Blind devotion to needy pets not the best path for everyone

By Petula Dvorak
Friday, July 16, 2010

The case of Morty Schwartz is a tough one to hear.

He was a handsome, magical cat who patrolled his alley with swagger and spent hours flirting with a cute house cat through her window.

David Catania, who happens to be a D.C. Council member, wanted the best for the alley cat who had eyes for his girl.

It's a long story, but it comes down to this: Catania took Morty to the vet to get him neutered and cared for and learned that he had feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV.

Because Morty was a little feisty, there was a reasonable chance he could infect the docile house cat -- a bite often can do it, and Morty was a biter and a fighter. And Morty also hated -- absolutely, stir-crazy hated -- being indoors.

Catania said he did everything he could to find Morty a home, but it wasn't happening. So Morty became Catania's outdoor cat.

And then Morty got sick. Horribly sick. Before he died, his owners had applied costly creams to his wounds, pumped IV-bags of fluid into his furry limbs, hand-fed him oral medications.

But that's not always the case for cats with FIV.

Spike is pushing 14 years old. He is getting thinner and more frail, the way older pets generally do, but he is an active and avid moth-chaser, his owner reports.

Mouse was a robust feline until he was 16, his owner said.

And Muffin reached 18. "I can attest that I have had a very positive experience with an FIV+ cat," said Muffin's owner, Peggy Clark, who was one of a couple hundred cat lovers who e-mailed after I wrote a column about my decision not to adopt a couple of shelter kittens who tested positive for the feline virus.

I'm no stranger to the passion many people have for their pets. I'm that animalista who went to crazy lengths to care for my dogs. Before my husband and I had children, we spent much of our disposable income on the various maladies and escapades of our two rescued and troubled pups.

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