Open Hearts, Empty Cages: Orville’s Story

In March 2009, the Empty Cages Collective took in Orville, a week old tabby kitten, along with his two sisters and their mother Adelaide. The little family had initially found shelter from the streets in a basement, and later arrived at New York City’s Animal Care & Control.

Unfortunately, at AC&C the kittens’ sweet, devoted mother tested positive for the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). She was otherwise healthy and happy, but her health condition made her – and her little ones – candidates for killing. Feline Leukemia causes a suppressed immune system, but cats with the condition can live asymptomatically for many months or even years. Furthermore, there is NEVER a guarantee that the test performed is 100% accurate, or that the cat will not successfully fight the virus off.

Despite these facts, shelters and animal control facilities routinely “euthanize” cats with FeLV, robbing them of an opportunity to live a full life. The Empty Cages Collective believes that all cats should have the chance to have a good, happy life, and knew that we had to help Orville and his family.

Young Orville with his mom Adelaide.

Young Orville with his mom Adelaide.

At ECC, Orville and his sisters showed themselves to be silly and sweet kittens – friendly, energetic, curious, and always up to something! As the kittens spent their days cuddling with their mom and playing with each other, they were growing into sleek, strong little cats. The time came for them to get spayed and neutered and hopefully adopted. Because the kittens had been born to a FeLV infected mother, we knew there was a decent chance that they would test positive for the virus. But happily they did not! More than that, mother Adelaide was retested and found to be negative (showing again how unnecessary and misguided preemptive euthaniasia is for FeLV-positive cats).

Orville and his family all found loving homes – Orville with a kind woman named Sandrine. Sandrine says of Orville,

“Orville is so adaptable, easy, curious. Very good-natured cat. Rita, the family golden retriever came to live with us this summer and in 2 days dog and cat were friends. They play together–she’ll lie down, still, and he’ll grab her head and chew on her ears–and they often sleep near each other….

Orville resting with his canine friend.

Orville resting with his canine friend.

He often sleeps on the bed, cuddles and purrs early in the morning, and take afternoon naps on our desks when we work. He purrs whenever we pick him up. He plays hide and seek with us and entertains himself with his toys, especially the stuffed chipmunk filled with catnip….”

We are so happy that Orville is living the good kitty life with Sandrine and Rita. Thanks to our adopters and friends, we are able to help more animals – ones often overlooked by traditional shelters – find homes and happiness.


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