Cats positive for feline leukemia adopted together

Every storm cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. The catch is, sometimes you don’t always see it right away. For Joy Lothrop, a nurse from Boston, Massachusetts, it wasn’t easy losing her two beloved cats to illness. One to cancer, the other to chronic renal failure. Yet during their sickness, she learned a tremendous amount about how to care for special needs cats. With that knowledge in place, when it came time to look for a new cat to adopt, Joy decided she wanted to look for somebody who might need a little extra care.

That search led her to Alicia, a cat with feline leukemia (FeLV) at Best Friends. She fell in love with Alicia from afar. Before deciding to adopt, Joy researched feline leukemia, including talking things over with her vet. In the end, she felt she was ready. The truth is, cats with feline leukemia can live vibrant, happy lives, even if they might require special care now and again.

From the beginning, Joy wanted to make sure Alicia had a friend. Here, she had help from Best Friends caregiver Joni Miller, who assured Joy that Alicia’s best buddy in the whole world is Sherlock Holmes.

FeLV positive cat named Alicia
Alicia

Happy endings for two cats with FeLV

Sherlock and Alicia are both young cats, each having arrived at Best Friends as a kitten within the last few years. Sherlock, who was originally found as a stray, came from a rescue in Arizona that couldn’t place him because of his feline leukemia status. Alicia came a year later (also as a stray) from St. George, Utah, through the Best Friends community cat program. Joy decided to adopt the pair, though not at the same time.

You see, Joy wanted to make sure each cat had the safest possible journey from Best Friends to Boston. Accordingly, she cashed in a heap of frequent flier miles to make two separate trips out from Boston to pick up the cats. Alicia and Sherlock each flew home in the cabin, one flight at a time, riding next to Joy the whole way.

Alicia was the first to make the trip home. Right from the start, she decided to make things a little interesting. At the very first opportunity, Alicia beelined it for the second-story attic, where she promptly hid! Choosing not to try and haul her out by force, Joy allowed Alicia to lie low for a while.

When Joy flew back with Sherlock not long after, things improved at once. Alicia was willing to come out in the open. After all, there’s no point in hiding out when your best pal ever is back in the neighborhood. "They sleep together, they play together, they truly are best friends," Joy says.

FeLV FAQs

Two kitties finding their way together

Given that this is the first true home for each cat, such a big transition takes some getting used to. However, the good news is that both cats are settling in wonderfully.

"There are moments when I feel this is seventh heaven for him," says Joy about Sherlock. He’s really taken to the home life, and seems positively thrilled to have his own home to explore. Alicia has come a long ways, too. "Alicia loves to be groomed and is the keeper of the bed, especially at night."

Regarding adopting two feline leukemia cats, Joy knows she made the right decision. "It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in life," she says. "I’m very glad I did it." She also likes to encourage others to consider adopting a feline leukemia cat. "It’s easier than you think," she points out. "Their day-to-day care is not difficult at all."

Joy is thrilled with her decision to bring these two cats into her heart and home. "I just felt like they were made for me," she says.

Adopt an FeLV+ cat

It’s no secret that special needs cats have a harder time finding a forever home. There are many loving and wonderful FeLV+ cats at the Sanctuary looking for one right now. Won’t you consider opening your heart and home to one?

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Photographs by Sarah Ause Kichas