Like any human population, our Sanctuary cats run from fit-and-healthy, never-had-a-sick-day-in-my-life cats, to those who constantly seem to reappear in med cages for antibiotics or TLC. Just like humans, they pass their germs from one to another, and the current batch of colds reminds us that humans may have a flu-vaccine, but nobody has solved the problem of the common cold – in either humans or felines.
Because RAPS is a no-kill organization, we do all in our power to keep our cats going as long as they are happy. Kidney disease and thyroid problems are the most common ongoing conditions in an aging cat population, but any cat that is still interested in life, and especially in food handouts, is treated and kept pain-free as long as possible.
However, anyone taking on one of our aging felines is likely guaranteeing themselves some serious vet bills, and a greater degree of care and attention than many healthy cats need.
The more manageable health problems are largely the cats that carry the feline AIDS and feline leukemia virus. Many of these cats are well loved by volunteers – their health issues mean that they need to be separated from the general population, but they don’t mean that the cats can’t be visited and loved, with basic cleanliness precautions for the sake of the cats themselves. Some of these might be technically adoptable, but with warnings and restrictions. For more about FIV cats see HERE
Cats with feline AIDS can live full lives, and live together – the AIDS virus is transmitted through biting, and with neutered cats that get on amicably, it’s not an issue. The cats, however, should have no access to outdoors, both for their own protection and for the protection of any other cat they might encounter.
If you take a leukemia cat into your home, you’re taking in possible heartache – we never know how long they will live after diagnosis. Some cats, like Bella, have lived with it for several years; others don’t last long because their immune systems are severely compromised. Because the leukemia virus is transmitted in saliva, they should have absolutely no contact with any leukemia-free cats, and must never be allowed outside.
For more about FeLV cats, see HERE
Merlin was one of our leukemia cats who got adopted out. A big, seemingly healthy cat, he’s proved himself a bit of a bully with the other cats, but loves human attention. Unfortunately his adopter was not able to manage the security issue, and Merlin made his escape. A leukemia cat on the loose is a danger to other healthy cats, and RAPS staff had to swing into action and go out to trap him, returning him to the safety of his Sanctuary home.
Med staff Leslie tells me that we’re willing to adopt fully tame AIDS and leukemia cats (not semi-ferals) to dedicated indoor homes that already have other cats with the disease, or to people with big hearts who have no other cats, and who’d like to take care of such a cat for whatever lifespan he/she may have. They need to have the financial resources to pay for blood work and antibiotics when infections occur. A home visit may be necessary in these cases to assess the escape risks; for instance, an apartment is usually going to be safer than a home that opens on to the great outdoors.
But the most important factor (and with any other tame cat that is considered for adoption) is the happiness of the cat in question. If it is comfortable with its fellow-inmates at the Sanctuary, and interacts well with them, it may be best left in place. If it is more of a loner, and obviously prefers human company, then it may well be a candidate for adoption. That’s one reason that many of the adoptions from the Sanctuary in fact go to volunteers – those are the people that spend the most time with the cats in question, and build a bond that can survive what may be a difficult transfer, in a way that no casual visitor can – see last week’s story on how Buster has gone home.