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Like people living with AIDS, leukemia-positive cats can and do live for years in good health, and can enjoy an excellent quality of life. For this reason, we do not believe in euthanizing cats that may test positive for leukemia but who are otherwise symptom-free.

Home For Life® is one of the only shelters or sanctuaries in North America that accepts these cats. And they are all available for sponsorship!

Sponsor a Cat

As you browse, please consider sponsoring the care of one or more of these beautiful, furry friends. To learn more about sponsorship, see our Sponsor an Animal page, or go directly to the sponsorship form.

black cat on windowsill
The elegant Vivienne, ready to hold court

Diablo Bob was found through a trap-neuter-release effort in Kansas. The clipped left ear indicates that he was neutered and vaccinated. However, Bob's leukemia-positive status prevented his release and sent him to HFL instead.

Buddy has lived in good health in our feline leukemia facility for several years. He has been greatly helped by interferon, a tasteless clear medicine that looks like water, but which has powerful antiviral properties. He gets a small dose every day for one week, followed by a week off, and then the regimen begins again. This treatment has kept him vigorous and healthy!

Back to Vivienne

About Feline Leukemia

black cat on futon
Satchel is the John Wayne of the feline leukemia cattery — handsome, masculine, self-directed, and friends with everyone.

More leukemia-positive cats:
Icy, who came to HFL from Manitoba, Canada.

Although Tuffy is tolerant of other cats, he needs his "me" time. Here, he enjoys a bit of sunshine with his favorite cat — himself!

Back to Satchel

Feline leukemia is spread by close and persistent contact between infected and non-infected cats. The virus is not airborne, but rather spreads through close and continuous contact with an infected animal's saliva, blood or bodily wastes.

Although there is a vaccine for feline leukemia, no vaccine offers 100% protection. The best way to protect a cat from becoming infected by leukemia is the "test and removal" system. Cats who are tested and found to be positive for leukemia must be segregated from non-infected cats. Cats that are allowed to wander outdoors, where they may come into contact with leukemia positive cats, are at risk for contracting the virus.

Vets use two tests to determine if a cat is leukemia-positive.

Testing twice makes a difference

Patches was a shelter cat who tested positive on the ELISA test. After a dedicated animal advocate read about the IFA test on this page, he suggested the test for Patches, who tested negative and now has a loving home. Read the story on Home for Life's blog.

HFL has at least six cats who were surrendered to the sanctuary as feline leukemia positive, but who tested negative on the IFA test. Two to three months later, these cats tested negative on the ELISA and remained negative on all subsequent ELISA tests. It would have been a tragedy to euthanize these cats because of a false positive on the initial blood test.

Home for Life's population of leukemia cats include those who are positive on both the ELISA and IFA, and those who are positive only on the ELISA but not on the IFA. We believe in giving every cat a chance to to overcome the virus. For this reason, we keep the two groups separate.

Although feline leukemia is a fatal illness that is highly contagious among cats, Home For Life® does not believe in killing cats who are asymptomatic and still enjoying good health and a good appetite. Our leukemia-positive cats are kept isolated from the other cats in the sanctuary, but in every way, they are given a quality life for as long as they live.