It was the luckiest day of Toby’s life when a WSHS supporter called the shelter about an injured cat she found. He was an unneutered male stray, trying to make it through outdoor life without being attacked by other males.
Some of his tail was missing and what he did have was raw and painful. We immediately took him to our vet where he got the royal treatment. His wounds were cleaned up and he was neutered, vaccinated and had blood and stool tests. Everything turned out okay EXCEPT that Toby had been bitten badly by a cat that was infected with FIV. Bite wounds are the most common way FIV spreads so free-roaming, aggressive male cats are the most frequently infected and unfortunately, Toby got in the path of one of those. Toby loves to play. He will play with a laser pointer or chase a feather wand. He likes catnip too. He gets a little wary if you are petting him and you go too far down his back near his tail, but if you suffered trauma there, you would be too. He just needs to build trust with people.
Black Cherry is as sweet as can be! She came to WSHS pregnant from Newton County Animal Control. Once she had her kittens and they were weaned, she was ready to be adopted. As part of our protocol, we tested her for FIV and Feline Leukemia. We were devastated when she tested positive for FIV. Black Cherry is very calm and laidback. She loves a good chin scratch and petting. She would make an excellent lap and cuddle partner.
Both Toby and Black Cherry share an office with the Executive Director of the shelter. The volunteers and staff spend time with them, but they are never considered for adoption because people don’t understand the facts of this disease. Below is information from Dr. Patty Khuly VMD about FIV:
- “FIV is not transmissible to humans! No way. No how. Never. I don’t care what you’ve heard tell. You should banish the thought once and for all.
- FIV is about as transmissible as HIV. Which is to say not very. Animals in the same household cannot transmit the disease from one to another except by mating (a behavior sterilized animals will not effectively engage in) or by inflicting bite wounds (not typical even among cohabitants with bad attitudes).
- Cats with FIV can live very long, perfectly comfortable lives.
- FIV is not a death sentence. Cats with FIV can live a long healthy life but they do require some special considerations. FIV-positive cats should see a vet twice a year for a physical exam and some lab work. Whenever they’re feeling poorly, FIV-positive cats should receive immediate care. FIV-positive cats should be spayed or neutered, live indoors only and steer clear of environmental exposure to infectious diseases (for example, raw food diets should be avoided).”
What a shame that no one ever looks at them for adoption because of the stigma they carry like a scarlet letter: FIV+. They would make a wonderful pair for someone wanting friendly, fun companions. It's 2019! Time to get over it and stop missing out on some of the nicest cats! Changing their lives will certainly change yours and you will never regret the decision!
Update: Since writing this article Black Cherry has gone to foster care with one of our volunteers!