Batgirl is a senior female calico cat who is FIV+. FIV or feline infectious virus is a virus like AIDS in humans which over time, depletes a cat's immune system. FIV is usually seen in male tomcats as it is thought to spread via deep bind wounds, so to see an older female cat with FIV is unusual. However Batgirl came from a household with many cats and may have been exposed to a FIV+ cat there. Through sharing food dishes and mutual grooming, Batgirl may have contracted the virus. Because the virus can spread among cats even if they are not fractious tom cats, Home for Life® believes in segregating our FIV+ cats from our noninfected felines. However, our FIV+ cats enjoy all the amenities of our cats who are negative for the virus, and the same quality care as any cat at Home for Life® - spacious catteries, outdoor runs, lots of natural light, and great food.
Batgirl came to Home for Life® via the Animal Humane Society of Minneapolis. Home for Life® works with the Humane Society to help cats who are not able to be offered for adoption for various reasons usually related to health and behavior concerns. Home for Life® waits for other local rescues who focus on adoption to claim cats off the "alternate placement list" of the Humane Society, and will only take a cat if no other rescue can help and when the Humane Society cannot offer the cat for adoption.
The photo we first received of Batgirl just did not do her justice and she looked like a veritable plain jane. Not surprisingly, with her age and her status as an FIV+ cat, she was passed over by rescues focusing on adoption and was identified as unplaceable by the humane society. Home for Life® agreed to help Batgirl to spare her from euthanasia and went to pick her up at one of the shelter locations. There she was in a crate, patiently waiting for us. We took her out of the cage and we were stunned to find that Batgirl was not a plain jane at all but a stunning, petite, dark calico with beautiful markings of intense orange, black and sparkling white. She was beautiful!
We were so surprised when we opened her crate at the shelter and saw a stunning calico cat.
We very nearly missed our chance to help her - the staff at AHS in charge of outreach reached the shelter branch just in time after they had initially believed she had been passed over for rescue. Then, they called again - because testing Batgirl disclosed she was FIV+ —they called us again, would we still be able to help her? "YES!" we said, "We have our South cattery devoted to our FIV cats."
When we went to pick her up at the Woodbury AHS shelter, we expected a frail, black and white old cat. Instead, when we opened the crate were we surprised to find this beauty, sweet and friendly and ready for her next adventure!
Batgirl was frail after her stint in the shelter, and it took sometime for us to build her up through great food and supportive care such as subcutaneous fluids administered under the skin to help her stay hydrated, and additional feedings to help her gain weight. Batgirl has also struggled with upper respiratory infections periodically—one side effect of FIV is that it challenges a cat's immune system and weakens them over time. However, with great care, nutritious food and a serene environment, Batgirl has rallied and has gained weight and regained her strength and vitality.
Batgirls' story reminds us to never judge a book by it's cover—beyond her plain appearance in her photo from the shelter and FIV+ status was a beautiful, resilient survivor with a lot of life to live at Home for Life.