Sweet Jerry, in the Val Jones area, is one of our FIV+ cats – and he couldn’t be less like the Jerry that preceded him. Jerry I was small, fluffy, beautiful – and extremely erratic in aggressiveness, both to cats and humans. Jerry II is a solid grey, not-very-beautiful boy, about 8 years old, who is very loving and anxious for attention. There’s not an ounce of nastiness in him; he gets on well with the other cats, and he’s often one of the first greeters at the gate.
Jerry came to us in 2018 as one of a group of cats arriving from midway up Vancouver Island thanks to Catspan Ferals. As with Woody, in last week’s blog, when a rescue like this discovers they have FIV+ feral cats on their hands, it is often to RAPS that they turn; FIV+ cats should not be released into the general population of ferals. Healthy cats can be colony-supervised; kittens can be tamed and adopted out, but cats carrying the FIV or FeLV (feline leukemia) virus need more care.
The three cats that arrived five years ago were all feral males, and two of them quickly disappeared into whatever hiding places they could find. Beautiful Francis and his buddy, black Drake, stayed out of our sight as much as they could manage. Jerry decided he’d landed on his feet, and acclimated himself to the New Aids pen very quickly. He is cat-social, non-aggressive, and when the friendliest cats were being selected for the new FIV pen in the Val Jones corner, Jerry was high on the list!
|VJ snuggle buddies: Jerry, Magnus & Jim (DW)|
Many FIV+ cats show no sign of the virus they carry and may appear asymptomatic throughout their lives. Most problems are not in fact from the virus itself, but from secondary infections, or weakness of the immune system. Respiratory issues, skin problems, and dental diseases like stomatitis are common, and are a large reason why staff and volunteers are careful to sanitize when we move from one area to another. Jerry has all the common secondaries. He’s had mouth problems which have resulted in extractions, so the tip of his tongue often sticks out a bit; he’s not a good candidate for surgery so most of his dental issues are being treated with medication.
Once cleaning or feeding in the Val Jones is done, Jerry is anxious for lap-time. Most of the VJ cats are affectionate, but currently Jerry’s the pushiest in seeking cuddles. If he’s really drooly, a paper towel can sometimes be useful – but mostly I just make a point of having a good wash when we’re done. Jerry’s love is sometimes a little damp – but very heart-felt.