In 2015, a Good Samaritan found a tiny kitten abandoned in the snow and brought her to Tabby’s Place.
Staff at the Ringoes, New Jersey-based sanctuary nursed her back to health, but tests confirmed the little one had Feline leukemia virus (FeLV). While they set up a makeshift isolation ward (FeLV is highly contagious), a woman came by and told the staff she wanted to adopt a cat no one else wanted.
She chose the FeLV+ kitten, who was dubbed Quinn, even though she knew they might only have a few months or perhaps a year or two together.
Seven years later and despite the odds, Quinn is still with her human mom. The latter decided she wanted to thank Tabby’s Place with a $3.5 million donation to help FeLV+ cats like Quinn. With the hefty donation and the support of many other donors, the sanctuary is closing in on the $5.5 million to cover the construction of Quinn’s Corner, a first-of-its-kind center for treating cats infected with FeLV.
“These little ones are really the ‘final frontier’ in terms of cats who have nowhere to turn,” Tabby’s Place Development Director Angela Hartley told PITB, “and we’re thrilled to finally be in a position to welcome them at Tabby’s Place.”
Staff at Tabby’s Place see Quinn’s Corner as a major step forward in caring for kitties who normally don’t have a chance. Because they don’t have the facilities, know-how or resources to treat FeLV+ cats, many shelters simply euthanize them.
In the initial announcement, the sanctuary described Quinn’s Corner as a place where “cats who wandered the world looking for love will find cage-free bliss, matchless medical care, and the dignity and tenderness that every Tabby’s Place cat enjoys.”
The construction crew broke ground about a year ago and, if factors like supply chain issues for construction materials and the weather cooperate, the staff at Tabby’s Place hope to celebrate with a grand opening in autumn.
Because of how contagious and deadly FeLV is — it can pass by grooming, sharing food and water bowls, and close contact — infected cats must be kept apart from the other feline residents. Quinn’s Corner will have its own entrance and lobby, individual suites and a large communal room for FeLV cats, and “solaria,” which are like fancy catios for the ailing furballs to get fresh air and enjoy chirping at birds.
Separately, the project will add a nursery and adoption suite for kittens and an “operations center” where staff can attend to all the behind-the-scenes work of caring for felines, including laundry and food prep.
Tabby’s Place will match donations until they reach the $2 million goal to supplement the initial donation of $3.5 million, but cat lovers can continue to donate at any time, Hartley said.
All construction photos and renderings provided by Tabby’s Place. Top photo credit Asish Aji/Pexels.
After almost three months in treatment, little Parsnip is back to her old self.
The tabby cat with expressive sky blue eyes had been diagnosed with Feline infectious peritonitis, a variation of feline coronavirus that attacks the body’s white blood cells and can render even the most playful kittens lethargic, eventually robbing them of their ability to walk and ultimately, their lives.
Parsnip was an affectionate whirlwind of energy when 21-year-old Californian Anae Evangelista adopted her. When she lost her kitten exuberance six weeks later, Evangelista knew something was wrong. When the little cat stopped eating and drinking, Evangelista realized the problem was much more serious than an initial veterinary examination suggested.
After more tests, she received grim confirmation that Parsnip had FIPV, a virus that is almost always fatal.
But a veterinarian connected her with an online group for people whose cats have FIPV and Evangelista was able to get her kitty accepted for experimental treatment with GS-441524, a nucleoside analogue antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating all types of FIP in several trials in recent years.
After a regimen of almost three months of GS-441524 treatment, Parsnip has her energy back, she’s gained a pound and a half, and “looks perfectly healthy,” Evangelista said. Equally important, her blood work and other health indicators are all positive.
She’s overjoyed at the result. Parsnip came into her life at a difficult time, when Evangelista was grieving the loss of two friends. Losing the kitten she’d bonded with — an animal who had become such a comfort to her over the months — would have been too much.
Evangelista will graduate from college in about a week’s time, “so I’m honestly so excited to have her ‘graduate’ from her treatment too,” she told PITB.
Londoner Billie’s cat, Jupiter, also suffers from FIPV. When she went to adopt him, Billie knew the British shorthair had Feline herpes virus (FHV) and that it would require careful monitoring. But the infection wasn’t life-threatening and Billie had already fallen in love with the golden-eyed chonkster.
When Jupiter’s appetite waned and his behavior changed earlier this year, Billie thought the little guy was just suffering from a FHV flare-up.
“He is very loving, he is like my shadow and he loves to play,” Billie told PITB, “but he wasn’t doing any of these things.”
As was the case with Parsnip, the veterinarians didn’t think Jupiter was seriously ill. They sent Billie and Jupiter home with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, but after a week Jupiter still hadn’t improved. He was subject to a battery of tests — bloodwork, ultrasounds, x-rays — and kept overnight for observation.
“FIP is notoriously hard to diagnose, and there are so many symptoms that you could mistake for other things,” Billie said, noting veterinarians often have to “work backwards” and eliminate other potential ailments before diagnosing a cat with FIPV. “Jupiter’s symptoms were so minor initially, he just seemed a bit off and hadn’t eaten much and felt hot. I think because I know him and his behavior so well, we were able to catch it early.”
Because the tests didn’t confirm FIPV, a third visit with more tests followed before Jupiter was placed on his meds. While the FDA has yet to approve GS-441524 treatment in the US, the UK had approved the drug in fall 2021, so Jupiter was able to begin treatment right away. Like Evangelista, who paid $5,000 for the FIPV drugs, not including the initial veterinary examinations, Billie was faced with hefty bills: The three initial veterinary visits, tests and five nights of observation added up to £5,500 (about $6,930 in USD), and the medication set her back £7,500 (about $9,400).
Her family helped her pay the initial veterinary bills, her sister started a GoFundMe campaign, and her nieces began making “FIP Warrior crystal healing bracelets,” with the proceeds from sales going to Jupiter’s treatment. (A GoFundMe for Parsnip also exists, and has raised $2,060 of its $2,500 goal so far.)
So far, Jupiter is responding well to the treatment and the signs are encouraging.
Both cats will enter an 84-day observation period after their regimens. They’ll have their bloodwork monitored and will be examined several times over that stretch to make sure they’ve recovered. They’ll also be closely watched at home for any symptoms.
Evangelista and Billie said they’re heartened by the 85 percent success rate.
Despite the cost, Billie said she didn’t balk at taking care of her cat.
“Jupiter is my whole world,” Billie said. “It is just the two of us, he is my one constant and he means everything to me. He is so loving, and so sassy. He has such a little personality and I would be so lost without him.”
One of the takeaways from the 2019 documentary Don’t F*** With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer is the connection between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.
The 30-year-old who killed college student Jun Lin previously announced himself to the world with a series of videos in which he killed cats and kittens, then led online groupies on a years-long goose chase, parceling out crumbs of information to keep them interested until he finally “graduated” to humans and murdered Lin.
If police had taken the cat-killing videos more seriously, some of the documentary’s subjects believed, detectives could have caught the killer before he set his sights on a person. Of course, this blog’s position is that animal life has intrinsic value and animal abuse should be investigated for its own sake, but if police are more motivated out of fear that animal abusers could commit violent crimes against people, that helps cats and other animals too.
Now we’ve learned that the 18-year-old gunman responsible for the Texas school shooting and the 18-year-old who gunned down 10 people in a Buffalo, NY, supermarket were both cat killers before they were murderers of human beings. The former murdered 21 people, including 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 while the latter took the lives of 10 people, all black, in a hate-motivated massacre on May 14.
The Texas shooter filmed himself grinning while holding “a bag of blood-soaked dead cats,” the New York Post reported on Sunday. David Trevino Jr., who knew the shooter, said he was “known for hurting cats.”
“He liked hurting animals,” Trevino told the Post. “I’m told he killed the cats and carried around the bag of bodies for s–ts and giggles The video shows he was not right in the head. He’s not all there. The video raises all sorts of red flags.”
The Buffalo murderer told online acquaintances he’d beheaded a cat, and wrote about it in a journal as well. Like the Texas shooter, his animal abuse wasn’t a secret. His mother knew, and gave him a box to bury the dead animal.
The shooters both fit the profile of animal abusers who move on to hurting people: Most animal abusers are men younger than 30, according to the Humane Society, and studies have found men who abuse cats often target them as an emotional proxy for women. More than 70 percent of women who have companion animals and were in an abusive relationship reported their significant others harming their pets.
Classmates of the Texas shooter described him as “eerie,” “scary” and quick to lose his temper. He was known for physically threatening girls and women, and for harassing them online. One classmate, 17-year-old Keanna Baxter, said he got “super violent” when he dated her friend.
“He was overall just aggressive, like violent,” Baxter said. “He would try and fight women. He would try and fight anyone who told him no — if he didn’t get his way, he’d go crazy. He was especially violent towards women.”
The Texas shooter spent a lot of time creeping on women on social media and in group chat services, which brings us full circle back to Don’t F*** With Cats. In a conversation with a teenage girl on group video chat app Yubo, he told her he “wanted his name out there” like the deranged killer at the center of that documentary.
The shooter, who lurked in group chats uninvited, also showed off the guns he bought after he turned 18 on May 16.
“He would be active every day and join our lives, repeating girls’ names until they paid attention to him,” the girl said.
Although the blame game begins while the bodies of the victims are still warm, as shrieking heads speculate on cable news, no one ever talks about the obvious and uncomfortable truth, which is that these disaffected young loners desperately want to show people they’re important, that they matter.
If they can’t find fame, infamy is a second prize they’re happy to embrace, and they’re motivated in part by the notoriety that previous members of their grim brotherhood “achieved” by massacring fellow human beings.
Major media figures aren’t merely willing to grant that wish. They’re wholeheartedly, enthusiastically in on it, filling hours of airtime looping the same short bits of footage, breathlessly reporting every nugget of information, and holding court over panels of “experts” who are happy to speculate on motivations regardless of how little they know. They blame video games, society, the lack of nuclear families, the lack of male role models, white supremacy, bullying, guns — everything but their own role in turning the killers into household names.
After all, almost everyone who was alive in 1999 can name the two trenchcoated murderers who perpetrated the Columbine massacre, back when things like that still shocked the country. But how many of us can name a single one of the 13 victims?
That’s why I won’t name the killers on this blog. It’s just one blog, in one small corner of the internet, and it won’t make a difference. But if everyone stopped naming them, stopped making them household names and the stars of obsessive crime porn, stopped turning them into objects of fascination whose faces are plastered on magazine covers like rock stars, maybe it would change things.
If would-be killers knew infamy was off the table, that if they survive they’ll remain anonymous nobodies without prison groupies begging for face time, journalists begging for interviews, and grief vampires discussing them for years in “true crime” books and on podcasts, would they go through with it?
The former stray captured the hearts of people around the world when he survived a brutal attack on the front porch of a Philadelphia home, with two dogs mauling him at the urging of their teenage owners. The attack, which was captured on video, prompted worldwide outrage from animal lovers and resulted in an outpouring of help, with well-wishers flooding the Pennsylvania SPCA with more than $100,000 in donations.
Dr. Katie Venanzi was the veterinarian who performed emergency surgery on Buddy in the immediate aftermath of the attack, when his survival was doubtful.
That was back in March. Since then, Buddy’s glorious will to live carried him through those perilous first few hours and days, and he eventually healed up enough to go to a foster home.
Venanzi felt an emotional attachment to the little guy and offered to foster him with the hope of providing his forever home. It wasn’t clear if that would be possible: Buddy’s original family failed at making him an indoor cat because he was too accustomed to the freedom of being a stray, so they fed him and took care of him as best they could.
His brush with death seems to have tamed Buddy, who has adjusted to indoor life with Venanzi, her husband and their other cat, Teddy. Buddy enjoys “basking in the sun on a windowsill or watching the world go by from the front screen door,” the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Gillian Kocher said, and his new family “fell more and more in love” with him as the days and weeks went by.
“He has all the toys a cat could want, though his favorite seems to be an empty cardboard box for lounging,” she said. “He is loved, and he is home.”
With his story of perseverance and bravery, Buddy “has become a symbol of everything we do here,” Kocher said. The money left over from donations after all of Buddy’s veterinary needs were taken care of will be used to help other cats and dogs just like him who have suffered abuse and neglect.
You can support the Pennsylvania SPCA by buying a “Save Every Buddy” t-shirt or other gear on the group’s site.
Even though I am the honored servant to the king, His Grace Buddy I, I am not immune to adoptable cats who tug at the heartstrings.
Frankie Sad Eyes is one of those cats. Just look at those eyes!
The little guy is 13 years old, and at an age when he should be enjoying a quiet, nap- and treat-filled life as the senior statesman among cats, he’s been surrendered by his people and has landed in a shelter.
Thankfully that shelter is Tabby’s Place, a no-kill, no-cage sanctuary in New Jersey that has a reputation for doing right by its cats. Still, any feline would be shocked by the experience of losing his or her family and ending up in a strange place with unfamiliar people and cats.
Alas, I can’t adopt Frankie. Like the King himself, he’s not particularly keen on sharing his throne, so there can be no future where Buddy and Frankie are, well, buddies.
But Frankie, who is described as “a zesty, exuberant sweetheart” who still has kitten-like energy, is looking for a home where he can establish his new and forever kingdom, with a human or humans who will dote on him and see to his every need.
Visit Tabby’s Place to view their adoptable cats, make a donation or just brighten your day.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.