When potential adopters meet a cat with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), they are often unsure of its implications. Although FIV is a serious infection, the truth is that many cats will carry the virus for a long time before symptoms appear—and that with proper management and care, an FIV-positive cat can live a long and fulfilling life. So when an FIV-positive cat named Godzilla began his search for a forever home, we knew that the right adopter would be someone willing to look beyond his diagnosis and see the loving pet he could be. Here is Godzilla’s Happy Tail.
Godzilla arrived at the ASPCA this past January after being transferred from a nearby rescue group. During his intake at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, the friendly two-year-old tabby received a full physical exam and complete blood work, which is when we learned of his FIV-positive status. Although we cannot be sure of Godzilla’s history, FIV is mainly passed from cat to cat through deep bite wounds—the kind that usually occur outdoors during fights and territorial disputes—so it is possible that he had been living on the streets at some point. Another mode of FIV transmission is from an FIV-infected mother cat to her kitten, although this is less common and less likely.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for FIV, but as mentioned, many cats remain asymptomatic for a long period of time. Godzilla appeared to be in that asymptomatic phase, so our primary goal was to place him into a loving home right away to extend his good health and ensure that his needs were met. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before Godzilla met Jonathan.
Jonathan had known for a long time that he wanted a companion animal, but February 12 marked his first visit to the ASPCA Adoption Center. “The volunteers at the ASPCA took great care in finding a cat that would suit my needs, and Godzilla was one of those few cats,” he recalls. “The moment we met him, we fell in love!” We filled Jonathan in on Godzilla’s history, but it was clear that the handsome cat had already worked his magic: Jonathan adopted Godzilla that day.
Back at Jonathan’s Brooklyn apartment, Godzilla made it instantly clear that he was the new king of the castle. Jonathan reported, “Contrary to all we’ve heard about cats, Godzilla very quickly and seamlessly adjusted to our home. He started exploring within minutes and became affectionate toward us almost as quickly.”
Additionally, Godzilla’s new home proved to be just what the doctor ordered. In an update a few months later, Jonathan proudly announced that the cat has maintained a near-perfect bill of health. “Godzilla visited the vet recently and he’s very healthy. The vet was especially impressed with the quality of his fur and gums, which are both problem areas for FIV cats,” Jonathan says. Although he has put on a little bit of weight (a side effect of his spoiled new life), he’s now on a diet and Jonathan says he’s doing great!
We are so happy to hear stories like this because they are a reminder of the amazing potential of special-needs pets. Godzilla’s FIV status has no effect on his sweet heart, and we are so happy that he found an adopter who saw what an amazing companion he could be. Congrats to them both!
When Sarah first came to the ASPCA, she was the epitome of a “scaredy cat,” with the exception of one small detail: She’s a 30-lb. pit bull! Rescued from a life on the streets, Sarah was timid and fearful of nearly everything, until the perfect adopter came along and proved that love heals all wounds, even those we cannot see. Here is Sarah’s Happy Tail.
Sarah was found abandoned and wandering the streets of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in July 2014. Amid the sweltering summer heat, she was taken to the ASPCA Animal Hospital where she spent eight days under our care, which included a deworming treatment, spay surgery and all of her vaccines. To all appearances she looked like a strong, healthy dog, but Sarah was afraid of nearly everything. When out for a walk, she would get nervous and pull hard on the leash. She was unsure of other dogs and suspicious of new surroundings, and staff at the ASPCA noted that when scared, she would “stick to you like Velcro.” The sweet dog was clearly looking for guidance and love.
In October, Madeline H. came to the ASPCA Adoption Center in search of a new pet after her previous dog, Luna, passed away. “I was lonely and feeling very sad,” she recalls, “and there are plenty of dogs that need a good home.” At the ASPCA, Madeline met a number of adoptable pups before connecting instantly with Sarah. “She was there lying with one of her toys. She looked at me and got up and I said ‘Hi,’” she recalls. “Those eyes got me!”
Madeline adopted Sarah that day and never looked back. “People say, ‘How did you know she was your dog?’ and I say, ‘How did she know I was her mommy?’” Madeline beams. Back at her apartment, Sarah proved what we had suspected all along: With one-on-one attention and a home to call her own, the precious pittie soon came out of her anxious, timid shell. “Sarah is doing fantastic. She is a great dog, smart and very loving,” Madeline says. “All she needed was love.”
Turk the cat arrived at the ASPCA in early April after being rescued by a Good Samaritan. Scarred on his face and legs from life on the streets, he was also suffering from an ear infection and ringworm. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, the five-year-old, black-and-white cat spent more than two months undergoing treatment. He also had three teeth extracted.
Then, on June 23—78 days after he arrived at the ASPCA—Turk was made available for adoption. And within the hour, he was on his way home with Julie B. and her boyfriend, Jason, of Hamilton Heights in Manhattan.
“We were finishing up our visit, not sure if we were going to leave with a pet, when we overheard the staff and volunteers talking about a cat who had just become available for adoption and was ‘an absolute love,’” remembers Julie. Jason asked to meet the former street-fighting feline, and the moment they opened his cage, Turk begged for attention and flopped onto his back.
“We found the combination of his big, jowly, mob-boss tough looks and unbelievably affectionate personality irresistible, so we took him home on the spot,” Julie says.
Although she never had pets before Turk, Julie admits, “I've become that lady who's obsessed with her cat. He is the friendliest, most affectionate cat I've ever encountered. When people visit, he immediately wants to be their best friend and coerces them into giving him belly rubs. He still has the scars from his street-fighting days, but we can't imagine our little love bug being aggressive at all. He's a dream companion.”
Animal care technician Laurie Daniels, who helped care for Turk at the ASPCA, recalls how he was “insatiable” and loved to be touched. “He seemed to have no limits—no moments when he wanted to be alone,” Laurie says. “And what a heart he has! He is the quintessential diamond in the rough; an absolute treasure down on his luck who only needed a bit of compassion to get back on his feet.”
Julie, a singer and actress, and Jason, a jazz pianist, renamed their new feline friend Thelonious Monk after the pianist and composer. They call him Monkey for short.
“We wanted Monkey to feel like he fits in here, and it seems like he does,” Julie says. “In fact, he's already composed a few avant-garde, free-jazz style tunes walking across the piano keys toward his window perch. And he likes to sing along with me in his Louis Armstrong growl when I practice, though admittedly he may be telling me to shut up!”
At the ASPCA, we love it when animals and adopters just “fit.” It is so gratifying to bring a cat or dog into our Adoption Center and see them scooped into the perfect home right away. In the case of Vincent, a three-year-old cat who spent time at a city shelter, all it took was 10 days at the ASPCA before he found his ideal match—and he never looked back! Here is his story.
Vincent was already three years old when he came to the ASPCA in February 2015. He and five other cats were transferred from the local city shelter, where they hadn’t had any luck in their search for forever homes. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Vincent was treated for a bacterial infection and underwent a neuter procedure. Just a few days later, he met Forrest.
A lifelong animal-lover, Forrest and his partner decided to search for a pet at the ASPCA based on recommendations from friends. “We felt like we both had a lot of love to give a furry friend in need of a home,” he says, adding, “our home would be more complete with the sounds of little paws running around.”
The couple only met three or four cats before they were introduced to Vincent, and it was love at first sight. “Although there were so many very sweet little cats in the Adoption Center, as soon as we interacted with Vincent, we knew he was the cat for us,” Forrest recalls. “He was just the right balance of playful and friendly, but also very sweet and mellow.” Vincent also looked a lot like the cat Forrest had as a child, which he said made him feel like “a familiar friend.”
The couple’s instincts proved correct as Vincent continued to impress them. Forrest says, “He let us pet him without any hesitation, and he seemed so confident and happy that we decided to start the adoption papers right away.” Without missing a beat, they brought Vincent home that very same day, which happened to be February 15—the day after Valentine’s Day and 10 days after the cat’s arrival at the ASPCA. What’s more, the five cats who came with Vincent found homes by the end of that month, too.
Back at Forrest’s apartment, Vincent settled in as if he had lived there forever. “As soon as we let him out of his pet carrier, he casually walked around the whole apartment as if taking inventory of his new habitat, and then jumped up on the couch and took turns sitting on both of our laps,” Forrest says. “He never went through a skittish or awkward adjustment period. From the first day we brought him home, he’s slept on our bed with us each night and instantly made us feel like a little family.”
What can we say? When an adoption is right, it’s just right, and Vincent and Forrest were clearly made for each other. Vincent waited his whole life to find an adopter like Forrest, and we are thrilled that he found a perfect place to call home. And when Forrest says, “We couldn’t imagine our lives without Vincent,” we know this is one Happy Tail that will last forever.
Some Happy Tails speak right to the heart, and the story of Kiko is one such case. Rescued from an unhappy past, this sweet dog found a kindred spirit in his adopter, Carlos. Together, they helped each other heal while uncovering new depths of love and companionship. Here is their story.
When Kiko arrived at the local city shelter in New York City, he was suffering from pneumonia, diarrhea and bites that appeared to be from another dog. It was clear that he needed advanced care, so the ASPCA stepped in and transferred the two-year-old pit bull to our Animal Hospital in the Upper East Side. He remained there for an entire month, until he was strong enough to be transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center. Having moved from shelter to hospital to adoption center, sweet Kiko was more than ready to find a permanent home.
Meanwhile, Carlos, who lives in Queens, was coming out of a very similar situation. “I had just spent ten months in a shelter myself,” he says. “I felt I needed to help better someone else’s life, and I decided to adopt a dog because I wanted a loving companion.”
Carlos’s family had always adopted dogs from shelters or foster homes, so he knew that the ASPCA was a great place to begin his search for a pet. The minute he met Kiko, it was a perfect fit. “I knew he was the dog for me because our personalities just matched. He was energetic, relaxed, very affectionate and attentive,” he recalls. “Plus,” he says with a wink, “It turned out that someone was a ‘pound dog’ like me.”
On May 14, Carlos adopted Kiko and the two of them began their new life together. Kiko is on a gentle diet to help with his gastrointestinal issues, and Carlos is helping him forget his painful past. “He came from an abusive background and he gets frightened easily,” he says, “But we’re working on that every day.” The twosome likes to snuggle and take “corny photos” together, and Carlos says, “Kiko’s adjusted perfectly to living at home.”
Although they didn’t know it until the day they met, Carlos and Kiko’s stories were uncannily similar. But both made it out of a shelter and into a loving home, and together, their future is brighter than ever. Congratulations to them both this happy new life!