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Adopting a cat in Basel, not always a happy story

Adopting a pet (writes Shelley) is a time which should be happy and fun, a new furry life to share. But it isn’t always, particularly if you adopt from a shelter. In September, my husband and I picked out two adorable 3 month old kittens from a local shelter…..
We brought them home, and showered them with love and toys. However, love was not enough and by the end of the fifth day, one of the kittens had to be put to sleep as a result of FIP.

FIP is a mutation of a highly contagious common virus in cats. It normally only affects roughly 10% of the entire cat population, and of those with the mutated virus, perhaps 5% of them develop symptoms. Once a cat has the symptoms, it is too late to save it. There is no cure for FIP.

Crushed, we turned back to the shelter where our kittens came from, wanting to know what happened. They couldn’t tell us much more than our vet and research had told us. We also asked for a refund of the cost of the kitten who died (150 francs), as he didn’t even last a week after leaving the shelter. It was suggested that we adopt the sister of the two we’d already taken, as she was also exposed to the same virus. In October, we did just that (roughly two weeks after the first kitten died).

She was tested at the vet, and given a clean bill of health, so we brought her home. From the start, she was more laid-back than her sister, but we didn’t make much of this. In November, the vet noticed she had swollen lymph nodes in her tummy, and put us on the alert that the new kitten might also have FIP – but it could have been something else, too, she said.

We prepared ourselves. We watched her go up and down on the health scale – happy, playful and full of energy and lethargic and tired.

On Christmas day, she lost the fight. The new cat was put to sleep on Christmas day, showing signs of full-blown FIP.

As of this date, her sister appears to be in good health, and we are pampering her and checking her for signs of this killer disease daily.

We have been told that several cats have died of FIP from this same shelter. At last count, 7 have died since October, when our first kitten was put to sleep. And these are only the deaths we’re aware of.

The spread of FIP can be prevented in shelters by dilligent cleaning and disinfecting. Apparently, the shelter we adopted our cats from was not practicing cleaning and disinfecting procedures as well as they should have.

When you adopt a cat, be sure to ask the shelter how they control for FIP, and how many cats they have lost (in-house or adopted out) as a result of the disease. Ask your vet where they’d suggest you find your new addition to your family.

2003-12-29 15:56:21


Comment from Judith Rogers
Time 7th December, 2010 at 1:33 pm

We also had an issue with a cat adopted from a Basel shelter getting sick and then dying of liver failure. Now we adopt via ads posted at the vets from private people or from the company small ads site – although the kittens may not have had their full course of vaccinations they should have had the first ones. Then we take them to the vet for check ups/ full vaccinations. We are now proud owners of 4 healthy cats. The vet in Hesingue France just across the border is often looking for new homes for animals via their noticeboard.

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