Since lockdown began, there has been an influx of cats coming into Wood Green, The Animals Charity with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Since these cats have more specific needs than non-infected cats, including access to enclosed gardens, it takes significantly longer for them to be rehomed. Thanks to Wood Green’s partnership with ProtectaPet, new owners can provide cats with safe outdoor territories at a reduced cost, meaning FIV-positive cats can go to loving new homes more quickly.
FIV is a viral infection that only affects cats, and is most commonly transmitted through fighting or mating. Although FIV-positive cats will remain infected for the rest of their lives, they can lead comfortable lives with a normal lifespan – providing they receive supportive medical care, eat a good diet and are kept in a stress-free environment. However, since they can pass the disease to other cats, they can only be rehomed to rural areas or to homes with enclosed gardens.
The prevalence of FIV is static at around 4%, meaning it is not a growing risk for the UK cat population, but certain factors relating to the pandemic have caused an influx of FIV-positive cats coming into the care of Wood Green. With more people working from home, they are more frequently noticing stray cats in their area and calling the charity for support. The financial impact of COVID-19 has also meant that some owners have been unable to afford their cats’ veterinary bills and, sadly, have had to give up their pets for rehoming.
Wood Green works in collaboration with ProtectaPet, the UK’s leading provider of cat fencing solutions, to allow these cats to enjoy the enrichment of the outdoors whilst giving peace of mind to new owners. By keeping them safely within a cat barrier, catio or custom-built enclosure, the risk of them infecting other cats with FIV – as well as a host of other concerns like getting lost or injured in the road – is almost eliminated. In addition to generously donating £2,500 of custom-made fencing for Wood Green’s on-site facilities, ProtectaPet also offers supporters and rehomers a generous discount on their own set-up.
Juliette Jones, Cat Behaviour & Training Specialist at Wood Green, said: “The majority of cats require access to the outdoors in order to express natural behaviours like exploring and hunting, so we need to prioritise their needs when finding them a new home – especially since stressed cats are more susceptible to disease. If we do not believe a cat with FIV will cope living as an indoor-only pet, we look for a new home in a rural area, with enough territory and resources to prevent fighting with other cats. The other option is for new owners to create an enriching indoor lifestyle, with a secure outdoor space like those offered by ProtectaPet.”
Wood Green is currently caring for five cats with FIV, including Charlie and Smudge (pictured above). Charlie had been fighting with cats in his local area and returned home one day with a large wound on his face. Due to his FIV+ status, recovery for open wounds is a little more complicated, and his owners could not afford the treatment. Similarly, two-year-old Smudge had a number of medical issues – and was living with two other cats – so it was critical to get him quickly to Wood Green’s Cambridgeshire centre to give him the medical treatment he urgently needed, whilst protecting the other cats in the home.
Eve Davies, Co-founder and Communications Director at ProtectaPet, said: “We’re proud to support Wood Green, and fully believe in their welfare-first approach to caring for and rehoming cats like Charlie and Smudge. To date, our products have protected more than 17,000 cats. For us, there’s no better job satisfaction than knowing we’re helping cats to live safe, yet fulfilling lives – no matter what they’ve been through.”
Wood Green receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of its supporters and partners in order to care for vulnerable pets. To find out more about supporting Wood Green through a corporate partnership, please contact their friendly team on [email protected] or visit woodgreen.org.uk.