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She’s sick but still loved... leukemia cat needs a home that her ex-owner can’t provide
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I'm having a problem with my ex-cat. See, we're still in love. The problem is, I can't take her back in my life. I'm an ex-pat these days, living and working overseas. And my sweet little kitty could never survive all the quarantines that go along with my transitory lifestyle. I thought I'd found her a home when I first moved away two years ago. That was tough, I can tell you. You would think it would be easy. She's young and beautiful. Plus, she has the manners of royalty, and a devilishly fun side. She loves children, even ones that pull her tail. If there are two people sitting on a couch, she sits between them -- even perfect strangers, she's that friendly. She feeds herself with dry food, and her litter box is never littered. So what's the problem? She's got feline leukemia. She's been positive for the disease for three years now, though she's been healthy as can be. But I'm afraid her time is running out. She's in a bad situation at her current location that endangers both her health and that of others. The people who adopted my cat have a young son. And their son has now developed an allergy to the cat -- he gets a severe rash on his arms, chest and face if he contacts her. So they're making her live outside! This, as you know, is real bad news for any other cats in the neighborhood. And with winter coming on, it's bad news for her. I'm just here for a short visit. I can't bring her home because I don't have one. Do you know any kind souls who could adopt my baby? Someone who's recently lost a cat, or has one who's positive already? My cat likes other cats, after a little adjustment period. She even likes playing with dogs, so long as they aren't deadly bent on eating her. Do you know if there are any homes for such animals? I'll assume all future costs, medical bills, etc. And if things don't work out, I'll do all I can to find her yet another home, just as I'm doing now. Please, please help us -- Quickly. Sincerely, T.S. and W.O. (the cat)
Dear T.S. and W.O., Your dilemma is troubling. Feline Leukemia is a viral disease which is passed from cat to cat through saliva (mutual grooming, using common dishes, biting). 85% of cats which contract this disease die within 3-4 years. Any outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats, as well as indoor cats which have had exposure to outside cats, should be tested for FeLV; and positive cats need to be isolated from the rest of the cat population. Do you (readers) have/know of FeLV+ cat households/caregivers? If so, contact me with this information, so that I may pass it on to T.S. And at the same time, we can generate a central information source for other FeLV+ cats in need of homes. These cats need to be kept from other cats. If you can be of help, please do.
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I have enjoyed your column in the Sunday News Journal for many years. But, I am writing to you because of an eye problem I am experiencing with my 10 year old Shih Tzu, Samantha. My vet has told me that the problem lies in the fact that Sam has no tear ducts, or maybe she has tear ducts, but she does not produce tears. I apply two medicines daily in her eyes. This condition is probably a year old. However, lately her eyes are almost closed in the morning because of matter that has built up over night. Can you recommend any other treatment? Should I change vets? Thank you. Sincerely, J.K.
Dear J.K., First of all... yes, sometimes it does seem like many years that you've been reading/I've been writing; but, actually its just going on 3 years. This is my 99th column for the Sunday News Journal. The 100th is just 2 weeks away. Second... if you are unsure about a treatment that your vet has prescribed, don't just change vets. Talk to your vet about your concerns. If your concerns are not adequately addressed, you might then opt for a 2nd opinion. Ask your vet if they can refer you to a specialist. Just like in human medicine, veterinary medicine has doctors who treat only certain kinds of problems. They see lots of those kinds of problems, so they've had more practical experience in treating/fixing those sorts of problems. Since I'm a behaviorist, and not an ophthalmologist, asking me for treatment advice for an eye problem would not be the wisest of plans. There are a few very good veterinary ophthalmologists in the area. Your veterinarian should be able to guide you to the right person if this is necessary. If you cannot feel comfortable discussing your pets' health and well being with your vet then something is wrong in the dynamics of that vet-client relationship. While we're on the topic of eye problems, the Cecil County SPCA will be having a Canine Eye Screening Clinic run by Dr. Lionel Rubin, an excellent veterinary ophthalmologist from the University of Pennsylvania. This is not an examination of existing problems, but rather a screening exam for dogs which are being considered for breeding. This is good preventative medicine. If you know potential breeding stock has an inheritable problem, wiser breeding decisions can be made to reduce the prevalence of these problems in future generations.