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Cat Stories

FIV Needn’t Be A Death Sentence


It just didn’t seem right, or fair, to me that this extremely docile, lovable, stray cat had to be put down just because he had a virus, so I very quickly decided to learn everything that I could about FIV, and I’m extremely glad that I did.  I also have Louie to thank for learning something new.  I hope I keep learning new things the rest of my life.

I soon discovered that FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a ‘lentivirus,’ meaning that it’s a disease that progresses very slowly, gradually affecting a cat’s immune system. It is passed from one cat to another through blood transfusions, and through saliva from deep, penetrating, bite wounds – mainly caused by stray, un-neutered, male cats – just like Louie. The most well-known lentivirus in humans is called HIV. But the two are not at all the same, and I soon learned that neither humans nor dogs can get FIV from a cat. In fact, the only thing about FIV that humans can often catch is unwarranted fear, and terrible mis-information.

I also soon learned that as long as cats with FIV are not exposed to diseases that their immune systems can’t handle, they can live out perfectly normal lives – if only we allow them to. And they can only pass this virus on to other felines through deep penetrating bites.

Every stray cat that I’ve ever taken into my home my entire life has been extremely docile, extremely grateful to finally have a home to call their own, and extremely willing to accept any other strays in their midst.

So, with this knowledge and understanding about FIV now in hand, I very quickly decided that Louie should not be an exception, and I brought him home.

Louie’s been with us over three years now, and he is one of the best cats that we’ve ever had.

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And from Day One, my other former feline orphans and street urchins have readily accepted him, as he has them.


And for the last three years, I’ve never regretted my decision to give this former feral feline another chance at life.

Today, we affectionately call him ‘Fat Louie’ around our home because he truly loves to eat, and he has truly become one very huge, extremely loving, constantly purring grey furball.

As soon as Fat Louie spots either me or my wife, he very excitedly waddles up to us, begins purring his furry feline heart out, does a very enthusiastic feline love dance all around our feet, and then joyously plops over on his back in anticipation of what he loves even more than food these days – a long soft tummy rub and tickle.

We all now love our Fat Louie, the former feral feline who just happens to have FIV, and our home simply wouldn’t be the same without him.  And he loves all of us – unconditionally – with every ounce of his now pleasantly plump feline heart and soul.

I’ve also learned that FIV was only discovered and diagnosed about 15 years ago, so most medical experts today agree that prior to this time, many cat lovers had FIV positive cats in their homes, never even knew it, and loved them anyway.

So if you’re thinking about adopting a cat with FIV, or if a cat that you’ve had and loved for some time has very recently been diagnosed with FIV, please think about our Fat Louie, and please do some research on this disease yourself – before agreeing to what I now believe are far too many death sentences – for far too many extremely loving cats – who just happen to have an immune system virus called FIV.

“Time spent with any cat, Is never wasted.” – Colette

©2007, Ed Kostro

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