FIV-positive cats can lead healthy lives
A Misunderstood Condition
The concurrence of the discovery of FIV and HIV in the 1980’s—and the relatively frighteningly unknown nature of the latter—caused confusion and had a negative impact on cats diagnosed with FIV. Before more extensive research was done, shelters and veterinarians often euthanized FIV-positive cats without giving them any chance to find loving homes. Even to this day, despite the fact that this condition is entirely manageable, many shelters across the country do not have programs devoted to finding homes for FIV-positive cats.
What is FIV?
FIV stands for “Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.”
Can humans, dogs, or other species catch FIV?
No, FIV only affects cats.
FIV-positive Scarecrow found a loving home
Is FIV fatal? What are the symptoms?
The most common cause of death in cats with FIV is old age. FIV-positive housecats rarely show any symptoms of the disease and usually live long, happy lives. When complication do arise, it’s generally in cats who have been fending for themselves outdoors over a long period of time and are not in good overall health.
Is FIV contagious?
FIV is transmitted from one cat to another by deep puncture wounds. It is NOT spread by casual contact. (In other words, kitties can’t catch FIV from grooming each other, sharing food bowls, sharing a litterbox, etc.) Unneutered males are most at risk for catching FIV since they are more likely to fight with other kitties. Studies have shown that friendly, altered FIV-positive cats are highly unlikely to spread the virus to other kitties in the home.
Can FIV-positive kitties live with cats who don’t have the virus?
That depends on the situation. As mentioned above, a kitty that gets along with the other felines in the household is unlikely to transmit the virus. When introducing FIV-positive and FIV-negative kitties, make sure you give them a careful, slow introduction to prevent any serious fighting or biting.
How do I care for an FIV-positive kitty?
There is usually no medication or special treatment required for FIV. You can take the following steps to help your kitty stay healthy and happy:
- Keep FIV+ kitties indoors so that they can’t get into fights with other neighborhood kitties.
- Feed your FIV+ kitty a healthy diet of high quality food
- Keep your FIV+ kitty up to date on vaccinations and veterinary check-ups
Akando, an adorable FIV-positive cat currently available for adoption
Do you have FIV-positive cats at SAFe Rescue?
We often take in FIV-positive cats. In some cases, these kitties have no other place to find safety and would otherwise be euthanized. We have been able to find loving homes for many FIV-positive cats who are now leading long, happy lives!
Has it every crossed your mind what it would be like to foster a cat or kitten? If you have visited the Rescue to adopt or visit, or if you follow us on social media, you are only seeing part of the story of cat rescue. Each of these cats and kittens were brought into the Rescue after careful consideration. We have only so much room and only so much staff to give each one the care they need to be ready for adoption. Every time a cat or kitten moves into a foster home, another space opens up for an animal in need.
I foster, and as a matter of fact, I think I just reached #40. Believe it or not, that pales in comparison to some of our most dedicated foster parents. Some of these 40 felines were kittens that went into foster care because they were too young and small to be adopted. Fosters like these just need a warm confined area to grow a bit and practice being a cat. Once they are 2 lbs, they are spayed or neutered and are ready for adoption. I have also fostered grown cats that have lost owners and are confused and scared. These just need to have a quiet place away from the Rescue to calm down and realize there are other people they can love. Then there are the semi-ferals: older kittens that may have lived outside with little or no human contact. They’re hissy little things that do everything they can to hide. You touch them and feed them, and then one day you realize they are purring.
The Rescue has a program called Adoption Ambassadors. If you find an adopter for your foster, you can adopt out of your home. All the paperwork and payment is done online. This is not required with fostering, but it is surprising how easy asking around work or on Facebook works for finding someone that is looking to adopt. I have done this several times.
People always ask me the same question, how can I give up these cats and kittens? Well, no doubt it is hard, I do get attached. But then I get the photos and emails and see how loved and happy these cats and kittens are in their new homes. I also have two older cats that are not interested in a new kitten, so I also keep that in mind.
Why this post? Stopping by the Rescue one night last week, I found Amy, the Rescue’s Operations Manager, working late making sure each cat and kitten had everything it needed before she went home. All the enclosures were full. When I asked about new foster families, she said only one person had shown up for the latest orientation.
What is the greatest need right now?
- Foster homes willing to take in ringworm
- Foster homes with experience giving sub-cutaneous fluids
- Foster homes with experience feeding bottle babies
- Foster homes with experience socializing semi-feral kittens
That said, don’t be discouraged if you can’t give this specialized care. Start slow and see how fostering works in your home. I had to work up to semi-feral kittens, but they are now the most rewarding. And frankly, I love cats and love spending the one on one time with cats and kittens in need.
Seattle Area Feline Rescue will supply food, litter and all medical care. All you need to in order to foster a cat is a secure place in your home; a bathroom is a great space if you don’t have an extra room. Please visit our Foster page for more information and to fill out the “Foster Information” form to get started.
SAFe Rescue Board Member and volunteer
Dig out your old bellbottoms and bring your nicest platforms… it’s time for “Caturday Night Fever“! Will you join us at Nine Lives Gala this fall for a groovy evening to help homeless kitties?
Our annual Nine Lives Gala will take place on Saturday, September 23rd at 5:30PM at Shoreline Conference Center. With dinner, dessert, drinks, auctions, and entertainment—featuring celebrity host Pat Cashman—it will be a night to remember!
You can get your tickets today with special Early Bird pricing, or become one of the Table Champions for kitties! You can also preview some of the great auction items here. (We’re adding more items every day!)
For more info, or to donate an item to auction, please email Auction@SeattleAreaFelineRescue.org. We’d love to hear from you.
See all you “Cool Cats” at the Gala!
You are Your Kitty’s Best Advocate!
1) If you or someone you know becomes unable to care for a feline companion and must rehome a cat, start by contacting your own networks. Try reaching out via email and social media to your family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Your kitty’s new home may be closer than you think. Share, share, share!
2) If you find that you are not able to rehome the cat by reaching out to people you know, try widening your search to include the public via online posting, flyers, etc. Share, share, share!
- This guide to rehoming your pet from Best Friends offers tips for writing pet profiles and taking appealing photos, screening potential adopters, and more.
- Neighborhood-specific social networks (E.g. Nextdoor.com) and cat-specific social media groups can be a great place to reach your local community.
- You can reach an even wider audience by posting your kitty’s profile online. For example, Adopt-a-Pet’s “Rehome” database makes it possible to post a bio of your kitty for prospective adopters to browse.
- Be sure to have your cat’s medical records available and make sure kitty is up to date on vaccines.
3) Try going back to the person or organization who originally gave you the cat. Even if they are not able to take the cat back, they may be able to reach out to their own networks and help spread the word.
Rehome a Cat: the Shelter Option
If you have tried all other strategies to rehome a cat but have had no success, consider surrendering the kitty to your local public shelter or to a rescue group.
NOTE: Taking a cat to a shelter does not mean it will automatically be euthanized. In the Puget Sound area, we benefit from a high number of adopters and a strong network of cooperating organizations. (Here at SAFe Rescue, for example, we take in many felines from other shelters). As a result, the “save rate” for healthy, adoptable animals in the Puget Sound area is very high.
If you surrender your cat, your local municipal or private animal welfare organization can make sure that it gets spayed/neutered and vaccinated before it goes to a good home.
For cats that become withdrawn or aggressive when confronted with change, for elderly cats, and for cats with chronic health or behavior issues, entering any public or private shelter environment should not be your first choice. Play up your kitty’s positive qualities, take some adorable photos, and keep reaching out to your networks. Share, share, share! Going straight from your home to a new owner will be the least stressful option for your special feline.
We’re here to help. Even if we’re not able to take in and rehome a cat right away, we may be able to offer advice on behavior, suggestions for finding a new home, or a spot on the wait list until we are able to find kitty an adopter. You can contact us at email@example.com.
NOTE: Many organizations take in surrenders by appointment only as space for that age/type of cat becomes available. Thinking ahead and contacting multiple organizations as far in advance as possible will help avoid a last minute panic!
If You Find a Stray Kitty
Helping a stray kitty is a different process from rehoming your own kitty. Stray animals can only be surrendered to your Municipal Shelter. In each area, there is only one shelter legally authorized to take in stray animals. That makes it easier for their owners to find them, since there is a central place to look for their lost pet. But before you bring the animal to a shelter, you can ask yourself:
1) Does the kitty have a microchip? Take the cat to a local vet or rescue group for a free microchip scan. If they detect a microchip, you may be able to locate the owner directly.
2) Is the kitty lost? Try putting up fliers and posting on local social media groups and networks.
NOTE: Even if the kitty has been wandering in your neighborhood for a long time, there might still be someone missing it. We have seen reunions where the owner had been searching for months! Removing a lost or stray cat from the area without trying to find the owner first may actually reduce the kitty’s chance to be reunited with a loving family.
3) Could the kitty be a “community cat”? Sometimes homeless felines live outside but are fed and looked after by neighbors. Try asking around to find out if anyone nearby knows about the cat. (If the kitty has a collar, try attaching a note with your contact information so that other caregivers will see it.) Is the cat altered? Community cats that have been spayed or neutered may have a visible ear tip.
By answering these questions, you can help the stray kitty have the very best outcome. Thank you for looking out for animals in need!
German has the biggest purr—the rumble starts as soon as he sees you coming! Abandoned by his original owners, he seemed grateful to find safety at the rescue. At the Adoption Center, though, this outgoing orange and white kitty sometimes became suddenly irritable and his left ear seemed to bother him. A veterinary exam revealed the cause of his behavior: he had a large, painful tumor growing inside his ear.
German needed a complex operation to remove the tumor. A procedure like that is not easy to afford—but thanks to a special grant from Petco Foundation*, German got his surgery! After his big operation, German took some time to recover… as you can see, his fur is just starting to grow back.
Now, we’re happy to say he’s ready to find his furr-ever home. It is likely that his benign tumor will grow back at some point, so German needs to find a very special adopter: someone who will love him, take him to regular check-ups, and commit to taking on his future medical needs.
This sweet, active 7-year old boy has been through so much. It’s time for him to find a family at last! To learn more about adopting German, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to share his medical records and information with you and answer any questions you may have.
*German’s adoption fee is sponsored by Petco Foundation.
Our next SAFe Rescue Board Meeting will be held on May 16th from 7-9 pm. As always, our meetings are open to guests. This one is being hosted in a private home, so we can’t post the location online. If you’d like to join us, please contact Lisa Reid, at lisa@SeattleAreaFelineRescue.org or 206.730.5278 for directions.
Our June Board Meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 13th from 7-9 pm at the Lake Forest Park Library. Give Lisa a heads up if you’re planning to attend, just in case our schedule changes.
GiveBIG is coming up on May 10th, and the kitties need some dedicated cat people to help spread the world… people like YOU! There are lots of fun, easy ways to join “Team Feline” and help make this life-saving event a success for the kitties!
- Share an “#Unselfie” on social media and let the world know why you support homeless cats! (Be sure to tag Seattle Area Feline Rescue and include the hashtag #GiveBIG.) Here’s a Printable Unselfie Sign. Copies are also available to pick up at the Adoption Center.
- Send an email to your friends, co-workers, or family, letting them know about this opportunity to DOUBLE their gift to homeless cats. (We’ll make it quick and easy: email giving@SeattleAreaFelineRescue.org for a sample text.) Or, just forward one of the rescue GiveBIG emails that you receive!
- Put up a poster at your workplace, favorite business, or neighborhood coffee shop. Here’s a Printable Poster! Copies are also available to pick up at the Adoption Center, along with postcards that you can hand or send out.
- Change your social media icon. Show your “Team Feline” pride with us on May 10th by changing your social media profile picture for a day! (See image below.)
Thank you for taking action to help homeless felines! From bottle baby kittens to senior cats, they all appreciate you “Meowy” much!
Less than two weeks ’til GiveBIG on May 10… and online gift scheduling opens today! Here at the rescue, we’re crossing our paws for a great event. And we need your help!
What is GiveBIG?
GiveBIG is a local 24-hour online event hosted by The Seattle Foundation. It’s also the rescue’s second largest event of the year: the kitties count on it to bring them life-saving support!
Your kindness and generosity go even farther for the kitties on GiveBIG day, with opportunities to grow your gift! The rescue’s Board of Directors and a team of “Cat Challenger” donors has pledged matching funds to DOUBLE your gift and save more lives. Meow-wow! The Seattle Foundation is also offering incentives, including a chance to win $2,500 for the rescue kitties. We have a goal to raise $20,000 to make it possible to save the lives of at-risk felines, and we need your help to make it happen!
When is GiveBIG?
This year, GiveBIG will take place from midnight to midnight on Wednesday, May 10th. Please mark your calendars! Or, to get a head start, you can schedule your gift online starting today. Now, more than ever, kitties urgently need your support. Kitten season is beginning, and there are many adult, special needs, and senior kitties who need help, too.
What’s a “Catvocate”?
Join “Team Feline”! When you help spread the word about this important opportunity for the kitties, you become a “Catvocate”! Post an “Unselfie” on May 10, send your friends an email, change your social media icon, share this post… there are many ways to boost the signal for cats in need! Email us for fun materials, including an unselfie template, social media badges, and more. Show your “Team Feline” pride with us on May 10th!
Thank you for taking action to help homeless felines! From bottle baby kittens to senior cats, they all appreciate you “Meowy” much!
When you take home a new kitty, it’s always a good idea to pet-proof your living space and remove any household dangers for cats. Some hazards are fairly well-known, like anti-freeze and chocolate. Others might surprise you!
String and string-like items (including thread, yarn, dental floss, rubber bands, and Christmas tree tinsel) are tempting to many cats—but they can wreak havoc on the digestive system if swallowed. Legos and other small toys pose another hazard.
You may have seen the infographics that get shared each year at Easter time warning about how lilies are dangerous for cats. It’s true! Lilies can cause kidney failure and even death. They’re not the only hazardous plant, though. It’s always best to double check whether cut flowers and houseplants are poisonous before putting them within reach or your feline friends. The ASPCA maintains a helpful database of toxic vs. non-toxic plants. (Note: even non-toxic plants sometimes cause tummy upset when eaten.)
Most cleaning products are toxic if ingested, so be sure to follow the instructions on the label carefully. A solution of vinegar and water makes a good non-toxic alternative. (But don’t let your kitty ingest vinegar, either. It’s not good for feline tummies!) A diluted bleach solution also works well. *Whatever product you use, follow directions, rinse items, let them dry, and ventilate to remove any fumes before your kitties get access!*
Many human foods are household dangers for cats. Chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol may be treats for people, but they’re no good for kitties’ health! Although it’s a common belief that cats love milk, dairy can actually cause tummy distress. More dangerously, Xylitol (a common sweetener) is highly toxic and can cause liver failure. Xylitol shows up as an ingredient in more foods and household items than you might think (including gum and toothpaste). Be sure to check the ingredients carefully! The list goes on: cooked bones are a choking risk, and it’s best to keep your kitty away from all leftovers, compost, and garbage. For a more detailed list of hazardous foods, check out the Humane Society’s blog.
Even over-the-counter human medications like cold medicine and pain relievers can be very dangerous for animals. Make sure to store all your meds in a pet-proof place. Keep veterinary meds out of reach, too, so that your pets can’t get into them and accidentally overdose. (Note: Marijuana and many other controlled substances can also cause poisoning in pets.)
ALWAYS check with your veterinarian before treating your cat for fleas! Your vet can help you choose a safe product and determine the correct dosage. Pyrethroid-based flea treatments, which are available over-the-counter, can cause accidental poisoning and should be avoided.
Want to learn more about household dangers for cats?
Nimbus before spa day.
Getting her lion cut…
At first, Nimbus didn’t appreciate the grooming…
But the after-bath snuggles were great!
The head massage was the best.
And the chin scratches!
After grooming, her skin had more space to heal.
The finishing touch: a pretty blue cone to keep her skin safe from scratching!
Nimbus used to live on the streets, trying to take care of herself. But this sweet senior kitty wasn’t suited to life as an alley cat!
When she arrived at SAFe Rescue for help, Nimbus was truly a sorry sight. Her teeth were loose. Her paw and her tummy were wounded. Her long coat was infested by fleas and bugs.
Nimbus had a long road to recovery ahead of her. She got spay surgery, Epsom salt soaks for her wounded toe, and antibiotics for her infected tummy. Dental surgery made her a member of the “Four Tooth Club,” but removing all of her damaged teeth definitely left her feeling more comfortable.
She As a shy girl, Nimbus also started the Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Pawsitive behavior program. At first, she was so timid that she wanted to get as far away from people as possible. Her clicker training reward for not growling was for her handler simply to turn away from her and leave her alone.
Little by little, her sweet personality began to emerge. Now she even prefers pets and attention as her reward!
Even after all that TLC, though, Nimbus still wasn’t feeling completely comfortable. She needed… a senior kitty spa day! Although the infestation in her coat had been treated, it left her with irritated, itchy skin. Nimbus needed a lion cut to let her skin heal and breathe.
Alissa Rose of Seattle Mobile Grooming kindly volunteered to visit the rescue to help Nimbus. This morning, it was spa time!
The toenail trim, haircut, and bath were not Nimbus’ favorites. But she LOVED the face massage at the end. Although we miss Nimbus’ beautiful fur, we know that now she will be more comfortable and healthy…
And it will grow back even more gorgeous than ever!
Do you know someone who might have a place in their heart for sweet Nimbus? Please share her story and help her find a home!
You can learn more about making Nimbus your new best friend on our adoptions page.