Jack Sparrow is a one-year-old black cat with one eye and a missing hip socket. His dad, Pops, who is five, has feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and deformed rear legs. Despite their challenges, they’ve come a long, long way—literally.
The pair were seized by California animal control officials in California in January 2018 from a breeder who was apparently attempting to create a new “specialty” breed of small cat, but in the process developed a number of animals with severe physical issues. Along with them were Jack’s brother and mother.
Pops was kept in a cage for the first years of his life, allowed out only to breed.
Once they were placed in a California shelter, they faced euthanasia due to their obvious disabilities, but were saved and brought to B.C., where Jack, Pops along with Jack’s brother who is also disabled, lived in foster care for the past year. The brother was adopted by the foster family and, though Jack and Pops were also up for adoption during that year, they had no luck finding a forever home. They now happily reside at the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, eagerly soaking up the affection and care of staff and volunteers.
Dad and son are deeply bonded, very sweet with people and other cats and also very active.
The decision was made to bring some of the friendlier cats from the “New Aids” pen into this enclosure; we were pretty sure that there would be a lot of human visitors, and there were several cats that we thought would benefit from it. Many people don’t understand that cats with FIV are actually adoptable, and that they suffer more from the stigma of the label than from the condition itself. We hoped that having them more accessible would help educate visitors about feline immunodeficiency virus, and dispel some of the myths about FIV cats. Friendly Arnie (always looking for a handout), orange Magnus, grey Felix, tabby Tia – all made the move, and settled well into a new space. They have been joined by a pair of cats from Alberta, and another pair recently trapped locally. More of them in future blogs…
Pops and Jack have taken it all in their stride – if you can say that about cats with their disabilities. Jack actually walks on his front paws; Pops also uses his front paws for the most part, with a little stabilizing from his immobile back legs. Both can manage steps, and Jack actually uses his upper body strength to climb to the top of a cat-tree. We have to keep a bit of an eye on him; like many teenagers, he likes to push the boundaries, and his bugging of some of the more senior cats is not appreciated.
In many places, these two would have been euthanized. With us at the Sanctuary, they have a real quality of life and much loving care; adoption is not out of the question, but there would have to be many restrictions to keep them safe. All the other FIV cats in this enclosure are actually adoptable. With the RAPS Hospital nearby we can react quickly to any of their health needs, and there are always staff and volunteers to spend time with them – as well as visitors on Sunday afternoons.
Pops and Jack have fallen on their feet – even though they don’t have as many as the other cats!