This is a picture of Sock, our all white, deaf, FeLV+ baby girl. Her story is special to us, and I want to tell you why.
After having Savannah, our first cat together as a married couple, my husband and I decided we were ready for another one. So I emailed a couple of shelters, and the humane society got me in contact with Rebekah (of Purrcatory) who had just rescued a litter of kittens, one of which was our Sock, who had tested positive for feline leukemia and would have otherwise been put down. Rebekah brought Sock over for a play date with Savannah, and it went so well that I refused to let Rebekah take Sock back home with her. I begged her to let us keep Sock, so Sock stayed.
At first, we thought that Sock was a boy, because that's what the humane society had told Rebekah. Then one day when Rebekah came over, it was discovered that Sock was actually a girl! This picture is from the day we found out she was actually a girl, and we put a Hello Kitty sweater on her to celebrate our new discovery!
The sad part of the story begins between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sock came down with an upper respiratory, and we treated her the best we could. When we felt it was too difficult to manage on our own, we recruited Rebekah to help us with force feeding and alternate foods (goats milk, etc). Despite appetite stimulants and force feeding, wrapping Sock in a blanket and cuddling her close, ensuring to the best of our ability that she was hydrated and medicated, Sock lost weight and contracted pneumonia. It was discovered at a checkup with the vet, and as soon as my husband called, I left work and went straight there, where we were told the news that she probably wouldn't make it. This was our first time ushering a pet over the rainbow bridge, and it was met with sobbing and constant reassurance to baby Sock that she was okay and she wouldn't be sick anymore. Sock was 7 months old.
We were heartbroken. We mourned. We cried. We had dreams that Sock would come back to us, whole and healthy again, only to awake to the same emptiness and only the small wooden box of ashes and clay pawprint to greet us. It was nearing Christmas, and we had already purchased stockings for the kitties with their initials on it, and small toys to put inside them.
We decided after a time that even though we could never replace Sock, we needed to adopt again, to redirect the love we still had in our hearts, and so that another shelter cat could have a home for Christmas. Especially an FeLV+ one, because they rarely get adopted out. We knew without a doubt it was what Sock would have wanted. So I went to Sun Cities 4 Paws. I think they knew I was coming because of Rebekah’s association with them, and when I told them what had happened in our lives and what I was there for, they cheerfully led me to the FeLV+ kitty room to help me find the new addition to our family.
As I cuddled with or petted most of the cats in there, I just didn’t feel the connection I did with Savannah and with Sock. I asked if they possibly had any other FeLV kitties available and they quickly remembered they did have one in quarantine at the moment for diarrhea, and that she was all black. It was perfect! I had secretly always wanted an all black cat, and when they brought her out to me and let me hold her, she immediately started purring and drooling all over me. It was love at first sight. The connection was magical. She was perfect.
Bagheera is now a little over 1 year old and doing incredible with her new family. But this story isn’t about Bagheera, it’s about Sock, and the miracle of adoption. You never know how long an FeLV+ kitty will live, but what’s important is the quality of life that they do get. We spoiled Sock rotten for the time she was with us, and we never regret having her in our life, despite how short that time was. It was a painful time for us, but it was never really about us. It was about giving Sock a home, making her a part of the family, and taking care of her until the end. And for that opportunity, I will be forever grateful. And that is why we adopt FeLV+ cats.
Rest in peace, baby Sock. We will meet you again soon.