homes with no other cats).  Is 6 weeks enough of a wait before redoing snaps?  I've seen some varying info, so I wasn't 100% sure.  

    At this time we've only found fosters for 3 negative cats, and still have the 3 FeLV+ and 3 currently negative ones sitting at the station while we work on finding fosters.  Our ED and I both understand FeLV isn't scary, however most of our volunteers do not, and we are trying hard to educate them and break some stereotypes.   So if anyone has advice on what works/worked for you to find FeLV fosters please let me know!!  

    Also, while I'm not a fan of abaxis anyway, I'm curious if anyone ever had abaxis give false negatives?  We've always used the clinic for testing, and that's the only tests they buy.  Our animal control had a situation similar to this a month ago where a cat was negative on intake, tanked the next day and I sent one of our animal control volunteers to ER with him, they tested him and he was FeLV+.  At the time we thought that was a one-off, random, mistake, but now we're worried that those tests may be bad.  Luckily we do have a tech for a foster, and she was able to get her work to sell us some Zoetis tests and Idexx snaps and her and I will be doing combos ourselves from now on instead of going to the clinic.  


  • 2.  RE: FeLV Kitties! (Testing, Re-testing, Adoptions, etc.)

    Posted 04-21-2019 12:18 PM

    I strongly recommend contacting the team at Koret Shelter Medicine based out of UC Davis. Drs. Julie Levy and Kate Hurley are discovering neat (and shocking) new things about retrovirus testing.  FeLV can be a weird thing to test for, and you can get false negatives, false positives, and everything in between.  I think the Koret team will be able to help you figure out a good plan for figuring out who may be FeLV pos and who not, and how best to test going out from here.