The feline cancer Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) weakens the immune system, causes anemia and the growth of tumors in cats. The lifespan of a FeLV cat is short as about 85% of infected cats die within 3 1/2 years of infection. If you are a foster cat care giver, there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of the disease to the non-infected cats in your home.
If you’ve decided to help improve the lives of lost or unwanted cats and kittens by being a foster caregiver, you need to take steps to prevent the spread of a feline cancer like FeLV and other communicable diseases to your own healthy cats. The FeLV cat virus is carried in the saliva of an infected cat. Cats can catch FeLV when there is cat-to-cat direct contact by licking.
Kittens are particularly susceptible as the virus can cross the placenta to the unborn kitten of a FeLV cat mother. Young kittens under 4 months are also vulnerable. They need time to build up immunity and if they are introduced to a number of infected cats, then their resistance to the disease is weakened.
FeLV cat symptoms take several months or years make an appearance. So, in the early stages of fostering a cat or kitten you may never know that the animal carries the virus unless you have him tested. It is possible to test for the infection and the general recommendation is to test for the FeLV cat virus twice about 12 weeks apart.
Here’s some tips to keep you own cats from becoming infected with the feline cancer virus (FeLV).
1. Don’t allow your own cats to mix with the foster cat or kitten.
2. Have your own cats tested for FeLV and consider a cat health insurance plan to pay for unexpected diseases or accidents.
3. You may opt for a FeLV vaccination for you cats, but understand that no vaccine is 100% effective. Some cat health insurance plans help pay for these vaccinations.
4. Keep the fostered cats in isolation or in pairs in isolation – especially if they were already mixing.
5. Don’t introduce new fostered cats into your home until the preceding fostered cats have new homes.
6. Provide separate litter boxes and feeding bowls for the fostered cats. Disinfect the bowls daily and the litter boxes at least twice a week.
7. Don’t re-home a foster cat that is a positive FeLV cat without notifying and educating the adopting caregiver.
There you have it. It is possible to prevent the deadly FeLV cat virus from infecting your non-foster cats. Testing your own cats for the FeLV virus is a must and you should talk to your vet about the vaccine options. If your home cat does contract feline leukemia, you should do everything you can to limit direct contact with other cats in your household.
As a foster cat caregiver, you take on a bit more risk of spreading feline cancer to your own cats. Prevention and early protection is always the most cost effective approach, so why not protect your own cats and your finances with a cat health insurance plan before they contract any feline cancer or illness. Standard health care is costly and when your cat needs advanced care the cost quickly becomes unaffordable without a pet insurance plan.