Two cats positive for FIV adopted

Time and again the animals at Best Friends prove an important truth in life: it always pays to be yourself.

Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus at Best Friends




Dusty the FIV-positive cat had waited seven years for a home, and she might have waited much longer if she tried pretending to be someone she wasn’t.

Jenny Busser was visiting Best Friends with her boyfriend Dr. Ernest Waintraub. They were at Best Friends planning to adopt two FIV cats. Before arriving, they had several cats in mind. For one thing, Dr. Ernest — or Dr. Ernie as he’s known at the Sanctuary — has been visiting Best Friends for years and knows the FIV cats quite well. A Chicago emergency room doctor, Dr. Ernie visits Best Friends two or three times a year for some R&R. His favorite way to unwind? With the FIV cats, of course.

Timid cat with FIV

Given all that time with the FIV cats, however, Dusty was still not on their list of possible cats to adopt, for good reason, too. Though she had been living at Best Friends for seven years, Dr. Ernie didn’t know her at all. She’s that good at blending into the background! For Jenny, though, Dusty’s timid nature was exactly the thing that caught her eye.

She and Dr. Ernie walked into the room and, in Jenny’s words, she saw "this cute little ball of fluff," sitting on top of a tower. She could tell Dusty didn’t exactly solicit attention from strangers. So she walked over and held her hand out to Dusty, waiting patiently for Dusty to make the next move. For five minutes she stood there, hoping Dusty would want to say hello.

At last, Dusty finally crossed the distance and sniffed hesitantly. Ever so slowly, Jenny reached a tentative finger and touched the side of Dusty’s face. It was all downhill from there. Dusty began to lean in for affection.

FIV and non-FIV cats living together

This whole adoption process began several years ago when Dr. Ernie researched FIV cats in hopes of adopting one. As a result, he decided FIV cats were no big deal and wanted to give some of them a home. "I think the stigma associated with FIV is unfounded," explains Dr. Ernie. He adopted FIV-positive Edward several years back. Edward is a charming, handsome cat who immediately got along with Bum and Monster, Dr. Ernie’s two non-FIV cats.

"This is one of the biggest issues with FIV cats," says Dr. Ernie. "People who have healthy cats in their homes are afraid to bring home FIV positive cats. But as long as the cats get along, there’s really no reason to worry."

Unlike feline leukemia, FIV is not highly contagious. Another misconception is that FIV cats have a poor quality of life.






"My FIV cats are just as healthy as any non-FIV cats I’ve ever had," explains Dr. Ernie. Buster, an older FIV cat, was the second one from Best Friends to find a home with Dr. Ernie. He’s also doing great these days.

Before this recent trip, Jenny learned all about Best Friends and FIV cats through meeting Dr. Ernie, who himself had been introduced to FIV cats at Best Friends. Jenny has realized for herself FIV cats are every bit as wonderful as normal cats, but for them it’s far harder to find a home. She also wants to help.

Adopting two cats with FIV

When they came this time looking to adopt two more FIV cats, she had one thing to say after meeting Dusty. Jenny didn’t know which other cat they’d be taking, but Dusty was going to be one of the two. "I just felt that she was one of those cats who may never find a home."

Given Dusty’s FIV status and her shy nature to boot, Jenny may have been exactly right. However, Dusty’s waiting is over at last. She’s having the time of her life back home, and fully enjoying her reunion with Edward and Buster, both of whom she knew back at the Sanctuary.




The second FIV cat who made the journey this time was young, outgoing Eclipse. Eclipse may not have waited as long as some of the others, yet she’s certainly due for her own happy ending. She came to Best Friends from Pahrump, Nevada, out of one of the worst hoarding cases Best Friends has ever seen. She needed a loving home too and Dr. Ernie and Jenny were more than happy to oblige.

Besides, Eclipse adds a nice punch of much-needed energy into the otherwise laid back group of cats. Gotta’ mix things up now and again, right? Congrats to all!

Learn more about FIV in cats in Best Friends resource section.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Ernie and by Best Friends staff