We’re suckers for strays. We have five cats, two dogs, and a tortoise — all rescues.
B.L. ZeBubba, the first of the lot, came literally inches from death. I crawled under a van in the middle of Winchester to get him. The majority of his tail was left behind. Back in our Squirrel Squad days, he took over the blog.
We got Fluffy at the Memphis Farmers Market from the great folks at Save 1 Pet. Fluffy is Kelly English’s fault. As we were leaving the market, we realized we had forgotten something. I went back to get whatever it was while Angela looked at puppies. I ran into Kelly and, in the few minutes we talked, Angela found Fluffy. She handed him to me, he grabbed my arm, holding on for dear life, and we had a dog.
Our latest addition was found in the undercarriage of Angela’s dad’s van. There is no telling how long he had been under there. He is very banged up. He has a bald spot on his head, perhaps from an abrasion or a burn. He has cuts and scrapes all over his face. And he was the filthiest creature I have ever seen. To put that into perspective, he’s a black-and-white, but Angela’s mom thought he was solid gray.
The prospect of bathing a cat is never a good one. Bathing a traumatized cat is even scarier, but he was so coated with road grime and soot that we had to. We were worried that if he bathed himself, he would make himself sick. We have sat on the couch holding cats and been scratched. We bathed this poor kitty and got out of it with nary a scratch. By morning, he was coming out from under the tub on his own and wrapping around ankles. This little guy was going to make a great addition to our home.
But “Cats meets Rent”?
We took our new baby to the vet first thing the next day. It wasn’t long after we dropped him off that I got the call — our new baby is FIV positive. We were crushed. Our sweet new baby had a death sentence pronounced on him.
We had asked our friends on Facebook to help us choose a name. Kelly, who is again partly to blame for this new baby, suggested we name him after local farmer extraordinaire Van Cheeseman. We had considered the name Vincent Van Go, so Kelly’s suggestion just seemed right. In the doctor’s office, a frightened Van tinkled all over Angela. At that point, Van Peesman became the obvious choice.
Going into this, I was hesitant to name him. I was worried about becoming attached in case something went wrong. Then it did. We’ve always been lucky with our other strays, but not this time. It was all for nothing. We were already losing our baby. We were crushed.
After taking some time to recover, we started to do some research. Angela did a lot of reading. It seems that this isn’t a death sentence at all. There are risks. Van is susceptible to illnesses. We have to keep a close eye on him to make sure he stays healthy, but we already to that with our other babies.
The other risk is transmission to those other babies. It’s actually not easily transmitted. It would take a very serious bite to transfer the virus from saliva to blood. We have grumpy babies, but no one ever gets that aggressive. There’s a lot more bark than bite in our house.
Beyond those, he can live a perfectly normal life. There’s no guarantee that he’ll ever even show FIV symptoms. And as an indoor cat, he won’t be exposed to many opportunities to get sick.
We’re going to keep Van isolated for a while. He will need some time to get over the loss of his boys for one thing. We also need to make sure he is litter trained. After a few days, he gets to just be another one of the gang. And Kelly gets to be godfather to another baby.
This should be interesting.