4 min read

The Story Of Patches, And What Every Cat Owner Should Know About Feline Leukemia

Occasionally in life, we come across a road with no clue where it will lead. Such was the case when I stopped-by a local kennel. As I walked by one of the cages of its boarding facility, I noticed a cat rubbing his head against the wire mesh door and gently purring. A tag on the cage indicated that the cat's name was Patches and that he was up for adoption.

Curious by the adoption, I asked the attendant about Patches' story. She indicated that Patches was turned in about six months earlier by someone who had lost her home through foreclosure. She also said that Patches had Feline Leukemia ("FeLV"), a deadly virus that can be transmitted between cats. I was surprised, since Patches showed no outward signs of being in ill health. Indeed, his eyes were clear, his coat was full and shiny, and he was very perky. Although heart-wounded and confused by finding himself homeless, love still radiated from within Patches.

I was deeply saddened to learn about Patches' predicament and the thought of him condemned to live out his life in a cold, metal cage. With 6 to 8 million animals ending up in shelters every year and only half of them finding homes, the prospects of an adult, FeLV-positive cat being adopted were not very promising. The nagging question tugged at me: how much longer could Patches continue to be confined, until his spirit would be broken and he would no longer rub his head and purr with each passerby, having given up hope of finding the home he so desperately needed?

The most important thing we can do to save cats and dogs from all the suffering and death that their overpopulation causes is to spay and neuter them.

One day, while visiting the shelter, a volunteer serendipitously mentioned that she knew a woman who was interested in adopting a cat. After I told her about Patches, she agreed to contact the woman. Subsequently, I learned that this lady would be going to the kennel to see Patches. My initial enthusiasm was dashed, however, when the volunteer mentioned that she desired a female cat. The following day, I received an e-mail. It read:

After many long months of being quarantined in a cage as a result of a misdiagnosis, Patches finally had the home he always deserved. Looking back upon the day that I first crossed paths with Patches, it occurred to me that fate led me down this road to witness the triumph of spirit over adversity, which would makePatches one lucky cat!