Adopting a shelter cat who might be sick
My question is about adopting a second cat. I found one on my local humane society's website, visited her in person, and we cuddled for an hour. During that time, I noticed that her fur was rough, she was skinny and shed a lot. She also sneezed about 10 times, and once, a bubble came out her nose. The other cat in the enclosure had none of these signs. I'm concerned about possible FIP, but this cat may just have had the bad effects of being sheltered for a while. The vet tech on staff said that her sneezing was just a regular upper respiratory infection, similar to kennel cough in dogs.
At the time, I didn't know about FIP and I submitted the adoption paper. Now, I am very concerned about possibly bringing this cat home to my healthy boy and getting him sick? The adoption comes with an initial vet visit, but if anything happened to my cat at home from my actions, even nice ones as in adopting a sister, I would be doubly heartbroken! What should I do?
It sounds like your potential sister cat has a fairly serious “cat cold.” This should be treated by antibiotics, decreasing stress, and any other therapies your veterinarian suggests after seeing her (if you adopt her, she should be seen by your vet as soon as possible). Shedding is common when cats are stressed, and she may not be eating well due to the cold.
As for FIP: there are no real tests for it, but this would not be a typical picture of a cat with that disease. Also, while a common virus is involved, FIP is a very uncommon disease. Cats don’t get sick from that virus until their own immune system responds badly to the infection. That is what causes FIP, not the virus itself.
If you decide to go ahead adopt the new cat, she should be put in an isolated location (like a bathroom or spare bedroom) away from your other cat for a period of time so he gets used to the idea of a new cat in the house and the new girl can have some quiet time to adjust to your home and the cold to get better.
“Cat colds” can take a while to go away and sometimes can recur if the cat is very stressed. I can tell you that my brother adopted a cat with a cold, and while it took several weeks for his cat to recover, it was well worth it! He turned out to be a wonderful cat who might not have otherwise been adopted.