Almost two years ago, our shelter had an intake of 8 kittens from two litters, coincidentally both born February 1, 2012 and both born infected with FeLV.
As a no-kill shelter we were going to set them up in foster homes, but needed to get the vet's blessing first. If these kittens, two blind, and others with health conditions, were to not have a quality of life, we would have euthanized. But the vet said they could be healthy, it would just be an uphill climb to see if their immune systems would ever catch up with the virus' ability to destroy immune systems.
So off to fosters they went. Four of the eight died in the first five months from complications of the compromised immune systems and some congenital health problems. The remaining four were combined into one "litter" and given the chance to thrive. After a while they lived and remained healthy long enough that they were allowed to come into the shelter to try to find forever homes. I don't really remember how many were adopted - I think one was officially adopted and one went into a foster-to-adopt situation.
By February 1, 2013, only two of the kittens lived to see their first birthday, brown and white tabby Corabelle and tortoiseshell Josi. The two remained heroes of the shelter winning over volunteers and visitors alike with their playful antics and snuggly personalities. But they were kept under watchful eye by the special unit director and the medical staff. The extent of the virus' damage, along with underlying genetic problems, had shown the power to steal lives.
We lost Cora in September, and then there was just Josi. Josi had actually been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. The decision was made to go onto a chemo/short protocol treatment (similar to CF member Lyle's cat Joker, if you remember him). The treatment was actually a success. The tumor eventually was eradicated.
Josi thrived under the attention of the volunteers and was a favorite of many. But last Sunday when I saw her, she wasn't right - lethargic and mopey, not the show-stealing dynamo she normally was. I found out today that she was euthanized Monday, the day after I saw her, her body wracked with pain, new cancers having been found.
Josi lived to within a couple weeks of her second birthday. She was a trooper, a powerhouse personality who would always jump on your back whenever you would bend over to pet another cat, and a sweetheart.
I took this photo on April 28, 2013. Corabelle is on the left and Josi is on the right. RIP Josi. You are very missed. It is my hope that you have been greeted by your siblings Lila, Noralee, Blake, Stella, Primrose, Fred, and of course Corabelle at the bridge, all whole and hearty.