FIV Needn’t Be A Death Sentence
I’ve met many stray felines over the years, and each and every one of them has taught me something. A cat we now affectionately call ‘Fat Louie’ is definitely no exception.
His was the typical extremely sad life of a feral cat in America – along with millions of others of his kind. He was the offspring of someone’s neglected, abandoned, and un-neutered pet – forced to fend for himself since birth, forced to rummage through trash bins and dumpsters to survive yet one more miserable day, and always forced to hide in the deep dark shadows in fear of mankind’s utter callousness and cruelty.
I found him one day, along with several other feral felines, desperately scavenging for food in a huge industrial dumpster located near a lakeshore. And since that day of discovery, Louie has taught me many valuable lessons.
I began feeding this particular feral colony of starving cats, live-trapping and neutering them, and showing them the first tiny bit of compassion that any of them had ever witnessed from a human being. And from Day One, there was just something special about this particular grey-striped cat.
From Day One, Louie was always the first in the feral colony to spot my old truck, to rush out from his hiding place to greet me, and to very patiently wait for some delectable food to be displayed.
Louie always ate with the utter joy of one dining in an elegant gourmet restaurant, and after dining, he always displayed his sheer gratitude for yet one more meal by affectionately rubbing up against my legs, and by purring his feline heart out.
His feral colony friends, however, always remained very aloof and very wary; extremely grateful for another meal, yet knowing full well the immense cruelty that we humans are so sadly capable of displaying towards them at any second.
But Louie had for some reason very quickly decided to throw all caution to the wind, and he was extremely willing to place his trust in me; so one day, I decided to return the favour. One day, after Louie had dined, I picked him up and gently placed him in my truck. I told him that he was finally going to get a home, and he quickly looked up at me, purred in deep appreciation, and soon fell fast asleep on the front passenger seat of my truck.
The first stop on Louie’s new journey, however, would be at my veterinarian’s office. It was time for his neutering, needed vaccinations, and complete medical examination prior to taking him home. I happily left him there with my vet, and I eagerly went home to prepare for his arrival.
Then the telephone call came from my veterinarian that I had never expected:
“Ed, I’m sorry to tell you that Louie has tested positive for FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus – and in cases like this – the best option is to humanely put him down.”
I couldn’t even respond at first – I had never expected such horrifying news, and I eventually blurted out:
“Please keep him there for a few days while I do some research on FIV, and I’ll call you back.”