Allow for the Adoption of FeLV+ Cats in Kansas!
Allow for the Adoption of FeLV+ Cats in Kansas!
According to K.S.A 47-624, "any person who has in such person's possession any domestic animal affected with any contagious or infectious disease, knowing such animal to be so affected, may incur a civil penalty" of "an amount not less than $250 nor more than $1,000 for each such violation and in the case of a continuing violation, every day such violation continues shall be deemed a separate violation." Although this statute was actually written for livestock, cats and dogs were specifically included, as well. This regulation meant that cats that were taken into Kansas shelters who tested positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and/or Feline Leukemia (FeLV) would be euthanized after their hold time was up. But on March 13, 2019, the Animal Health Commissioner with the Kansas Department of Agriculture determined that the adoption of FIV+ cats is permissible because FIV was proven to be a virus one can safely manage as it is only spread through deep bite wounds. This was a great accomplishment that many worked hard to accomplish for FIV+ cats and FIV+ cat owners, not only in Kansas but the entire US. For those who do not know about either virus, you might be wondering why the adoption of sickly, contagious cats is a good thing. If the cat is so ill it would be a favor to put them out of their misery right? Wrong! That is a huge misconception that not only leads to the euthanization of positive cats but negative cats, as well. I will explain...but since FIV cats can now be adopted out, this will only pertain to FeLV+ cats.
FeLV is a viral infection of cats - not dogs, humans, or anything other than a cat - that affects their immune system and bone marrow. It spreads through the transfer of bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, and feces. There is a vaccine that exists for FeLV- cats that can be up to 99% effective if administered properly according to recent studies; many people have mixed households consisting of FeLV+ and FeLV- cats with no issue of the virus spreading. The virus also does not live long outside of a cat host, so the spreading of FeLV via human clothing and hands is very unlikely. Here's the sad part. Perfectly healthy cats are being euthanized for having false positive tests and actual FeLV+ cats can live normal, happy, healthy lives - nevermind the fact that some can also fight off the virus! The best way to care for a FeLV+ is with a healthy high-quality diet, an indoor lifestyle, and immune support supplements. That's it! It is no different than keeping a FeLV- cat healthy, and even though positive cats are more susceptible to diseases, anything that requires vet attention for a positive cat can also affect a negative cat.
The Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test is the first of two tests to check for FeLV. The most common version done by shelters and vets is called the SNAP test from IDEXX. This test detects a protein produced by the virus circulating in the blood, indicating that the virus is circulating in the bloodstream. A positive result on this test indicates exposure to the virus, but not the stage of infection. It is so important that any positive test should be confirmed with another type of test and repeated in 30 - 60 days because SNAP Tests have been shown to have a false positive rate of up to 33%. That's one out of every three cats being needlessly euthanized! Using serum or plasma instead of whole blood is more reliable, therefore, the second test is sent away to be performed by a laboratory. It is called the Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA) Test. The IFA test looks for proteins produced by the virus inside of cells in the bloodstream. A positive result of this test indicates that the virus has infected the cat's bone marrow and is persistently infected. If it is negative, the cat can fight off the virus and a retest of the ELISA should be conducted after 30 days.
The lifespan of a FeLV+ cat varies widely and care of the cat will play a huge factor. Unfortunately, kittens tend to have a shorter life span of about one to three years. Cats infected as adults normally survive five to seven years although many go on to live much longer life spans and some remain asymptomatic. I currently have one cat that I adopted as a kitten who is almost two and another who vets estimate to be six to eight years old. Both are thriving.
To sum everything up: There should be at least two tests done that match up with each other to confirm or deny the presence of FeLV due to false positives and a cats ability to fight off the virus, and FeLV+ cats can live normal lives and deserve at least the chance to be adopted out to a loving family. Neither FIV nor FeLV means that a cat is suffering, ill, or in pain. Even the ones who live shorter lives can be happy, healthy cats and are worthy enough to live out that life.
*The following statistics are all approximations found online:
There are 86 million cats in the US. Of those, 1.4 million cats are euthanized every year in the US. If FeLV+ cats make up about two percent of the population, we can say that there are 1,720,000 FeLV+ cats in the US - let's just call it one million for math purposes. The main source of testing for FeLV has a false positive rate of up to 33%. This means at least 330,000 healthy, adoptable FeLV- cats are being euthanized every year and even more when you account for those that are actually FeLV+.
Please help us stop the euthanization of FeLV+ cats in Kansas!
Thank you for taking the time to read through this. I hope that this will raise awareness of Feline Leukemia and ultimately allows for the adoption of them not only in Kansas but other states, too. From my research, I could only find 27 states that allow for the adoption of FeLV+ cats.
Please sign and share in hopes that we can make Kansas number 28!
Find out more about FeLV and FIV through these amazing Facebook groups where you can find adoptable cats, emotional support, incredible advice, and beautiful success stories:
@Owners of FeLV+/ FIV+ cats
@Support Group for cats with Feline Leukemia
References used in this petition: