I was at a DSO (now D'sO) retreat this morning with my cell phone on vibrate. Around 9:30, I could hear it buzzing away in my purse. After about 1/2 hour of this, I excused myself to see who was trying to reach me. Turns out it was Dan from Hobbes House (the guy who took Apollo and Hera while we were in NY) with some alarming and potentially very bad news.
Three other kittens he's been fostering who are now 8 weeks just tested positive for Feline Leukemia; a very nasty, nasty disease. Also, it is highly contagious and easily passed between cats/kittens.
Although some people (especially those with no other cats) might keep a cat with this disease, it's usually a death sentence for ones you are fostering/trying to adopt out because not too many people will adopt a cat that already has health issues right off the bat. So, it's very likely these three (and another one who was exposed to them, had already been placed in a home, and also tested positive) will have to be put to sleep.
Needless to say, there is a lot of fallout from this and there are general questions this has brought up for me (the current situation aside) about their testing process which I am hoping to get answered soon to put my mind completely at ease regarding our four (although I will probably have them all tested with Uncle Chuck, anyway, next time they go in for shots).
As for Apollo and Hera, it's highly unlikely that they contracted the disease because a) they were isolated (in a bathroom together) and b) so were the infected cats (no chance there was nose touching going on from underneath a door, for example). There needs to be some sort of fluid transferred involved (e.g., shared food/water bowls, litter boxes, grooming one another, etc.)
The only way they could have become infected is slim and that would be if Dan petted one of the infected kitties in an area where they'd just licked/groomed themselves, went in (without washing his hands) and petted A or H and then A or H licked themselves (or each other) in the exact same spot where he'd petted them.
Still, we have to be safe and keep any future potential exposure to OUR cats limited so Dan came by this afternoon to take Apollo and Hera back to his house where they'll be in isolation for two months or so, at which point, they'll be tested. Actually, he's going to test them in four weeks, and, if they are ok, retest them in another four just to be sure. Why? Apparently, the disease can take up to 12 weeks to manifest such that a cat would test positive (although it's usually much sooner, around 8 weeks, and it also seems to manifest quicker in young kittens (they have no way to fight it off because they have zero immune systems)).
Anyway, the other very important piece to all of this is as follows: In addition to it taking 4-12 weeks for an infected kitten or cat to test positive, it also takes 4-6 weeks for them to start "shedding" the virus (which means be contagious to other cats). So, they were over there at Dan's one week and have been back here one week. That's two weeks. Even if they are infected (which is hopefully NOT the case given the slim possibility), they wouldn't have had it long enough to pose any danger to Pete, Lily, Ares and Athena. Which is obviously a big relief for us.
Let us all hope Apollo and Hera test negative because we hate to think of what it will mean for them if they don't.
If they are given the green light to go back out to Thons, it's likely we won't take them back for fostering. No, not "it's likely we won't"; WE WON'T. For a lot of reasons but the main one is it would be too hard of an adjustment to bring them back after two months. And, to his credit, Dan didn't suggest that. He said, "I'll just keep them and find them good homes, it wouldn't make sense to bring them back to you".
Suffice it to say, The B's are DONE with this fostering experiment!
But, we can always go visit them as we'll know where they will (likely) be on Saturday afternoons, hanging out at Petsmart.
Anyway, a lot of scary drama today and, also, a bit sad. I wasn't expecting to have to let them go today so I wasn't prepared to say good-bye. It WAS hard to watch them go away, even though I know it's for the best. Mostly because I'm worried for them, but also because I'm going to miss them.
Especially my pal Apollo.