Badges, the first cat the Troy Police Department selected as a police cat, gets some sun at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor, where she lives with her siblings, all diagnosed with feline leukemia.

Badges, the first cat the Troy Police Department selected as a police cat, gets some sun at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor, where she lives with her siblings, all diagnosed with feline leukemia.

Photo provided by Leuk’s Landing


Pawfficer Badges raises awareness of feline leukemia

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published August 14, 2018

 Volunteers at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor work with veterinarians to keep Badges and other kitties diagnosed with feline leukemia as healthy as possible.

Volunteers at Leuk’s Landing in Ann Arbor work with veterinarians to keep Badges and other kitties diagnosed with feline leukemia as healthy as possible.

Photo provided by Leuk’s Landing

Although Pawfficer Badges 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. 

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 and her siblings, Lt. Kell and Miranda Rights, turned 5 months old and are doing well,” she said. “She (Badges) is a great kitten. I could see why the Troy Police Department chose her.” 

Foster said there is a vaccine for feline leukemia, but “the reality is, people don’t vaccinate.” 

The disease essentially remains in remission, then the kitty will start to show symptoms, she explained. She noted that some of the cats at the center have lived to be 9 years old, and others 6 or 7 years. 

“Kittens are always a challenge,” she said. “We make sure we’re not missing something to keep them as healthy as possible and try to strengthen their immune system. Even if they have a cold, we jump on that right away.” 

Leuk’s Landing has worked with a number of rescues and veterinarians to care for 246 cats in 11 years. 

They keep up to 40 cats on-site and 23 in long-term foster homes. Some cats are placed in foster homes with college students or senior citizens, who may give them back to Leuk’s Landing if their living arrangements change. 

It can cost up to $1,000 to care for the kitties, primarily from vet bills, and the organization has a waiting list. 

“We help cats that don’t have any place to go. They get the disease from living outdoors. There’s something about the disease, they (the kitties) all become friendly,” Foster said.

“Part of our mission is education. The quantity of life will be short. We want to make it the best quality we can.” 

To that end, the Troy Police Department has raised $17,000, and donated half to the Michigan Humane Society and half to Leuk’s Landing. 

Troy Police Sgt. Meghan Lehman said that in the coming weeks, Pawfficer Donut, the new police cat, will take on additional community outreach duties when the police hold Coffee with a Cat. Times, days and locations will be announced. Visit the Troy Police Department Twitter feed and the department’s Facebook page for more information. 

“The events will be free, and donations may be made to help support Leuk’s Landing,” Lehman said. 

Donations may also be made on the Leuk’s Landing Facebook page, where a posted video shows Badges frolicking with her siblings. 

There is also a wish list with specific items for the kitties at  Leuk’s Landing on Amazon.