Our Leukemia Land Sanctuary Provides a Forever Home for Special Cats
Purrfect Pals was founded in 1988 by a cat lover who took a look around at her community and saw far too many unwanted cats and kittens whose only options were, in most case, over-crowded shelters with high euthanasia rates. Kathy wondered what could be done to improve the odds for these cats, and quickly determined that the only solution was to take away the option to euthanize them. She decided to open the northwest’s first no-kill cat shelter, where cats would only be euthanized when they were suffering and nothing could be done to improve their quality of life.
In the early 90’s, Purrfect Pals began testing our cats and kittens for illnesses including feline leukemia (FeLV) and the question that quickly came up was what to do with cats that tested positive for these diseases. We were adamant that our original criteria would still be used. If a cat was not suffering and we could keep it happy and comfortable, we would not euthanize it simply because a blood test showed they were at risk for future health issues.
We created a sanctuary space where cats with FeLV can live normal lives with plenty of friends, fun and love. Currently, eighteen cats and kittens live in Leuki Land, which includes a large room filled with cat towers, toys and beds as well as a large outdoor enclosure. The two are connected by a tunnel which allows them the option to head outside to chase bugs in the grass (and the occasional mouse unlucky enough to climb through the yard’s fence) on sunny days.
One of the biggest misconceptions about feline leukemia, which suppresses a cat’s immune system, is that it is an immediate death sentence. There are many variables, though, that come into play that determine how FeLV will affect a particular cat. Among them is the age at which a cat contracts the illness. Some adult cats diagnosed with FeLV only live three years but others have been known to live much longer. We even have cats who have lived here since 2005!
The virus is harder on kittens than adults. Sadly, most kittens succumb to the disease before their second birthday. Nevertheless, even though the virus can be harsh on kittens, this does not mean their lives are without worth. Leuki Land kitties keep the older cats (and our staff and volunteers!) entertained with their never ending antics and energy.
Saying goodbye to the cats and kittens at the end of their journeys is always painful for our staff and volunteers, but we cherish the time we do have with them. At Purrfect Pals, every cat truly does matter and we are grateful that we are able to provide them with all that they need, for as long as they need it.