TommyTommy decided to move in with me in the spring of 2005/06. He tested positive for FIV. I gave him the best care I could but his poor living arrangements prior to moving in with me meant that the FIV kicked in early. He was euthanased 19th January 2008 after complete organ failure as a result of FIV related illnesses.

He was a shy, gentle puss, a great companion. He might never have caught FIV if he’d been neutered young. He might well have lived years longer if his first human companion had cared for him at all. He was much loved and is sorely missed.

His story was written around June 2006 when we were looking for a home for him. At some point we realised he’d become a permanent resident, and never looked back.

Tommy’s Story


Sometime in the winter of 2005/06, while Yoda and Dodger were still with us, I noticed that there was Never food left in the cat bowls in the morning. Usually I leave a pile of dry food to last a few days and it was very unusual for it all to disappear nightly. But I didn’t think too much about it…

Then one night, as I stayed up later than usual reading a particularly captivating thriller, I heard a noise by the cat bowls and looked up to see a streak of white and tabby dash towards the stairs. Not one of the permanent residents… Interesting…

Over the next wee while I saw more of this intriguing and shy visitor as I kept my eyes open for his visits in the wee small hours.


Slowly, slowly we built up trust till I could get within a yard of him but he was extremely easily startled and very wary of people. So we laid in wait, pounced on him and put a collar on him with my contact details asking his human companion to get in touch.

To be honest, considering the state of him (skinny, flearidden and obviously underfed) I thought he was a stray and didn’t expect a response. But I got a call that evening from one of my neighbours claiming ownership. I (gently) suggested she feed, flea and worm treat and neuter him and she readily agreed. But did nothing. So a few weeks later I offered to take him to the vet for her and told her the cost of the visit. At which point she asked me to keep him. Don’t know why I bothered trying to trace her in the first place really.

So I whipped him off to the vets to be neutered, checked over, dewormed and defleaed, and then kept him in for a couple of days to be sure he recovered from the trauma okay. He’d sit on my lap for a few minutes at a time but was extremely unhappy being kept indoors and melted against the windows at every opportunity so we admitted defeat and set him free.

But we’d made more progress than we realised and within a matter of days Tommy had turned into one of the most affectionate cats I’ve come across. And, surprisingly, extremely affectionate to complete strangers – once he’s been formally introduced!

Soap Operas

We realised he’d never been allowed in a house before, or at least severely reprimanded when he had previously entered one. When he realised he was allowed anywhere he wanted around here he swiftly made himself at home in the comfiest spots.

He’s a strange mix with other cats – he’s absolutely nuts about Duchess and follows her everywhere like a lovesick swain (she is not entirely happy about this). And he played happily with the kittens when he was first making tentative forays to the food bowls. But he really doesn’t like Shapoloh, chases her at every opportunity and tolerates her rarely. This is especially sad as Shaps seems to rather like him (the soap opera of cat-fostering).

It took a while to name Tommy for some reason – I would have preferred to call him Romeo due to his amorous pursuit of Duchess but I was voted down.

I’ve never seen him with dogs so no idea how he gets on with them, or other animals for that matter.


In April 2006, concerned about his general rundownness and the fact he just wasn’t thriving, I took him to the vet again for tests. And we found out he was FIV positive.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes an infectious disease in domestic cats and cheetahs similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV infection) in humans. It attacks and weakens the body’s immune system, making the animal susceptible to infections and diseases that don’t affect healthy cats. There is no cure for FIV, though I believe a vaccine is available (but it’s not great). Though eventually fatal, an FIV-positive cat can live for many years without any signs of illness. FIV is not transmissible from cats to people, and HIV is not transmissible to from people to cats. Check this link to find out more about FIV.

I’ve lived with an FIV cat before and know a bit about the disease. Tommy could live for several years without any problems but eventually he’ll pick up bugs and diseases and one of them will kill him.

Tommy’s a lovely puss, affectionate and charming, once he’s been properly introduced. And he’s a chatty wee thing, announcing his presence with a delightful, prolonged chirrup and wandering round the house letting you know he’s enjoying himself with short, high pitched purrs.

Tommy’s a lovely puss, affectionate and charming, once he’s been properly introduced. And he’s a chatty wee thing, announcing his presence with a delightful, prolonged chirrup and wandering round the house letting you know he’s enjoying himself with short, high pitched purrs.

We’re currently looking for a permanent home for him and whoever adopts him must realise that visits to the vets will become more frequent as the disease progresses and that losing a cat to FIV can be extremely difficult emotionally.

Tommy’s a joy to have around (for everyone except Shapoloh!). He’d be fine with other FIV cats but shouldn’t live with FIV-free felines in case of infection. He’s an excellent companion and deserves to live out his last few years cared for in comfort. We’ll miss him enormously.

In Memoriam

I wrote Tommy’s story in June 2006, six months after he moved in. We’d hoped to find a caring forever home for him but at some point, without thinking about it, we stopped looking. And Tommy became a permanent resident.

Despite his initial lack of condition and thriving, he seemed to have a turnaround at some point, put on weight and condition, and developed into a healthy looking puss. We had thought the FIV would get him pretty quick but he beat it for a few years and enjoyed a pretty good life with plenty of food, affection and sunshine. What more could a cat ask for?

He visited the vet fairly frequently in the intervening years as we tried to catch any bug before it could get a grip on him. But in the winter of 2007/08 he started to go downhill. He lost weight and condition and suffered from a variety of illnesses.

At around 12pm on Friday 18th January 2008 I found a fair quantity of blood underneath him. Jenni reckoned he was going into organ failure. He became terribly distressed and we rushed to Tim O’Leary in Rosscarbery to make Tommy’s passing easier. Many thanks are due to Tim for responding to our call of distress at that time of night. Tommy was euthanased early on Saturday 19th January 2008.

I deeply regret not euthanasing Tommy sooner and saving him the horrible agonies he went through. I was due to go on a UK trip on the Monday and had hoped he would hold out, and maybe have space to recover again with less kittens in the house. That hope and, basically, my selfishness made Tommy’s last moments horrible. It’s so difficult to make that decision, but so important to make it for the cat, not for ourselves.

Tommy was a charmer. He seemed eternally grateful to have found a caring home. And he easily worked his way into a warm space in my heart. Hopefully we’ll meet again, over the Rainbow Bridge. And he’ll forgive me.

Medical Notes

Description as at 15/06/06: White and tabby neutered adult male. Mostly white with tabby markings on head, back, legs and tail. Beautiful kohl round eyes. Too skinny but very attractive looking puss just the same.

DOB: Not known. Aged around 4 in 2006.

Place Of Birth: Probably Bantry, W Cork, Ireland

Tested FIV positive: April 2006

Died: FIV, complete organ failure, euthanased 19th January 2008

Related Links

Tommy’s Gallery

Posted in Fosterees 2006, In Loving Memory, In Memoriam.

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