Why call this Tails To Tell article “Free Willy?”
Maybe at first your mind brought up images from the 90s hit film with that jumping orca and shaggy-haired kid.
Nope, that’s not why. There’s no orca and bad haircuts aren’t welcome.
Or maybe you pondered on the idea that I was pleading to the masses to help “Free Willy” from whatever enclosure or captivity he’s currently in. Not at all, I can assure you! This chubby love-muffin named Willy does need a good home, but he’s not in any danger or uncomfortable position.
So why the title?
My cry out to “Free Willy” is to implore you to help us strip away the misconceptions revolving Willy and his condition, FIV. Let’s free him of this burden of mislabels, myths, and assumptions.
To back up a bit, Willy is an orange tabby in need of a great home. He is up for adoption through the Niagara Falls Humane Society and can be found at their Adoption Centre in Niagara Square. Willy has been having some trouble getting adopted because he is FIV+.
AGH! FIV! This must mean he has cat AIDS, right?!
A cat-only virus, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) does possess some similarities to HIV but they are not the same conditions. This is a common assumption and one I even heard from a visitor while at the Adoption Centre. It’s been a constant education effort for NFHS.
Sharon Richardson, manager of the cat Adoption Centre, describes the condition best. She compares caring for an FIV cat as you would a young infant without vaccinations. There is a higher risk of catching illnesses due to a weak immune system but the cat (or infant) is not actually ill in their current condition.
It is imperative to stress that Willy isn’t a sick cat. He has the same chance of living a normal, long, and happy life like any cat does. So if he acts and seems normal then how does FIV affect him? Well there are a few things to know…
- Willy will require visiting the vet regularly (about twice a year) to make sure he is given a clean bill of health.
- He must be vaccinated annually. Keep him healthy and safe as you would with any cat.
- Willy will forever be an indoor-only cat. You could try taking him for a leashed walk but, from my experience, leashing a cat is a unique and trying experience I won’t ever do again. (I will take it over trying to bathe a cat however!)
Willy is a true delight to be around. Quick to love and ask for petting, he enjoys the companionship of people. He likes to follow you around and would be a terrific friend to have. Willy really likes his scratching post (a great asset since some cats would prefer furniture) and he enjoys both cuddles and playtime equally. At four years old he still has some of that kitten spunk but with enough maturity to keep him calm.
To expand on Willy’s indoor-only requirement, he is quite the Houdini when it comes to escaping and needs to be properly watched around doorways. He lived outside for awhile and does crave that freedom, but for his safety he can no longer be free to roam outdoors.
In fact, Willy has quite a cute but stubborn streak when it comes to freedom. Sharon and the other volunteers at the Adoption Centre have a challenging time keeping him inside the store at night. As the Centre is a part of the Niagara Square mall, Willy has enjoyed long, luxurious naps in other storefronts. He has lived how most of us only dream: walking through a mall after closing and secretly following his own agenda. When I was visiting myself, Sharon explained their current set-up that, so far, has helped keep Willy safely tucked away.
Some people think Willy is injured because he has a stiff front leg and walks with a slight limp. Caused by an old injury, the leg isn’t causing Willy any pain and doesn’t require any attention. His climbing skills aren’t great but it really doesn’t slow down his mobility any.
Most of us with soft hearts for animals already have our houses filled with them. So what if you want to adopt Willy and already have a cat or two?
There is some debate on whether a household with FIV- cats can bring in an FIV+ cat. It’s important to know how FIV is transferred and reflect on what kind of cats you have or what risks you are willing to take. FIV is transferred by either saliva to blood, or blood to blood. General cat life with licking, minor wrestling, or litter box or food sharing shouldn’t be an issue. That’s my opinion, however, and you need to form yours. NFHS recommends that Willy go to a home where there are no other cats or only FIV+ cats.
As with anything, please take the necessary steps to make sure you are well-informed and comfortable. If you are still unsure of FIV, talk to your vet about your home lifestyle and how you can move forward caring for Willy.
Oh and don’t forget to pay a visit to Willy and meet the little guy first! He is just a normal cat needing a little extra care and awareness, but he can be the new best friend you are looking for!
To help promote his adoption and find the right home, a reduced adoption fee of $80 applies.
Niagara Falls Humane Society
The Niagara Falls Humane Society helps find loving homes for unwanted and mistreated animals, as well as trying its best to reunite lost pets with their rightful owners.
The NFHS provides a safe haven for pets in limbo, before they are placed in a new home. The Society tries to alleviate the suffering of all animals and to eliminate euthanasia as a method of population control for pets. At the NFHS, no healthy adoptable animal will ever be euthanized.
Location: 6025 Chippawa Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6X8