UF shelter medicine research helping save FeLV cats from hoarding case

It was one of the most horrifying hoarding cases Pasado’s Safe Haven had ever seen. Its details are too horrible even to include in this post. But the surviving cats who were diagnosed as feline leukemia (FeLV) positive have landed at Austin Pets Alive!, where they’ll be living in foster homes and being part of a diagnostic study designed to help FeLV-positive shelter cats. Dr. Julie Levy of the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program will be heading up the research.

FeLV is a communicable virus that compromises the immune system of cats. While many, if not most, FeLV cats who enter shelters are routinely euthanized, APA! had observed that many of the cats in their care became FeLV-negative even after an initial positive test. These cats, they say, “go on to live normal lifespans and can even live with other cats.”

In this 18-month study funded by Maddie’s Fund, researchers hope to learn now many cats will test negative within six months after a positive test, to examine the accuracy of and agreement between different testing methods, to understand what can be learned from discordant test results, and potentially to identify why some cats overcome the virus and others don’t.

The cats will live in foster homes during the study, and will be adopted into loving homes afterward. “This is an inspiring collaboration from across the country, encompassing Florida, Washington, and Texas, to save cats and to learn more about fighting FeLV,” said Dr. Levy

If you live in the Austin area and would consider providing a foster home for one of the FeLV-positive cats in the study, please email felv-study@austinpetsalive.org.