Pawfficer Badges highlights feline leukemia

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 12, 2019

 Pawfficer Badges enjoys life at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor after she was diagnosed with leukemia, which occurred before she could assume her duties as head of the Troy Police Department Feline Unit.

Pawfficer Badges enjoys life at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor after she was diagnosed with leukemia, which occurred before she could assume her duties as head of the Troy Police Department Feline Unit.

Photo provided by Leuk’s Landing

TROY — Although Pawfficer Badges, now 1 1/2, had to pass on the purrfect pawsition as head of the newly formed Troy Police Department Feline Unit due to health reasons, she is now the spokescat for the cause of feline leukemia — and doing well.

Sadly, her sibling, Miranda Rights, died this past August and her other sibling, Lt. Kel, died unexpectedly Nov. 5.

According to the Michigan Humane Society, Badges originally screened negative for feline leukemia. The disease showed up in a second screening.

The feline leukemia virus, or FeLV, is a contagious, viral disease of cats. It causes leukemia to develop in cats. It has also been associated with other types of ailments, including anemia and immune suppression. Each condition leads to an increased susceptibility to other diseases. FeLV has been associated with:

• Other types of cancer.

• Anemia.

• Ocular disease.

• Hematological disorders.

• Chronic inflammatory conditions.

• Immune suppression that leads to an increased susceptibility to other diseases.

The virus is shed in saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and the milk of infected cats.

“Transfer of the virus between cats may occur from a bite wound, during mutual grooming, and through the shared use of litter boxes and feeding dishes,” states the Michigan Humane Society website. “Transmission can also take place between an infected mother cat and her kittens, either before they are born or while they are nursing. A FeLV-positive cat should live in a home where it is the only cat and be isolated from others.”

Badges lives at Leuk’s Landing, which Leona Foster founded in Ann Arbor in 2007.

“Badges seems to be doing really well,” Foster said.

She explained that Leuk’s Landing is “basically a sanctuary” and provides a permanent home to 38 cats on-site and 29 cats placed in long-term foster homes. Foster established Leuk’s Landing 12 years ago to give the kitties with feline leukemia a chance at a good life — “the best life possible in a short time.”

Students at the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, and residents in assisted living facilities, foster the cats. “We provide food, litter and pet care,” Foster said.

She explained that the feline leukemia virus weakens the cats’ immune systems.

“They have it in their body. They’re healthy — then they’re not healthy. Once the virus takes over, it’s downhill from there,” she said.

Feline leukemia is primarily a disease of outdoor cats.

“The best way to stop the spread is to have the outdoor cats neutered. Community cats that people feed can be trapped, neutered, then released. Many rescues and humane societies offer the program,” Foster said.

If a cat tests positive for feline leukemia, Foster said, isolate the cat if you have other cats in your home and have it retested in 30 days.

“It may come back negative. A cat can fight off the virus it is exposed to. Don’t give up on the kitty just because it tested positive the first time,” Foster said.

Foster said that cats with feline leukemia, although they have a shortened life span, make good pets.

“There’s something about a cat with feline leukemia. Adopt one. They won’t live as long, but they’re loving and sweet,” she said.

Donations may be made on the Leuk’s Landing Facebook page and the website leukslanding.org.