The FIV & FeLV

The Feline Aids (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV) Sponsor Animals

Katie’s Place gives priority to the last-chance cases that have no other options left.  Some only need time and care to recover from the traumas they’ve suffered.  Others can’t escape the disadvantages that brought them to us.  Katie’s Place is one of the few shelters that accept cats with FIV (like human HIV) and Feline Leukemia (FeLV). These illnesses have no cure and are caused by viruses that are contagious only to cats. They are similar in nature; both compromise a cat’s immune system, making him vulnerable to bugs a healthy cat could shrug off. The cats lead robust, normal lives for quite a while but the viruses will shorten their life span. The illnesses are caught mainly through bites during fighting. Most of the FIV/FeLV+ cats were unaltered, long term homeless cats. Tiny tortoiseshell Minnie has FIV and joined us in December 2003. She was said to be nine years old then, so she is truly an old timer now. Semi-feral, she’s only just begun to accept attention from us. Her friends have always been other cats. Samuel came into shelter care after being found injured by a car. He recovered from those injuries but tested positive for FeLV. Tom was found wearing an old collar so tight that it left his neck bald. Barclay was found in Vancouver, ragged and injured. He must have been harshly rejected by people in his past and he refused to let us get close to him for nineteen months. Now he’s a love sponge. These cats tend to be exceptionally loving as a group. The shelter is a palace after life on the streets, and they’re grateful for kindness after being lonely and hungry. Reed will come to lie across our feet in silent devotion if we stand still for more than a moment. Lap time is a rare luxury and anyone who sits down will be instantly surrounded by cats who long for human company.

Tabby and white Barclay avoided us like a feral cat for 19 months but now follows us arround, hoping for pets.
Tortoiseshell Minnie has been with us for many years and still prefers feline company to human company although she’s mellowing.
Black and white Reed adores people and longs to be loved. He’ll follow us and lie on our feet at any opportunity.

Gray Samuel recovered from being hit by a car and is a quiet member of the special-needs room.
Orange and white Tom seemed to feel no joy in life for quite a while after arriving but he perked up.

July 9/10
Minnie passed away today. She had been showing signs of her body beginning to fail. Today she was flat out and we got her to the vet who confirmed that her time had come. That tiny little scrap of fur lived a long time for a cat who came to us with FIV. Her last years seemed to be happy as she passed her days among feline friends. She never really wanted human company, so she was content.

July 14/10
We have a new resident in the “Boys’ Pen” (so named because the first cats were all male and the name stuck). Henri came to us from another rescuer who doesn’t have the facilities for an FIV+ cat. Henri is a sweet, slightly timid, DMH (Domestic Medium Hair) orange and white fellow. Though a bit nervous as the new guy, he appreciated some pets and strokes once he realized we were friendly. He’d had a tough time as a homeless cat on the streets.

July 26/10
We took in another FIV+ cat a short while ago, black and white Calvin. However, our Volunteer in Charge of Animal Health has developed a kind of instinct or sixth sense… she had reason to suspect that Calvin might not actually be FIV+. (Our vet has confirmed that if a cat has been inoculated, then even without boosters, the FIV vaccine can stay in their system for life — meaning they can test positive for life.) So the volunteer had a blood sample sent to a lab back east that can examine his DNA to confirm whether he has the illness or not. HE DOES NOT! We’re so happy for him. It means his chances of finding a home are greatly improved. He’s such a sweetheart that his turn with surely come.

Aug 3/10
Reed (pictured at top) scared everyone when he began staggering a few days ago and couldn’t keep his balance. The volunteer who first saw it noted in the log book that Reed was “walking sideways and fell over.” He saw the vet and we were all relieved to hear that it’s just an ear infection — in both ears, poor fellow! (We feared he’d had a stroke.) (We love that cat so much.) So Reed was confined in a cage for his own safety during his recuperation. Volunteers have been fussing over him and he’s looking a bit better already.

Aug 12/10
Turbo has been sick with an upper respiratory infection (a cold). So he’s had a Convenia injection (long-lasting antibiotic). (Convenia has been tested and approved for dermatological problems but doctors have found it works for many other things.) Several of the cats in the Boys’ Pen have colds right now. It goes around, flaring up and abating, especially among these fellows with compromised immune systems. We medicate where necessary and wait for it to pass. For the ones that are not ‘in their sick bed’ right now, life is good. Their porch is a lovely place to spend a summer day with a good friend beside you (like Rica and Almond in the photo at right).

Aug 24/10
Frankie has been looking rough. He’s lost weight, become dehydrated and had a runny nose. So he’s getting meds, fluids and TLC. He seems to be enjoying it. It seems that all this bashful guy needed was some special mothering to perk him up a bit.

Aug 31/10
Papa has gone to a foster home. He suffered from a series of ailments (ear troubles and a bad cold) until he seemed so listless that we feared he’d given up on life. It seemed only right to give the poor guy the chance to experience a real home at least once more in his life. Well, the report came back from his foster mom almost immediately that, “So far he’s doing well — purring, head butting, stretching, and eating very well.” We think he was faking it so he would be sent to a nice, comfy foster home!

Sept 1/10
We lost Ginny today. She had been getting thinner and we knew her days were probably numbered. Yet she was eating and snuggling with her roommates; she seemed content. She’d been medicated for a cold a couple of weeks ago and seemed to rally from that. Today, though, we found her passed away in her nest. We would like to think her last days with us were happy and that any losses she’d endured in her life had been put far behind her after she came to us.

Sept 15/10
The volunteers were worried about Samuel last week. (He’s the fluffy gray guy at the bottom left of the group of photos at top.) On Friday, his eyes were seen to be “moving side to side” and a stroke or neurological issue was feared. Then, a bit later, another volunteer noted in the log book that he was “staggering and falling down”. Our volunteer in charge of animal health got him to the vet the next day. It turns out he had an ear infection and he was treated for it. (Phew! At least it wasn’t a stroke or brain disorder.) By Monday, he was back in the Boys’ Pen at the shelter and recuperating.

Sept 20/10
Black and white Filly came to us because she tested positive for Feline Leukemia. But our Volunteer in Charge of Animal Health had her retested. The test came back negative! (Likely she was fighting it off. They will test positive for FeLV when they’re in the midst of first contracting it or fighting it off. If they do manage to fight it off, they will then revert to negative.) So Filly has returned to the people who brought her to us.

Oct 1/10
We’ve lost two of our boys. Cooper passed away at the shelter. To all appearances, he had been doing fine. He had been medicated for a cold and he finished that course of medication last week. The FIV simply caught up with him. He may have lived with it for a long time in the hard life of a homeless cat before he came to us. He was a plain black cat with a heart of gold.

Hamish was a handsome feral Siamese cross. He had been looking rough lately and we took him to the vet yesterday (an ordeal we try not to put the ferals through unless they clearly need vet care). They did x-rays and found fluid in his lungs and abdomen. His breathing was laboured, and the conclusion was that the time had come to let him go, poor little guy.

A bit of positive news — one of the boys with ongoing oral inflammation is Almond, a gorgeous longhaired fellow with pale orange fur. He had another vet visit for a dental and they found that he’s managed to maintain his weight even with oral problems. He should feel much better now. He also got a lovely haircut. (In the entry for Aug 12 — that’s Almond in the photo, snoozing with his pal Rica.)

Oct 20/10
On the heels of sad news came good news. Last weekend four — FOUR — of our special-needs boys were adopted!

Two, Turbo and Waldo, are poignant adoptions. Both are plain black boys. Waldo has been with us since May 2007 and Turbo has been with us since March 2008. As time passed, they weren’t getting any younger or healthier. Turbo particularly was thin and constantly seemed to have a cold with a runny nose although he was always in good spirits. Waldo tended to be a bit shy until he knows you. We were pretty sure that neither would ever be adopted. But one of the volunteers who works in that room took them both home. All the volunteers are elated and grateful to Richard. Each of us falls in love with those sweet souls but most already have cats and we can’t mix the FIV/FeLV positive with negative cats. (Richard let us know a week or so later that his boys are doing great.)

Orange tabbies Henri and Herman went home with an adopter who came to adopt a cat or two. Herman was a mellow fellow but the Boys’ Pen residents will be glad to see Henri gone. Henri loved people but if any cat came close to him he’d bop them on the head. The Boys’ Pen is a happy place now.

Nov 2/10
Roscoe has really lost weight (as have several of the special-needs boys). That’s to be expected. FIV and FeLV make them vulnerable to bugs and they’ve all had to fight off colds and such common ailments. Most of the special-needs cats tend to look a bit more frail than the average cat. However, they’re in good spirits, as ever. They gather around us when we arrive and there’s a chorus of wheezes and sneezes as the excitement of having a visitor exacerbates their colds. We keep our eye on them and medicate as needed and hope they stay lively and happy despite any bouts of illness. As long as they take pleasure from life, we’ll make sure they get everything they need.

Nov 7/10
Roscoe and Reed were adopted by a wonderful person who doesn’t mind that they have FeLV/FIV. The boys won’t be with her for as long as 15 or 20 years, no. But these FIV/FeLV cats can pack 20 years worth of love into a shorter life. They’ve known the loneliness and deprivation of homelessness and they’re so grateful for everything they get. A day after they went home, their new person sent us a short update and a photo. She said, “After just a day of exploring their new territory, they seem very comfortable in their new home. I am amazed at how calm they are. They look so happy in this picture.” The update was enough to make us smile ear to ear. But the photo… well, that’s the greatest joy for animal rescuers — to see something like this.

So here they are, in their own home, on their own soft blankie, basking in front of their own fireplace. And photographing them is their own new person who will love them and be their forever family. It just doesn’t get better than this!

Nov 8/10
A new message about the boys the next day said, “Just wanted to let you know that Reed and Roscoe have made themselves right at home. They had a very busy afternoon (mostly Roscoe) playing with my son. Roscoe loves his new toys mostly the small catnip ball. He has claimed it as his own and takes it everywhere with him. Reed has claimed the cat bed and sleeps there most of the time unless the fire is on apparently. Anyway, just thought I would let you all know they’re doing great.”

Nov 23/10
Since we’ve had so many adoptions from the Boys’ Pen, we were able to accept a couple of new FIV+ cats from rescue groups that didn’t have the facilities for them. Gin is a big fellow with pale orange fur — very handsome. He’s a friendly cat but he’s still scared as the ‘new kid’ and he’s not ready to make friends with us yet.

Juice is a sweet orange tabby who was found homeless in an industrial area but was obviously a family member once. He’s just thrilled to be among friendly people and he soon made himself right at home in the Boys’ Pen. We’re glad we could welcome them into our little family.

Dec 6/10
Waldo, who was adopted more than a month ago, has passed away. Cats with FeLV generally don’t live much longer than four years on average, and Waldo had already been with us for nearly three and a half years. Whenever we had asked for news, Richard said he was purring and happy. Richard knew how to read Waldo, they’d known each other for a long time (Richard volunteers in Waldo’s pen). We can only take comfort from knowing that Waldo had a home and loving family and was happy in the end.



Gin (introduced above on Nov 23) still looks stern and aloof but he’s turned out to be a love muffin. Just give him a few pets, he’ll reach into it and then he’ll roll ecstatically, soaking up the attention. You can see it in this series of stills from his video.

Dec 15/10
We received word that Roscoe has passed away.  Poor boy; we can only take comfort knowing that he died loved, and in a home of his own.  So many of them live for years in their new homes but the risk is always there.  We are grateful to those willing to risk their hearts to give these boys the joy of a real home.

Dec 21/10

Tuffie was adopted last weekend. He went home to join black and white Reed who is alone in his new home since Roscoe passed away. Lucky Tuffie! We know he’ll be happy because Reed has been spoiled rotten. You can see in a photo of him from home that he’s looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Dec 29/10
We have a new FIV+ boy. Gray-and-white, medium-haired Tony was homeless and was being fed by someone who brought him to us when they were planning to go away and didn’t want to leave him without a friend to feed him. He’d clearly seen some hard times in his young life (he’s only about two years old). Yet he’s starting to remember that pets and strokes can feel nice. Unfortunately his new-cat vet check revealed that he has the FIV virus.

Jan 11/11
Miss Mouse is a wonderful little tabby, as loving as she is beautiful. She tested positive for FIV. But she was altered when she was found and we hoped that the positive test result was picking up an inoculation against FIV which she might have been given at the time of her spay surgery. We had her DNA tested to get the answer. Unfortunately, she still tested positive. But she has hope for finding a home since she’s such a cheerful, friendly, pretty little cat.

Jan 19/11
Miss Mouse has found a new home. That didn’t take long at all! Sometimes it seems that our perfect, healthy, young cats wait longer for a home than our hard-to-place cats. We’re really happy for Miss Mouse though.

Feb 3/11
We took a handsome tabby that some one had been feeding and was unable to keep. He’d been coming to this person for food since last summer, but he was skittish so they were prepared to alter him and keep feeding him, letting him live outside as a feral cat. However, it turns out that Tobias was actually a house pet who had simply lost trust in humans. The kindness of the people feeding him rekindled his trust and he began wanting to come indoors. That’s when he came to us. Unfortunately, his new-cat vet check determined that he has FIV, so Tobias has joined the Boys’ Pen. We’re optimistic that such a lovable cat will find the right home.

Feb 23/11
Apache is a young cat who was rescued homeless from a farm. He tested positive for Feline Leukemia. However, we’re keeping him segregated until we can retest to confirm. If he reverts to negative, this lively, exceptionally loving young cat would be highly adoptable.

Mar 9/11
We have two new cats with FeLV — well, we have one and one “Maybe” who will be retested. Kat King Cole is an endearing little black character who was found with a badly abscessed bite on one hind leg. He’s only a year old but he’s already had a hard life. Right now, he has a cone around his head so he doesn’t pull out his stitches. Despite everything, he seems to be completely happy and relaxed. Toopy is a dainty little fluffy black girl who was found homeless but in good shape overall. She tested positive for FeLV, but due to her history we’ll have her retested since she may very well prove ‘negative’ in the end. She may only be fighting off an exposure to the virus. She too is a young cat, only a year and a half old. They’re both loving, trusting, gentle sweethearts.

Mar 16/11
Another new boy has joined us. Panda has FIV and he’s absolutely terrified of us right now. We were told he’s not feral so he’ll surely settle, given enough time to realize that he’s safe and we’re his friends. Life has probably been very hard for the poor boy.

Mar 27/11
Henri is back (first introduced July 14 above), and Gin is adopted (last mentioned Dec 6). Henri’s adoption didn’t work out when he never learned to get along with his feline brethren. Poor Henri was probably an only cat for much of his life and he doesn’t know how to get along with other cats now. But he’s a complete lovebug with people. The family adopted Gin in Henri’s place. Gin is an easygoing fellow who adores people and is also fine with feline roommates. Lucky Gin should do well in his new home.

April 1/11
Kat King Cole was retested using a different kind of blood test. Because he tested a very weak negative for FeLV twice, our vet did some further research into what we could do to get a final result. It took her a while to get some information. This is not a very normal practice — people questioning the SNAP tests (usual test for FeLV).  But it makes a very big difference to an animal’s future. It’s important to consider each animal’s history and circumstances in case there’s something that makes a further test worthwhile. The final result for Kat King Cole? He does NOT have FeLV! Next week, Toopy and Apache will also get the special blood test since their circumstances also indicate that they may not actually be FeLV positive. Our fingers are crossed for them, and we rejoice for Kat who is such a lovable guy that he now has a good chance of finding a new home sooner rather than later.

April 6/11
Apache tested negative for Feline Leukemia when the special blood test was done! He had been tested twice with the conventional test and the second result was a weak positive which, along with his past circumstances, indicated that another test was needed. Now Apache’s future is brighter since it will be easier to find him a home.

April 9/11
Toopy also tested negative when retested with the more reliable IFA blood test! That’s three out of three that we submitted for retesting. That’s not the last of the good news; Toopy has a new home! One of the people who work at our vet’s clinic fell in love with this little charmer and they want to take her home to see if she and their current cat will get along. We hope it works out. What a break for Toopy!

April 20/11
We’ve heard that Toopy is doing great with her new playmate. So Toopy has found her forever home. Lucky little girl.

April 22/11
We are losing two of our boys. Frankie (mentioned Aug 24/10 above) always looked ragged, but as long as he loved his food and loved his friends, we knew he was doing okay. Only recently he had shown such uncharacteristic spunk in getting his share of milk that we wrote about him optimistically in our May/11 newsletter. In the last couple of days though, he’s refused any food we’ve offered him, and he’s taken to sleeping alone. We think he’s letting us know it’s time. We’ll watch him over the weekend and take him to the vet on Tuesday. Tom (pictured at the top) had seemed thinner and was looking a bit seedy so he went to the vet for a checkup last week. The vet found a large tumour in his abdomen. She said he’d be fine over the weekend so we could say good bye. He’s still eating well but his condition is terminal. We’re only glad we have the weekend to pamper these two fur babies for the last time.

April 27/11
Things change overnight. By the beginning of the week, we had three more candidates for the Boys’ Pen: Jennifer (FIV), Butch (FIV) and Juliette (FeLV). Two of them are only candidates so far because retesting is warranted for Juliette and Jennifer. Poor old Butch, however, is a sure FIV+ boy. He has a teddy bear face that would melt your heart but he’s pretty ragged around the edges from living homeless.

April 29/11
Speaking of things changing overnight, we finally let Panda (mentioned March 16) out of a new-cat cage. He never did accept contact with us but he was eating well and had been confined for long enough. We figured he would maintain a low profile but might learn to trust us over time like Tony did. Yet as soon as he was released into the communal room, he changed from a swatting, defensive tiger into a nuzzling, affectionate puddy-tat. He soaked up all the pets he could get excitedly and followed us around the room hoping for more. What a funny character!

May 18/11
Jennifer and Juliette (mentioned April 27) were retested and Juliette tested negative! Jennifer’s result still wasn’t conclusive however, so we’ll give her the DNA test when she’s over a cold she caught.
Another FeLV+ boy has joined us. Greyson was a “stray/barn cat” who ended up in a trap that had been set for another homeless cat. As far as he seems to be concerned, that was his lucky day because he’s joined us now and he seems thrilled to be with us. He’s first to  greet us when we arrive, and he soaks up affection so hungrily that he’ll snatch at you with his paw to keep you from leaving. What an utter sweetheart he is!

May 21/11
The DNA test has been done now on Jennifer and she too is negative. It looks like the majority of cats we’ve retested have been negative for the viruses, and it’s given them a new lease on life! They have wonderful personalities and they are highly adoptable now. There are still many places where an FIV+ or FeLV+ cat is automatically euthanized. What a loss of a loving, trusting, happy little soul — even sadder if they might have proven healthy with a better test. We’ll be using the DNA test much more in the future.

May 25/11
We have another new cat who tested positive for FeLV. Valencia is a gorgeous, dainty little calico. Considering the luck we’ve had lately with retesting, we’ll certainly have Valencia tested again.
As for Jennifer, she made us laugh with her antics when she was finally released into a communal room. She’d had to be confined until it was time to retest her, and once she was out of the new-cat cage, she zipped around her communal room like a playful tornado!May 31/11
Valencia (mentioned May 25) is indeed DNA-negative for FeLV. She had certainly fit the profile of a cat who should be negative — a young healthy girl in good condition. she’s pretty cat with a wonderful personality; she’ll be able to find a home much more easily now with a clean bill of health.
We segregated Greyson (mentioned May 18) and retested him. He tested DNA-negative for FeLV! But we are making doubly sure and are doing one more SNAP test on June 10th. He is such a nice boy!

June 12/11
Greyson’s third test for FeLV was done. He tested negative — he absolutely does NOT have FeLV. This is such an endearing cat that we think he could find a home in no time now. People just have to meet him to fall in love with him.

Aug 7/11
We welcome two new faces to our Boys Pen and what faces they are!  Carson is a handsome orange and white boy who is in his element when there is a human nearby making a fuss over him, and giant Sunshine loves to be held.  These boys came to us from another Rescue that does not have the facilities to house FIV+ cats.  They are such sweet gentlemen we are confident someone with a big heart that can see past their FIV status and realize what amazing friends they would make. 


Dec 29/11

Things had been relatively quiet in The Boys pen since our implementation of the secondary, more intensive DNA test.  We shared this information with other rescues we work with and several cats who normally would have come to us didn’t have to after the definitive test was performed and they were negative!  Top that rash of good fortune with a great home being found for rambunctious Henri and we were on a great streak!

However, all good things must come to an end in the course of a couple weeks, 5 cats who are testing true positive after are lined up to join us.  Our intake cage in that communal is currently being housed by Tom Tom who came to us as a long time stray.  His SNAP is positive, however, we are waiting for the appropriate time before we conduct the DNA test.  Based on Tom Tom’s history (long time stray… unneutered) we are not too optimistic that things will change, but even a glimmer of hope is worth holding onto. 

Almond, a shy, handsome long term resident is also battling some sort of eye swelling that is not improving.  Our vets have conducted x-rays and have taken a biopsy; we are awaiting the results of his biopsy with the same cautious optimism that we hold for Tom Tom.  Any and all additional good thoughts for these boys are most welcome.

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