Many of the animals in our care haven’t had the easiest lives; but some come into our care with more troubling stories than others. That’s the case for Tony, who, in his short life, has overcome misfortune after misfortune.
Tony came to us as a hospice case, too weak to move. It was in our care that he positively tested for feline leukemia Things weren’t looking great for Tony, but he was about to show us that he wasn’t “too fragile” to survive.
After a touch-and-go healing process, Tony made an incredible recovery! All across the country, FeLV+ cats are euthanized because they’re seen as “too fragile” to have a fulfilling life. Thankfully, in 2011, APA! decided to rewrite the current narrative of FeLV cats in the sheltering system and created the nation’s first-of-its-kind Feline Leukemia Adoption Center.
Since 2011, APA! has been taking in FeLV cats from the Central Texas area, as well as all over the country and continent. Historically, cats with the virus are euthanized upon diagnosis; but we know that FeLV cats live normal, happy lives; and though their lifespan has the potential to be shorter, that doesn’t change the impact they have on their forever families.
Once we began looking more into the disease, we realized that research on the virus hadn’t been done since the 1970s. Shocked, a set group of staff members dedicated themselves to researching and improving shelter knowledge on the virus so that these cats don’t continue to be killed for being seen as “too fragile.” Currently, we are participating in humane research studies in partnership with the University of Florida. This partnership has netted all sorts of incredible discoveries about the disease, allowing us to save and care for more FeLV+ cats like Tony.
Since his ordeal, Tony has been living happily in the comfort of his foster Heike’s home. Heike took in Tony with the hope that he would befriend their current FeLV cat and APA! alumni, Mini Turtle (FKA Kemper). There hasn’t been a shortage of love in Tony’s life since. Some days, he doesn’t even leave Heike’s side, going as far as crawling into bed with her when it’s time to sleep.
Some of Heike’s favorite memories of Tony are the moments his energetic personality shines through: “One day he chased Mini Turtle around, who knows the lay of the land and where to run. Most [of the floor is tile], and Mini Turtle would just drift around the corners, where as Tony would keep bumping into walls and cabinets on his way around. And this boy has mass so it was a constant “dong” and “whomp”. And then one day, Mini Turtle disappeared into one of those cabinets because she knows how to open the doors. That LOOK on Tony’s face when he saw her disappear … I think he thought she [had been] eaten!”
It’s safe to say Tony keeps Heike’s household full of excitement. Tony is certainly a unique cat, and Heike shares that he expresses his uniqueness in more ways than one: “He actually behaves like a dog. [We’ve had] cats that play fetch before, but Tony actually follows me around and sits when you tell him. He also jumps up to get to the food bowl and stuff like that. Too funny!” It’s hard to believe that this is the same cat that was in hospice not too long ago.
If it wasn’t for APA!’s Feline Leukemia Adoption Center, there’s a good chance that Tony wouldn’t be around today to be his spunky self. FeLV+ cats are not to be written off for being “too fragile.” Tony has proven that even with the virus, they’re able to overcome so much.
“All our fosters change our lives, and Tony is no different,” shares Heike. What’s so wonderful is that this is the typical response of FeLV adopters and fosters. There is something simply magical about these special cats.
If you have fallen in love with Tony as much as the rest of us, we have good news for you: He’s still looking for his forever family! Learn more about this bubbly boy here. If you’ve fallen in love with Tony but are currently at your cat-capacity, then here’s another way you can help: consider giving to help more pets like Tony today. We are only able to save the lives of so many vulnerable shelter pets with your support. While what you can contribute may not seem like much, we can assure you that anything and everything goes a long way. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of FeLV+ cats from all across Central Texas, and maybe even the country. If you’re able to donate, please do so here.