FIV Profiles - Plucky

9 FIV lives - Plucky

We have selected just a few examples from the FIV cats who have lived in the sanctuary. We have chosen each as an example of how well FIV cats can do - some have other problems to deal with on top of the virus

Okay, so there are now 10 - we just had to add Plucky!


Plucky is an extra example that has been our most recent ambassador for FIV cats - a very special case.

If anyone doubts the recovery capabilities of an FIV cat, they might like to hear about Plucky!

Plucky was brought to our attention in late 2012 when a lady contacted us to tell his story and ask for assistance.

She had been asked by a rescue group to foster a cat who had just been trapped in their area near Liverpool. This was back in 2009/2010. The middle aged cat had a bad injury on the back of his neck and also down his back and was, understandably, absolutely terrified. When he tested positive for FIV, the vet in Liverpool said that the wound would never heal and that there was nothing that could be done.

The lady in question was unable to touch him as he was so very frightened and quite scary! But she kept him fed and warm in a spare bedroom until the rescue group could find a better solution. The rescue group never did find anything else for Plucky, so this lady was effectively lumbered with a cat she could not handle or deal with.

Three years later, in the autumn of 2012, she came to hear of Catwork. She contacted us to see if we could help. She sent a photograph of a very dejected looking cat with this neck wound plain to see, although the wound down his back had by then healed.
First pic of Plucky
the first picture we saw, had been taken in early 2012

We decided that we had to do what we could, but felt uneasy about taking him in during the winter as he would have to live in the sanctuary, which would not have the warmth of the bedroom he was in, in Liverpool, so it was agreed that we would take him once the winter was over.

In the end, he arrived at Catwork in May 2013. The lady was not well enough to travel, so arranged for a contact to bring him down to us from Liverpool.

On arrival, Plucky was housed in his own little chalet, with outside run. He soon found his way up onto the roof, from where he could look out over the Fivery in one direction, and other gardens of the village in the other. He seemed to enjoy the fresh air and seemed to relax a little. At night we shut him in the chalet with extra heat to make sure he kept warm enough.

Over the first few weeks our priority was to get him used to us and have him checked out by our vets. It was not easy catching him to get him in the basket to visit the vets, but we worked out a strategy for achieving this when required!

After some initial antibiotics and observation, it was decided that he really needed some priority work done on him, so he went to the veterinary hospital, was sedated for a full examination. Several teeth were removed, his ears cleaned and his wound carefully inspected and cleaned up. Whilst there, blood was taken for testing - one result was that, on top of everything else, he proved to be diabetic!

As it was not possible to inject insulin on a regular basis without creating huge stress, it was decided initially to give him a special diabetic diet and more antibiotics, with a view to getting him stabilised as much as possible.

Plucky coming down ladder
Plucky coming for dinner!

After several weeks, Plucky was getting used to us and became less stressed, to a point where the senior vet at the practice that cares for all our sanctuary cats, suggested that he thought he could make Plucky much more comfortable with an operation on the neck wound. We agreed that this should happen and, after yet another bout of antibiotics, he went to the hospital for the operation.

At the end of a worrying day, we had a call from the vet to say that, although difficult, the operation had gone well - 85 stitches! - but only time would tell if the stitching would hold, and for long enough for healing to take place. Of course the diabetes was a hinderance to healing, not to mention the added FIV factor!

As an aside, when the fur was shaved on his back, it showed the previously healed wound to have been a straight line that looked suspiciously like a knife cut - goodness only knows what this poor cat went through in the past, no wonder he was so terrified.

So, Plucky came home, all sewn up like a needlework sample, and we put him in the hospital bay we have at the top of the sanctuary, where he could be contained in a fairly spacious area at a convenient height for us to administer any medications.

Plucky with stitches
all sewn up...

The location of Plucky's wound made the use of a protective collar impossible; but to our great relief, he did not seem to be bothered by the stitches and, over the next few days, all seemed to go well.

Plucky was getting used to us handling him and frequent quick visits over the road to the vet surgery for checks helped him get used to being put in the carry basket. This, together with the fact that he needed eye ointment administering twice daily, and lots of attention, worked together to increase the trust Plucky was gaining in us. It was at this time that we felt able to start giving him regular insulin injections. So another visit to the hospital, for the vets to assess the correct dosage of insulin. Then back home again with the supplies required.

Slowly but surely, the stitches began to be removed - just a few at a time, to make sure the tension in the healing wound would not cause it to reopen, until, finally, all stitches were out. There was one small area left open as a drain, which the vet suggested may need a couple of stitches at a later date - in fact this was never required, as it healed of its own accord.

To our great pleasure, we saw Plucky start to grow fur around the neck; gradually this increased, until now it is difficult to see any evidence that there was ever a wound at all!

Showing the befor and after of Plucky's recovery
The problem and..........................................the result!

As we had been able to maintain giving him the insulin injections, his diabetes was also coming under control as well, and he has now starting to gain a little weight at last - all in all, we think Plucky must be feeling so much better - he certainly seems to be much happier and more relaxed as well - we couldn't be happier!

This all goes to emphasise just how much an FIV+ cat can go through and still show huge powers of healing and recovery from both physical and psychological trauma - (elderly, FIV+, diabetic and terrified; not many would have given him much hope, even written off as beyond help by one vet four years earlier) - he has raised our spirits immensely over the last few months - thank you Plucky, you have really lived up to your name! And thank you to our vets who put in so much skill, care and effort to help him towards his recovery.
Plucky gets a cuddle
Plucky even cautiously enjoys a cuddle now!

Update - The above was written at the end of 2013 and we felt an update was in order...

Plucky continued to flourish in the sanctuary and we were able to expand his horizons somewhat. He joined other cats and began to welcome attention from visitors. He became close friends with Harry, a very nervous cat who had sadly lost his brother to whom he was very close. Harry and Plucky seemed to recognise each other as fellow spirits and shared much time together.

Plucky and Harry sharing a bed
plucky and Harry sharing a chair

Unfortunately, towards the end of 2014 Plucky appeared to have yet another health problem and an ultrasound revealed abnormality in the liver. His state of health was too precarious to anaesthetise him for a biopsy, so we had to rely on liver supplements and just hope the abnormality was regrowth of new cells.

Sadly, in 2015 it became clear that the abnormality was more serious and Plucky went into decline and died in the spring from liver failure.

We were priviledged to have known such a 'plucky' little cat who overcame so many troubles in his life. The one consolation was that we think he enjoyed his short time in the sanctuary.

Plucky on the chair

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