Last fall, I adopted a kitten (Calliope) with FeLV. She actually has a couple conditions going on, but the one most people usually don’t know about or understand is FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus). FeLV is an incurable virus that behaves much like HIV does in humans. It affects the immune system and greatly shortens a cat’s lifespan. It is also rather easy to spread (unlike HIV), and is most commonly spread through saliva (cat’s grooming each other) and through blood transfer (fighting). It can also be spread through shared bowls and litter boxes, but that is less common. Because it is so easily spread, cats with this virus cannot be with cats without it. They must be kept completely separated to avoid transmission.
Sadly, most shelters will automatically kill cats who enter their facility and test positive for FeLV. Luckily, it’s becoming more and more common for shelters to have FeLVie sanctuaries as part of their facility. Calliope comes from such a shelter, Fort Collins Cat Rescue, where she arrived with her litter mates, all who were born with the virus.
Calliope will probably not live to see her second birthday, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t get to enjoy life before then. Which is why I decided to adopt a FeLV kitty after my Loki passed away. While she won’t live a long life, I intend to make her life a full one nonetheless.
If you don’t have any cats and are looking to add a kitty to your home, consider a cat with FeLV. While their lives will be shorter and there are a few added care-taking tasks, it is most definitely worth it!