How It Began
A Tale of Two Kitties, Our Experience with Feline Leukemia; It was October 2013 when I first met, and fell in love with, the adorable ball of black fuzz my boyfriend and I later adopted and named Zion. Neither of us would describe ourselves as cat people but he captured our hearts from the moment we laid eyes on him.
Zion, who was named Cashmere by the veterinarian office offering him up for adoption, was found when he was only six weeks old in an apartment complex by a woman who was saving him from being shot by young boys with a BB gun. Due to a lack of space at the vet’s office he was brought to, Zion was staying at the home of one the receptionists temporarily, who happened to be a friend of mine, until a forever home could be found for him. When I went over to her house and first met Zion, I knew immediately that I wanted to adopt him.
After a lot of consideration, and persuasion to convince my boyfriend, we started the process to adopt Zion and we haven’t looked back since. While the first few months of kitten-parenthood were filled with many trials and tribulations- including an emergency trip to the vet on Thanksgiving Day- being able to raise Zion from such a young age and see him grow and develop each day has been a very rewarding experience.
And Then There Were Two
Adopting Zion was a spur of the moment decision, so the idea of getting another cat hadn’t really occurred to us, besides our hands were definitely full with Zion’s rambunctious and relentless energy .However, there were some unforeseen circumstances that turned us into a two-cat household before we even knew it.
Cocoa entered our lives in May of 2014, just eight short months after adopting Zion. Members of my boyfriend’s family were making the move from North Carolina to Florida but couldn’t take their cat Cocoa with them to their new home so we agreed to foster her until they found a pet-friendly location. It took awhile for Cocoa to adjust to her new home- and especially to Zion- but she began to fit into our family quite well so we made arrangements to keep her permanently.
Now fast forward a few months to November of 2014. We began to notice that Cocoa was not eating or drinking. On top of having no desire for food or water, she became really reserved and was sleeping in one spot of our room for what seemed like days. We looked up her symptoms and believed that she could be anemic, a condition where there are not enough red bloods cells to carry oxygen to a cat’s tissues- which can be life-threatening.
As soon as we realized that there could be something seriously wrong with Cocoa we took her to the vet where they confirmed our suspicions that she was dangerously anemic. She was immediately put on medication and sent home with instructions to get as many calories and as much water in her as possible. A couple days later, after Cocoa was seeming to feel better, we got a terrible call from our vet who said that Cocoa had tested positive for feline leukemia, a virus that suppresses the immune system making cats susceptible to deadly infections like anemia or even cancer.
We were devastated when we found out about Cocoa’s sickness. We were even more devastated when we learned how contagious the virus can be and how easily it can be spread from cat to cat. Zion was immediately tested and thankfully he came back negative. We are also thankful that Cocoa’s condition was improving, as that her red blood cell count is back in the normal, but feline leukemia is something she will have to live with for the rest of her life. We must keep her and her environment as stress-free as possible to make sure her immune system doesn’t stop fighting off infections
Our Current Situation
Cocoa and Zion are currently separated in our home until we can figure out a more desirable solution for our cats, because it is not fair to either of them to be confined to certain quarters of the house. Zion has been vaccinated since our scare with feline leukemia, and although he is less likely to catch the virus, there is always a slight possibility that he could and the chance of him being infected is something that lingers in the back of our minds constantly.
Due to the circumstances we find ourselves in with our cats, we are being forced to make the decision to either find a new home for Cocoa, one without cats so she cannot spread the disease, or risk exposing Zion to a virus that has the potential to kill him. It is a very difficult decision to be faced with and I hope daily that we will be able to come up with a solution that keeps our kitty family both together and healthy.