Foster Kittens Appeal Touches Readers

Generous donations raised thousands for blood tests


Hounslow Animal Welfare Society

Golden Giving

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Local Chiswick W4 readers and supporters of Hounslow Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) came together this week in a amazing response to a request to raise funds for five HAWS kittens in the foster care of Chiswick resident Louise Cole.

An appeal was posted on the Chiswick W4 Forum as well as the HAWs website & Facebook page for £500 towards the cost of some specialised blood tests for the kittens.

Within 24 hours, generous donations were made, from £10 upwards, to the Golden Giving webpage totalling £2,200!!! This included one single donation of £500 and another single donation of £1000 from local W4/W3 residents.

Louise and the HAWS Charity trustees commented; “We see so much of the damaging fallout from people treating animals poorly, either by deliberate cruelty or by not understanding an animal’s needs, to have raised over 4 times the amount needed for these kittens’ tests restores our faith in the generosity and caring of society”.

The litter of 5 kittens and their mother are amongst the 400 or so cats rescued each year by HAWs. This family were bought to HAW's attention when their “owner” abandoned her when they moved house. A neighbour contacted the local rescue centres and cared for Mum and the kittens when they were born, until Louise freed up as a foster carer when the kittens were 4 weeks old and HAWs were able to go and collect the brood and mother cat.

The issue gives an indication of how overbreeding an affect a cat's health - this was the mother’s 13th litter. Having got the mother cat and the kittens almost over a stomach bug, Louise became worried the mother was starting to deteriorate, so HAWS rushed her into Chiswick Petcare on the High Road, where the vet, James Bennett, put her on a drip and HAWS requested blood tests be done to check for the feline variant of HIV (FIV) and Leukaemia (FeLV). Sadly she turns out to be positive for FIV, so she cannot return to her kittens and will need to be adopted into an indoor only home.

The fundraising for the kittens came about because although it's rare for mother cats to pass FIV onto their kittens, it’s not impossible and HAWS cannot in good conscience rehome the kittens before they know if they have caught the virus, says Louise. And because they will have antibodies in their blood from nursing from their mother even if they don’t have the virus, a special test is needed to look for the live virus in their blood. This test, called an FIV PCR test, is unusual, relatively new and therefore expensive. This cost came just as HAWS is emerging from their busiest time of year for rescues and slowest time of year for adoptions. Petcare have kindly waived all their own costs for doing these tests but the laboratory costs of £100 per kitten needed to be raised.

Says Louise: "FIV is transmitted through body fluid exchange, normally through cats fighting but also through mating. FIV is not as serious in cats as HIV in humans (and humans can't catch FIV!). In fact, cats often live longer than non-FIV+ cats once they are diagnosed because they must be kept indoors. It is possible to vaccinate against it, however the mother cat had no vaccinations and being left to mate over and over with whatever tom cats were in the neighbourhood, being weakened by all this breeding of kittens to sell for cash via newspapers and online, and exposure to unneutered, fighting tomcats has now put her life, and that of her kittens, at risk."

Louise said she is optimistic that the mother cat will recove rfrom her infection but she can’t go back to her kittens and she will have to be placed into an indoor only adoptive home. This is so that she can’t spread the virus and is not exposed to other infections. If any of the kittens are found to have the live virus they will also be homed into an indoor only home.

HAWs has a strict non-destruction policy and only ever allow euthanasia if an animal is too seriously ill or injured for any hope of recovery, or where its quality of life is clearly unsatisfactory. The excess funds raised will go towards the other standard and emergency veterinary costs of the rescues – all rescues are micro-chipped, vaccinated and neutered, and every year there are other emergency treatments needed, for example knee surgery or tests relating to blindness or the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and heart conditions (to name just a few of the medical emergencies in the last year).

(in photo clockwise from top left) Bronte, Dickens, Auden, Shakespeare (Billy) and Byron, the 7 week old “Author” Kittens.

In addition to cats, HAWS also rescue and rehome rabbits, guinea pigs and have even rehomed giant African snails. All animals rescued by HAWS are placed in foster care as the charity has no premises and all those involved with this local West London independent registered charity work on a voluntary basis

As for the sweet little “Author Kittens” (Louise and her friends always choose a naming theme for the kittens she fosters – this litter takes her up to 94 felines fostered over the last 8 years) following the amazing generosity of the online community in West London and further afield, their blood has now been drawn by Pet Care and sent off to the lab. She is hoping the results will come through early next week, that each of the five are clear of the virus and that they can all then be put back onto the HAWS website for adoption into loving, responsible homes.

Updates will be posted on the Chiswick W4 Forum and on the HAWS Facebook page. If you would like to donate please go to the Golden Giving page or to HAWS website as the more funds the charity has, the more animals they can rescue and care for. And if you would like to discuss becoming a foster carer please also visit the HAWS site as, again, the more foster carers there are, the more animals can be rescued.

Louise comments: " It’s not always easy being a foster carer, as cases like these show, but it’s rewarding and for people who are unable to adopt a cat permanently it gives you doses of cat and kitten cuddles and fun!"

March 19, 2014

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