Changing Minds About FeLV

By Quinn White & Cathy Niland

Every year, shelters and rescues across the country take in cats with Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Although minds are changing around FeLV, many organizations still believe no one will adopt these cats.

Ricky faced FeLV and FIV, but was able to find his family at Cat Town in 2018.

That’s because feline leukemia is unpredictable. Many cats with FeLV live long, symptom-free lives, while others succumb to lymphoma —and there’s no way of knowing whether they’ll have years or days to live. Even with that uncertainty, these cats deserve every chance at finding a loving home.

Alex and Ollie are two peas in a pod at home together.

Alex and Ollie are two peas in a pod at home together.

Cat Town has taken in a number of FeLV-positive cats over the years, but in 2018 we’ve seen a higher number of cases, with 8 cats and kittens total. On top of that, many of them have been black cats, leaving them to face archaic but persistent stereotypes. Online, it might be easy to pass over a cat with black fur and an uncertain life expectancy, but the benefit of our Adoption Center Studios is that potential adopters can meet FeLV-positive cats in person, and fall in love — without placing other cats at risk.

This is exactly what happened to Ollie, a boisterous and affectionate FeLV-positive kitten. Even after guests learned about his diagnosis, Ollie still had many visitors at Cat Town, including Alex. After they met, Alex emailed us saying, “I know Ollie might not have much time, but I want to be the person to give him all the love he needs.” And with that, Ollie found his home.

These cats are almost never helped by other rescue organizations, so Cat Town has made cats like Ollie, who have no place else to go, the heart of our work. With your support, we've reduced Oakland’s euthanasia rate by 70%. Our groundbreaking approach has proven that "unadoptable" cats can flourish and find homes — a paradigm shift we now share with organizations across the country whose budgets dwarf our own.

With open hearted adopters like Alex, and a community of supporters like you, we can keep changing lives for shelter cats like Ollie. Together, we’re transforming cat rescue  nationwide!