Frequently Asked Questions
What is Calici?
"Feline calicivirus is a highly contagious virus that causes a mild to severe respiratory infection and oral disease in cats. It is especially common in shelters and breeding colonies, and often infects young cats. Most cats recover completely after a calicivirus infection, but rare strains can be especially deadly. The virus poses no threat to humans." (Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, 2020) Cats can be chronic carriers of calicivirus.
What are the symptoms?
Calici can cause a wide array of symptoms, many of which are very subtle and easy to miss.
Red, runny eyes (conjunctivitis)
Often high fever, inappetence, lethargy (especially kittens)
Ulcers on the tongue
Limping in kittens (it can even start in one leg and move to another)
Takes longer to resolve than herpes (10-14 days)
What do I do if I think my foster kitten(s) might have calici?
If you observe sneezing, eye or nose discharge, sores on the kitten's mouth, ears, or paws, or any other concerning symptoms, please alert the Foster Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
What treatments should I expect my kittens to need if they have calici?
There is currently no treatment that will stop the virus, but supportive care can be provided while the pet’s body is fighting the infection. Treating Calici includes a variety of medications to treat both the cause and the symptoms. If they are congested and/or have lost their appetite, being in a steamy bathroom for up to 10 minutes or so, and giving them warm, smelly foods can be helpful. You can expect to need to give oral meds as well as subcutaneous injections if the kittens are struggling. If your kittens are showing more severe upper respiratory infection symptoms (eye and nose discharge, wheezing, etc) we may also prescribe eye drops and/or nose drops, as well as nebulizer treatments. If the kitten is showing signs of pain from their ulcers, our vets may additionally prescribe pain medication.
As always, medications and medical supplies will be provided for all PVAS foster animals!
If a foster home has been exposed to Calici
The same restriction applies except the foster cannot house any animals except those with calici.
The foster home must then be completely calici-free—no active or exposed calici cats or kittens—for six months or more before housing any unvaccinated cats or kittens or any with less than two vaccines.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) for Fosters
What is FeLV?
FeLV, or Feline Leukemia Virus, is a virus that affects the immune system of a cat. It isn't a form of cancer, but is a virus that may weaken the immune system and may make opportunistic infections and certain types of cancer more likely. Cats with FeLV can live normal, happy lives—they may just have a shorter life expectancy than FeLV negative cats.
FeLV Myths & Facts
Myth: FeLV is highly contagious and easily spread from cat to cat.
Fact: Transmission of FeLV from cat to cat requires sharing bodily fluids from mating, from queen to kitten, or prolonged and repeated exposure between cats.
Myth: FeLV is a cancer.
Fact: FeLV is a virus. It is not a cancer.
Myth: Cats with FeLV are sick and suffering.
Fact: While the virus weakens the immune system, leaving the cat more susceptible to illness, the virus itself does not cause pain. FeLV+ cats look and act just like any other cat and can live long, happy lives.
Myth: Cats who test positive for FeLV should be euthanized.
Fact: Firstly, there is no one perfect, definitive test for FeLV and tests are often wrong, show only exposure to the virus versus infection, and results can change over time. Cats should never be euthanized based upon a test result. Secondly, FeLV+ cats can live long and happy lives and are just as deserving of life.
Myth: My other pets may catch leukemia from the cat, or I may get leukemia from the cat.
Fact: FeLV is only contagious to other cats. No other species can acquire FeLV, including dogs, birds, hamsters, or humans.
FAQs about FeLV
Is FeLV Contagious?
Only to other cats. For this reason, it is required that cats with FeLV are kept indoors only. They can only cohabitate with other FeLV+ cats as it is spread from cat to cat via prolonged, direct contact with an infected cat’s saliva (sharing food bowls, grooming each other, etc.), urine, blood, and from the queen to kittens during pregnancy. Feline leukemia is species specific, so other animals such as
dogs cannot contract the virus. The virus itself is not airborne and dies rapidly in the environment, so you won't have to worry about carrying the virus on clothes when you leave the house or have friends over.
Are the cats with FeLV who are available for adoption sickly?
No. The FeLV+ cats appear and act just as healthy as the other cats we have available for adoption.They do, however, have an increased risk of getting sick. This makes protecting them from stress, feeding a high quality diet, and addressing health problems as soon as they arise critical. You wouldn't know a cat had FeLV by just looking at it, and many people have cats who are FeLV+ in their home and don't even know it because they never got them tested.
How long do cats with FeLV live?
It can be hard to say! There are stages of FeLV which may impact lifespan, and a cat’s viral load may change over time. From available research, progressively infected FeLV+ cats often live between 2-6 years after diagnosis if they were diagnosed as adults, and 6 months-2 years after diagnosis if they were diagnosed as kittens. Regressively infected cats are showing normal lifespans in research studies. However, it is possible for FeLV+ cats to live both shorter and longer
lives than the ranges we’ve listed here; every cat is unique. The most important thing to remember is that no matter how much time they have, it will be better because they’re with you in a loving home.
Do cats who are FeLV+ need special medication or care?
Not while they are healthy. If/when they do eventually get sick, they will often get very sick quickly and may need more care than a normal cat since their immune system may be hampered.
How is FeLV diagnosed?
The screening test for FeLV is generally an ELISA snap test (often in combination with the feline immunodeficiency [FIV] test).
Medical Implications of Feline Leukemia
Feline Leukemia itself does not require any additional medical care, however, cats who are FeLV+ are more apt to acquire various illnesses including:
Upper respiratory infections (colored nasal discharge in combination with loss of appetite
and/or eye discharge with eye squinting )
Unexplained weight loss and/or lethargy - a usually energetic and outgoing kitty is now withdrawn and/or unwilling to play
Lymphoma or other cancers
Common Terminal Conditions: FeLV cats can be susceptible to terminal (incurable) disease processes such as cancer/lymphoma, terminal anemia, and fluid production within their belly and/or chest (Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP).
Finding and Supporting Adopters
Showing off your cats who have FeLV is vital! The more photos, videos & information we have about them the better. Answer emails from potential adopters within 48 hours, but sooner is better!
How we discuss FeLV with potential adopters is important. These cats are not sick, but they have a compromised immune system. Very similarly to a person who is immuno-compromised, they are no different in their day to day lives, and you wouldn't see a person and know they have a compromised immune system. But they are more susceptible to illness and if they get ill, it's important it's addressed quickly as it can progress faster in a FeLV. They are equally deserving as any other cat and will be a wonderful addition to the family for the time they do have with them.
Educate and disclose to potential adopters all known medical implications of a cat testing positive for FeLV, including but not limited to potential for shortened lifespan and recommended directives for pet care.
Place cats who are positive for Feline Leukemia Virus into adoptive homes with only other FeLV+ cats or no other cats, until such a time as research directs a change in best practice. Similarly, PVAS recommends cats who have FeLV remain indoors only.
Counsel adopters on the cat’s medical history in detail and go over common signs of illness to watch out for. Remind adopters that cats who have FeLV need to be seen by a vet at the very first sign of illness as they get sick much faster than cats without FeLV.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Panleukopenia?
Panleukopenia, or “panleuk” for short, is most often referred to as “feline parvo.” Like canine parvo, it can be fatal. It is a virus that
- is transmittable through fluids and feces, with feces being the most significant. Panleuk can live on and be transmitted on just about any surface. The incubation period is 3-5 days but it can incubate as long as 7 days. Panleuk is made worse when other viruses are present (upper respiratory infection, etc.).
Is Panleuk serious?
Panleuk is very difficult to eradicate and easy to transmit. It can live in the environment for up to a year if it is on a surface that is not cleanable (dirt) or if it is not cleaned with a parvocidal cleaner. We take panleuk very seriously.
When does it affect kittens?
Panleuk affects unvaccinated cats and kittens. Kittens are most susceptible between the ages of 3-12 weeks of age when their mothers antibodies are still “interfering” with the vaccine and they are either too young to be vaccinated or recently vaccinated.
What do I watch for?
The most common symptoms of Panleuk are: vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, lethargy, and/or sudden death. **Isolated symptoms are not always indicative of Panleuk. Many other illnesses can cause these same symptoms, and almost all kittens have diarrhea that is not Panleuk! Normally we see a combination of the above.
What do I do if I see signs?
Contact the foster team as soon as possible. A clear medical history of the animal is extremely important. Oftentimes the “trend” of the kitten’s health is just as important as the current symptoms. Treatment should start within hours of the first symptoms, so please act fast!
What does treatment consist of and how long does it last?
Panleuk is treated using injectable antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, anti nausea drugs, and fluids as well as force feedings. Treatments/feedings are done 2-6 times a day for approx 3-7 days.
Why can't I bring my sick kittens back to the shelter?
Because panleuk is so contagious, bringing them back to the shelter puts every other kitten at risk. YOU can provide the daily care needed for the kitten! Being in a home and receiving one-on-one care is key to saving lives versus living in a shelter with many other kittens that are all competing for care. We need you and the kitten needs you more! Also, your house has already been exposed to the virus so having the kitten leave will not “decontaminate” your space. It can be scary but we can teach you everything you need to know and be an ongoing resource during this time.
What do I do if a kitten becomes critical?
Call or text the foster team immediately at 956-330-3206. If it is outside regular business hours, keep the animal comfortable to the best of your ability, leave a voicemail or text and email email@example.com.
What do I do if a kitten dies?
If a kitten dies, notify foster staff. Because it is contagious, it is best not to bury the body. Contact the foster team as soon as possible for further instructions. If instructed to bring it to the shelter, wrap the kitten’s body in a small towel and plastic bag and label it with the kitten’s name and A#. If you cannot come the same day, storage is best in a freezer.
What is the survival rate?
Survival rate can be as high as 90% with early, aggressive treatment.
How To Disinfect A Home After Panleuk
Wash all fabrics the cat has touched.
Use a solution ratio of 30:1 (water: bleach) to disinfect hard surfaces such as tile, wood, cement, and linoleum.
Use a stiff scrub brush to thoroughly clean the entire floor, including corners.
Pour the bleach solution down the drain.
Mix another bleach solution and repeat the process to ensure that all traces of the virus are killed.
Wipe down counters, cabinets and doors using a large spray bottle filled with a solution of two parts bleach to one part warm water.
With a sponge, use small circular motions to thoroughly scrub the surfaces with the bleach mixture.
Rinse the surfaces with warm water and allow to dry.
Remove all feces on your property.
Place feces in a plastic trash bag and seal tightly.
Remove and dispose of the bag away from the property.
Disinfect areas where feces were found with a mix of two parts bleach to one part water.
Guidelines for Fostering after Panleuk
It will be restricted to kittens or cats with active panleukopenia, those that are post-panleuk, or cats and kittens with more than two vaccines.
The home must be completely panleuk free—no active or post-panleuk animals—for six months or more before the foster can house any unvaccinated cats or kittens or any with less than two vaccines.
We can’t thank you enough for partnering with us to keep our kittens as healthy and happy as possible!
Despite its name, ringworm does not involve any worms; instead, it is a very common fungus that lives everywhere, including on animals, people, and in the soil. It is especially common in Texas, and you probably have come in contact with it multiple times without even knowing it because ringworm is very hardy and lives a long time in the environment. In humans and animals, the fungus causes a parasitic infection which feeds on keratin, most commonly affecting the skin and hair. This parasitic infection flourishes in warm and damp areas. It is contagious, but does not affect all people or animals in the same way.
Why Do These Pets Need Your Help?
Fosters for pets with ringworm are essential, as PVAS has limited space where we can isolate them from pets who are well, and life in an isolation room is hard for most pets (especially kittens and puppies, since they’re at a critical stage in their development). Treatment of a pet who has ringworm is normally 3 weeks to 3 months, but as with any medical condition, complications may cause treatment to last longer. However, pets tend to recover faster in the kind of loving, low-stress environment that only a home can provide. Treatment may involve a daily oral medication and a twice a week lime dipping to help kill and control the spores. Though it may feel like a lot of hard work, ringworm is totally curable, non-lethal, and not nearly as scary as it seems at first.
To Whom is Ringworm Contagious?
Small children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system are all vulnerable to ringworm. Healthy adults can get ringworm but it is unlikely, and in the case that they do, it is easy to treat. If you are diligent about thoroughly washing your hands and changing clothes after handling your pet you can significantly reduce the risk of transmission.
Kittens, puppies, seniors, and any immunocompromised/malnourished/stressed animals are most at risk of contracting ringworm — that’s why we see it pretty frequently in shelter pets. It is also more contagious to and more difficult to resolve in cats than in dogs. Again, thoroughly washing your hands and changing clothes in between handling a pet that has ringworm will reduce the risk of giving it to other pets.
How is Ringworm Spread?
Ringworm most often spreads by skin-to-skin contact, but can also be transferred on secondary surfaces like clothes, shoes, carpets, couches, sheets, and blankets.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Classic symptoms of ringworm include lesions that typically appear on a pet’s head, ears, paws, and forelimbs. These lesions can cause patchy, crusted circular “bald spots” that sometimes look red in the center. In mild cases of ringworm, there may be just a few broken hairs, while severe cases of ringworm can spread over most of a pet’s body. It’s also possible for a pet to carry the fungus and not show any symptoms whatsoever.
Ringworm is usually diagnosed visually and sometimes can be confirmed with a “blacklight test” (ringworm lights up under ultraviolet light). The blacklight test can be helpful, but it is not completely definitive. Generally, if the vet suspects ringworm, we will treat the pet as if it has ringworm.
Treatment, Medications and General Prognosis
Treatment of ringworm depends on the severity of the infection. PVAS uses two main treatments for ringworm:
Lime Sulfur Dip: An over-the-counter solution that is safe and effective but unfortunately smells pretty terrible (like sulfur). Lime dip needs to be diluted, and it can stain clothes and hands so if you can, mix it outside; it is typically applied twice weekly. Lime dip can either be used to spot treat small areas of ringworm, or in the unlikely case that an animal has extensive ringworm it can be used as a full-body dip.
Terbinafine: An oral, once daily medication typically prescribed for a three-week course. Terbinafine cannot be prescribed to young puppies or kittens, and it is typically given only in fairly severe cases, so it is used pretty rarely in treating adult pets.
Progression and Possible Complications
Treatment for ringworm is generally very effective but the fungus can sometimes persist. It’s hard to know exactly when the pet has been “cured” — a good indication is hair regrowth.
How to Prevent the Spread of Ringworm
Keep the pet who has ringworm somewhere easy to clean, like a bathroom. Use bleach when washing any beds, towels, or blankets on which the pet lays, toys they play with and equipment they use. Depending on the location of your pet’s ringworm, putting them in a shirt may help prevent the ringworm from coming into contact with skin or surfaces.
Thoroughly wash your hands after handling your pet; sometimes it can help to wear long sleeves and then wash your clothes frequently. If you want to put your pet on a bed, couch, or rug, put a towel underneath them and then wash the towel. Frequently vacuum carpeted surfaces. Good personal hygiene and environmental decontamination are essential to keep the disease from spreading to humans and other animals.
Ringworm can be killed with a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach diluted with 10 parts water). Spray any hard surfaces with which the pet came into contact with this solution (including dishes/bowls, equipment, toys, and any other materials where infected hair or scales may have collected), wash affected laundry (including bedding, towels, clothes, sheets, and blankets) with a little color-safe bleach, and frequently vacuum your carpets (don’t forget to discard the contents of your vacuum).
Exterior (Yards, Patios, etc.)
If the pet came into contact with any hard outdoor surfaces, those can be cleaned with the diluted bleach solution. Ringworm might live in the grass for a little while but the risk of catching it this way is very low.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is ringworm (dermatophytosis)?
Ringworm is an infection caused by a group of fungi; it is not caused by a worm at all. Most often it will cause a circular area of furloss that is red and may be slightly raised. Ringworm can also have other characteristics but these circular, hairless lesions are the most common symptom. Ringworm is closely related to athlete’s foot in people, and it is contagious to us; the young, old, and immunocompromised are more likely to get it. Ringworm is also very contagious to other animals including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, etc.
Am I going to get ringworm from my foster pet?
It is possible for you and anybody in your living space to get ringworm from your foster pet. Washing your hands after handling the pet and keeping them isolated to a bathroom for the length of their treatment can help reduce the chances of transmission, but some people may be at greater risk than others. This puts young animals and children, elderly people and pets, those who are HIV+, people on chemotherapy or taking medication after a transfusion or organ transplant, and highly stressed people and animals at high risk.
What if I get ringworm?
We recommend that you see a physician. While ringworm is a curable, self-limiting ailment in healthy adults, and while effective over-the-counter treatments are available, we always recommend getting professional advice to resolve it in a timely manner. Ringworm causes a scaly, crusted rash that may appear as round, red patches on the skin. Other symptoms and signs of ringworm include patches of hair loss or scaling on the scalp, itching, and blister-like lesions.
What about my other animals?
In order to keep your other pets from getting ringworm we recommend that you keep your pet isolated in a room that is easy to clean, such as a bathroom. Washing your hands and changing your clothes in between your ringworm kitty and other animals can reduce the chance of spreading the fungus as well. Remember, your shoes can also be a carrier of the spores. PVAS cannot, unfortunately, treat or fund the treatment of owned animals, so if one of your pets contracts ringworm we recommend seeing your regular vet.
Can ringworm reoccur?
Once a particular infection is gone, it’s gone, but if a pet or person comes into contact with ringworm again, re-infection may occur.
Are there any lasting effects of ringworm?
It may take awhile to resolve or for the hair to grow back, but there are no long-term health effects from having ringworm.
Lime Dip Instructions
Lime sulfur dip
If your foster is small, a plastic container sized to fit the body of your pet (for example, a litter box with high sides)
Wash cloth to apply dip over pet
Large cotton balls
Things to know before dipping:
Wait 14 days after being spayed and 7 days after being neutered to give your foster full a bath- just spot treat while you wait
Lime dip stings in eyes, noses, and open wounds, so be careful around these
Lime dip will change the color of metal, so remove jewelry before dipping and avoid stainless steel sinks
Lime dip is a sulfur compound, and has a “rotten egg”-like odor
Keep towels used for dipping separate from regular laundry because they will transfer smell
Wear old clothes to dip as the dip can stain them yellow
Dip will cause pets’ fur to turn yellow, but this will fade quickly
Lime dipping is much easier with two people!
Procedure for Neonatal Pets 8 Weeks Old and Under
Find a warm, well-ventilated room to dip in.
Spot treatment is the only method of treating kittens & puppies under 8 weeks old, as full dips put neonates at risk of hypothermia.
The clinic or nursery will provide you with concentrated lime dip that will need to be diluted. The dilution ratio is 3.5mL/CC of lime dip to 1⁄4 cup of water.
Once diluted, dip a Qtip into the lime dip and dab onto visible lesions.
Do not rinse, but place kittens/puppies on a heating pad in a crate until they are dry.
Note that the dip will cause the pet's fur to turn yellow, but this will eventually fade.
Repeat this twice weekly (every 3 days)
Procedure for Pets 9 Weeks Old +
Find a warm, well-ventilated room to dip in.
Put on rubber gloves and pour ½ of a cup of lime dip and 1 gallon of warm water into the plastic dipping tub.
Scruff the pet and lower them into the warm lime dip solution. Pour solution over pet, making sure to get them completely wet down to the skin; this might require you to rub the solution onto them or brush the washcloth against the grain of their fur. Squeeze their feet gently to extract claws and dip feet. Use a cotton ball or toothbrush to get the face wet, paying extra attention to the ears, nose, whiskers, and chin. If you happen to get dip in the pet’s eye, be sure to flush the eye well with fresh water.
While the pet drips dry in their carrier or crate, clean up the room, wash the towels and bedding, and spray hard surfaces with a solution of 1 part bleach in 10 parts water. Let this sit for at least ten minutes, then dry the room and set it back up.
Repeat these steps once or twice a week.
Once your pet is clear of ringworm, it is recommended to dip them once more to kill any spores and give the room a final cleaning with the 10:1 bleach solution. After this, your pet is free to roam your home and be in contact with your other pets and people.
Videos about “lime dipping"
None of the information contained herein is intended to be considered legal advice; prior to making any decisions regarding liability, consult the advice of an attorney. None of the information contained herein is intended to be considered medical advice; prior to making any decisions regarding medical care or treatment of animals, consult the advice of a veterinarian. Your acceptance and/or use of this material constitutes acceptance of these conditions of its use, and waives any and all liability you have now or might have against Palm Valley Animal Society in the future.
Feline Sarcoptic Mange (also known as feline scabies)
Sarcoptic mange is a disease of the skin caused by a parasite called the Sarcoptes scabei mite. This is why the disease is nicknamed ‘scabies’. The disease is very uncomfortable for cats and causes intense itching. It can also spread to humans.
How It’s Spread
The parasitic mite is transmitted through contact with an infested animal or human host. The mite is microscopic. In its reproductive cycle, the female mite burrows into the host’s skin and lays eggs which mature to adulthood and repeat the cycle. The disease goes away quickly in human hosts, because the mites cannot reproduce on human skin.
The main symptom is pronounced itching. The cat will scratch and chew itself constantly and probably break its skin with the behavior. These injuries can cause secondary infections. Papules or small red bumps will surface around the ears, on the belly and the ankles. These will appear first on hairless or thinly furred parts of your cat’s body, because the mites prefer these sites. Over time the lesions will spread. The cat will lose hair in patches, and you might see sores which have a crusty appearance.
Diagnosis of sarcoptic mange can be difficult. Mites are usually found through a microscopic search of scraped skin samples, but this search may not succeed if the cat kills the mites by scratching. The itching will remain because of toxins left in the skin. More mites will appear later when new eggs under the skin hatch. A negative test is therefore not always a sure indication that mites or eggs are not present. In this event, we may begin what’s called a medication trial. This is a treatment course used after a suspicious negative test result, to see if treatment resolves the symptoms.
Revolution is a safe and proven treatment for cats with sarcoptic mange. This is a topical liquid applied between the shoulder blades every two weeks, three total doses. After the second dose, the mites are no longer contagious. After the third dose, we will typically scrape the skin to ensure the absence of all mites.
These cats do well in a bathroom that can be easily sanitized. They should not have direct contact with other pets as the mites are contagious to pets and people. However, when feline mites land on human skin, they fail to thrive and produce only a mild itch that typically goes away on its own. This is unlike human scabies, which gets worse unless the condition is treated. Use good sanitation, including washing your hands with soap and water, after handling the cat and thoroughly clean the foster room afterward.