Back in the mid-1980s, I was assigned to cover the local AIDS epidemic. I got used to reading, talking and writing about HIV and its impact on people, usually gay men, but sometimes straight men and women. I got to know a few of them well, and went to their funerals.
Thursday, taking our new furry friend Pumpkin/Garfield to the vet for a checkup, I learned that he has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, the cat version of HIV. It cannot infect humans and is spread between cats primarily by bites. According to Wikipedia, it is estimated to have thus far stricken a mere 4.4 percent of the cats in the world. According to some web sites on cats, Senor Gato has a maximum of five years to live.
While Mr. Boy and I already were working on keeping our new companion indoors, for our sake as well as his own, we now must do it, according to the vet, to keep him from spreading the disease to other cats in the neighborhood. And for his own protection since a common bacterial or viral infection that a healthy cat might fight off quickly could kill one, like him, with a damaged immune system. His own litter box could kill him if it isn’t kept clean.
Ironic, to be sure. Having recently lost Mrs. Charm to advanced cancer we have now returned to caring for the dying. And, eventually, to grieving the loss of another loved one. It seems to be the way of our world.