Thanks for your patience!
There are 2 things I want to talk about with you - FeLV itself, and then treatment options.
1. Let’s start with Feline leukemia…
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a devastating virus for which there is no cure once cats are exposed. Transmission occurs through infected saliva; bites by or sharing bowls with infected cats may infect other cats within the household.
Symptoms are numerous including fever, frequent infections, weight loss, depression, decreased appetite, and swollen lymph nodes. Prevalence of the disease is worldwide with locally high numbers of incidence possible in infected groups of feral cats.
Blood tests can identify infection… but there are different kinds of infections! When you or I get sick with the flu what happens is: healthy --> sick -->mount immune response --> healthy.
Unfortunately, it is not that simple with FeLV! Instead of the two possibilities (healthy or sick), there are four possible outcomes for cats with FeLV.
OUTCOME 1: IMMUNITY (40% of cats). The cat may be sick for a few days, but then recovers.
OUTCOME 2: INFECTION (30% of cats)– The cat is sick, seems to get better, but the virus is still there, and in weeks to years the cat gets sick again and dies.
OUTCOME 3: LATENCY (28% of cats) The cat has FeLV in the body but it is hard to detect as it hides in the cells, and may lead to cancer. This can only be detected by a special test called PCR.
OUTCOME 4: IMMUNE CARRIER (1-2% of cats) - The cat has FeLV, but is not affected by it, BUT can still pass it on to other cats.
So, I am not sure which category your cat falls in to, but given that he tested positive 2 years ago and is now showing signs of bone marrow suppression (affected his red blood cell lines), it sounds like he has Outcome 2: infection.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline Leukemia and the only thing we can do is provide supportive care, giving antibiotics for bacterial infections and treating the symptoms. Here are websites with more information:
2. Now, in terms of treatment...
A red blood cell count of 12 is dangerously low. At this level, I would expect the patient to have low energy and low appetite. It really cannot fall any lower as this is not compatible with life. Feline leukemia can affect the bone marrow and cause low white cell count (leukemia) or low red cell count (anemia) or both. From what you are telling me, it is affecting your cat's red blood cells and causing anemia.
So, about a blood transfusion versus using Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator (LTCI) from Imulan. That's easy: the blood transfusion, no contest!
is a brand name for a lymphocyte T-cell immunomodulator product. The manufacturer is T-Cyte Therapeutics:
I've seen the advertising but there is very little information available on the product.
"Cat Fancy" had a short article for this product. Here is the article:
"New Immune Therapy: T-Cyte Therapeutics, a subsidiary of California-based S-cell Biosciences, announced a conditional license to manufacture and distribute Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator and market the product as an aid to treat feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.
According to the company, this marks a major step in the development of the company's stromal cell-based cytokine platform technology to treat cancer, immunodeficiency and autoimmune disease. Ask your veterinarian for further information."
When I made an inquiry to the company, they said they have no data on efficacy or safety to release at this time, but hope to release the results of clinical trials in the near future. If you read the fine print on the website, it says "Additional efficacy and potency studies are in progress."
So, this company has made an end-run around vets and has made a product that they are marketing directly to the public, preying upon people looking for any solution to help their cat diagnosed with this problem. I have not used the product myself, but have done an exhaustive search on www.vin.com
where vets around the world can consult with other vets. Many vets HAVE tried it and not even one had anything positive to say. I'm sorry!
Now, about the transfusion...if I have done repeat testing, and know for sure that a particular patient has feline leukemia and is anemic, I would not always recommend blood transfusions. The positive effects of a blood transfusion would only last a couple of weeks.
Thus, transfusions are very helpful if I am trying to buy time to fix a problem (such a bleeding internally from being hit by a car - if I can stop that, then the cat can recover). But I cannot fix feline leukemia. So a transfusion just puts a second cat at risk from donating blood, and is only going to give the FeLV positive cat a couple of more weeks...
A blood transfusion would absolutely make your cat feel better! It is amazing - fast, and fabulous results, but they don't last for long, unfortunately. You could do the transfusion and then try the Imulan product, but I am not confident that you would have success with it. It does not seem to do any harm...
So, I hope that answers your question?
If this has been helpful, please "accept" my answer and leave feedback.
If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it.
The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.
Good luck with your cat!