Homing a kitten with cat flu

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susand
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Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by susand » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:06 pm

Help! I have a healthy 11 year old cat, Walter who seems a bit lonely following the death of his friend just before Christmas so I decided to find him another companion. I chose a 5 month old kitten from the rspca a couple of weeks ago, Saturday before last, which I’d seen on their website. When I turned up to see her in the flesh I was told that the cattery was closed because a cat ‘was sneezing’, although ‘my’ kitty was fine and as I’d come just to see that particular cat, I could go to her pen to see her, which I did and she did indeed seem fine. I was supposed to collect her following a home check but got a call on the Wednesday before last saying I couldn’t collect her just yet because she’d developed “the snuffles” and they wanted to keep her there until she was better. I asked if it was something serious but was told no, that it was just a bit of a cold and she’d be fine.

I phoned on Monday and was told she was completely well now as far as the cattery staff could tell but that she couldn’t be released to me until a vet check, which was yesterday. Up till that point I was given the impression that her illness wasn’t that big a deal but when I phoned for an update yesterday I was told the vet had advised that I can’t take the cat till Sunday, so it 7 days since she became asymptotic and also that I should keep her isolated in a separate room for a further week to minimise the risk to my other cat.

This worried me so I phoned my own vet today for advice. Really I was just hoping for reassurance but that’s not what I got! She advised me not to take the cat and said there was about a 50% chance that my new kitty will have ongoing health issues that could be serious and said there could be a risk of Walter contracting it and a 2 week quarantine was a bit of a nonsense as the cat has a good chance of being a lifelong carrier who could infect Walter at anytime. We don’t know what type of cat flu the kitten has and Walter is not immunised against Chlymidia because they don’t do it at my vets and although he is immunised against the other 2 main types of cat flu, it doesn’t mean he can’t still catch it apparently.

I’m really in a quandary. I have a responsibility to Walter but wonder if my vet is being over cautious. Emotionally it’s hard for me because I’ve spent 2 weeks thinking this little cat is ‘mine’ and I’ll feel like I’m abandoning her if I back out of the adoption now, which I will be of course.

Advice greatly appreciated!

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by booktigger » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:46 pm

Taking on cats who have had flu is a gamble unfortunately, my neighbour took 3 siblings from me who had cat flu, one has a regular weepy eye, one has had to have teeth removed and the third has had nothing! And your vet is right, isolating initially is no guarantee, stressful times are more likely to make them shed so she would be higher risk for the first couple of weeks, but anything else could cause a flare up. Surprised your vet doesn't vaccinate against chlamydia, thought it was a standard vaccine. And yes, vaccinations don't guarantee get wont get it, but it should be less severe

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by papa cat » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:04 pm

You could seek the opinion of a third vet.

My 'gut reaction' is that the RSPCA is possibly keen to home all of its cats almost regardless of any problems and that their vet just might be influenced by that.
It is so very sad that this kitten has developed cat flu, but right now that is not your problem, and if your own vet is saying it may be a lifetime carrier, it is not one you would wish to bring to your own household.

Your own cat has no idea of your plans so he will not be disappointed by the kitten not coming, only you will be. Maybe select another kitten from different source and that will ease your own disappointment.
Last edited by papa cat on Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by fjm » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:17 pm

I would pass, and seek a cat or kitten from a rescue with more effective infection control. Yes, you will feel briefly sad at not being able to bring this kitten home, but that is nothing to the anxiety you would feel if she gave Walter cat flu, which could be dangerous at his age. The RSPCA must know that once infected cats can be lifelong carriers (https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/ ... t-managed/) - it is not a risk I would want to take.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by Mollycat » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:41 pm

I am not a fan of the RSPCA but like you I would have guilt pangs having agreed to take on a cat then finding there is a problem and walking away, though what would you do if you took on this kitten or another and it really couldn't work between them? But that said your number one responsibility is to Walter and his health.

Taking on a new cat and especially a kitten as a companion for an older recently bereaved cat can be quite a lottery anyway. Some cats do not take well to a 'replacement' friend, especially a boisterous kitten when they are needing more calm as they get older. It may work very well or it can be very stressful for everyone and occasionally despite all best efforts it just does not work. My own 12-13 year old Molly is now an only cat since we lost Boo in August, I think she does miss the company but I also don't think she would take kindly to a new friend. She was an only cat in her old home and was brought here because Boo couldn't stand being alone, and it only worked because he was already here and extremely gentle.

Only you can judge whether Walter needs a young friend, an older friend or just time to grieve before settling into being the centre of attention. But I definitely wouldn't settle for a kitten with health problems on top of all the challenges you may face already. Cats do grieve in their own way, some like my old Henry are quite a worry for months after losing a companion, 8 months I think it was for him. Others seem to get on with their lives quite quickly or the changes may be very subtle.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by susand » Thu Feb 27, 2020 10:44 pm

Thank you for your replies. I was kind of hoping you would tell me my vet was wrong but it looks like I'm going to have to do the right thing by Walter and back out of the adoption. Its so sad. She is such a sweet little cat.

Booktigger - the explanation my vet gave regarding the Chlamydia vaccine is that it can have bad side effects so their practice doesn't offer it.

Mollycat - I completely get where you are coming from regarding the choice of a new cat. It's a long story. I'll tell it now: Had 2 cats George and Toes. George died a couple of years ago, Toes was distraught and was not himself at all. Several vet checks, all diagnosed grief. One vet thought a new friend might help but to get a cat the same age (12). Cats Protection offered me Parsley, who liked other cats and was a similar age to Toes, but did have renal impairment, which was said to be mild. The very afternoon the home check was done for Parsley's adoption, Toes collapsed and had to be PTS (turns out there was more to his behaviour change than grief).

Since I was halfway through adopting Parsley, I thought I'd take him anyway as I'd feel bad otherwise. As I'd been told he liked other cats, I thought I'd best get him a friend, cue Walter, who also likes other cats.

Now Parsley has died (his renal impairment did for him) Walter, who really does get on with other cats (no hissing at all when he and Parsley were introduced and they were curling up together within a week), doesn't seem bereft by the loss of Parsley, since he only knew him for a short time, but he refuses to go out ( there is a catflap but he doesn't use it unless its really, really sunny weather, so hasn't been out since August) and as I work, he is alone in the house with no stimulation for long periods and seems much more clingy to me than he used to be so I thought a bit of feline company might be good for him.

Not keen to take yet another old soldier as, naturally, they dont live that long and I don't want to be burying any more cats anytime soon for a number of reasons. This latest cat, who I was going to call Dora, was advertised as being able to be homed with another cat and was in a pen playing happily with her sisters so I thought she'd be ideal.

Oh well.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by booktigger » Thu Feb 27, 2020 11:19 pm

Mollycat has a very good point, older cats and single kittens aren't always a good match, when I was homing it wasn't something I advocated (mainly the reason my neighbour adopted 3!), for the reasons mentioned. While Walter may have been fine with Toes, that was likely age and temperament, a kitten used to siblings is different.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by Mollycat » Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:47 am

Ah I get you, yes this is for Walter then, and yes it is hard when we go through a phase in our lives of one loss after the other.

Have you tried any of the smaller local rescues? They might be better at helping you find the right match for both you and Walter and some have their rescues in foster homes not cages where they can be better assessed and at less risk of cattery diseases.

They say advice is something we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't, I always think there is quite a good measure of truth in that idea.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by susand » Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:40 am

Thank you. This whole experience has quite put me off the whole idea of getting another cat, especially as you and Booktigger are both right that a young cat is probably not a good match for a chap in his twilight years (although many chaps of the human variety would heartily disagree, I am sure!).

I really don't want another elderly kitty who I have to say goodbye to within a couple of years, with all the heartache that brings (not to mention the vets bills). I was misled by the RSPCA, which I'm really angry about, and if you can't trust the RSPCA, who can you trust? So, I may just leave Wally as a single cat.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by Mollycat » Fri Feb 28, 2020 7:16 am

Unfortunately I haven't trusted the RSPCA for years, they are great as a law enforcement organisation but some of their rescue practices leave me very uncomfortable.

There is a whole age range between kitten and elderly that might suit, please don't let us put you off if you feel a friend is the right decision for Walter. Lots of smaller rescues would be happy to help you find a good match to suit him and you. My local rescue is Bristol and Wales Cat Rescue and they completely put me at ease when I rang them with a long list of "demands" - indoor only, for my friendly boy, small space so can't risk them not getting on, I felt like a right Madam! But they really understood the issues and warned it might be a while but by a stroke of fate Molly landed on their books as a home to home. They put us in touch after speaking to me and Molly's owner, we spoke several times and she was happy that her girl was going to the right home and that was that. Thank goodness she never went into a rescue environment. I'm sure she would have been wrongly assessed as her true loving nature took months and years to slowly emerge.

Maybe ring some small local rescues near you and talk it over? Someone may have just the perfect 5 year old for you, still young and playful with many years left but calm enough to be Walter's friend. I've never understood how anyone can properly assess a cat's character when it is in a pen and seen by a dozen different volunteer workers anyway, to be honest.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by Ruth B » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:35 am

Don't give up, but take some time to think about what you really want to do. It sounds like things have been rather tough on you lately, losing a cat, then having to cope with your own grief as well as Walter's, and then the problems with the RSPCA and the cat you had hoped to adopt, it all adds up to a lot of stress and bad decision get made when we are stressed, Walter certainly won't come to any harm for being an only cat for a bit longer while you decide what is best.

Like Mollycat, I have very little faith in the RSPCA, I don't believe that an organisation responsible for sorting out the prosecution of criminals should rely on charity donations, and then have to try and split those donations between the criminal investigations and caring for and rehoming animals. I too would advise you to look at the smaller charities in you area and talk to the volunteers there, a cat that is 5 to 8 years old should still be around in 10+ years time, and if you pick one with the right personality could be a wonderful companion to Walter and to you.

I normally have cats in pairs so they can be company to each other, and on a couple of occasions have had the feeling that I needed to get another cat fast, and on both those times it worked well. However I did make a bit of a mistake the last time I decided to adopt. My 16 year old Ragdoll suddenly succumbed to old age, and I was left with another cat in her early teens. Facing the fact that she might have to go in the next few years and like you not wanting to face having to keep putting cats down in quick succession I opted for a pair of youngsters. I got 2 cats each about 6 months old thinking they would play together and leave my golden oldie alone. I was wrong. Saturn my young lad, started to tease her something rotten, never anything really aggressive, but annoying to her, just like a teenage youth will think it amusing to antagonise the elderly lady living on their street just for kicks. Fortunately Tiggy my elderly lady, had a really good right hook and wasn't afraid to use it on him. Freyja my young girl was a nervous cat and totally unhandleble, I knew this when I got her and it was one reason I adopted the pair, her and Saturn were fairly close and I felt I had the experience to take on a cat that wasn't quite straight forward, one of the people at the rescue admitted they were surprised when I said yes, they thought she would be a permanent resident as who would want a cat they couldn't touch and could barely see at the viewing. While she may have been friends with Saturn at the rescue, when she came here and introductions had been made she decided she preferred Tiggy's company to Saturn who was getting a bit too boisterous in his play for her liking. Tiggy wasn't really happy at being followed everywhere by Freyja but fortunately had some high level hidey holes where she could get some peace and quiet. Four years on I know I made a mistake but I have made it work. Tiggy is still with us, but it is a constant worry about how long she will be, Saturn is just about calming down and maturing, and Freyja is still following Tiggy like a little shadow and taking her lead from her, which means that we can actually fuss her as long as Tiggy is close by.

In the end, it was a small rescue, and i knew if things really did not work out I could contact them and they would have one or both back. This is something i have done once in the past, I lived in a complete nightmare for 3 months when i had adopted a cat that would not integrate with the two i had at the time. The stress levels in the house were sky high, all three cats were soiling everywhere and it was getting worse, so with a broken heart I handed the newcomer back. I spent a long time feeling guilty that i hadn't made it work, then spent a long time reading books on cat behaviour and finally realised I had done the best thing possible for all concerned. My two returned to their good behaviour and I heard that the cat I adopted had also started to behave the moment she was separated from them and was rehomed as an only cat. Try not to feel guilty about not adopting the cat from the RSPCA on health grounds, in the end Walter's welfare has to come first, and hard decisions like that can be the best thing in the end.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by susand » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:15 pm

Thanks to everyone for their support in helping me make the difficult but right decision. I phoned the rescue centre this morning and spoke to the manager there. She was very supportive and said she wouldn’t take a cat with cat flu either! Apparently, staff are supposed to do things a bit differently in cases where the adopter has another cat in the home and that protocol didn’t seem to have been followed in my case.

She did point out that any cat I take could be a carrier even if they have no history of symptoms, which makes me wonder about the wisdom of turning down this cat (who’s symptoms were very mild and fleeting) only to go off in search of another.

You are right I think Ruth, it has been a stressful time and I do risk making a mistake so I’m going to step back. I’m not even completely sure that Walter is unhappy being on his own. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just ask them? When I originally got him he had a bald tummy from overgrooming in the shelter and his fur grew back quite quickly once he settled in with me. No bald patches have reappeared so may be he is just fine.

I’ll see how it goes. If it is meant to be, I will end up with another cat, if not, I won’t.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by Mollycat » Fri Feb 28, 2020 9:49 pm

Take your cue from Walter, that makes sense. If this is any help at all my indoor/outdoor Henry would go recruiting for a friend himself, whereas indoor Boo let me know he needed company by running to the window calling and calling any time he heard a cat outside. It was so pitiful. Within just a few weeks of moving in he became so stressed when I went out his fur was full of static and he would just cry and cry. It got so bad I could hardly bear to take the rubbish out, he was so desperate for company. You know Walter best, he will let you know his own way. Either that or something will happen to land a cat on you - they have a way of finding their way to the right person at the right time.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by booktigger » Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:38 am

I'm glad the manager was supportive and they wouldn't normally home a cat that has shown symptoms with an existing cat. While she is right that you cant guarantee another cat won't, the difference is you wouldn't have done it knowingly. As he has a history of over grooming, it would be obvious if he was bothered by being an only cat.

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Re: Homing a kitten with cat flu

Post by susand » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:06 pm

Thanks both. We'll see what happens. I'll try and give Walter as much enrichment as I can by playing with him often (he may be a golden oldy but he still goes nuts for a bunch of feathers on the end of a stick) and if another cat comes along, well we'll see, but I don't think I'm going looking unless I get a clear sign that he is definitely unhappy as an only cat.

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