Tokyo, Procrastination
Published on March 19, 2006 By momijiki In Pets & Nature
A couple of months ago, I was thinking of taking in a stray cat. It was the cutest little thing. Black with warm amber eyes. He was on the street mewing pitifully and even snugged up to my legs. Pretty desperate measures for a little feral cat. I had some onigiri (salmon fish egg inside of rice) that I shared with it not having any other food and thinking some food was better than none.

I did some research on feral cats on the internet to find out what to expect from taking one in, what we would have to do to make it feel safe, etc. That was when I first heard about feline immunodeficiency virus. I didn't know that cats had this problem. And of course, since it is in the feral cat population... well cats just don't have protected sex, now do they? THis was a US website so I wanted to check the situation in Tokyo.

I went and talked to the neighborhood vet about taking in the cat. I was wrong about the food thing. I felt so badly. He said that rice and salty stuff isn't good. He said if I could catch it, he would give it a bath, deflea it and give it shots but that yes, it could have FIV and would probably live normally for a long time. My husband said I could take it in if the building superindenant said ok. She said as long as I did it secretly as the building didn't allow pets. One thing gave me pause. I am trying to have kids and the vet advised me against taking a cat if that was my plan. More for septicemia and other issues not FIV.

I never saw the cat again. I don't think I killed it with that food. At least I hope not. I see another cat with the same color and eyes but it is much bigger. I hope it is the same cat, but I doubt it because that kitten was looking thin and bony but I can hope. He/she is probably happier hanging out with its feline friends and living a more cat oriented life than hanging out in a human environment.

Coincidentally, I saw a news article about how feral cats are mixing with the indigenous cat populations (some kind of wild cat Iriomote Yama neko from Iriomote Jima) and spreading feline HIV and killing off this indigenous cat. 30% of the feral cats caught have FIV.

Some people are trying to preserve the indigenous population by catching the feral cats, giving it a FIV test and if it has FIV removing it from the street/wild and finding a home for it. I think that is a really kind thing to do, but have a lot of doubts about the success of that. Isn't this exactly the kind of cat that wants to get out of the house? Most house cats get out of the house at some point or another. I hope that these owners are really careful about these cats. Because if these cats interact with local cats, it is simply spreading the problem around to new neighborhoods.

I guess if you're a cat owner, you have to keep your cat indoors. Spaying and neutering help, but what about fighting?

on Mar 19, 2006
A friend of mine had a house cat before he had a baby. If the cat is healthy, I don't see a problem, but I might be missing something. By "other issues" I hope you're not referring to the old superstition about cats taking the baby's breath. If that's what the vet meant, find another vet.
on Mar 19, 2006
No. . Feral cats here have lots of diseases which are easy to cope with when everyone is healthy.

The other issue is how the cat socializes. My husband's cousins took in a stray kitten and she still has a lot of wild in her. The boys are junior high school age and she seems to like them, but she is skittish and doesn't like girls.

I think if you're going to take in a cat like that, you really need to have older children who can deal with the animal in the right way.
on Mar 19, 2006
I think if you're going to take in a cat like that, you really need to have older children who can deal with the animal in the right way.