Cat Sanctuary


Hubert is a rather dignified tabby with two things that distinguish him from most other cats at the shelter. The first is obvious just by looking at him:

This cat has a huge head!When I first met him, I was told that males who are neutered late tend to have larger heads. An FAQ on spaying and neutering provided by the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital says that male cats who are neutered after puberty develop both larger heads and thicker skin and gives this as a reason (in addition to the usual behavioral ones) for neutering pets earlier rather than later.

The other piece of information that’s interesting to know about Hubert is that he’s FIV positive. FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is similar to HIV in humans. I’ve been asked if there’s any danger of catching AIDS from a cat. There is not.

When FIV was discovered in 1986, many cats who tested positive for the virus were euthanized or surrendered to shelters. “Now…”, writes cat behaviorist Anne Moss for, it is “fully understood that FIV is not infectious to humans, the same way that HIV is not infectious to cats. These are species-specific viruses, as has been proven by the many FIV positive cats that lead comfortable lives with their human companions for many years.”

RAPS has two buildings housing FIV positive cats. When Debbie, our volunteer coordinator, first gave me a tour of the sanctuary, she ended it in one of these, describing it as the best place to go for a wind-down and a cuddle with some cats who’d be more than happy to oblige. Even now, any time my cartoonist friends Vincent and Ayako come to help me with my volunteer duties, we always end our evening by going to see Hubert in the one building and then heading over to visit a few of our cat friends in the other.

For more information on FIV, have a look at this article from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

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