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After Żurrieq Woman’s Cat’s Illnesses Compounded, Questions Raised Over When Pets Should Be Put Down

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One woman, Roberta Farrugia, is raising questions over whether cats should be euthanised when they test positive for chronic illnesses such as FIV or FELV, in particular.

This came about after she encountered a case where a cat was put down after it tested positive for FIV, which can be described as the feline version of HIV.

The woman, who has been caring for a FELV positive cat named Xavier for over eleven months now, is trying to raise awareness that just because a cat is positive for one of these illnesses doesn’t necessarily mean it should be euthanised.

“He is far from a dying cat. It is a virus which can be easily managed with some human effort,” Roberta told Lovin Malta. 

“I had found Xavier struggling to stay on both feet, with protruding bones, diarrhoea, and a lot of ulcers around his mouth, hence he was not eating and had become very skinny,” she said.

Even though Xavier’s condition was quite serious when Roberta found him on new year’s day in Birgu, he was far from dying.

“All they need is a steroid shot, and some vitamins,” she said.

“In my case, Xavier started taking the steroid shot every 26 days at first, but now he is completely fine for over 60 days before he needs to take it once again,” she explained. 

Roberta is raising these questions because a cat found in a similar condition to Xavier’s was put down to sleep by Animal Welfare, as a representative said that he was suffering from very bad diarrhoea, FELV and FIV positive and had a body score of 1.5 on 5.

She continued emphasising that all they would need is a human who is able to put in time and effort, steroid shots, and supplements.

“Because of this unfair policy, Xavier would have been dead for almost an entire year,” she said.

Xavier now

Xavier now

Xavier had been diagnosed with the last stage of FELV, and had it not been for Roberta taking him under her care, he probably wouldn’t be alive today. Now, he is not just surviving, but he’s also thriving as a happy and healthy cat.

However, cats living within a colony testing positive for these illnesses could infect and, in turn, kill all of the other cats, as a disease like FELV can be easily transmitted through saliva. That means that sharing of food bowls can be deadly for the whole colony.

On the other hand, an FIV-positive cat would be a threat to the colony if the catfights and bites other cats.

Lovin Malta also spoke to a local vet to get his perspective on the issue.

“As for euthanasia with FIV and FELV, each case is normally assessed on its individual merits, and sometimes euthanasia is the best option to prevent the suffering, and in some rare cases, these cats can survive for a number of years, but it all depends on many factors,” he explained.

In situations like these, circumstances play a significant role because of concerns of whether FIV and FELV positive cats are in contact with other healthy cats. 

If a cat can be cared for alone, without being in contact with other cats, that’s one type of situation where it is a bit more manageable. Still, if a cat is around other cats and does not have access to undivided attention, its condition could be detrimental to all of them.

Do you think these cats deserve another chance at life? 

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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