August 17, 2016

ASPCA Happy Tails: Fievel Goes Home

Happy Tails: Fievel

During the summertime stretch known as “kitten season,” animal shelters across the United States are inundated with thousands of homeless and newborn cats. The vulnerable neonates require constant feeding, attention and care, and at the ASPCA Kitten Nursery, we work around the clock to give every single one the best chance at a happy, healthy life. Although more than 2,000 kittens come through our doors each year, some, like Fievel, require extra special care. Here’s his story.

When Fievel arrived at the ASPCA in April, he was less than four weeks old and weighed only a single pound. Like the other newborn cats in our Kitten Nursery, he needed to be syringe-fed warm formula every two hours—both day and night—and to receive regular brushing with a toothbrush, drying with a gentle blow dryer and consistent socialization. But unlike the other kittens, Fievel also had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV.

When a kitten as young as Fievel tests positive for FIV, it is almost certain that the disease was contracted from its mother. Although the prognosis for FIV-positive kittens is good—many clear the infection as they mature—we knew that Fievel’s weakened immune system and need for special care might make for a difficult road to adoption. Fortunately, by the end of May, he had gained a pound-and-a-half and was healthy enough to begin his search for a home. That’s when we met Gabrielle L.

Fievel lying on the floor

Gabrielle grew up with a tabby cat, like Fievel, but she had never before had a pet of her own. After spending a few years in New York City without an animal companion, she decided that it was a good time to welcome a new tabby into her life. On her first-ever visit to the ASPCA Adoption Center, she spotted Fievel.

“He had tested positive for FIV and I knew it might give him a hard time finding a home,” Gabrielle recalls, but she was immediately drawn to his spunky personality. “When I tried to play with him he was restless—he was very playful and curious. He wasn’t shy and he was nibbling a lot.”

Although Gabrielle was intrigued by the tiny grey kitten, she admits that he still had one final hurdle to overcome: her allergies. “I’m allergic to some cats, so I went back a couple of times to check on him and see how I was reacting,” she says. At some point during the course of her visits, she fell in love. “I think I just got attached!” she laughs. She decided they were meant to be.

Fievel lying on a desk

In the months since his adoption, Fievel has continued to grow and thrive. Gabrielle reports, “He has been great, he’s now about to turn five months. He’s a bit stubborn but very playful and smart.” She tells us that he is an adventurer who loves to explore—in fact, she even brought him upstate for a weekend and he loved the ride on the train! “He loves to cuddle in the afternoon, which makes me very happy, and regular grooming keeps my allergies dormant,” she adds. When Fievel’s not busy cuddling or exploring, he also loves to play with his favorite toys, like a cat-catcher and peek-a-prize box.

Even though Fievel likes to act tough on the outside, we know from his days in our Nursery that he’s really a softie deep down inside. Gabrielle tells us, “He loves when I carry him,” and after all that he’s been through, we’re sure he must be happy that she’s the one who carried him home. 

Fievel in Gabrielle's arms