Taylor, Ed, and a family of Felvies
Just a few years ago, cats with feline leukemia (FeLV) were considered unadoptable due outdated assumptions about their quality of life. Now, one couple is on a mission to open their home to as many of these special cats as possible! Since adopting their first “felvie” in 2019, Taylor and Ed have saved seven feline leukemia-positive cats, providing them with security, happiness, and love for as long as they’re with them — whether it’s one month, or five years.
“When we went to PAWS asking for their “sickest, grossest, skinniest cat” to foster, we had no idea of what was ahead of us. We picked up Dusty in 2019, and there was no doubt that he was the sickest, grossest, skinniest cat in the shelter at that time. But more importantly, there was difficulty in finding him a foster parent, let alone an adopter, because of his Feline Leukemia diagnosis. Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a virus known as the “friendly cat disease”, because it is spread between cats through mutual grooming, sharing litterboxes, and sharing food and water dishes.
“Due to FeLV’s contagiousness, FeLV+ cats need a home without other felines, or with other cats who have tested positive. This made us the perfect foster home for a cat with Feline Leukemia, because we didn’t have any other cats at the time, only a quartet of rescued rabbits. After a few weeks of him being a sweet and playful cat, we became too attached to let him go, so we “foster failed” and Dusty became our first permanent feline resident. We fostered small dogs until the beginning of the pandemic, when PAWS had very few dogs at the shelter due to the “foster boom” of 2020. However, PAWS did have another orange FeLV+ cat (as you will see, we have a type)! Once we knew he would get along with our rabbits and Dusty, we adopted Percy.
“Together, Percy and Dusty illustrated why FeLV is known as the friendly cat disease – they could always be found together, wrestling, snuggling and grooming each other. Watching them together made us decide that we would always have at least two FeLV cats in our home. In the time since then, we have adopted Moonstone, Tommy the Cheeks, Luigi, Hank, and most recently Toby. We feel lucky that we can provide these cats a home where they will always have a friend (and they’ve always been happy to have each other). Even right now, Luigi and Toby are wrestling and sprinting through our house!
“Of course, there is a sad side to taking in FeLV+ cats – saying goodbye. They have suppressed immune systems, and typically develop some form of cancer. When we adopted Hank as a hospice case, his FeLV had already begun progressing, and he lived with us for only a month. But it has to be said that in that month, he managed to fit in YEARS worth of trouble and received YEARS worth of treats! Percy, on the other hand, lived five years from diagnosis, happily living life as a golden retriever stuck in a cat body, or perhaps as a failed alien experiment in creating the perfect home office coworker with no keyboard left unaccosted.
“Regardless of how long they have, these cats are full of life and love until the very end just like any other cat. We often say these cats are here for “a good time not a long time” and we try to give them the best time we can. One day we hope that a cure for Feline Leukemia will be found and we will be able to treat our current residents. Until then, we are lucky to have a great relationship with our extremely understanding veterinarian, to meet all of these wonderful cats, and to share our lives with them for as long as they’re with us.”