I was born in Wimbledon fortnight in 2002, hence the name Boris.
My new owner’s daughter had suggested to him that a ginger kitten would be lovely company for him as he was scheduled for a hip replacement. He was none to keen, but I duly arrived and the hip operation was cancelled!.
I travelled all the way from Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, tapping the dashboard of the car with my little paws. On arrival I met George, an older puss, and we soon became firm friends. I settled in to my new home well but I was a very naughty kitten (I like to think I was mischievous, but my owners thought otherwise) – and an animal behaviourist was called in for advice; she recommended that my owner should play with me for 20 minutes every evening (which she refused to do). I eventually settled down and started behaving, the years passed normally and I always received a clean bill of health at my annual vaccination check.
In June 2011 I started sneezing and coughing a lot and I lost my meow. The vet said I had laryngitis and I was given some antibiotics, which helped and I recovered well and regained my meow.
In October 2011 I lost my meow again – I was still voiceless but able to purr! At this time my owner and the vet decided further examination was necessary and I was given an anaesthetic so she could examine my throat – Nothing abnormal was discovered. My meow came back in mid November and I was fine until April 2012.
In April 2012 I started sneezing and dribbling, I had a very sore mouth so I did not feel like eating very much, I could not groom myself properly and I lost my meow again. The vet tried different antibiotics and pain relief but nothing helped me to get better. I had flu-like symptoms throughout May, and in June I was worse and feeling very sorry for myself because I had developed a mouth ulcer, gingivitis and had a sore nose. I improved again after lots of antibiotics and some steroids and I even got a little squeak back. We had many trips to the vet over those months and I had to behave myself for lots of tests.
July 2012 was a better month for me and although I was still dribbling and had a sore mouth, I was a lot more comfortable and managing to eat well. I still could not groom myself properly but George was helping with that so I felt much better.
On Friday 10th August my condition had deteriorated, I was poorly and miserable and had to be admitted to the veterinary surgery for intravenous fluids because I had become dehydrated. My mouth ulcers had returned and I could not eat again. The antibiotics were not working again so more tests were run and the vet phoned my owner to say I had been diagnosed with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – my immune system was failing so my body could not fight off infection properly.
It was very sad news for my owners as there is no cure for FIV, but the vet suggested that we could try using a drug called Interferon which can stimulate the immune system and slow down the disease process. Unfortunately this drug is very expensive as it is difficult to make, and would cost about £750.00 for a course, but thankfully I was insured and the company agreed to pay for the drug. The vet explained that I would need daily injections of the drug for 5 days, then I would have a break before restarting for another 5 days on the 28th August and then again on the 9th October.
I spent the weekend at the vets on intravenous fluids. Mum and Dad came to visit me and tempt me with my favourite foods (custard, yoghurt and pate) and on Monday 13th August I had my first injection of Interferon and stayed in another night for observation. On Tuesday I was allowed to go home and when I got there I ate everything i was given straight away; It was lovely to see George again and go outside for some fresh air.
I visited the vets every day for the rest of the week to have my Interferon injection and by the following week my meow had returned, I had stopped dribbling and ate normally until the end of the week. I restarted my injections on the 28th August for another 5 days. While I was having the injections my health improved and I was happier but in between doses I started to deteriorate and lose weight even though I was eating and still no meow.
In September Mum and Dad went on holiday, they were really concerned about leaving me but the vet recommended Kitty Daycare, which is run by a veterinary nurse called Tracy. Me and George were looked after very well and I was felling better; I had no ulcers, no dribbling and I was eating huge amounts – in fact Tracy had to go out and buy more food! By the 29th September I was feeling much better and eating everything in sight (including mum’s sponge cake), putting on weight and being quite mischievous again.
On Tuesday the 9th October I started the first of my final 5 injections of Interferon and I was still doing fairly well but my mouth was sore again. I brightened up after the injections and was better throughout the rest of the month. I even managed a few squeaks again but no proper meow.
In November I started to deteriorate again, I lost weight and began the odd behaviour of licking stones. Mum took me back to the vets and I had lost about 1kg in weight (which is quite a lot for a cat), I had also started vomiting and the vet could feel an abdominal mass. He said that it was FIV related cancers that were spreading throughout my body; I was not in any pain at that time, so I was not suffering but the vet advised mum that if I stopped eating or being able to get about then the time will have come to put me to sleep. Mum and Dad were desperately unhappy, bit they did not want me to suffer in any way. The vet had given me a steroid injection to help me feel better and I managed to eat and get into the garden even though I had started to sleep for most of the time.
By the 11th December I was very poorly again, I was not eating and I couldn’t control my bladder. After a long chat with the vet mum and dad decided that it was time to let me go. Mum came with me to the vets and cuddled me on her lap as I passed away very peacefully after my injection.
I know my family and George miss me terribly but I had a wonderful life with them where I was a much loved family cat and they did everything possible to help me feel better when I was ill.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that affects domestic cats all over the world. It is transmitted through bite wounds and scratches, where the infected cat’s saliva enters the other cat’s bloodstream, and also from pregnant females to their offspring in the womb. Because the disease suppresses the immune system the cat has no defense against illnesses and infections and becomes ill very easily. There is currently no safe vaccine and no cure for this disease.
For more information about FIV visit the Feline Advisory Bureau website http://www.fabcats.org/owners/fiv/info.html