Following last week’s blog post about FIV: the Facts and the Fiction, this week we’re talking to Emily Fowler from the UK, who along with her partner Warren has adopted two FIV+ cats.
Why did you decide to adopt an FIV+ cat?
I’ve always had outdoor cats, but when our two cats were both killed on the road within six months of each other we decide we had to make a change. We were looking at our local cat charity’s Facebook page and we saw Looby, who was FIV+ and specifically needed an indoor home.
Tell us about Looby.
She was ten years old and she’d lived with an elderly gentleman for most of her life, when he died she came to Mid Warwickshire Cats Protection. They were shocked when she tested positive for FIV as her previous owner obviously hadn’t known, and she was in the shelter for six months before we went to visit her. When we told the volunteer that we wanted to adopt her, she told us that no-one had even enquired about her before us!
Do you think it was the fact that she was FIV+ that put other people off?
Definitely. A lot of people only want young, ‘healthy’ cats, so they pass over cats who have health issues.
Did you know much about FIV before you adopted Looby?
We had a friend whose cat was FIV+, so we knew something about it already, and we did a lot of research online before we went to visit her.
So how did Looby fit into your life?
She settled in really quickly, and it didn’t take long for her personality to show. She was such an affectionate cat, loved cuddles and fuss, and was very vocal when she wasn’t getting enough attention. Whenever friends and family came round the first words out of their mouths were always “Where’s Looby?”, and they’d be rewarded by her excited meows and squeaks as she realised someone was visiting and came to investigate. She made such an impact on our lives, and the lives of people around is, so it was heartbreaking when she developed mammary cancer. After the first surgery to remove the tumours, our vet told us she had between six weeks and six months to live, but she actually carried on for two more years after that. We were devastated when the cancer came back, but we made sure that the last few months of her life were extra special.
Was the cancer caused by the FIV?
We’re not sure. It is a known fact that FIV+ cats are more likely to develop cancer, but it’s such a terrible illness that it can strike even the most seemingly healthy of cats.
Was it a hard decision to adopt another FIV+ cat after Looby?
We could never replace Looby, but we knew that eventually we’d adopt again, and that we wanted to give a second chance to another cat with special needs. We weren’t expecting it to happen so quickly, but two months after she was put to sleep we saw another FIV+ cat on our local Cats Protection Facebook page, who had very similar markings to Looby – we decided it was a sign, and that’s how we came to adopt Mia.
Tell us about Mia.
She came to the Cats Protection as a stray at the age of two after giving birth to a litter of kittens in someone’s shed, so she had a very different background to Looby. She was very scared of humans and spent about a month hissing at anyone who came near her. Although she’s still a bit nervous around new people, she’s developed into the most loving little cat, and like Looby she’s bought so much joy into our lives.
How is living with an FIV+ cat different from living with a non-FIV cat?
It’s the same really, all cats have their own distinct personalities and traits, and FIV+ cats are no different! We’ve always fed our cats a high-quality diet to make sure they get the right nutrition, so the only real difference is that we have to be extra vigilant with her health. If an FIV+ cat comes down with something, it’s crucial to take them to the vet straight away to get treatment.
A special thanks to Emily for sharing her story and introducing us to two very special cats in her life – Angel Looby and Mia.
Have you cared for an FIV+ or other special needs cat? Would you consider adopting an FIV+ cat?