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Cat Defender

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Friday, March 01, 2019

Lovely and Sedate Caroline Is Facing an Uphill Struggle after First Having Been Cruelly Abandoned and Then Diagnosed with a Serious Disease

Caroline Shortly after Her Arrival at Tierheim Heppenheim

"Vielleicht ergibt sich für die nette Seniorin noch eine Chance."
-- Tierheim Heppenheim

Caroline is a lovely gray, yellow, and white female with a pleasingly "freundliche und ruhige" personality. With all of that going for her, she should have the world by the tail but that, leider, is hardly the case.

In this life, the blessings that The Fates bestow upon both cats and men are almost always offset with equal measures of fatal flaws, assorted miseries, and just plain rotten luck. So, too, has it been the case with Caroline.

At the present, she has three things working against her and the first of which is Father Time. Specifically, at somewhere between ten and eleven years old she is no longer a young cat.

Secondly and of most immediate concern, she is currently incarcerated at a shelter in Heppenheim, eighty-four kilometers south of Darmstadt in Kreis Bergstraße, Hesse, and there is not any guarantee that she will ever leave that facility via the front door. Although it is difficult to understand how that anyone could so cruelly abandon such a beautiful and sweet cat, especially at her age, that appears auf den ersten Blick to have been the case.

According to a January 18th article posted on Facebook by Tierheim Heppenheim at Außerhalle 65, where she is currently being held, she was picked up in Lorsch, a small town of thirteen-thousand souls nine kilometers west of Heppenheim. Presumably she was trapped and brought to the Tierheim a few days before that and the timing of her travails lends itself to the suspicion that her previous owners cruelly abandoned her shortly after Christmas.

Regardless of whether they pass themselves off as either true believers or as simply heathens who make a habit out of observing the holidays, Christians continue to disgust and nauseate. That is due in large part to their inability to accumulate enough piety, morality, and compassion to ever do either anyone or any animal so much as a jot of good. As Abraham Lincoln once pointed out, "I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."

Although it is remotely possible that Caroline could have become involuntarily separated from her owners, that does not appear to be likely given that she was tattooed and that both her photograph and story have appeared in the local media. Nonetheless, it still might be well worth Tierheim Heppenheim's while to contact local veterinarians in order to determine if any of them recall treating and tattooing her.

Robbed of Her Home and Freedom, Caroline Is Now on Death Row

If it is correct to assume that Caroline was abandoned shortly after Christmas, she consequently was only on the street for two to three weeks but that surely was not an easy time for her, especially considering her age and the likelihood that she previously had been primarily, if not exclusively, an indoor cat. For in addition to procuring food and water as well as persevering against the fury of Old Man Winter, she also had to fend off both human and animal predators as well.

Thirdly and most devastating of all, she has tested positive for the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), which also is known as Katzenaids. What, if any, role that may have played in her owners' heartless and totally unforgivable decision to desert her is not known.

Some of the symptoms commonly associated with the disease, which can go undiagnosed for years, include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, anemia, a poor appetite accompanied by weight loss, a disheveled coat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis and discharges from the eyes and nose, gingivitis, stomatitis, dental woes, skin redness, and inexplicable changes in behavior. Photographs can be misleading but in those supplied by the Tierheim Caroline certainly looks to be the very picture of health.

Up until fairly recently, a diagnosis of FIV constituted an immediate death sentence for infected cats but, mercifully, most thinking on this subject has advanced somewhat and that is no longer always the case. In fact, infected cats can live anywhere from two to twelve years with the disease provided that they are lucky enough not to contract any secondary infections.

They can even safely reside in homes alongside FIV-negative cats so long as there is not any fighting that results in deep bite wounds which, along with blood transfusions and mother-to-kitten transmissions, are the principal means by which the virus is spread. Contrary to folklore, it cannot be transmitted by the sharing of food and water bowls and cats using the same litter boxes. It likewise is not spread by social grooming, sneezing, and casual contact.

Although the malady is estimated to afflict somewhere between 2.5 and 4.4 per cent of cats worldwide it is, not surprisingly, outdoor, unneutered toms that are the most susceptible to contracting it. Although in some quarters the disease is alternatively referred to as the fighting cat disease, it every bit as accurately could be dubbed the Paarungszeit Krankheit.

Since females are not scrappers, Caroline likely inherited the virus from her mother. Another possibility is that she at one time became gravely ill and contracted the disease through a blood transfusion.

Caroline Is Weathering Her Enforced Captivity as Best She Can...

In that case, if the veterinarian who passed along tainted blood to her could ever be identified and located that sorry son of a bitch should not only be held civilly liable for the cost of her treatment but also have his license to practice veterinary medicine revoked. Such inexcusable negligence can only be attributed to a duke's mixture of cheapness, laziness, and a total disregard for Caroline's welfare.

Shelters, catteries, and rescue groups that fail to test the cats that they sell back to the public for FIV are equally negligent if not downright dishonest. For example in late July of 2014, Doris Wienen-Sobótka of the Schmidt section of Nideggen in Nordrhein Westfalen purchased a one-year-old tomcat named Rufus for €95 from Tierschutzverein für den Kreis Düren (Tierheim Düren), thirty-nine kilometers northeast of Aachen, that later turned out to be FIV-positive.

Although the shelter tattooed, sterilized, and microchipped him, it did not test his blood owing to budgetary constraints and Sobótka only learned that he had the disease when she later took him to a veterinarian in Schmidt to be tested. "Ich fühle mich emotional und finanziell heringelegt, mir fehlen die Worte," she raged to the Aachener Zeitung on August 13, 2014. (See "Katzenaids: Vermitteltes Tier war sterbenskrank.")

In defense of his shelter's adoption policies, Hermann Josef Heinrichs afterwards acknowledged that Tierheim Düren only tested those cats that it suspected of carrying the virus. "Mit fünfundneunzig Euro sind die Kosten für die Mindestprävention, die wir vornehmen, nicht abgedeckt," he told the Aachener Zeitung. "Grundsätzlich muss man sagen:  Es gibt keine Garantie für die Gesundheit eines Tieres."

Although Rufus could have safely resided indoors with Sabótka's three-year-old resident feline, she nonetheless insisted that Tierheim Düren take him back. That decision most likely was based in part upon the fact that she had adopted him in the first place with the intention of having him live outdoors.

Despite all of that, she laid off all the blame on Tierheim Düren. "Rufus hat sein Zuhause verloren," she hypocritically moaned to the Aachener Zeitung. "Es belastet mich sehr, dass er nun wahrscheinlich ein trauriges, einsames Dasein in einer Quarantänebox fristet, wenn er überhaupt noch lebt."

As things soon turned out, Rufus was killed off by Tierheim Düren when Sabótka easily could have saved his life. It was much easier, however, for that phony-baloney Katzenfreundin to have blamed the shelter.

... but She Undoubtedly Fears the Worst and Is Under Considerable Strain

In addition to infecting perfectly healthy animals with tainted blood, veterinarians and shelters additionally nakedly exploit cats as long-term blood donors. (See Cat Defender post of December 13, 2010 entitled "Christopher, Who Has Persevered Through Tragedy and Given Back So Much, Is Now Being Held Captive for His Valuable Blood.")

On its web site, Tierheim Heppenheim states that Caroline has been sterilized but it does not specify whether that occurred before or after her arrival. That in turn opens up the remote possibility that she could have been infected by a tomcat during mating, which sometimes can get rather rough and always involves considerable biting.

In that respect, taking care of unaltered cats is seldom easy. For instance, the constant breeding, birthing, and rearing of kittens exacts a heavy toll from females.

Toms, on the other hand, not only injure each other and spread deadly diseases but their aggressiveness and bullying, sooner or later, forces out their rivals. When that happens the outcasts usually end up as either roadkill, succumb to hunger and the elements, or are trapped and killed by Animal Control officers and shelters.

Sterilizing them helps but that is not a complete solution to a complex and vexing dilemma. As a result, even their most ardent supporters often find themselves at their wits' end when it comes to keeping them both contented as well as safe and healthy. Even more distressing, there does not seem to be any end to the myriad of ways in which an owner can fail a cat.

Veterinary science is changing all the time but as far as it is known there is neither a vaccine nor a cure for FIV. Aside from closely monitoring and aggressively treating any secondary health issues that arise, it is recommended that FIV-positive cats be sterilized in order to prevent them from passing along the virus to their offspring and that they be maintained in stress-free, indoor environments.

A healthy diet that is devoid of raw meat and uncooked eggs, electrolyte replacement therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, immune system enhancing drugs, and parasite control also are recommended. Twice-yearly veterinary checkups that include blood and urine tests also are considered standard by most practitioners.

 Caroline Is Hoping for an Eleventh-Hour Miracle

Left untreated, FIV-positive cats can come down with cancer, renal failure, and various blood disorders. On the other hand, all of those deadly diseases plus anemia, liver damage, bone marrow depressions, and gastrointestinal difficulties are common side effects associated with the administration of Zidovudine, an HIV antiviral that is manufactured by Glaxo-Smith-Kline but also prescribed by some veterinarians as a so-called "extra-label" treatment for both FIV and the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). (See Nicholas Dodman of Pet Place, August 7, 2015, "Zidovudine (AZT, Retrovir®) for Cats.")

Ideally, Tierheim Heppenheim would like to place Caroline with an apartment dweller who also has an enclosed balcony so that she could occasionally get some sun and fresh air. A homeowner with a fenced-in garden would be even better provided that her new guardian would be willing to either watch over her while she is outside or to string a net across the top of her outdoor playground.

To its credit, the shelter has been up front about Caroline's condition but that in no way makes its job of securing a new home for her any easier. Just the very mention of FIV still scares the bejesus out of most would-be adopters.

"Vielleicht ergibt sich für die nette Seniorin noch eine Chance," Tierheim Heppenheim pleaded with the readers of the Echo of Darmstadt on February 16th. (See "Tier die Woche: Katze Caroline braucht viel Zuwendung.")

Since it is not believed that Tierheim Heppenheim is a no-kill operation, the sand may be rapidly running out of the hourglass as far as Caroline is concerned. Even so, that does not necessarily mean that she has to end up like Rufus.

Anyone who therefore would be willing to spare this wonderful, but terribly unlucky, cat's life is encouraged to contact the shelter either by telephone at 49-06252-72637, by email at info@tierheim-heppenheim.de, on the web at www.tierheim-heppeheim.de, or on Facebook.

Caroline still has considerable life left in her and tons of love and companionship to offer some extremely fortunate individual who would be willing to adopt her. All that she really needs is another chance at life.

Photos: Tierheim Heppenheim.