Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

Many Thanks to Connie at Tails From the Foster Kittens for the following food for thought...

The following information is taken directly from the Facebook page of Homeless Animal Lifeline:

FIV: Catching a Bad Case of the Rumors
By Kristi Littrell
2005 Best Friends. All Rights Reserved.

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It's a lentivirus, meaning that it progresses very slowly, gradually affecting a cat's immune system. It is passed through blood transfusions and through serious, penetrating bite wounds - mainly by stray, intact tom cats. The most well-known lentivirus in humans is HIV. But the two are not at all the same, and you can't get FIV from a cat. In fact, the only thing about FIV that you can catch is a bad case of the rumors.

As long as cats with FIV are not exposed to diseases that their immune system can't handle, they can live perfectly normal lives. And they can only pass the virus on to other cats through a serious, penetrating bite wound. So unless your cats at home routinely tear each other to pieces, it's not a problem. (And if your cats are tearing each other up, that's probably a bigger problem!)

Faith Maloney, our director of animal care, has two FIV kitties. "I'd had Chevalier for four years before I moved house and decided to test all of my other cats for FIV at the same time. Since they don't fight, none of the others was FIV positive. I even took in another FIV kitty last year."

"They're some of the most gentle and affectionate cats here at the sanctuary," says Judah Battista, who's in charge of all the cats here. Judah thinks the discovery of FIV, about 15 years ago, was a very mixed blessing. "If you go back 15 years, before anybody tested for FIV, all of these little guys would be in homes living long, normal lives. But we've discovered something we can put a name to - even if the cats never get sick!"

Dr. Susan Cotter, professor of hematology and oncology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, is one of those who have helped dissolve these old fears. "I wouldn't advise getting rid of a cat that tests positive for FIV," she says.

Best Friends veterinarian Dr. Virginia Clemans says the one important thing is to keep your FIV cat healthy. (That, of course, is good advice for all your cats!)

"The virus affects the immune system," she explains. "So keep FIV cats indoors. Keep an eye on them, and take them to the veterinarian at the first sign of illness."

FIV Facts

1. The Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus is a slow virus that affects a cat's immune system over a period of years.

2. FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans or other non-felines.

3. FIV cats most often live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives with no symptoms at all.

4. FIV is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be spread casually - like in litter boxes, water and food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. It is rarely spread from a mother to her kittens.

5. The virus can be spread through blood transfusions, badly infected gums, or serious, penetrating bite wounds. (Bite wounds of this kind are extremely rare, except in free-roaming, unneutered tomcats.)

6. A neutered cat, in a home, is extremely unlikely to infect other cats, if properly introduced.

7. Many vets are not educated about FIV, since the virus was only discovered 15 years ago.

8. FIV-positive cats should be kept as healthy as possible. Keep them indoors and free from stress, feed them a high-quality diet, keep and treat any secondary problems as soon as they arise.


So I ask you...

Does she look sick to you?

I dare you not to fall in love with her.


Interaction Update

I posted on Facebook that Ruby and Mama Clarice had a positive meeting yesterday. The Roo insisted upon going with me when I went into Mama's room to clean the litter. She managed to stand still long enough to be thoroughly inspected by Clarice, who proceeded to flop on her side and lick Roo's head. Ruby responded by prancing around the room, grabbing a toy she liked, and taking off for the hallway with it.

Ruby followed me back in later and found Clarice on top of the cat tree. She bounced right up to the top to say hello. Mama thumped her on the head, gave the gentlest of hisses, and told Ruby to get off her. Ruby responded politely and actually listened. She moved to the next shelf down and looked out the window for a minute before finding something else to occupy herself.

Still later, the door to Mama's room must have been left open because my son discovered Clarice roaming the upstairs hallway. Not sure how long she was out, but I am certain that there was no cat drama while she was on the lam. Funny thing is that, as soon as she was discovered, she took back off to her room and waited for someone to shut her inside of it.

Slow progress is still progress. I have a feeling we're all going to get along just fine while we wait for Clarice's family to find us. 


  1. Kelly-I posted something for you on Robyn's blog but I don't think you saw it so I am reposting here for you today: "Kelly-do you ever go back to reread the past posts? The 2012 post is the one where you are contemplating your new adventure of Teeny Tiny Tabby Town. It seems like the spring is an adventure time for you. I’m glad you took the plunge and we could all follow you as you did". So as they say, you've come a long way baby!

  2. such a wonderful article, I hope it helps and changes minds.. and if it does Mama some good, all the better.

    So Ruby was well mannered.. nice to hear :)

  3. That's a really good post. It's always good to see someone advocating for FIV+ cats. We took in Mungo in Feb 2012 and the hideous ignorance about this virus we heard from a local cat rescue charity and our vet nurses made our hair curl!. Mungo is a happy, healthy cat and gets on beautifully with Gerry, they wrestle and thunder about the place in furiously wild play and groom each other before curling up asleep together. We are in the UK and over here the Celia Hammond charity has a long running study going which looks at cross infection rates between FIV and non FIV cats. Since the study has been running (late 90s) there hasn't been one instance of cross infection. We also have a great little organisation over here called Catwork which provides sanctuary for FIV and FelV cats. They are constantly dealing with vets and other rescue charities who instantly reach for the blue juice of death when a cat is found to have this virus. When the virus was first described in the mid 1980s, it was thought to be a great way of studying HIV but because FIV is so weak it soon proved to be a useless study medium, but the huge and negative publicity FIV got has stuck and many, many vets and ignorant rescuers still have these poor cats killed without question. I've known many cats with FIV live full, long and healthy lives. One such cat in the UK named Jimmy Hendrix lived until he was over 24! It is going to be a long old tussel putting right the ignorance about this virus. Thank you for flying the flag!

    Sorry, didn't mean to write a book!