Monday, July 03, 2006
We wish them both a long and healthy life.We do not place cats up for adoption that test positive for FIV (feline AIDS). When we get a positive test, we do the test again (to ensure that it wasn't user error or something wrong with the test). If it comes up positive again, we have a new person run the test a third time. If it is still positive, we conclude the cat tests positive for FIV. We do not place these cats up for adoption because there are so many FIV negative cats dying in our community that we feel we can save more cats by adopting those without this problem. We wish we had the space, time, and resources for these cats, but we simply don't.
We made an exception for Pierre who was Katrina transplant. Pierre came to us in a group of cats that we took in after the hurricane. He tested positive for FIV, but since we agreed to keep him for a set period of time (to allow time for the owners to get settled and find him), we had to keep him for many months in case his owner showed up and reclaimed him. When that didn't happen and he was not symptomatic, we decided to let him stay with us since he was such a special cat and had been through so much already. He was in Oakland and then went to Tri Valley.
On June 8th, we got a cat returned by the name of Brian. He tested positive (on all three tests) for FIV and management started the unadoptable paperwork (the paperwork we do before we euthanize an animal to ensure all t's have been crossed and all i's have been dotted) with him. Since he was a return, we had to hold for 4 days in case the owner wanted to reclaim him. During that time, I got to thinking, "Hey, we have an FIV+ cat in TV that is all alone (we can't mingle FIV- cats with him) and he might enjoy a buddy." We wouldn't have to hold another space for Brian so essentially he wouldn't be taking up extra space that could be given to a negative cat. Brian is a super sweet, attractive, otherwise highly adoptable cat. We decided to give him and Pierre a chance to get along. Brian went out to TV and although they didn't snuggle together immediately, they did seem to enjoy eachother.
So the up side is that Pierre had a buddy and we didn't need to euthanize Brian.
The downside was that we then had two FIV+ cats and these cats take a long time to get adopted (which is part of the reason we don't take them in normally.) The other downside was that this exception might have confused employees and volunteers who may think that it was now ok to keep all FIV+ cats. That was not the case and this was a very big exception to let Brian stay with us. I couldn't say at the time if it was the right decision, but I was comfortable with the decision when I made it. I told employees that if either cat started showing symptoms of FIV, we would have to re-evaluate the situation. Also, if they started to fight, Brian would not be able to stay and we would not move him to his own habitat or cage.
So...was this a good decision? I'll answer that with the statement that both cats were adopted together this weekend thanks to the great staff at the Tri Valley SPCA (specifically AD). Pierre came from New Orleans and was with us for 9 months. Brian came back from a failed adoption and was with us for one month. Both are now, finally, home. We are grateful to their adopters who saw past their FIV label and got to know the cats for who they are. We wish them both a long and healthy life.