Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Darling Duke

Duke is my cat. I have had Duke for 6 years this August. He is about 7 1/2 years old.

He had a blood test on Tuesday. The results came back normal in all areas but one. Feline Leukemia.

Back Story:
When I adopted Duke in 2005, we didn't get to a doctor right away. When we did, she tested him for Feline Leukemia. There are 2 tests for this disease. The first test said positive. So they did another one. And another one. Wait 6 months and another. In the end, we were told that Duke might be a carrier. I now know that stage 1 of FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) can be suppressed by a healthy cat's immune system.

Apparently, he is done suppressing it. We will be talking to the vet next week to get all the dirt on what happens next.

Of course, you know I have been doing some research. So did my mom, as soon as I told her. These sites seem pretty good:

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/brochures/felv.html
http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_ct_feline_leukemia

So far, the only real symptom he has seems to be his horrible gum and teeth problems.

Now, let me clarify. FeLV is a Virus. It suppresses the immune system, which can lead to cancer. It is not a cancer in and of itself. It is in the blood, like human leukemia, and suppresses the immune system, like HIV. From what I've read, the main cause of death for FeLV positive cats is secondary diseases and infections - that is, something they caught because the FeLV was weakening their immune system.

So what does this mean for us? Well, Duke is not allowed to be around other cats (it is contagious) or any people that could catch a secondary illness from him (like chemo patients, very old people, or infants). This isn't too big of a deal since he doesn't like other cats much anyway. We will know more after we talk to the vet next week.



For now, I will try to not dwell on it so I can enjoy my camping weekend. Duke is pretty healthy. He has plenty of time still for loves and cuddles and stinky breath in my face. He has years to enjoy being pestered by the dog, to catch flies, and to steal my socks and slippers. 

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