A Bond Forged Against All Odds
Today's blog was written by adopter Carey C.
I am a kidney transplant recipient.
I am also a cat lover.
In the world of transplant medicine,
these two things do not always go well together.
When I received my first kidney transplant twelve years ago, I owned two sweet, well-loved cats. The nurse told me I would need to “get rid of” both of them in order to live successfully with a transplant. Clearly she was not an animal lover! There was no way I was going to abandon my furry little family! So I kept asking my medical team questions and doing research, and by surgery time, they had "compromised" and were now saying my kitties "just have to live somewhere else for 3 months while you recover.” And while I absolutely wanted to be safe, I still needed to understand the risks more before I sent my kitties away for three months.
When I asked more questions, like what safety measures I would need to take to keep my kitties with me post-surgery, the doctor literally shrugged and said (and I quote), “There is practically nothing you can do on all the medications that you are on that is going to cause your cat to make you sick, really. Just make sure you mask and glove when you clean the litter box.” Well, that was more like it!
Then, as Covid struck, my sweet surviving kitty passed away at 15 years old. I was heartbroken. The immune suppressing medications I am required to take to keep my kidney transplant healthy put me at high risk for Covid 19 complications, so I was staying inside as much as possible. But I could window shop! I started surfing the internet as a sort of personal kitty-loss grief therapy. I had no intention of adopting a new kitty.
But then I read this bio and saw this photo:
"George is mellow. George is sweet. George has never met a person he does not love. If you take George home, he will be grateful. If you let George sleep in your bed, he will think he's died and gone to heaven."
Who could resist? George was in a shelter I'd never heard of called "RappCats" - almost 2 hours away - but meeting him suddenly qualified as a reasonable - no, necessary - outing! I called and expressed interest in George, and Debra, the volunteer I talked to was so excited for him. Everything she said made me want to meet him more. We scheduled an initial visit. I promised myself this was only a "meet & greet", not an adoption.
When I arrived and entered George’s room, he came straight to me! Before I'd even had a chance to sit down enough to fully make a “lap” for him, sweet George had already climbed on me. He locked eyes with me and it was all over - it seemed we were both smitten!
Then, when Debra retrieved George’s records, and told me he was 12 years old and FIV+, my heart sank. I didn't mind his age (though other adopters had passed him up in favor of a younger kitty). But what to do about George’s FIV status? He – like myself – was immune compromised. Would my doctors even talk to me about adopting an FIV+ cat?
Look at that face! George had made it clear that he wanted me to adopt him. But was living with him realistic? I was determined to find out because he was such a sweet, wonderful soul. I went home and read, talked to several vets, and consulted with many doctors.
I knew my life would be better with a pet, and I knew George had my heart. I also knew the science agreed that pets’ non-judgmental support and warm cuddles are healing. Research even shows that living with pets improves survival time and decreases mortality for people
If any cat could have a positive impact on my health, it was sure to be the super-loving George!
Finally, after many conversations and much research by Debra as well as myself, I discovered that by following a few basic rules, George and I could create a safe, healthy life together. I made the 2-hour drive back to the shelter, and this time I knew I wouldn’t be coming home alone. And sure enough, George seemed to be waiting for me.
Staring at me with his big, soulful eyes, it was as if George was saying, “What took you so long?”
I’ve had George for a year and half now, and we are incredibly happy and healthy together. Neither of us has had any health problems because of the other, and I am so happy I adopted him! I cannot say that I recommend an FIV+ cat to every transplant recipient—my poor doctor almost hung up on me when I first spoke with her about George! But after more research, it became clear we were both perfectly safe.
So, for any other transplant recipient, please check with your own doctors about pet safety and transplants, but for me, George is my inseparable companion, and I would have lost out on so much if he had not adopted me!
And if you are healthy? I cannot encourage you enough! There are so many sweet, wonderful Georges out there, just waiting for a home. He is a healthy, happy, active kitty, and has had zero health problems. If I had not read his file, I would not even know he was FIV+.
If I had passed George up based on his FIV status, we would have lost out on an incredible love story.
George now has a fur brother (yes, another adoption!) who lives with him. The two boys get along great. They are best friends who sleep and play together all of the time.
His brother does not have FIV. Again, a decision made after much research, consultation, and consideration of risks and benefits. I believe their lives are better for having each other.
In adopting George, I learned many lessons.
First, every situation is different -
do your research, then listen to your heart.
Second, the healing power of animals is immeasurable.
always consider adopting the cats others may overlook -
they are special.
Note from Deb at RappCats:
George's wonderful mom is now in need of a 2nd kidney transplant.
Along with over 90,000 others, she is on a waiting list.
The shortage of kidneys for transplantation
continues to be a public health crisis in the U.S.
To learn more, or to see if you would qualify as a donor,
visit any of these links:
And finally, all of us at RappCats
wish you and yours a peaceful, happy holiday season!
Meow for now! Kitty kisses!
RappCats relies entirely on private donations
from animal lovers like you. If you'd like to contribute to our other cats' shelter, medical, and care expenses,
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We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Donations in the form of checks and money orders are also accepted and can be sent to:
RappCats P.O. Box 307 Washington, VA 22747
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We have a supply "Wish List" on Chewy's website.
Click on their logo below if you'd like to see what we currently need.