This is a story about a cat.
It was a typical Myrtle Beach day about 4 years ago. I was inside doing work, when I noticed our two inside cats were paying attention to something outside.
For anyone who has indoor cats, this is not an unusual occurrence. Typically they see a bug, bird, or squirrel and get all worked up. This time however, I looked out to see a cat limping around in our backyard.
As an animal lover, I immediately went outside to see what was wrong with the cat. He was a very healthy looking cat (definitely not underfed), but it seemed he couldn’t put any weight on one of his hind legs. He didn’t seem to be in too much pain, but he was having a hard time getting around.
Carolina Forest, a neighborhood right outside of Myrtle Beach, isn’t the best place for an injured cat to be wandering around. I put him in a separate room of our house to let him get rest and food.
He was one of those very friendly cats, who just starts purring when you walk in the room. He was great!
I wanted to keep him apart from our cats just in case they didn’t get along, or just in case he was carrying a disease which could be transmitted to our cats.
The Next Few Days
My first thought was he belonged in our neighborhood and he got away from his owner. I spent the first day printing out lost and found flyers and distributing them throughout the area.
The next day, I took him to the vet to see if he was microchipped. No luck!
After the days ticked off, it was apparent nobody was coming to claim this tabby color cat.
We already had three cats, and certainly were not looking for a fourth, but we still wanted to take him to the vet to get his leg and health checked out.
After some inspection of his leg, which he still couldn’t put weight on, the vet at Cat’s Meow determined he was bitten by a snake and had been dealing with this issue for awhile.
The vet recommended some blood tests to make sure he was healthy before putting him around our cats, or before looking at potential homes for him to be adopted into.
The Bad News
I can still remember the road I was on, and who I was in the car with when I got this call.
It was the Cat’s Meow Animal Hospital calling with the lab results. She said, “I regret to inform you, but the tabby cat you brought to us tested positive for feline AIDS.”
My heart sank. I could feel his chances of adoption going out the window.
I was very unfamiliar with feline AIDS, so I asked the vet what they felt was the most humane thing to do. They recommended euthanasia may be the best option given his circumstance, and unfortunately I agreed.
I let them know that when my wife got off work she would come to the office to be with him during those final few minutes.
I called back Sav-R-Cats, who I had been in touch with about finding him a home, and left the bad news on their voicemail.
An Unexpected Call
I was consigned to the fact that this was the only thing which could be done. Until I got this next phone call.
It was the director of Sav-R-Cats. She was wondering if we still had this tabby cat who had been diagnosed with feline AIDS.
She told me of a lady in Darlington, SC who had three cats, all with feline AIDS, who had just recently had a tabby color cat pass away. She was looking for a new cat with feline AIDS she could provide a home for. Our tabby color feline AIDS cat was a perfect match!
My wife had already texted me letting me know she was at the office to be with the cat during the process.
My next frantic call was to Cat’s Meow Animal Hospital. I was probably screaming into the phone when they picked up.
“DON’T PUT THAT CAT TO SLEEP”
I asked her if they had euthanized the cat yet, and she said, “I don’t think they have completely done it yet.”.
My wife tells me they had already done the first injection to calm the cat, when the office manager ran in and told them to stop the procedure because we found a home for him.
It took him a a few hours to wake up, and Cat’s Meow was kind enough to hold on to him until he was able to travel.
It’s Not A Death Sentence
When you hear “feline AIDS” most people think it’s a death sentence for a cat. The reality is that a cat with feline AIDS can go on to live a long and relatively healthy life.
According to PetMD,“Within 4.5 to 6 years after the time of infections, about 20 percent of cats die; however, over 50 percent will remain without clinical signs of the disease.”
Infected cats can pass it on to non-infected cats through things such as bite wounds and scratches so it is important to keep them apart.
However, if you only are ever planning on having one cat than you can absolutely adopt a cat with feline AIDS. Unfortunately, many cats with feline AIDS are not adopted because of the stigma which goes with it.
A Happy Ending
The next day we drove him to Darlington, SC where he was united with his new family. His new owner couldn’t believe how close he was to not making it, so it was only fitting she named him Lucky.
He now lives with two other cats who also have feline AIDS. He lives a normal cat life, despite not regaining use of his snakebitten leg.
We still get updates on him about once a year, and all I can think is how Lucky he really is.