by Elisa Black-Taylor
I have an FIV positive cat and his name is Tom.
This week marks his one year anniversary of leaving death row at the shelter in Greenville, SC where I do rescue. To date he hasn't had so much as even a sniffle!
Tom was originally named Chapman after the road he was found on and turned in as a stray. I saw his shelter photo and fell in love with him. So much so that I went on his rescue mission while there was still an inch of ice left on many of the roads I had to travel to reach him.
The shelter coordinator Andrea gave me the bad news. She came out and told me he had tested negative for FeLV and positive for FIV. She explained an FIV+ cat is usually acceptable by the rescues she deals with as long as the cat is not aggressive.
So I took my boy home and educated myself on the disease. FIV positive cats are very different from those diagnosed as FeLV positive. FIV isn't spread through casual contact. It would take a serious bite for the disease to be contracted.
Tom was an underweight cat when I rescued him. His shelter name was soon changed to Tom after the cat in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. He had a very hardened look to him for several months. Chances are he had to fight other cats as a stray and this was how he became infected.
Tom has always been very loving. The serious expression has lessened in the year he's lived in a loving home. He's even learned how to play. First with a ball and then with a string.
He naps with the other cats and is usually sitting on the couch at mealtime in hopes of a bite of food. He loves squash!
In the beginning I worried he'd be sick a lot, as FIV positive cats have a weakened immune system. We've dealt with everything from panleuk to URI's and Tom is possibly the healthiest cat we have.
It's not a death sentence for a cat to be diagnosed with FIV. And it's not very dangerous to adopt an FIV positive cat. As with cats with FeLV, you just have to be on top of things and see a vet at the first sign of illness.
Tom has found his forever home with us. He's happy here and we don't want to upset the perfect balance we've created for him here. I'm so glad I didn't turn my back on him that day at the shelter. I hope this story will encourage everyone to make room for an FIV + cat in their home.
The collage photo of Tom shows how he's become very relaxed here with us. The bottom photo was made of Tom the day of his rescue and shows the hardened look he'd developed. That look is now gone.
Do any of you have FIV+ cats? Are your cats as healthy as my Tom?