Puff is just an ordinary cat. He likes to greet you through the mail slot, jump into windows to look outside and have conversations with backyard critters and likes to cuddle and claim his own spot on the bed at night, making little noises as he dreams. But Puff also has a not-so-ordinary conditionFIV.
FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, comparable to HIV found in humans but not as similar as it may sound. FIV can't infect humans or dogs and is only transferred between cats through serious bites or wounds, so FIV-positive cats can mingle with FIV-negative cats, if they get along.
It's somewhat similar but not very to HIV; it's not nearly as dangerous. It's a very slow acting virus and usually cats die of old age before anything can happen connected with the virus. It's not very contagious at all, only passed with severe bites and usually during rough mating or from tom cats engaged in territorial fighting," said Carol Hall, president of Whiskers, a local shelter.
Just like the human disease, this feline disease comes with a stigma, mostly because people don't know much about it, and that's why the adoption rate for these cats is becoming a problem. Puff falls into this trouble category, currently being care for by Veronica Thomas but in need of a permanent home since she already has six cats of her own. Thomas, an active volunteer for many animal rescue organizations and a librarian at Albany Public Library's Main branch, is hoping someone will fall in love with Puff and step up to be his hero.
"He's 13 and a lovely cat. FIV shouldn't be a deterrent," said Thomas. "People are put off by senior cats because they're expecting huge medical bills but he only needs to be kept inside, fed a good diet and given a good life. There's no specific treatment, he just needs to be kept healthy."