Feline Immunodeficiency Virus; Not as scary as you think!

Walter Croncat arrived to the Isle as a stray. Luckily, he tested negative for FIV.

Also known as FIV, the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease that affects up to 3% of healthy cats in the United States every year, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The disease attacks a cat’s immune system and can leave carriers vulnerable to secondary infections.

It’s important to have strays checked for FIV prior to adoption. Alice Cooper, pictured here, tested negative for the virus.

FIV is primarily transmitted via deep bite wounds and, less commonly, via transmission from a mother cat to her kittens during birth or through infected milk. Similar to the AIDS virus in humans, FIV must replicate inside white blood cells known as T-lymphocytes. The virus then spreads through the lymphatic system and may cause enlarged lymph nodes, fever, and lethargy as it progresses. Since the primary method of transmission is via deep puncture wounds, it is less likely for the virus to be passed amongst cats in households where a stable social structure has been established. In fact, many shelters now house well-socialized FIV positive and negative cats together without fear of transmission.

Should I adopt an FIV+ cat?

Many people are understandably concerned when they first hear that an adoptable cat has tested positive for FIV. They are concerned that other animals in the household may be exposed to the virus or that their newly adopted pet will come with a host of expensive medical needs.

One-Eyed Jack tested positive for FIV shortly after arriving to our rescue.

Luckily, FIV+ cats that receive the proper care can live relatively normal lives. It is recommended that you take your FIV+ cat to your veterinarian every six months for routine wellness exams, but typically there are no maintenance medications or treatments that are required. Most vets recommend that FIV+ cats avoid raw diets to avoid the risk of parasitic and food-borne infections. Be sure to keep all cats in the household up to date on vaccinations, and watch your FIV kitty for signs of weight loss, decreased appetite, or lethargy.

The FIV virus can only live outside the body for a few hours in most environments. Additionally, it is only transmissible between cats, meaning other pets and human family members need not worry about contracting the virus.

Our FIV+ cat, Jack, when he was still living life as an abandoned stray.

Although there is currently no cure for FIV, with effective management, cats living with the disease can live relatively normal lives. I highly encourage anyone looking to adopt a cat to check out the FIV kitties at your local shelter, as they are often passed over by adopters. We currently have an FIV+ cat named One-Eyed Jack living here at The Isle. He is as happy and active as any other cat in our rescue, and is currently looking for a forever home. If you think you might be interested in adopting Jack, see this post for more information. If you live in the Tampa Bay area and would like to check out other FIV+ cats available for adoption, check out the adoptable over at Friends of Strays Animal Shelter or Pet Pal Animal Shelter.

Meet One-Eyed Jack!

This is the excerpt for a featured content post.

On April 6, 2019, the Isle of Misfits welcomed handsome One-Eyed Jack! After his previous owners moved away, Jack was left all alone as a stray in Largo, FL.  Poor Jack had a rough time on the streets, as he was attacked by other neighborhood cats, leaving him with a torn ear and punctured eye.  A kind neighbor took Jack in temporarily and placed an ad on Craigslist in an attempt to find Jack a new home.

Jack’s ad on Craigslist.

The Craigslist post was emailed to me by one of our Instagram friends, and by 9:00 AM the next day I was on my way to pick up Jack.

I brought Jack home and quarantined him in my guest bathroom until I could get him in to see my veterinarian. Jack was incredibly shy at first, and barely left his crate for the first two days.

During his first vet visit, we learned that Jack was positive for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). You can learn more about FIV here. Our vet surmised that Jack likely contracted the virus when he sustained his ear and eye injury as a stray.

Jack at his first veterinary visit.

The rest of Jack’s labs came back completely normal, and the vet estimated that he was about a year old. After receiving a clean bill of health, we scheduled a neuter surgery and prepared to find Jack a forever home!

It didn’t take Jack long to settle in here at The Isle, and before long he had assimilated into our pack of misfits. Jack now spends his days playing with our other resident cat, Walter Croncat, and sunning his buns in the living room window. He’s an absolute joy to have around and would do well in just about any home. To inquire about adopting One-Eyed Jack, email islandofmisfitchihuahuas@gmail.com for more information!

Handsome One-Eyed Jack is available for adoption!

Peter Jennings

I have chihuahuas.  A lot of them.  More than a couple…. Okay, four.  I have FOUR chihuahuas.  Don’t judge me, I can explain.  It all started with Peter Jennings…

I was 22, fresh out of college, and working as a waitress in Lexington, Kentucky, when I met the love of my life.  He was six weeks old, and only weighed 1.5 pounds when I met him.  He was a tiny Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix that was brought to the restaurant by one of our regular customers.  The customer’s female dog had just had an unexpected litter of puppies (this is why we spay/neuter), and he was looking to either give the pups away or ditch them somewhere.  Naturally, I took them all.

baby PJ
He looked like a kitten!

I brought the pups home in a box that had formerly housed a crock-pot.  They looked like little black hamsters scrambling around the bottom, and as soon as I sat them down, Peter began to trample his smaller siblings in an effort to get to me.  He was handsome and debonair, just like my favorite ABC news anchor, and I knew immediately that he was “the one.”  I was able to find homes for his siblings, and “PJ,” as he came to be called, stayed with me and became my constant companion.  That was ten years, and about five dogs ago.

 

pj life jacket
Doesn’t he look just thrilled to be in that life jacket?

Since that time, Peter Jennings and I have been inseparable.  I had always considered myself to be more of a “big dog” kind of girl, but one look from those bugged-out chihuahua eyes, and I was done.  When PJ was only three, he herniated a disc in his back and was temporarily paralyzed.  I was still a fairly inexperienced dog owner at that point, and was seriously considering the possibility of putting down my best friend.  Surgery was expensive and risky, and it was not  guaranteed that Peter would ever fully recover.  After much debating, and many vet visits, we decided to put PJ on a 6 week crate confinement and steroid regimen.  Once he was out of “crate jail,” I started taking him swimming in the lake to regain the strength he had lost in his hind legs.  Over time, PJ made a full recovery, and to this day, is able to enjoy walks and swims with his brothers.  I formed a deep bond while taking care of my inured little buddy, and as the years went by, more and more “handicapable” dogs found their way into my family.  There was the geriatric and morbidly obese “Tito,” followed by one-eyed “Abraham,” then paraplegic “Charlie,” and finally hairless “Harvey” with the autoimmune disease.  Tito passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 13, and the rest of the boys and I now live in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida.  There is definitely never a dull moment around here, and I sometimes feel as though I’m running a one-woman kennel, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  Taking care of these specially-abled pups is one of my greatest joys, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

UPDATE:  Peter gained his angel wings and crossed the rainbow bridge in the Fall of 2017.  He was a beloved companion for 11 years, and I will continue to adopt the “un-adoptable” in his memory.