What does the word "adoptable" mean to you? For many animal shelters, especially those who are overcrowded with a constant supply of animals waiting to get in, "adoptable" means an animal who is healthy, friendly, and likely to be quickly adopted.
"Unadoptable" on the other hand, often applies to sick, injured, aggressive, withdrawn or traumatized animals who require extra time, money, and resources that many animal shelters simply do not have available. In high-intake facilities, this can mean the unfortunate reality of euthanasia for pets whose time has simply run out.
Fortunately, strides are being made in the animal welfare world including spay/neuter and humane education, affordable and accessible veterinary care, and training or rehabilitation resources that encourage the retention of pets in the homes they already occupy, and out of shelters.
Still though, plenty of pets fall through the cracks and end up in a small enclosure, waiting and hoping for another chance. If they end up in the care of the SPCA Albrecht Center, they are given every chance to become "adoptable" and placed into new, loving homes.
Two beautiful cats in our shelter right now are sadly counted among the "unadoptable" because of an often misunderstood condition known as FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Rowdy, Sr. and Minion are FIV+. What does this mean for them, and their future?
Here are some FIV facts:
FIV is a slow-acting, feline-only virus that affects a cat's immune system over a period of years.
It is a cat-only disease. The virus cannot be spread to humans or other species.
FIV is NOT easily spread to other cats through casual contact like playing, cuddling, grooming, or sharing food bowls. It CAN be spread through deep, penetrating bite wounds, blood transfusions, and sometimes it can be transmitted from a mother cat to her kittens in the womb.
An FIV+ cat CAN live a long, healthy life if precautions are taken to protect it from other illnesses or diseases that it's weakened immune system may not be able to handle.
FIV+ cats are not "sick" cats. If they are cared for properly, as any pet should be, there are usually no obvious symptoms, and they can be just as loving, playful and wonderful as any other cat.
Another common concern expressed by potential adopters regarding FIV+ cats is the fear of a short life span. While it's true that FIV+ cats have an increased susceptibility to feline illnesses and a decreased ability to fight them off, cats who are kept up-to-date on vaccines and live indoors can live healthy lives of 10-12 years or more.
It's important to remember though that no pet, even those considered completely "adoptable" and healthy, comes with a guarantee that they will remain that way for any number of years. The adoption of any cat, FIV+ or not, any dog, purebred or mutt, and any pet, "adoptable" or not, comes with the risk of one day becoming sick or having a shorter-than-desired lifespan.
This is why it's important to establish a good relationship with your pet's veterinarian and commit to regular check-ups and vaccinations. Don't have a vet? Check out the SPCA Veterinary Care Center for full-service vet care by passionate pet people.
If you're a pet lover though, you know that risk is definitely not without a ton of rewards in the love and loyalty you get in return. With that in mind, back to Rowdy, Sr. and Minion: FIV+, yes, but both are otherwise healthy, handsome, loving cats.
Rowdy, Sr. is a 6 year old male, short-hair orange tabby and Minion is a 3 year old long-hair Russian Blue, also male. They are absolutely best friends and we prefer that they are adopted as a duo and remain together in the same home. Both are neutered, microchipped, declawed, and up-to-date on shots. Their adoption fee is a very affordable zero dollars. Can you give these handsome cats the second chance they deserve?
If you have more questions about FIV or Rowdy Sr. and Minion and whether they'd be a good fit in your family, talk to your vet, or call us at 803-648-6863. Even better, come see us, and the cats, in person at 199 Willow Run Road, in Aiken.
Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. She is an Aiken native and has been with the SPCA since 2012. Sarah lives in Graniteville with her family which includes three adopted cats: Bastian, Luna and Grady, who are all living happy, loved lives thanks to the efforts of the SPCA.