Breaking Rules

I have learned a few things in my life as a vet. Nothing stays the same, better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission, and finally, rules are meant to be broken. They have kept me pretty well over my 28 years as a vet.

So, we have a rule at the clinic. When we get cats who are to go into our adoption program, they are tested for feline leukemia and FIV (feline AIDS). IF positive, and we confirm this with a 2nd test, then we euthanize. This is simply because 1. There are too many healthy cats looking for homes and 2. There are just too many cats. It is easier when they are decrepit, or suffering from some kind of condition. But as I get older, it is becoming harder to do.

This summer, as my daughter was working at the SPCA, we get the emergency call “mom, a litter of kittens has just come in, they have too many, and need to be hand-raised, can you take them at the clinic? Or they are going to be euthanized.” I find it hard to say no to my little girl, so a few calls later, one of our technicians Laura, who is kind of cat crazy, agrees to take them on. The next week we realize they are crawling with lice, so we treat them (as well as Lauras other animals who may have been exposed). They have worms, 3 kinds, and they get treated. Then they get the feline cold (upper respiratory disease) despite their vaccines, and after weeks of treatment – runny nose, eye infection, cough and sneeze, we finally clue in. The test is positive.

By now we have invested 4 weeks of treatments, they are responding to medications, and gosh darn it, they are really, really cute. So…. We break our own rules. They come to my house, and will be re-tested at 4, 5,and 6 months of age- some are positive because of maternal immunity, but should go negative, but this takes time. If they remain positive, yup, they have FIV, but I have learned (this goes with the nothing stays the same) that many cats live happily ever after with FIV, they just need more care, longer treatments, and are better if kept indoors. But in general, they do fine.

Anyone want an FIV (potentially) positive kitten???