Monday, 29 July 2013

On Feline Leukaemia and Feline HIV

Today a dear friend of mine told me that her cat passed away. She had Feline Leukaemia and could not fight it anymore. This saddens me deeply, not only because I am sad from my friend, but because I too had two amazing kitties that passed from this terrible disease. Both my kittens were adopted in Cape Town, one from the SPCA and one from DARG.

I had never ever heard about Feline Leukaemia before my cats were diagnosed with it - both too late to save them. Like so many people, I just assumed that the regular inoculations my cats received would protect them against all the “cat diseases and illnesses” out there.

I was wrong.

Miika, our darling ginger kitty was the first to pass. He was a bit sick now and again, but we didn’t think much of it. I had him at the vet repeatedly and they simply said he had allergies and gave me some eye drops and what not for him.

On the day that he passed he was extremely ill. He just came to me and meowed, or howled actually so we ruched him to the vet. I thought we would just get some meds and he’d be home soon, but this was not the case. My vet called me at about 9pm that evening to say that after doing numerous tests he finally diagnosed him with Feline Leukaemia. There was nothing that could be done. Miika was anaemic - he had no white blood cells left in his little body. I rushed to the vet to say goodbye to our darling kitty, sobbed and sobbed and Miika went to kitty heaven that evening.

Miika - We miss you every day

We were heartbroken.

I still had my pride and joy.. my Ivana. I do not think I can accurately describe how much I loved my Ivana. She meant everything to me and we went through so much together. A week before we were due for a holiday to Thailand Ivana started being “offish”.

She didn’t want to eat and was somewhat listless. I took her to the vet. They checked her and I had her tested for Feline Leukaemia.


I was heartbroken -again, but I should have expected it because the virus is so easily passed from one kitty to another. The vet gave Ivana an injection, checked her kidneys, gave me special vitamins for her and I bought her some special food. She said she is still very healthy and can live for many years with the disease.

In the week before our departure Ivana’s health went from bad to worse. I tried everything to get her to eat, drink. Nothing. I prayed and begged and hoped that she would be ok, that she would get better. I phoned the vet, I asked for advice – We were due to leave and what could be done with Ivana? More medicine? Other food? I must have spoken to my vet for about 30 minutes on the phone.

As though Ivana could feel my longing for her to get a bit better, she did improve a bit and I was overjoyed! I arranged for a good friend to come and pop in and see her while she stayed at home with the housekeeper while we were away.

The day before we left Ivana didn’t want to eat. I tried everything. I bought every type of delicious cat food you can imagine – nothing helped. I asked my brother to please take her to the vet after he dropped us at the airport – there was no time before the flight.

Ivana had severe kidney failure and went to play with her brother Miika that day.

My heart.

My darling Ivana - I love you always

After months of crying for my Ivana – who can NEVER EVER be replaced, I bought a new kitty, called Lola. You may want to meet her here and here.

I am all for rescuing kittens and strongly commend the amazing work done by animal rescue centres in South Africa, but I will never, ever adopt a kitten again. Lola was bought from a Siamese breeder just outside Johannesburg, and although I have not had her tested for Feline Leukaemia or Feline HIV I am going to when she is a bit older.

I will vaccinate her against these diseases. I am also not going to let her go outside. I know I sound completely pedantic but I am in the process of training her to walk on a harness and when she is a bit bigger I will let her have special outside time with me. I feel people need to know about these “silent” cat killers, and decide for yourself how you are going to prevent or live with these diseases. Cats diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia and HIV can live very happily for many years, it can be done, but they have to live indoors so as not to infect other cats in the neighbourhood.

Please just know that your kitty or cats that you love so very much is not being inoculated against these (and other) diseases as a general rule. You have to ask your vet about these illnesses and what you can do to prevent them.

Read more about Feline Leukaemia here and here.

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