I apologise beforehand that this will be a rather blog, but I feel it is an important one.
This is Clyde’s FIV/FeLV Story. As I have already mentioned on my instagram page if you follow me @fenrisandfreya, our old chap Clyde was tested before he passed for FIV and FeLV. The blood tests taken were only preliminary bloods as Clyde was in such poor health that the vet didn’t think he would survive even a small amount of blood being taken, but we needed to know what we were dealing with if we were going to be able to help him. Unfortunately the tests showed that there were high traces of urea in his blood, which meant his kidneys had already gone into failure. Also his red blood cells were dangerously low, which meant he was severely anaemic and his white blood cells where really high which meant he was already in the process of fighting an advanced infection. The vet said that from these results he was almost certainly either FIV or FeLV positive, or possibly both. Whilst we will never know 100% everything that was going on with Clyde, I have had experience of an FIV/FeLV positive cat and the symptoms were almost exact as to be 99.9% positive. Clyde was unconscious by this time and the kindest thing was to put him to sleep, so he passed peacefully with me at his side (thanks to our wonderful vets). Dont worry, all the necessary safety precautions were taken. Clyde was cremated individually, as we have decided to do with all our animals that pass, and his ashes were scattered around our garden in all his favourite resting spots 😻💖
Now some backstory on how we ended up here. We knew what we were letting ourselves in for when we first fell for Clyde, he was a scruffy street tom who was constantly full up with a cold. We decided to step in when his symptoms just kept getting worse, instead of better like they usually would. He would usually have one or two bad days and then bounce back. This time was different and we knew we had to do something. He was a stray and wasn’t really that fussed on being petted, unless you had food to offer him and even then he was nervous around people. It took a bit of coaxing to be able to get him indoors and into a cat carrier. We took him to the vets and they confirmed it was cat flu and that since he was a street cat this was probably going to be a regular thing. Covid-19 hadn’t even reached the first stages of becoming a pandemic, so we weren’t overly worried when Clyde decided he would rather be outdoors than indoors while he was being treated.It was a few weeks later whilst still under treatment that Clyde went missing. It took every ounce of willpower for me not to panic as I waited patiently for him to show up. He would sometimes go missing for upto 3 days, so I knew he was also getting fed elsewhere (turns out he was a known stray or community cat, and a regular in a few gardens as we would find out after his passing💖).
6 days later Clyde still hadn’t shown up and I was seriously starting to worry. I just knew there was something not quite right. He had never stayed away this long before so I contacted someone who had also had a cat go missing recently and she pointed me in the direction of Facebook groups for missing pets in our area. I went and joined up and the very first post I saw was Clyde in a cat carrier. Someone had taken him in, he was in a very poorly way and they were waiting for the RSPCA to pick him up as they knew him as a local stray, but the post was a few days old by this time. I tried not to panic as I contacted the lady, but unfortunately (or fortunately, it really is perspective) he had escaped the day before he was to be handed over. I must admit at this point I did totally breakdown, but I wasn’t giving up hope just yet. I carried on searching through posts, contacting people for leads and a few hours later, I had my next lead. A lady in the next street potentially had Clyde confined inside, but he was in seriously bad shape and needed veterinary attention.
It was 9:30pm and by this point we were on lockdown, but she kindly let me come over to check if it was Clyde. Luckily it was our furbaby. Being on lockdown I had no idea what to expect. I called the vets late at night and was advised to give him the rehydrating fluids I already had for him and some food until I could get him to the vets the next morning. When I arrived at the vets, it was so strange handing my cat over to the nurse and not being able to go in with him. With it being a Friday and the weekend meaning skeleton staff at the clinic, I was given the choice of Clyde being sent to their larger practice to receive fluids and care, or I could administer them myself if I was willing to give him round the clock care. The vets advice was that at this point there was nothing they could give Clyde, that I couldn’t give him at home, so it was totally my call. It was simply down to whether his body would survive the next 24 hours. He did survive the weekend, although it was touch and go at one point, and he kept on surviving for a few more days after that. He even managed to eat, drink and use the litter tray unaided (which even the vet was surprised at), so it was a bit of a shock when he collapsed midway into the following week. Clyde was rushed in as an emergency and that was when we learnt more about his condition. Unfortunately street cats, stray or feral, can suffer all sorts of diseases and unfortunate circumstances when they are wandering the streets unneuetered and unvaccinated.As you can imagine it’s very hard to vaccinate and keep track of community cats, which is why it is so important to have cats neutered or spayed. It isn’t simply to stop them reproducing, it also stops them from feeling the urge to wander so far and also to fight for territory or potential mates, who then produce litters that potentially could fall victim to the same life as the parent cat.FIV and FeLV, along with unwanted litters, are the biggest concern in stray or feral cats. The difference between FIV and FeLV is not huge but I will explain as best I have learnt.
FIV is fairly difficult to transmit between cats; the most common mode of transmission is through very deep, intramuscular bite wounds like the kind seen between unneutered males. FIV is passed on through direct contact with saliva and blood. Although it has been known to be passed on during the birthing process if the mother is infected. FIV shares similarities with that of HIV in humans, in that most cats with FIV lead normal, healthy lives and show no symptoms for many years, if at all. FIV eventually weakens the immune system of infected cats, leaving them susceptible to other diseases. A cat usually does not die from FIV, but it may die from a secondary infection that they were unable to fight off because of the FIV.
FeLV is usually spread either through bite wounds or more often through prolonged close contact with an infected cat, and is kind of like the flu in humans, so sneezing or coming in contact with an infected host or any surface they my have touched can also result in infection. Cats with FeLV can have a variety of illnesses, ranging from anemia to leukemia and other cancers, or again, they may show no symptoms at all for many years. It depends on the strain of the virus and how well the cat’s immune system reacts to it. FeLV commonly shortens the lifespan of infected cats, although there is a lot of variation in how long infected cats live and many things that factor into this, such as the age at which they are infected and the treatments they receive to counteract any infections.In both instances, once infected the cat basically has an autoimmune disease. This means any little infection can be potentially life threatening, again depending on how healthy the cat is and the age factor. Healthy, vaccinated cats in the UK are protected against FeLV and if they do come into contact with an infected cat, they will usually either get no symptoms, or mild symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and eyes. Cats in the UK are not vaccinated against FIV as the vaccine isn’t thought to be all that effective. Whilst not all community or stray cats will carry either of these viruses, it is still important to neuter any community cats, so that they don’t fight or produce litters that may possibly be infected.
I’m sure Clyde, being 10 years old when he passed, probably fathered many litters. Had he survived he would have been neutered, and would have been able to receive regular treatments of steroids and antibiotics which would have helped him to live a happy life. Fortunately, he did at least have comfort, warmth and love at the end of his life, some of these cats never know that. I will always be grateful for the small amount of time I had with Clyde and he will forever remain in my heart. That is why I choose to do what I do and provide shelter, food and a friendly place for these community cats. Not all of them will be rehomeable after living on the streets for so long but they can at least have somewhere to rest when they need it. For those that are able to be rehomed, I will be here to transition them into their furever home. So please, the next time you are at a shelter, don’t discount those cats or kittens that may be FIV or FeLV positive, they can still lead happy, healthy and long lives and have so much love to give. All they need is a loving home and someone willing to take care of them.
Thank you for taking the time to read ✌😻
If you would like to donate towards my non-profit small animal rescue and foster you can do so at http://paypal.me/dragonzarcrystals . All donations will be put towards helping animals like Clyde to either find a loving furever home or to be able to have treatment and a loving home during their final days 🌈💖
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