It was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. The previous month, my cat Whisper had passed away in my arms, and I was reeling from the experience of his death and still grieving. We'd been out of town for the holiday and when we returned (to make matters worse!) our dog had gone missing. In our efforts to find her, I went looking at the Humane Society website for tips. There, on their front page, they had information about their "Black Friday" sale, in which black dogs and cats (or those who were mostly black) were discounted heavily ($10 for cats and $50 for dogs if I recall correctly). Later that night we discovered that our dog was waiting at Animal Control for us to pick her up. And Friday, we went to the Humane Society to look at black cats in the hopes of finding one we fell in love with.
We were told that the blue corridors were all cats and the yellow were all dogs. We went down through the cat rooms one at a time, and eventually came upon a "free roaming" room, where the cats weren't kept caged and could access windows to see outside all they wanted, but not get outside. It was only ten or so minutes after letting ourselves in that we realized that we were alone. Perturbed, I stood up and checked out the environment a bit more thoroughly. What I discovered had me scrubbing my hands to get the "germs" off of them and ready to exit when the volunteer entered the room. Nothing guilts you more at an animal shelter than a well-meaning volunteer, and we wound up hanging out in the room a bit longer.
The volunteer didn't talk about FIV, but I thought I knew what it was. Mentally I was comparing and relating it to FeLV (the feline leukemia virus). It was during this initial chat that we met Guinevere, a beautiful dilute torbie. We were beginning to fall in love with her, and I kept going back and forth to pick up her card, looking it over, then putting it back, telling myself I couldn't take on a cat who was just going to die. I'd done it with pet rats before and I couldn't do it with a pet cat. There was simply no way I could do it.
She was a "staff favorite," which meant that there was $25 off on her adoption fee of $35. Not a black kitten like we'd come in for, but $10 nonetheless and we were in love. Well, I should say I was in love, because my friend, Michelle, was not convinced of Guinevere. I, on the other hand, had once known a cat with a similar personality and I think she's perfectly amazing. I convinced her, and we went back to put in an application for Guinevere, knowing already that we were adopting a cat with a serious and potentially fatal illness. But, much to our benefit, the shelter had posted a copy of FIV: Catching a Bad Case of Rumors on the door. We knew she wouldn't pass it on to our other three cats and we knew that she would likely live into her teens.
It was taking up to two hours to process applications that night, and the staff suggested that we go back into the free-roaming room to visit with Guinevere. But by the time that we got there, she had wedged herself on top of a cat condo near the ceiling and we couldn't convince her to come down (she's shy, and suffers with depression). So we sat down to spend some time with other cats who don't get much love thanks to those three devastating letters. And that's when we met Quinn.
I was petting him while he sat on a table, but as it got later (and darker) the cats were waking up, and he jumped down off the table. I'd been pleased with him anyway because he's chubby and he's smooth coated and he's absolutely beautiful (look at those pictures!). But when he hopped down on three legs instead of four, I was taken. I added him immediately to the application.
We had to go through a process to adopt the cats. There was an interview process that wasn't necessary for adopters of "normal" cats. We had to talk to a vet and prove that we understood their condition and the care necessary for them. But in the end, we came home with two new additions to our family, adding them to our three cats, two sugar gliders and our Rottweiler.
Adopting these two cats has been an amazing experience and I'm glad that we brought them into our lives. Here are some reasons why you should consider adopting an FIV+ cat from your local shelter.