We’ve had some new feline arrivals since last we spoke, Interwebs.
Well, technically speaking, one is new. The other came since we said goodbye to Lucy so suddenly last spring, so he’s new-ish. ( YES WELL THE POINT IS, THEY’RE BOTH NEW. Sheesh, facts sure can screw up a lovely flowery introduction, can’t they?)
Anyway. Both cats came from our wonderful local Humane Society, both are boycats, and both are FIV+.
Qu’est-ce que the hell? you may ask. What is this FIV? Well, let me tell you.
FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
I guess one can draw some similarities between HIV in humans and FIV in cats. Very simplistically, then — remember, I am not a doctor or a veterinarian, nor do I play one on TV — both are immunodeficiency viruses, leaving their carriers immunocompromised. Both are specific to their species; that is, cats can’t give people or other animals FIV, just other cats, and humans can’t give cats HIV, just other humans. Both leave the carrier open to all sorts of illness, but if care is taken, both can live long and enjoyable lives.
HIV is transmitted between humans via certain body fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk) and by sharing needles. In cats, it’s through deep puncture wounds and through mama cat’s breast milk.
But unlike HIV, which researchers are working to suppress and eradicate in humans, there are no medications one can give one’s cats to help make the disease easier to handle. But it’s okay, because for pet owners it is fairly manageable with caution, care, and good health practices.
So, we now have two FIV+ cats. We still have Duncan, which is where the previous statement is important — with management, and careful monitoring, not only can our FIV+ cats live long and happy lives, but Duncan can live a long and FIV-free life, too. And this is why we consulted our trusted vets and considered things carefully before bringing them home.
So, last spring, BDH saw this boy on the Humane Society website:
And, upon meeting, man and cat fell instantly in love. A boy and his cat! A cat and his boy!
Chester is blessed with more than his complement of beans. He’s sweet and social and given to great periods of gallumphing around the house and then sleeping wherever he crashes. He’s a herd of cat.
He has had a big feline incisor pulled, so occasionally he is all snaggletoothed. He has a cheerful face. He steals your warms THE SECOND you get up from a chair. He loves boxes, and his personal life motto is “If I fits, I sits.”
Sometimes, more successfully than others.
He’s an escape artist, known to have pushed completely through screens and only discovered walking along the fence and away from us by sheer luck. This is important; FIV cats are never to go outside. Not just because of their capacity for transmitting it to others, but because of their immunocompromised state, even walking through something and then cleaning themselves could make them sick. So our day-to-day life consists of a lot of Chester management to ensure he doesn’t get outside or have means to get outside.
He’s a high-energy handful, but he’s fun and friendly and he’s BDH’s boy and he’s fit right in.
And then, last week was our 15th wedding anniversary. BDH came home early that day, I thought so that we could all go out for dinner. Apparently, he had other ideas.
Who knew the traditional gift for a 15th wedding anniversary was CAT??
This is Ziggy. He’s also FIV+, and he’s smallish and snuggly and missing some teeth so he has a semi-permanent blep. He’s all about eating right now, and from the scars on his nose and ears and his gravelly breathing, he had a rough road before he came into the Humane Society’s care. Right now he’s in a kitty condo in the bedroom, slowly being introduced to the other cats and getting used to everyone and everything.
I had been watching him on the Humane Society website for months, but nobody seemed to want him. But when we met him, I knew he was ours. He’s sweet and a cuddly lap cat and I hope we will bond and he will be my heart cat like Lucy before him and Bubby before her. I have missed having a cat, but this one is special.
I am completely smitten. And if you could see his face last night, as he was safe and warm and sleeping in my bed with his head on my arm, I think he is going to like it here too.
So, now we each have a cat.
Duncan claimed That Girl the minute she came through the door, and has slept outside her bedroom door every night to protect her, and greet her when she wakes up, ever since.
Chester loves BDH and always sits at the window and waits for him to come home from work each night, crying out to him in excitement the second his car comes into view. BDH can’t even go outside without Chester being at the closes window, desperately calling out to him in sadness because he can’t get to him.
And now I have Ziggy. The little domestic house panther with the white heart on his chest, representative of the amount of love he shows everyone. The scar on his nose and the little white hairs sprinkled through his fur earning him the nickname of my little Ziggy Stardust.
Cats are important to us. We love all animals, and there will come a day when we could possibly have rats, or rodents, or retired racing greyhounds, or yard chickens.
Not all at once, obviously.
But I think, despite frustrations and protestations, that we will always have cats. The semi-independent, surprisingly intuitive, furry pains-in-the-arse really suit our lives and our personalities. They are members of our family. We celebrate their arrivals, we worry over their illnesses, we rail at their buttheadedness and destructive tendencies, and we grieve when their times come to leave us. We miss them and tell stories about them after they are gone.
Every last one has been singularly valued, cherished, and loved in his or her own way. Each and every one has been an important piece of the puzzle of our family.
And now we have three, for as long as we have them. Hopefully for long, healthy lives.
The only real problem now — as the grim realization dawned on That Girl and I at breakfast the other day — is that the girls in this house are OUTNUMBERED.