On Christmas Eve 2008, Empty Cages Collective (ECC) gave a very special gift to Eartha and her kitten, Heath. Eartha and her two kittens (who were only a week old) were scheduled to be killed at Animal Care & Control’s Manhattan shelter by the end of the week. As is often the case, no rescue organization or individual had stepped up to help the little family by fostering or adopting them.
Eartha had tested positive for feline leukemia – a virus that causes a compromised immune system. Cats with feline leukemia can enjoy months and – not uncommonly – years of good health and happiness, before succumbing to the virus. The reality is, many FELV-positive cats live for extended periods of time with no symptoms of their condition. When FELV-positive cats receive nutritious food, good veterinary care, and love, the sky is truly the limit on what the future holds. We at ECC believe all companion animals deserve a chance at a loving home and a decent life. We recognize that “euthanasia” should be reserved for animals who are irreparably suffering and untreatable – not as preemptive action attempting to foresee and respond to suffering that may not come to fruition for years – if ever.
While one of Eartha’s kittens didn’t survive (rest in peace, little friend), Eartha and Heath not only continue to survive, but thrive. Nearly two months since we rescued this special family, Eartha and her other baby, Heath remain in excellent health: energetically playful, with hardy appetites and love to spare. For anyone who knows this duo, they epitomize gratefulness at being alive. They might be feline leukemia positive, but what is more apparent is they are positive about their lives in the present. They truly value their lives, even in the face of uncertain futures. We all could learn much from them.
If life should turn, and Eartha or Heath stop enjoying their lives and become untreatably ill, we will make the difficult decision to give them the gift of euthanasia.
However, until such a time arrives, Eartha and Heath are entitled to their lives, as are all asymptomatic feline leukemia and FIV-positive cats and kittens.
If you’re interested in adopting, fostering or financially supporting Eartha, Heath, Harlem, Brook, Molly or any of our other asymptomatic feline leukemia positive cats, please contact us at 1 (800) 880-2684 or EmptyCagesCollective@gmail.com