We understand at RANA that adopting a pet is a big decision, even more so when the adoption occurs without seeing the pet first. We respect this trust and want an open and honest relationship with all our adopters. We have therefore outlined below some of the potential health issues which may appear with our rescues. Please have a read and feel free to come back to us with any questions. We do not want this to put you off adopting (far from it!) we just want you to be aware of the "worst case scenario" so you know fully what you are committing to.
1. Potential Cat Health Considerations
Despite the existence of vaccines Cat Flu is very common in homes with multiple cats, all around the world. There is no specific test for cat flu, it is an all- encompassing term for many strains of flu caused by e.g. feline herpesvirus (FHV), feline calicivirus (FCV), Chlamydophila felis and Bordetella bronchiseptica. It affects the upper respiratory tract of a cat and can show itself with chesty coughs, sneezing, runny nose or laboured breathing. Cat flu is spread by a number of infections agents (viruses and bacteria) and it affects the young, the old and those with a damaged immune system the most. Cat flu is spread to other NON-VACCINATED cats - which the vast majority of cats on the streets are - by sneezing, saliva and nasal discharge.
When you adopt a cat from RANA we will always advise you of all the known health information we have about them.
When a cat is rescued off the street, and it is seen to be suffering from any cat flu symptoms, antibiotics are given and care is provided to clean noses, wipe eyes and provide nutritious food to boost the cat’s overall health and its immune system. Additional medication may also be given to loosen nasal discharge to make breathing easier, along with eye ointments to calm eyes, and antivirals can also be administered to prevent recurrence and transmission to others.
The majority of infected cats will recover from cat flu over time. Many young, fit and healthy cats will make a full recovery and show no symptoms at all going forward. It is in instances like this, where the rescuers and in turn, we the Charity, may not be able to tell if a cat has ever had cat flu and so will not be able to pass this information on to you.
A previous history of cat flu may only come to light after a cat has travelled to the UK. Just like cold sores in humans, during times of stress (e.g. travelling, and moving to a new home) symptoms, like runny nose can reappear, and a round of antibiotics may be needed to support the immune system. Please note, recovery times vary, some may respond to treatment immediately, where as others may take considerably longer to show improvement.
If you have other cats, the risk of them contracting cat flu will be minimal, provided that they are fully vaccinated. However, as a precaution, we advise you keep them separate where possible for a few weeks until the symptoms have eased, use separate food and water bowls and wash your hands after touching each one in the meantime.
Regular vaccination is always recommended, to further boost your cat’s antibodies and to protect other cats going forward.
We completely understand that it can be distressing to see your cat displaying symptoms, but in over-crowded foster homes it may be suffering alone, with the issue going unnoticed for a long period of time. The fact that you can respond to your cat’s needs is a blessing for the cat, and is one of the reasons we care so passionately about rehoming animals from North Africa, where rescuers are over-stretched and access to medication can be limited.
As long as you are prepared to give your cat the supportive treatment required if you notice any symptoms of cat flu, they can live normal, happy, long and healthy lives.
If it is important to know if your cat may have had, or currently has cat flu, you can choose to pay to have a FHV / FIV test carried out. If a cat tests positive for FVH or FIV, there is a greater likelihood that they could be a carrier.
Please let the adoptions’ team know and they will advise you as to the cost, and availability (these tests are not always routinely available in Tunisia)