The Feline Disease with a Scary Name: Everything You Need to Know About Adopting an FIV+ Kitty

Update:  We are delighted to report that Miss Nadja has been adopted!


Nadja tested positive for FIV+.

One of the cutest, sweetest, healthiest kittens we have ever met,  she probably carries the antibodies after nursing from her FIV+ mother.  Captured as a tiny baby with her feral mom and her brothers and sister, Nadja is the only one of her her litter still awaiting a home.  Nadja has been with us for over 2 weeks; most of our kittens are adopted within 2 days (including her litter mates).  Why the delay for the divine Miss Nadja?  With a positive FIV result, potential adoptees seem to be more than a little scared off by her condition.

At the Annex, we have re-homed many kitties with FIV+, who have lived long, happy, healthy lives with their human families.  Yes, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), is basically the cat version of Human inmunideficiency Virus (HIV).  This is the scariest (and most misunderstood) part for most potential adoptees.  You (the human) cannot catch FIV.  Unlike human HIV, FIV does NOT require massive drug therapy to maintain the cat’s health. Most cats with FIV live asymptomatically for long periods before any signs of illness become apparent.   It does compromise their immune systems, and you should be prepared to care for infections quickly rather than waiting for the cat to get better on their own.  However, with consistent vet care and a good diet, most cats with FIV do just fine.  In fact, although we often have kitties that develop upper respiratory infections while at the Annex, Nadja is remains one of the healthiest kitties in our group!

A few more facts about FIV:

  1. Again, FIV is NOT contagious to humans, dogs, rabbits, etc.  It is a feline illness ONLY.  In fact, its not even particularly contagious between cats.  Its actually pretty hard for another cat to catch it from an infected cat.  Like human HIV, it can only be transferred through blood-to-blood contact (ex.  deep bite wounds) or from a mother’s milk.
  2. FIV is more of a management issue than an active disease for most of the cat’s lifetime.  Keeping your FIV+ kiltty indoors will help to protect her from feline illnesses.   We also recommend that FIV+ kittles are kept as an only cat in the household.  This is really more for their protection – this will keep them from picking up any feline illnesses from other kitties in the household.
  3. Some other care guidelines from the ASPCA website:
  • Keep your cat indoors. This will protect him from contact with disease-causing agents to which he may be susceptible. By bringing your cat indoors, you’re also protecting the uninfected cats in your community.
  • Watch for changes—even seemingly minor—in your cat’s health and behavior. Immediately report any health concerns to your vet.
  • Bring your cat to your vet at least twice per year for a wellness checkup, blood count and urine analysis.
  • Feed your cat a nutritionally balanced food—no raw food diets, please, as bacteria and parasites in uncooked meat and eggs can be dangerous to immunocompromised pets.
  • Be sure your cat is spayed or neutered.

Although eventually, most FIV+ cats will become symptomatic and show signs of illness, most FIV+ cats  live long and happy lives provided they receive proper and prompt veterinary care.


The Epic Tale of Piper

Sometimes you just have to wait for your family to find you again.



Back in 1998, 4-week-old Piper and her sister were found in a drain pipe near an office building in Albany, NY.   Piper was named after the pipe.  (We thought she was named after her peep-y meow; she sounds a bit like a bird!).  Piper and sister went to separate homes where all was well for many years.
The couple who had Piper loved her very much.  When their (now) 11-year-old was about 2, he seemed to be having a severe  allergic reaction to Piper.  As per doctor’s orders, they looked for a new home for Piper, and she went to live with an employee of the mom’s dad who adored her.  Eventually,  they realized that the child actually had sinus issues and wasn’t allergic to Piper at all;  and though they wanted Piper back, they felt weird asking the lady to return her.   They did say that if anything ever happened, they would love to take Piper back but it seemed she was there to stay.
Fast forward several years.  It seems something did happen with that lady, and she brought Piper to the Shelter, where she joined us at the Annex and soon became a favorite.  A lovely gal, she spent several months with us, patiently waiting for just the right home while she got plenty of love and attention from all of the volunteers.
Back to Piper’s original family.  As the 11-year-old said, “The lady who had Piper didn’t work for PopPop anymore, so we lost touch with her.”   Then a family friend suddenly died, causing the family to go to Boscov’s  (the department store in the mall) to buy clothes for the funeral.  For some levity, the kids asked to visit the cats at the Annex.
Mom was beyond shocked to find Piper at the Annex!!!!  She knew it was her kitty because of the name, thin hair on her belly, and unusual white hairs around her eyebrows.  Of course, they immediately adopted her and she is happily back with her family.  Mom (and we) think her friend acted as a guardian angel and helped bring her back to Piper.
The boys love Piper and Piper is thrilled to be home, but in her nearly 9-year absence, the family had moved to a house and got a dog.  They gave Piper a private space in the guestroom and keep a baby gate up so that Piper can retreat from the dog when she wants.  The boys tell us that Piper likes to go exploring at night when the dog is asleep.  She also likes to sleep with her mom and dad.
We were shocked to learn that Piper is 15 years old (not 9 as we had originally thought).  Wow!  What a vibrant elderly lady.  We are so happy she is spending her golden years back with her original family.
Are we the only ones blown away by this story?

Welcome to the Annex!

the annex

the annex

Welcome!  We’d like to share a few things with you about our unique Adoption Center that we hope  will make your visit with us more enjoyable.

  1. We  are a completely volunteer facility.  We do receive direct support for the kitty’s welfare (food, medicines, etc) from the organizations that are responsible for them (more about this later), but ALL of the work at the Annex is managed and completed by volunteers.
  2. About those volunteers.  They range in age from 11 to 80, and do everything from cleaning litterboxes, vacuuming the space, playing with and caring for kitties, and all activities related to facilitating adoptions.
  3. We LOVE our visitors, of all ages.  We do ask that you refrain from putting fingers into the kennels as it stresses the cats and even the friendliest kitty may react by scratching or biting.
  4. We send all unattended children home with a free kitten.  Consider this fair warning.*
  5. We are an ADOPTION Center; we cannot accept incoming animals at the Annex.  Please contact the Shelter to set up an appointment to give up a pet for adoption.
  6. We’d like to take a moment to thank the owners of the Clifton Park Center, who generously offer the use of the space to the Annex at no charge to us.
  7. We’d also like to thank our support agencies, Homes for Orphaned Pets Exist (H.O.P.E.) and the Saratoga County Animal Shelter.

*Note: This is actually NOT true– you have to 18 or over to adopt from us, although we would be happy to assist you and your children in adopting a kitty if you like!