Izumi is one of our younger cats of Home for Life's feline leukemia ward. Izumi (pronounced I-zu-mi) was given her name by her loving foster. Izumi is generally considered a girl's name and is Japanese, the name meaning "spring" or "fountain." When Izumi came to Home for Life as about a five month old kitten from a rescue group in North Carolina, we thought the name was perfect for her because she truly is a fountain of energy with what seems like springs in her back legs. In fact, she is so active and full of fun, dashing from one end of the cattery to the other, that we considered spelling her name I-zoom-whee!
Izumi has beautiful long hair with brown tabby and white markings, yellow eyes and an extraordinary plume of a tail. When rescued as a stray kitten in North Carolina, she underwent routine screening for Leukemia, a deadly and contagious virus in cats. Sadly, Izumi was positive. The rescue, and particularly her foster, were heartbroken at the thought of euthanizing this small kitten so full of life. With even healthy cats and kittens struggling to find homes, they knew Izumi's adoption prospects were minimal in North Carolina. In researching alternatives to putting Izumi down, the rescue learned of Home for Life and our special efforts to help feline Leukemia cats. Cats who are positive for Leukemia generally have shorter lifespans than cats who are uninfected, but can often live many years in good health. They need only be kept separated from cats who are uninfected. Home for Life was a pioneer in advocating for feline Leukemia positive cats who, not too long ago, were routinely euthanized by most rescues and shelters even if these kittens and cats were healthy and asymptomatic for the disease. Many rescues and shelters have visited our feline leukemia facility and have seen first hand that our cats are robust and active, capable of living quality lives in a protected setting suited for their needs.
Izumi was only about 5 months old when she first came to Home for Life, and was long the youngest cat of our small group of feline Leukemia cats. As the older cats looked on, Izumi invented her own daily activities, playing by herself for hours on end. Her favorite pursuit is to chase an imaginary friend from one end of the cattery to the other. Even as a kitten Izumi was very independent and valued her personal space. She prefers the "ambient" attention from other cats and people- she likes them around but has never liked to cuddle. With people she is gentle but shy, and is not big on being held. She is very quiet, and it seems she has yet to meow in the entire time she's been at the sanctuary. To have the space of the cattery, and the large outdoor run accessible by cat doors has been a boon to her quality of life.
This spring Home for Life accepted three young siblings, Fred, Percy and Minerva, from a Wisconsin rescue. This rescue helped them after they were caught in a trap/neuter project in Madison Wisconsin, and found to be Leukemia positive. The three cats, just about a year old, are contemporaries of Izumi, and have been thrilled to have the space to run and chase after having to be more confined when fostered. While our older cats were never unfriendly to Izumi, they didn't have interest in running and playing with her. But now, with three new playmates her own age, Izumi at last has friends who can keep up with her. After a full day of play, Izumi locates a spot on the loveseat or a soft perch on one of the cat trees to rest and rejuvenate. She has always seemed almost contemplative in her quiet demeanor - there seems no in between for Izumi -she's either running and playing, or quietly resting and watching, thinking about her next move.
Life may be short but it's wide for our young leukemia cats like Izumi who have the opportunity to make the most of whatever their time may be, safe, cherished and loved at Home for Life.