Worried about well-being of FIV cat living in basement.

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Worried about well-being of FIV cat living in basement.

Post by sloegraffiti » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:38 am

Hello: I have joined this forum because I feel like I'm going a little crazy and need some support. This is a long story...

My husband and I both love cats and as of November 2013, we had 3 cats and a dog. One night we found a stray and naturally took her in. We put her in our basement which is carpeted, warm, and has 3 windows. We named her Hiccup because of the sounds she made after eating. Over the course of 2 months we found out that she was 12 years old, and FIV+.
A visit to the vet also revealed that she has hyperthyroidism and I now give her a medication daily.

I contacted shelters and put ads on Craigslist (both trying to find her last owner OR a new home), but quickly realized that it was highly unlikely that someone would want to adopt a 12 year old cat with FIV and a thyroid condition.
Meanwhile, as the months went by, I began to grow very attached to Hiccup. I would spend at least 3 hours in the basement with her, and little by little it became a cat palace containing a huge cat tree that allows her to look out the window, tons of toys, music playing that calms cats...I even built a little ramp and shelf so she could look out the south facing window and get the full day sun.

In March I finally decided to put up posters with her picture on them, near the place where we found her. Right away I found out that Hiccup had been living in the local Masonic Temple, and was the building 'mascot'. They had cut little doors in the building so she could go in and out, and they fed her. They'd even brought her to the same vet we did, only under a different name (Cedar)! They all thought she had died and were very grateful that she was, in fact, alive and well. They hadn't known she had FIV, or about her thyroid condition - and they understood (thankfully) that she could no longer be outdoors and return to the Mason Temple. They've been wonderful in subsidizing some of the expenses since then. This is already very long, so I won't go into the historical details, but we also learned more about her past, and she has had an extraordinary life, and defied so many odds, so many times.

Recently my husband was awarded a Fulbright to teach and research in Finland from August until May. Naturally I plan to go with him, and because my brother in law will stay at our house, we plan to leave one of our original 3 cats, and bring the other 2, plus the dog. But that leaves Hiccup, and I worry that he will not be as devoted to spending time with her in the basement. As it is, I have become anxious and worried about her well-being to a point that is debilitating. When I'm home and need to work in the yard, or be elsewhere, I think of her all alone and feel terrible. I tell myself that she is safe and happy, and has more human contact than she did at the Mason Hall, but it doesn't always help.

One day it was nice outside so I opened the back door, thinking she might want to get some fresh air and sun. She took 2 steps outside, turned around, meowed, and then zoomed back down to the basement. Our backyard is fenced and quiet, and she used to regularly hang out in the Mason Hall parking lot on a busy street. I tried this on 2 more separate occasions and both times she got very agitated and quickly retreated back to the basement. This tells me she feels safe there, and that should make me happy. But I still worry she is lonely, bored, and that this will only increase after we leave. I've considered finding a temporary home for the young and healthy cat we're leaving behind and then giving Hiccup full reign of the house. This way she could be with my brother-in-law when she wanted, and he wouldn't have to go to any lengths to give her attention. I have 4 months to figure this out but I obsess over it all the time, and feel like I'm losing my mind over this cat. Even though he loves cats, my husband isn't experiencing the anxiety I am.

I know many people house FIV+ cats in separate living quarters, so I was hoping someone could relate, or give me some advice. Also, based on how she behaves when one of our other cats comes to the basement door, I don't feel she would do well with other cats at all. One time, one of our cats started to come into the basement and she freaked out in a major way.

If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this!

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Re: Worried about well-being of FIV cat living in basement.

Post by moira » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:52 am

Hi and welcome to CC. Bless you for caring for this old FIV girl. I guess you are in the States as you mention Craigs list.

The most imporant thing for FIVs is to keep them stress free. It sounds like she feels safe in the basement, and you seem to have made it a palace indeed for her. As long as someone is feeding her and caring for her in your absense I, personally, would not try to rehome her either permanently or in foster as this would stress her out. Being an elderly cat and female it is less likely she will want to wander anyway.

Even though she is an indoor cat, I would have her microchipped. If she were to escape and be picked up by animal welfare she would likely be pts due to her FIV status.

I have 8 FIVs (and 8 non FIVs). If you would like to discuss further please feel free to e-mail me.

Kind regards

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