Living with Feline Leukemia

We have had an interesting week centered around a Feline Leukemia flare up in Johnny.

How We Knew Something Was Wrong

On Saturday, June 15th, Johnny started to eat much less (about 5% of what she usually eats). Over the next few days, she would sometimes come to me for food but when I would give it to her, she would start to smell it and then turn away as if the smell of it made her feel sick.

She drank a lot of water over the weekend but then would vomit up white frothy stuff.    I also noticed on Monday that her chin was wet as if she had been drooling.

She continued to eat very little and began to have very liquid diarrhea with blood and mucous (sorry, but that is life with a Feline Leukemia (FeLV) positive cat).    This is not the first time we have seen fresh blood after she has gone to the bathroom but she had been eating fine and active and playful until Saturday so we had not felt a need for a vet appointment specifically for that.

Johnnie Larkin from Foster Mama Kittys suggested she might have a urinary tract infection (UTI) and I have noticed her licking her vulva more than usual so I thought Johnny might be onto something. 

Her coat condition was also not as fluffy and soft and she was much more seeking of attention (comfort and reassurance rather than play type) than usual.  She also growled at me and bit Jamey at one point which is unusual behavior for her.

Why Did It Take Until Tuesday Afternoon To Get Her To The Vet

In a nutshell, Jamey lost his job on February 2nd and our car permanently bit the dust (transmission) on March 2nd of this year, so we have not been able to get a new car.  We use the local wheelchair accessible van to get to places like our medical appointment but they would not transport us to the vet with Johnny, even in a carrier.

So we had to make an appointment to have them bring Jamey to the local rental car place and rent a car in order to get Johnny to the vet.   That took a couple of days to set up.

We almost didn't make the appointment as when Jamey got to the local Enterprise rental car location, they didn't have a car for us because the one they had planned for us came back damaged.   They had to drive Jamey out to Fort Polk, about 30 miles away, to pick up another one.   While this was happening, the time for the vet appointment was getting closer and closer.

Jamey made it home with the rental car about 20 minutes before we had to leave for the vet.  At which point, Johnny (who I often tell Jamey "is too smart for my own good") somehow knew something was up even though I had purposely not taken out the cat carrier in advance.  (Sometimes I could almost swear that the cats can read my mind ...)

She promptly disappeared under the bed.   The challenge of getting her out from under the bed meant that by the time we got out to the rental car with her, we were due at the vet in five minutes.   Well the rental car was a hatchback, not even remotely close to what we had requested, and terrible for getting the wheelchairs into. 

Jamey managed to get our wheelchairs in while I sat in the car with Johnny's carrier on my lap, trying to keep her calm.  Unfortunately, struggling to get both wheelchairs in took so much out of Jamey that he fell as he was using his crutches to get to the driver's side door.  Thankfully someone in the apartment complex office saw him and came out to help him get back up and onto his crutches again as there is no way I could have done so.

Needless to say, neither of us were in much better shape than Johnny by the time we got to the vet.  Jamey ended up staying in the car and I went in with Johnny.


Result Of Vet Appointment

The vet said it is uncommon for spayed female cats to get a UTI and after examining Johnny, who was running a fever and clearly not feeling well, she believed she was having another flare-up of her FeLV.    Johnny had different symptoms in January but the vet also said she was having a flare-up of her FeLV then and we just need to expect her to have these from time to time as there is no cure for it.  We just need to treat the symptoms when she has a flare-up.

Given her symptoms, I asked for her to be given fluids, steroids and antibiotics.  The vet agreed with my suggestions and did so.

I am happy to say that Johnny is back to eating again and seems more comfortable.   She did have a lot of diarrhea yesterday but I suspect that was the antibiotic.    Since we have two FeLV positive cats, I am used to having to do a lot of Clorox laundry anyway.


(Above is just a very short video of Johnny and Night having a snack, something that made us so happy to see after Johnny having almost no appetite for several days.)


The important thing is Johnny has recovered from her latest FeLV flare-up and is a comfortable happy cat again.    That makes it worth all we had to do to get her to the vet.

We are hoping it will be a long while before she has another one.

Johnny napping on her chair after her vet visit
Johnny resting on her chair after her vet visit for her latest
Feline Leukemia flare-up.  It was a stressful day for all but
she is feeling better and that is what matters most right now.



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