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Practitioner's Corner—About Pets: Feline Leukemia
By Katherine A. Kahn, DVM
Q: My five-year-old cat has tested positive for feline leukemia virus (FeLV). She doesn’t have any symptoms yet but I’m told she’ll eventually die from it. In the meantime, what can I do to strengthen her immune system?
A: The life span of cats like yours is hard to predict—she could live anywhere from a few more months to several more years. So as long as you have her, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep her immune system in good shape.
A nutrient-packed diet is very important for FeLV-positive cats. Start feeding her raw foods that you prepare yourself. You can find recipes in Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs by veterinarian Richard Pitcairn. Of course, cats can be finicky; if yours just won’t eat what you make, try some of the natural canned or dried foods on the market.
You should also give her 250 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day with her food. A daily vitamin and mineral supplement may help, too; ask your vet to suggest one.
Astragalus is a particularly effective immune-boosting herb. Cats shouldn’t take as much as a human, though; to get specific guidance about dosage, consult a Chinese herbalist.
Finally, try to keep your cat from getting stressed out: Avoid major changes in environment and routine, and make sure she has a warm, safe place she can retreat to when the world is too much with her.
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