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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Many of the residents at St Francis Hospice for Cats have come to the shelter because they have a virus called FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus).  Due to the nature of the virus many rescue organisations find it difficult to house and re-home cats with this condition. Over the years SFHFC has acted as a last resort for so many of these cats with this condition that would otherwise have been euthanised. FIV belongs to the same group as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and for this reason has received much greater attention than it would otherwise have done.  Initial panic ensued after the virus was discovered in 1986 and many thousands of cats were euthanised. Attitudes are changing and less FIV+ cats are now being killed unnecessarily, although sadly it does still happen, mainly due to misconceptions about the illness.
 
What is F.I.V?    
The virus depletes the number of white blood cells, which eventually makes the cat less able to fight off infection.  However, because it is such a slow acting virus many FIV+ cats can enjoy a normal life span with no apparent health problems resulting from the virus.

Can F.I.V. be passed to humans?
FIV is specific, so can only be transmitted from cat to cat, and not to humans or to other animals.

How does a cat contract the F.I.V. virus?  
The virus is present in the blood and saliva of infected cats.  It is a very ‘fragile’ virus that cannot survive for long outside the body and requires a high dose to infect another cat.  Therefore, it is not easily passed from cat to cat.  

The main route of infection is through biting, when virus in the saliva of an infected cat is injected directly into the blood stream of the cat it bites.  Therefore, cats that fight are most likely to be infected.  Un-neutered males are most at risk due to their propensity to fight.

Transmission between cats in a group that do not fight is unlikely as the virus cannot be transmitted indirectly, such as via food bowls or clothes.  Recent research suggests the transfer rate between cats in the same household is as low as 1-2%.
 
How does F.I.V. affect a cats health?
In theory the depletion of white blood cells, makes the cat more susceptible to other infections, and makes it more difficult for the cat to overcome them.  However, in practice many FIV+ cats have no more infections than uninfected cats.

The commonest infection to occur in FIV+ cats is gingivitis and stomatitis (inflammation of the gums and other parts of the mouth).  Various other chronic infections may also occur although are less common e.g. conjunctivitis and diarrhea.  Treatments are available for these infections.

The life expectancy of a F.I.V. infected cat?  
A fourteen year study by Maureen Hutchison B.Sc, BVMS, MRCVS found that FIV+ cats are more likely to die in a road accident or be alive and well in their later life than they are to die from any FIV related condition.  Also, a recent survey by Dr Diane D. Addie (Lecturer in Veterinary Virology, University of Glasgow) where 26 cats were monitored for ten years, found that FIV infection did not affect the cats’ life expectancy.

Preventing your cat from becoming infected.
The most effective way of reducing the likelihood of infection is to ensure your cat is neutered.  As well as being the most humane way of reducing the future stray population, neutering reduces the tendency to fight, or to wander.
   
Adopting a F.I.V. positive cat.  
FIV positive cats find it harder than most to find new homes, even though in all other respects they are normal, loving cats, and deserve a chance at a happy life.

A healthy FIV+ cat can live for many years, and indeed can often outlive uninfected cats.  However please be aware that this is not always the case.  The cat may succumb to illness earlier, and not reach their normal life expectancy.  FIV+ cats need prompt veterinary assistance for even minor symptoms due to their reduced immunity.

Many rescues insist that FIV cats are homed as ‘indoor cats’ or go to homes with an enclosed garden to prevent contact with other cats.  If you think you might be able to give a home to an FIV cat, please ask at your local rescue centre.

What treatment is available?
Once established in a cat’s cells, the virus is permanent, and no proven vaccine has yet been found.  Treatment consists of dealing with whatever symptoms occur in the individual cat, such as common infections being treated with Antibiotics.  If an FIV+ cat displays any symptoms of illness, however minor, it should be taken to a vet promptly.
( Information adapted from www.catchat.org/FIV.html )

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Sponsor a Resident

Over the past year or so a number of our supporters have suggested that we should offer a scheme where you can sponsor one of our residents.

I am pleased to say that we have now got the sponsorship package available.
In order to sponsor a resident of your choice for a year we ask for a minimum donation of £25. If you live outside of the UK, sponsorship will be a minimum donation of £30 to cover the extra cost of postage and packaging.
In return for your sponsorship you will receive:

🔸A certificate of your sponsorship

🔸A photograph of the resident of your choice

🔸A years subscription to our newsletter which is published twice a year.
🔸A set of two SFHFC coasters

🔸A SFHFC car sticker

🔸A SFHFC key ring

🔸A SFHFC fridge magnet

🔸A SFHFC greeting card

Please note that the colours and designs of some of these products may vary. All of these items (apart from our bi-yearly newsletter) have been funded by a couple of volunteers from our charity.

We currently have a number of residents which you can choose to sponsor. You can view profiles of all of our residents by going to web.stagram.com (or Instagram) and use the hash tag #sfhfc_residentprofile

Payment of donation can be made by cheque, standing order or Paypal (if paying by paypal we would request that you add £1 to cover the charge which PayPal take from each transaction).

If you would like to sponsor one of our residents please email us at cathospice@sky.com with your preferred method of payment, name, address and the name of which resident you would like to sponsor.

Sponsor a Resident

Over the past year or so a number of our supporters have suggested that we should offer a scheme where you can sponsor one of our residents.

I am pleased to say that we have now got the sponsorship package available.
In order to sponsor a resident of your choice for a year we ask for a minimum donation of £25. If you live outside of the UK, sponsorship will be a minimum donation of £30 to cover the extra cost of postage and packaging.
In return for your sponsorship you will receive:

🔸A certificate of your sponsorship

🔸A photograph of the resident of your choice

🔸A years subscription to our newsletter which is published twice a year.
🔸A set of two SFHFC coasters

🔸A SFHFC car sticker

🔸A SFHFC key ring

🔸A SFHFC fridge magnet

🔸A SFHFC greeting card

Please note that the colours and designs of some of these products may vary. All of these items (apart from our bi-yearly newsletter) have been funded by a couple of volunteers from our charity.

We currently have a number of residents which you can choose to sponsor. You can view profiles of all of our residents by going to web.stagram.com (or Instagram) and use the hash tag #sfhfc_residentprofile

Payment of donation can be made by cheque, standing order or Paypal (if paying by paypal we would request that you add £1 to cover the charge which PayPal take from each transaction).

If you would like to sponsor one of our residents please email us at cathospice@sky.com with your preferred method of payment, name, address and the name of which resident you would like to sponsor.

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If you live in the Derby area in the UK here is a date to put in your diary.
Christmas fundraiser for SFHFC, our volunteers will be there to welcome you and there will be a chance to buy a bargain and have a go on our raffle and enjoy some refreshments. There will also be some items of SFHFC merchandise available.
Please come and say hi if you are in the area.
Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support whether you are local of from the other side of the world. It is all very much appreciated 🙏🐱🙏

If you live in the Derby area in the UK here is a date to put in your diary.
Christmas fundraiser for SFHFC, our volunteers will be there to welcome you and there will be a chance to buy a bargain and have a go on our raffle and enjoy some refreshments. There will also be some items of SFHFC merchandise available.
Please come and say hi if you are in the area.
Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support whether you are local of from the other side of the world. It is all very much appreciated 🙏🐱🙏

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Update From The Trustees

Over the past five years St Francis Hospice for Cats has seen a lot of changes. Long time supporters of St Francis Hospice for Cats will know that the charity was started by Shirley and Michael Maynard about 20 years ago in their own home in Littleover. Sadly Michael died back in 2008 and following this Shirley’s health deteriorated until she was no longer able to continue with the charity. At this point (which is now just over two and a half years ago) there were three other trustees who were committed to ensuring the best care for the residents at SFHFC, of which there were 25 at that time. The trustees made the decision to continue the charity caring for the cats that were in our care at that time as well as helping cats out whenever we possibly could without compromising our current situation. This really has not been an easy time for the charity but the remaining trustees accompanied by long standing supporter and newly appointed Trustee Joyce Wren are still as committed as ever to ensure the well-being of our current residents as well as those that are now fostered under SFHFC. At this time we have 16 residents at the hospice and 6 cats which are in foster homes.

We have got a small, dedicated team of volunteers who without their continued help and support the charity would not be able to continue. We want to make it clear that the trustees are doing everything in their power to maintain the running of the charity, but the reality at the moment may be that the charity’s long term future could be in doubt. This is one of the reasons why we have made the responsible decision not to admit any new cats into the hospice for the foreseeable future, this is NOT to say that we are not helping any cats, we are simply exploring other options and in some cases enabling cats to be fostered or re-homed so that they receive one-to-one care in a ‘normal’ home environment. Please note that the trustees will do everything in their power to safeguard the health and well-being of all the cats who are currently in our care. All of the current residents have been at the hospice at Sapperton Close for a number of years with Pendle being our longest standing resident living there for 17 years, so this really is home for our residents. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Roger Till acting as Shirley’s Power of Attorney, for his understanding in agreeing for the charity to continue to run from Sapperton Close through what has been a very difficult couple of years for the charity.

We have previously advertised for regular volunteers on the radio as well as in the local press and posters put up locally. Although over the time a number of people have come forward, sadly the fact is that 90% of them are no longer involved, with the majority of them only coming back on a couple of occasions. The reality is that the charity is finding that the current volunteers and trustees are stretched to their limits to cover all of the shifts and ongoing jobs which are necessary in order to keep the charity running. If you feel that you may be able to come on board and offer some hands on help, please get in touch with us either by email.

Long term, the charity may look to relocate to another venue so if you are aware of anybody who has any land which they may be happy for the charity to use please get in touch. Although some of this information may seem radical, we as trustees have to act responsibly in the best interests of our residents and look towards the different possibilities for the future of the charity. If anybody wishes to raise any queries relating to the charity please get in touch with one of the trustees who will be more that happy to discuss.


Claire, Graham and Joyce

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FUNDRAISING EVENT AT BROOMFIELD

I haven’t had it confirmed if the event at Broomfield College has been cancelled but our stall won’t be there. Due to the severe weather conditions we have had overnight our volunteers have been unable to make it there. The snow in the midlands has been really bad.

I hope this hasn’t inconvenienced anybody.

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FUNDRAISING EVENT

SFHFC have a stall at this upcoming event. Please drop by and say hi if you are in the Derby area on Saturday. Our volunteers are always happy to see you.

Spring Food & Craft Festival at
Broomfield Hall ( Derby College ) Morley, Derby DE7 6DN
Saturday 23rd March 2013. 10am - 4pm


Showcasing a whole range of local food related stalls:
• Selected Craft Stalls
• Broomfield Hall supports locally grown produce and our Food Hub Shop and Café will be open on the day
• Come and see our Spring Lambs plus the Animal Care centre will be open including other activities for children
• Admission ONLY £1 per adult, children are free

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MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT OUR HOSPICE

Since I have been a trustee of sfhfc I have found that when talking to people about what we do, there are some common misconceptions. Here are a couple of them.

As we are a hospice people seem to presume that we have cats which are dying and in pain. I feel that this couldn’t be further from truth. A large number of our residents do have Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) but this doesn’t automatically mean that it will shorten the cats life. We also have a number of cats who have a thyroid condition. This is controlled by daily medication and is monitored closely by our volunteers and our vet.

A lot of our residents are elderly cats. As a charity we generally think of cats over 15 years old to be elderly or as sometimes referred to as geriatric. They come to sfhfc for a number of reasons. It may be that their owner has died or is ill in hospital and can no longer look after their beloved pet. Or the owner is relocating and is unable for one reason or another to take their pet with them. These are often otherwise healthy cats that through no fault of their own find themselves without a home.

Another main misconception is that a cat with FIV is always really poorly and dying. Yes it is a terminal illness with no cure but as you can see from the photo’s which are posted on our blog there is no clear indication which of our residents do or don’t have FIV. There are sometimes the odd side effect to FIV, the main one being stomatitis, this again can usually be controlled with the right medication. A lot of cats diagnosed with FIV live a happy, long and fulfilled life.

If you would like to learn more about the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus you can find some general information about it on our articles page. You can also find a heartwarming story about homing FIV+ cats with some useful tips.

Please feel free to spread the word about the information above, the more that we can help to educate people about FIV, the more that it will help cats all over the world.

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Shipley Country Park Fundraising Event

St Francis Hospice for Cats will be having a stall at Animal Magic! at Shipley Country Park 11am till 4pm - Sunday 17 June 2012

Join us for an event that showcases all creatures great and small. Enjoy a good day out and help us to raise money for our charity. For more details about the day click on the heading above.

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RECENT NEWS RELEASE

Cat hospice faces closure unless funding is found

St Francis Hospice for Cats is at risk of closure unless urgent funding is found.
The hospice, in Littleover, Derby, must raise £500 every week or it will be forced to close leaving its 22 sick resident cats homeless.
The charity, which cares for elderly and terminally ill cats, relies solely on donations and a small team of volunteers to operate.
St Francis is one of the few charities that will care for cats that are unlikely to be rehomed. Many of the cats have illnesses that require frequent medical treatment, such as FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).
The hospice is also eager to increase its number of regular volunteers who carry out vital duties such as feeding and grooming the cats, administering medication and keeping the building clean.
The hospice was set up as a registered charity in 1997 by life-long cat lovers Shirley and Michael Maynard at their home in Sapperton Close. The invaluable service has been there ever since, having cared for hundreds of cats who would otherwise have been neglected or put down.
Following Michael’s death in 2008, Mrs Maynard’s health deteriorated and she was forced to leave the hospice last year after she became ill with dementia. She left St Francis in the capable hands of volunteers, including three trustees, who have worked tirelessly to keep the hospice going.
Graham Stevens one of the trustees said: “We desperately need to find this money or we will have no choice but to close.
“We are also appealing for new volunteers to help us care for the cats and keep the hospice running. We have just a handful of regular volunteers and we are rushed off our feet.
“It breaks our hearts to think that St Francis Hospice would not be here to offer care and support to needy cats in the future.”
He added: “We owe it to the cats and to Shirley to secure the future of St Francis and we would be so grateful to hear from anyone who can help in any way”.
If you are able to make a cash or food donation or spare just a few hours a week to volunteer at the hospice please call 01332 272139 or email cathospice@sky.com

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LOVING HOME WANTED

We have been contacted to see if St Francis Hospice can home an FIV+ cat. The trustees at St Francis review each case individually and in this case we feel that Flynn should have the chance of living a normal life as an only cat in a loving home. We are appealing to anyone who feels that they may be able to offer him a loving home. A large number of FIV cats can and do live a full life living for many years without any health issues or medication. He would however have to be kept as an indoor cat, as there could be risk of him passing the virus on if he got into a fight with another cat. 

Meet Flynn, he is a tabby boy aged approx 6. Adores as much fuss as you can give & is awaiting the chance of a fresh start he richly deserves. Could you share lots of love with him?

Please get in touch with us for more information if you feel that you are able to help this gorgeous boy have a second chance.

LOVING HOME WANTED

We have been contacted to see if St Francis Hospice can home an FIV+ cat. The trustees at St Francis review each case individually and in this case we feel that Flynn should have the chance of living a normal life as an only cat in a loving home. We are appealing to anyone who feels that they may be able to offer him a loving home. A large number of FIV cats can and do live a full life living for many years without any health issues or medication. He would however have to be kept as an indoor cat, as there could be risk of him passing the virus on if he got into a fight with another cat.

Meet Flynn, he is a tabby boy aged approx 6. Adores as much fuss as you can give & is awaiting the chance of a fresh start he richly deserves. Could you share lots of love with him?

Please get in touch with us for more information if you feel that you are able to help this gorgeous boy have a second chance.

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OUR SPRING FAYRE

Our Spring Fayre is on today at 11.00 a.m.

Please see our events page for full details of time, venue etc.

So if you are in the Derby area please come and support us. Let’s hope the weather stays dry.

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LOVING HOME WANTED FOR RUFUS

We are hoping to help to home a lovely cat called Rufus. He is a grey tabby who we would say is in his early to mid-teens. He is a really friendly cat who does love to have some fuss. Rufus does have a thyroid problem which requires him to have daily medication.
We would love to help Rufus find a loving home where he would receive all the one to one love and fuss which he deserves. If you would like more information about Rufus please get in touch by e-mail.

LOVING HOME WANTED FOR RUFUS

We are hoping to help to home a lovely cat called Rufus. He is a grey tabby who we would say is in his early to mid-teens. He is a really friendly cat who does love to have some fuss. Rufus does have a thyroid problem which requires him to have daily medication.
We would love to help Rufus find a loving home where he would receive all the one to one love and fuss which he deserves. If you would like more information about Rufus please get in touch by e-mail.