EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this post more than seven years ago, but didn’t publish it. I was waiting for an update on these two kitties in their new home, but I wasn’t able to get one. So this post has languished in my drafts all of this time. I decided to publish it anyway. I’ve been taking photographs of cats for adoption at Wayside Waifs for more than ten years. There are always cats as wonderful as Lester and Oreo, some with HIV, available at Wayside Waifs.
It was the worst of times, but then it was the best of times (to misquote Charles Dickens) for two kitties, Oreo and Lester, who were homeless. They were brought separately to Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, area. Because each cat tested positive for the FIV virus, they were isolated from other cats. The Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus is a slow virus that affects a cat’s immune system, but a cat with FIV can live a long, healthy life if well-cared for with a high-quality diet and kept indoors in a low-stress environment.
Both Oreo and Lester are very friendly and sociable cats, so they were lonely in their own rooms. Staff and volunteers decided to put the two cats together to see how they clicked since they both seemed so easy-going. Like humans, cats have a wide range of personalities, so finding compatible roommates is both an art and a science, which many of the Wayside Waifs staff and volunteers have mastered. Lester, 8 1/2 years old, was introduced to Oreo, almost age two, in his larger room, Cat Fish Cove. They bonded quickly and soon were grooming each other, wrestling and sleeping and snuggling together. Humans should be so lucky to find soul mates like this!
A family fell in love with the pair, and now Lester and Oreo are happily settled in their new forever home.
The medical report on both cats explained their condition: FIV “is an active viral infection results in immunosuppression of the infected individual resulting in an increased susceptibility to secondary infections with other pathogens. The virus is spread through direct contact, although unlike FeLV (which is spread through prolonged intimate contact, such as grooming) FIV is more commonly spread through bite wounds. The virus is not a hardy virus, meaning it dies quickly once outside the body – making spreading via fomites, such as food bowls, unlikely. Positive cats can live long healthy lives as long as any secondary infections are treated properly. However, due to the contagious nature of the disease, they should not live in multiple cat households unless the other cats present are also FIV +.”
Here’s a great article explaining FIV in non-medical terms: FIV: Catching a Bad Case of Rumors