I know I have been silent for the past month, but that does not mean that I have not been busy. Actually, Chewbakka and I have been doing a lot of research into feline illnesses and today I want to talk a little about FeLV or Feline Leukemia Virus.
Unlike Leukemia in humans caused by a DNA mutation which activates oncogenes or genes that cause cancer, FeLV is a viral infection that attacks and weakens the feline immune system thus hindering a cat’s ability to protect itself against secondary infections, akin to what happens with FIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, causing the development of secondary conditions like liver and kidney diseases, anemia, intestinal disorders, etc. Although FeLV is more contagious than FIV, transmission requires moist intimate contact, mostly through saliva.
In order to diagnose or screen for FeLV, veterinarians use the ELISA test (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay), a test also used to detect HIV in humans., which can detect FeLV is its early stage before the virus invades the marrow and when the cat’s immune system has the best chance of warding off the virus. Should the cat test positive, the veterinarian can opt to have the IFA (Immunofluorescence Assay) test performed which can determine if, indeed, the virus has invaded the marrow, in which case the cat is considered permanently infected with FeLV.
As with FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) and FIV, there is no specific treatment for FeLV, only supportive care directed at keeping the immune system strong and preventing secondary diseases. Careful monitoring both by the owner and the veterinarian can help stave off problems early. Keeping an FeLV positive cat away from other household cats, will help stop the spread of the disease.
How do you prevent FeLV? First and foremost make sure your cat is vaccinated, and keep them indoors or restrict their outdoor access to a secured enclosure. Have all new cats tested for FeLV before introducing them to the rest of your feline family.
A couple of weeks ago I received my September Cat Fancy magazine. After I was diagnosed with cancer, Lovey said she would get me a subscription to Cat Fancy. Now I battle with Chewbakka over who gets it first. He says he should get it first because he likes to read the articles; I say I should get it first because it is my subscription! So what if I mainly like to look at the pictures and check out the ads for the latest trend in feline fashion. I leave the heavy reading to Chewbakka.
This month’s cover story is the Maine Coon, a very popular breed at cat shows. Also known as the American Longhair, the Maine Coon is the largest domesticated breed of cat, males weighing up to 25 lbs. and up to 16 inches in height at the shoulder. One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, it is specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official state cat. Their beautiful long dense coat make them perfect for northern climes. Many breeders think of them as the premier family cat.
I am really enjoying my Cat Fancy magazines, although this issue has an article that really hit home. It’s about Feline Hospice Care. As for humans, there is now the option of Hospice Care for cats suffering from a terminal illness. Care can be given either at home or in a hospital environment. I am fortunate that Lovey has had veterinary training and, therefore, is able to administer the medications I require. For those who cannot, there is Hospice Care. Although not for everyone, it is nice to have an alternative that gives a family time to say good-bye and reconcile themselves with the loss of a well-loved pet.
I know my time with my family may only be a question of months, but at least I am with my family and they with me, and I will be able to live out the rest of my life as free of pain as possible. I know when the time does come that Lovey will not allow me to suffer but she and the rest of my family will have had the time to reconcile themselves with my passing and I will leave knowing they will not grieve my absence but be happy for the extra time we had together.
Yes, it’s me. Or should I say, it is I. I am back after an unforeseen prolonged absence. What happened? Well, it seems I lost ownership of the domain name “TheFussyFeline.com”. Chewbakka, who knows more about these things than I do, says that he wanted to change registrars (whatever that is) from Tucows (Tucows, really, as in two bovine females?) to GoDaddy, but got busy with other projects and forgot to make the change before the domain expired and was parked (I know you can park a vehicle, did not realize you can also park a domain; but I have an inkling that parking a vehicle and parking a domain are not the same thing.) So, my domain was parked and my blog put on hold until Chewbakka could get the domain back which he did a few days ago, much to my great delight.
As you know, I was diagnosed with cancer, sarcoma of the salivary gland to be exact. My vet, Dr. L, removed the mass and gave me chemotherapy. That treatment rid me of the tumor, but now I am on medication to make sure the tumor does not return. So far, it has worked., although prognosis is guarded. I am still not back to my old self yet and may never be, but life is looking good and my friends are happy to still have me among them.
I know it has been a while since I last posted, but the chemotherapy took a toll on my strength and I found myself sleeping most of the time. Mumsie and Lovey were so very good to me: Mumsie during the day, feeding me every so often so that I would not lose too much weight, and Lovey in the evenings after she returned from work. She bought me a couple of nice soft beds with high borders in which I was able curl up and sleep undisturbed. The little cat, Miss Kitty, was my constant companion. Always there when I would wake up, always there when I would fall asleep. The tumor has finally gone away, but the vet’s prognosis is still guarded. You never know with cancer. Another tumor could show up tomorrow or I could be free for the rest of my days. Today, however, I am concentrating on the here and now. With little Miss Kitty by my side and my faithful secretary Chewbakka, I will continue to dictate my blog until it is my time to go where all Jellicle cats go:
Up, up, up, past the Jellicle Moon – Up, up, up, up to the Heaviside Layer
Cancer. Such a dreaded word. Much like the Plague in Medieval Europe. Even with the advances in Medicine, both in the human and veterinary fields, cancer is still a word that makes people shudder. During the Fall, a small mass started to grow on the left side of my face, just along the jaw line. Because of my long fur, it remained unnoticed for several months until it blossomed in November. At first Lovey thought it might be a simple abscess, and she took me to the vet. Dr L examined me and came to the same conclusion. I was left at the clinic to have the abscess drained and cleaned, but when Dr L opened the abscess, he discovered a large semi-hard mass. A biopsy was sent to the lab, and I went home waiting for the results.
It was close to a week before the results came back: sarcoma. In other words, cancer. Back I went to the clinic where Dr L removed the mass, at least as much of it as he could, and I am now on chemotherapy. It is very debilitating (which is why I am so grateful for Chewbakka who types my blogs for me). The outlook, however, is quite promising and I hope to be writing this blog for a long time.
I realized us cats do not live as long as you humans do, but we do have a right to live as long a life as the Great Cat grants us, as long as that life does not entail pain and suffering. Which brings me to another subject: I have yet to understand why humans are so inhumane to their own kind. When one of us (and I am refering to pets in general) is ill beyond the hope of improvement, and in pain and suffering, you think it kind to allow us to slip into everlasting sleep. But when you are dealing with one of your own, you prolong life beyond all reason, prolonging pain and suffering at the same time. Life is a great gift, but when Life becomes a curse then it is time the end the curse with the gift of peaceful Death.