Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day - December 1, 2008

Today is World AIDS Day, a day meant to raise awareness for the continued need to tackle HIV and AIDS both at home and abroad. It's not as 'sexy' an issue as it used to be, but there are about 33 million people who are HIV+ in this world. Of those, only about 3 million are on the AIDS drugs that have proven to so successfully prolong life and vastly improve the quality of life. And last year alone, about 3 million people were newly infected. That's not really keeping things "in check."This morning, Radar and I were supposed to join hundreds of others at Fort Charlotte, all dressed in red, to form a human red ribbon that would be shot from above. Instead, the skies opened up and unleashed a holy hell-storm of rain! So, in lieu of that, I thought I would at least share the story of how this terrible illness touches our home. Well, actually, it isn't HIV, but rather FIV that has invaded our home. Same idea, different species (felines).

The story of Mulligan – my cat with AIDS.

This fine, handsome cat has been a part of my family since the summer of 2001. I wasn't looking for a cat, much less a sick cat, but destiny had other ideas. I went shopping one beautiful summer afternoon with my mom to buy dog food at the nearby Petsmart. A local cat rescue society had set up inside with their cages of cats. As I always do, I stopped to coochi-coo all the kitties with the full intention of then walking away with a pinch of guilt that I couldn't save them all. Many of the cats were two, or even three, to a cage and each cat had a small story on its cage. One very handsome white and orange adult cat caught my eye. He was alone in his cage and his story was intriguing.
He had been a free roamer, living the good life on a golf course (ergo the name Mulligan) when the course management decided it was time to rid the place of cats. The rescue society came and scooped up all the cats with the intention of spaying and neutering them, giving them shots and then releasing them in another location. Mulligan was castrated, given his shots and a small triangle was clipped from his ear (so that he could be identified in the future as a having already been fixed - you can see the clip in his left ear in the picture). But before his re-release, bloodwork came back indicating that he was FIV+! He could not be released and thus, he was looking at me from behind the bars of his cage in Petsmart. I poked my fingers through to rub his head and he slashed me! The worker from the rescue society quickly jumped over and explained that that was very unusual and that he was just stressed being in the cage. "Normally he's the friendliest cat in the world."

The thoughts going through my head at the time were these:

1. Walk away.
2. But the only person who would adopt a sick cat is a total lunatic of a cat lover and those people already have several cats and they could not adopt a cat with a communicable disease that might infect their other cats.
3. Walk away!!
4. If on the other hand I adopt this cat, I can give it a loving home and nurture it until he starts getting sick in a month or two. Then I can tearfully take him in to have him humanely put down! People will whisper behind my back about what a good person I am and I will earn some extra heaven points!!

So, on that fateful summer day, Mulligan, the sick but loving cat came home to live out his waning days with me.

That was seven and half years ago. In those seven and half years I have had the flu, stomach bugs and a variety of other ailments that have sidelined me for a day or more. Mulligan has never been sick – not for a day. He is indeed a very loving cat, but with a Jekyll & Hyde twist… after snuggling, rubbing and purring, he always likes to cap it off with some quick slashing and biting! With this in mind, I had him declawed when I found out I was pregnant… despite his advanced age (I'm guessing 10 or so) and his deadly illness, he grew back two miracle claws! To top it all off, no one whispers behind my back about what a good person I am, but rather they tell me right to my face that I'm a sucker. Despite that, I love my psychotic, eternally dying cat and hope he sticks around for another 7.5 years!

So that's my part in raising awareness about FIV, the feline version of HIV! Do I get any heaven points for that?

Titi, Radar and Mulligan
(Fantango wanted no part in this post)


Lali said...

I love Mulligan! Good job raising awareness!

megat said...

your blog more info ,make me excited. Congratulation