How FIV Cat Rescue Began
It all started so innocently.
For six years my husband and I had the honor of fostering cats and kittens for the local shelter. Each litter absolutely precious, we loved playing our part in preparing them for forever homes.
Case 1: one of four FIV+ kittens killed
In 2006 we received four beautiful, 3-day-old kittens whose mother had abandoned them. Not to worry, little ones, Momma Frankie is here.
As their surrogate mother, I bottle-fed the babies every two hours for fourteen days, then every four hours for the next fourteen days. After each feeding, I used a soft, wet cloth to rub their bottoms and stimulate their bowels. Kittens can’t do this on their own until they are three weeks old. Momma cats use their tongues, I prefer moistened wipes.
After each feeding, we had a group cuddle. I whispered words of love and encouragement to them while they drifted off to sleep.
I remember when their little blue eyes opened when they were 10 and 11 days old, how their breaths smelled, and how their little claws felt as they took turns climbing up my chest and neck, then squirmed until they were nestled in my hair.
They quickly learned the use the litter box; some more quickly than others. I watched them take their first wobbly steps, start cleaning themselves and their first attempts at mock combat.
It was wonderful to observe them progress from mere gaping, mewling mouths to individual beings, each one with a distinct personality inside that tiny skull.
Finally that proud moment arrived when they were READY. As was customary at 8 weeks old and 2 pounds of body weight, it was time for the shelter to do a quick check-up and the spay/neuter operation.
A few hours later, our lives changed with a phone call.
The shelter announced that the four kittens had tested positive for FIV antibodies. They had been “euthanized”.
I was too numb to speak.
Dead? That cannot be.
Gone, forever? How could that be?
Killed! Why? Why? Why?
Too Little Information, Too Late
We had heard of FIV, but did not really know what it was. A friend called and told me, as I cried, that the kittens should have been retested several months later; that they may not have actually had FIV. They should not have been killed!
That shocked the tears away. Did the shelter knowingly kill my innocent kittens? Or were they innocently ignorant? Neither answer satisfied me.
Adding to my turmoil, I felt guilty that I hadn’t protected them. I should have known about FIV before, I thought, and offered to adopt if they tested positive. I bear that guilt even today.
One of the FIV+ kittens, killed because of outdated information.
How could such healthy, happy kittens have a disease so bad that it warranted death? Was there a cure?
Vigorously, we began to research only to find conflicting information. Facts were all over the map. Then it became obvious. The date of the information was the critical fact.
We learned that while it was at first believed that cats testing positive for FIV were doomed, later studies showed the opposite. Tragically, obsolete thinking (we call them myths) had killed our kittens.
The Myths Live On
Even worse, the myths lived on, even as beautiful, healthy, loving cats all around the world would not. The senseless killing had to stop!
Our little kittens were dead. But their cause is not.
Thus began our journey to rescue and save FIV+ cats and spare others from having their beloved cats killed because of MYTHinformation, ignorance, and fear.
On January 5, 2010, our house was over-flowing with saved cats. We could do no more in that direction. It was time to take it to the next level. FIV Cat Rescue officially became a registered nonprofit corporation with a worthy mission: stop the killing of healthy cats and kittens who test positive for FIV antibodies.