Oh, I have a rant brewing...
Before I start though, I'd just like to say the cats are all fine. No thanks to SOMEONE.
Last week I did a home visit to someone who was interested in one of Indigo's kittens. I've never done a home visit before, but it occurred to me it might be a nice thing to do. So off I trotted, with our photobooks and all Inds' paperwork. All was going well when,, mid visit, the sweet Siamese that had made itself at home all over my lap started to wheeze and splutter. Calicivirus, said the owner, but don't worry. it isn't infectious. The vet had said so.
Like heck it isn't!
Calicivirus is a form of cat flu, and highly infectious. It's in the same 'family' of virii as the human Norovirus, and anyone with school age children will know how easily that is spread. Usually it's not a huge great deal, but its more virulent forms can decimate a cattery or veterinary surgery. Kittens are especially vulnerable and many exposed to it will die.
One infected, the symptoms can resurface again and again through the cat's lifetime, especially when under stress. We breeders vaccinate against calici, it's in the kitten jabs and the yearly boosters, but it's not foolproof. The vaccine helps stop the more serious effects, but cats can still get it and they can still pass it on, vaccinated or otherwise. It can be transmitted, not only cat to cat, but via people and things that have had contact with an infected cat.
To say I was angry would be an understatement. I'd very much like to report here that I gave the person a piece of my mind, but you know how it is. I suddenly doubted my own knowledge. Was it calici that was infectious? Was I wrong? And besides which, it was carelessness surely, rather than deliberate maliciousness, and you know, I genuinely liked the person. So I'm sorry to say I left with my tail between my legs, promising to do a bit of internet trawling and phone through some information about the virus. Then went home to bleach my shoes, put all my clothes in a hot wash and jump in the shower before my own cats so much as sniffed in my direction.
I still had that information to feed back to the poorly cat's owner. I rang up the next day, only to find out she did, in fact, know calici was infectious. She, in her own words 'knew all about it'. So she'd willingly put my cats at risk. And then she put the phone down.
What the...??? I may have said some Extremely Rude Words Indeed at this point.
I'm sure there are people reading this who are thinking Calici... why that's a mere sniffle, isn't it? What s she making such a song and dance about? This is why. The treatment for calicivirus is known to cause birth defects in kittens, and can actually kill expectant mothers. Cats shed the virus for months, if not years, and in a multi cat household the cats constantly re-infect each other. It is extremely hard, and expensive, to eliminate completely, and would effectively have stopped me breeding again. Infected cats can suffer flare ups the rest of their lives and symptoms can include ulceration, pneumonia and joint pain. It's a big deal, is what I am saying.
I'm not claiming the lady knew all this, but she knew her cat was sick. She knew Indigo is pregnant. Why would you take the risk? It was damned thoughtless. Especially with someone else's animals- even more especially when you were hoping to buy a- presumably healthy- kitten from them.
I've been watching my cats closely for the past week. We're now past the incubation period with not so much as a cough or a sniffle so we're OK, and to be honest our vet said we would be extremely unlikely to be affected after I'd gone bonkers with the bleach and washing when I got home. So no harm done, but it has unnerved me a little. Well quite a lot. When Inds had her allergy, and the vet thought it might be ringworm (it wasn't) I didn't go anywhere near other cats or other breeders because that was just the sensible thing to do... and that was ringworm. It hadn't occurred to me people might be rather less careful.
So I have a request to make, for if you are reading this in months to come, with a view to taking an Indikon kitten home. Expectant and nursing mothers are vulnerable, kittens very fragile. If you have a sick cat at home, and you are due here to view the kittens, PLEASE postpone your visit. If in doubt, ask. Please. I will understand, and thank you for your consideration.