Should you adopt a cat with a diagnosed illness?

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There are a lot of practical considerations when you are thinking about adopting a cat. One of these is healthcare. There are several diseases that are endemic amongst cats in Spain, particularly those that are living as ferals. These include Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline Leukaemia, Feline Herpes and Calicivirus.

Prevention is key and it is important that your pet cat is vaccinated against the main diseases. Vaccination should start when they are kittens. In this way you can avoid the heartache and cost of your pet becoming sick.

What happens though when a cat finds you – as often happens in Spain – and you don’t know its background or health?

If it is an adult cat, the first thing to do is to get the cat checked by a vet who can do a simple test to check for FIV and Leukaemia. It is probably not worth having a kitten tested as these tests can be unreliable when they are young, as kittens often carry antibodies from their mothers which can give either a false positive or negative reading. Similarly, adult cats can give a positive reading if they have previously been vaccinated, so the results need to be treated with some caution and interpreted with the guidance of your vet. But it is still a useful indicator.

If a cat does test positive for any disease or illness, this does not necessarily mean a death sentence or that they won’t make a good pet for you, provided that you understand the implications. Many cats that are diagnosed with FIV for example, can live long and healthy lives provided that they are given appropriate care. Similarly, some cats with Leukaemia do not go on to develop the full symptoms of the disease, while others, sadly, have their lives dramatically shortened.

You have to be a special person to knowingly take in a sick animal, but they need our love and care as much as the healthy ones. APROP offers cats with diagnosed illnesses such as FIV for long term foster rather than adoption. This means that you look after the cat in your home, but APROP is responsible for any veterinary costs if they are incurred. In this way, these cats can live happily in homes where they enjoy the individual care and love that they need, while the fosterers do not have the potential financial burden.

You will find a overview of the most common diseases on the APROP website under Cat Health. You may find this helpful, but for more detailed or specific information, you should consult with your vet.

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