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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?
Anne Wayman says
Ah…. good for you. The current love of my life is MzTiz… 20 years old now! She’s doing quite well all things considered.
Emily Fowler says
Thanks all for your lovely comments about my special girls, and thanks to Pawesome Cats for having us and for helping to spread the FIV love 🙂 xxx
Great message! FIV + kitties can be great pets too. I’m glad that Looby was given a chance to live with a loving family . 🙂
Christine & Riley says
aww… that was such a heart warming interview. Looby must have been a wonderful cat 🙂
The Island Cats says
Thanks for sharing this post with all of us. More people need to see that FIV cats are really no different than non-FIV cats.
It’s wonderful that you gave Looby the second chance she needed. It’s a rewarding experience to adopt a special needs cat for both you and Looby.
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
Great post! We always enjoy reading about FIV+ kitties who have loving homes and families. It is heartwarming. We are currently running a series on FIV as well – in honor of our Sassy girl’s birthday this month. We’d love it if you stopped by!
Thanks for spreading awareness for FIV!
Fur Everywhere says
I’ve had two special needs kitties (Carmine and Jewel), but neither of them have/had FIV. I don’t know much about FIV, but I would totally adopt a kitty with FIV if I could. I can truly say that caring for special needs kitties is a wonderful experience.
Talent Hounds says
Very cute! Looby and Mia are such sweeties.
That’s a lovely interview with Emily and her cats are gorgeous. Emily is lucky to have a local branch of Cats Protection who are so educated about the virus and humane to cats with it.
I’m a cat with FIV and my apes do a really good job of looking after me. I even get supervised time outdoors every day in our safe garden. I hunt mice and birds, but I’m not allowed to eat them. I also get wormed more often as a just in case measure. I’m happy to go out on the harness and locally, I have an unofficial fan club of passers by who make a fuss of me when I am out with my ape in the front garden. I was a stray in terrible shape when I turned up on their doorstep. It’s a good job that our local Cat’s Protection didn’t get me as that particular branch have all stray FIV and FeLV positive cats immediately killed!
We can live lives as long and as healthy as cats that don’t have the virus, as long as we get good care. The virus is very weak and we are more at risk of catching diseases from other cats than we are of infecting others. Some vets in the UK still have a very misinformed attitude to us, but I’m lucky out vets have become very positive about cats with FIV. When I arrived, some of the staff were a bit negative about me, but I showed them how gorgeous an FIV cat can be and won them over quickly.
There is a private sanctuary in the UK called Catwork. Run by two very sweet and dedicated people who have, since the 1990s given sanctuary to many cats who because of their FIV and FeLV status have been considered only fit for killing by some of the largest animal charities in the UK.
If anyone is thinking of adopting a cat with FIV or has a cat who tests positive and is dealing with misinformed vets or charity workers, then PLEASE contact Catwork. They are very helpful and are always happy to help you advocate for the life of an FIV cat. They have a massive amount of knowledge about this virus and regularly educate vets and staff about how best to care for us.
One vet told us that if you had 1000 cats with FIV, 1000 cats without FIV and 1000 cats of unknown viral status – and you tracked them through to the end of their lives, you would not be able to tell which cats died from the results of FIV infection and which did not. We are just a little more prone to common cat diseases than others.
We can also live together with non infected cats. I have lived with two other cats here, I loved my brothers and because the apes took great care in socialising us, we all got along great and loved each other very much. The Celia Hammond Animal Trust in London has been running a project since the 1990s (with the support of Glasgow Veterinary School) to study the issue of cross infection in mixed populations. To this date, there has not been one instance of cross infection. So we are not the pariahs that some still seem to believe that we are.
Thank you for such posting about cats with FIV and being such good advocates for us!
Luff and purrs
Looby and Mia both sound like extra-special cats! What a shame anyone would let an FIV diagnosis stop them from adopting sweet kitties like these.