As of today, the orange tiger kitten
is no longer part of the household at Tsarskoe Tsocko.
Two days after I announced his arrival I got a call from the vet to tell me that his ELISA test had come back positive for FELV.
For the uninitiated… FELV is Feline Leukemia, and for cats it is the equivalent not so much of human leukemia as of human AIDS - it’s an incurable autoimmune disorder, and it’s highly contagious to other cats.
The ELISA test, for a number of reasons, is not definitive, so we scheduled him for the more $$$ophisticated IFA test.
It too came back positive. FELV isn’t dangerous to people or dogs - in fact, it isn’t dangerous to anyone or anything except uninfected cats. Uninfected cats like Ptolemy and Juliet. There’s a vaccine, and Pt and Ju have had it, but it’s not a good gamble. So, as of last Wednesday - I knew there was no way I could keep him.
Wednesday was very, very bad.
But this is the turning point in the story, the place where things start looking up.
Asymptomatic FELV+ cats can live pretty long and otherwise healthy lives - they just can’t mix with uninfected cats, for obvious reasons.
I didn’t have it together, that first day, to start calling shelters or posting appeals or generally initiate the campaign to place him. But I did do a little quick googling, and on impulse I registered on this site and placed an ad. Couldn’t hurt, I figured. Right?
Right. Very right. Astonishingly, I got an e-mail the next day from a nice lady who had seen the ad. She had a FELV+ cat and had been trying to find a companion kitten - preferably orange - for nearly two years. Not such an easy proposition, because if you have an infected cat you can’t adopt a healthy kitten, and most good shelters won’t knowingly offer any other kind. She had tried her luck with strays and her luck had been bad - I think she said she’d lost two in a row to upper respiratory infections. Not an issue for this kitten; he had one when I got him but it had fully cleared up on antibiotics. So I sent her the link to the blog posts with pictures and video. She came back hooked.
Next problem: she’s in Massachusetts, a 4-5-hour drive from here. Not an insuperable obstacle, but a little awkward for me during the run-up to Rhinebeck, when I already have 210 places to put every waking minute and then some. We started trying to figure out the logistics of meeting somewhere in the middle.
That evening, I’m on the phone with my friend Lauren, and I’m telling her the good news, and when she hears where it is she says, “you DO realize, right, that I’m driving right past there on Monday…?”
I literally gasp. If you’ve been around the blog for a while you’ve encountered Lauren before and you may already know that she is the reason I have Juliet and don’t have Morgan, a double blessing. Over and above that she is my go-to girl for Everything Cat, especially Everything Cat-Rescue. She’s been involved in the good work for decades and there’s not a whole lot she doesn’t know about it.
In my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine a more perfect messenger for this particular errand.
So today was the day. I packed up the kitten and his luggage and all his vet records for travel, and I took him to Lauren, and we both cooed over him for a while and took a lot of pictures.
(Look - his eyes are just starting to change to their real color. You can still see baby blue around the edges, but in the middle they’re already going green.)
And then she set off. And I waited.
And I just now got the call. So NOW I can go erase all those shelter phone numbers off the whiteboard, and figure out how to convert my ad to a successful adoption announcement. Because at the meetup Lauren made all the appropriate disclaimers including “and if you change your mind…” but by that time the lady had already seen this:
- and without missing a beat she said “We’re keeping him!”
So he haz new mum again, and new dad, and a big sister-cat to keep him in line (he’s been getting a little rambunctious and mouthy lately, and it will totally do him good to have somebody show him who’s boss), and there are three kids in the family (6-10), and… well, short of the sudden discovery of a miracle cure, this is about as good as a scenario can get. Plus there’s all this karmic alignment of things and people being in the right place at the right time, and you just know that Ceiling Cat had a plan here all along, and it was a good one.
Bathroom does seem kind of empty, though.