Oklahoma City Animal Shelter will no longer test cats for feline leukemia

Over the past 23 months, the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter has tested about 6,000 cats for feline leukemia, with just 166 testing positive for the disease.
BY MATT PATTERSON mpatterson@opubco.com Published: June 6, 2012
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The Oklahoma City Animal Shelter will no longer test cats for feline leukemia, superintendent Catherine English said.

Feline leukemia is a disease that impairs a cat's immune system and causes certain types of cancer.

The shelter has spent about $46,000 on the tests over the past 23 months. Out of 6,000 cats tested, English said, only 166 have tested positive for the disease. English said the money can be better spent elsewhere.

The tests cost about $10 to $12 each. Cats adopted through the shelter's adoption program had been tested for feline leukemia while those given to area rescue groups were not.

“It is a nice service to be able to provide, but it is not mandatory,” English said. “In fact, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) recommends against it because of the limited budgets all government agencies have. They recommend that the money be spent providing other services for the animals.”

English said the shelter has had cats with feline leukemia adopted even though they have the disease. She said all the cats that went through the shelter's adoption program were tested, but the decision to stop testing will not affect adoptions.

“Some people may be scared off, but we can educate them about feline leukemia if they have concerns,” she said. “It is not curable, but it can be treated. We have adopted out cats with feline leukemia to homes that wanted them, and they have gone on to live happy lives.”


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