To euthanize an FIV or FeLV positive feral colony cat'¦or not
Here’s an ethical dilemma for you: Does a veterinarian doing cat colony work advocate euthanasia for all FIV (feline AIDS) and FeLV (feline leukemia) positive kitties…yea or nay?
In my personal feral feline colony—the one I manage myself with no other individual stakeholders to satisfy—the answer is a resounding “yea.” I euthanize them.
Granted, the vast majority of these cats is not merely positive—they’re ill with their disease. Judging from their severely infected bite wounds, emaciated condition and advanced oral deterioration (common to FIV/FeLV positives), their disease is clearly taking its toll on their quality of life.
It’s usually obvious I’ve captured a positive kitty. In fact, it’s typically the cat I’ve been trying to trap for months or years with no success. Finally it lands in my snare.
Nine out of ten times my “spidey-senses” are right on target. No way would this once-robust creature have otherwise allowed itself into to my Have-a-Heart brand, critter-snagging device—not without extreme debilitation.
Euthanizing these cats is heartbreaking—especially when I’ve been watching their vivacious antics for years. But what’s my alternative? Do I treat them for their current disease and let them out again to infect the rest of their colony? To possibly suffer and die alone in the brush?
Nope. That’s why I say “nay” to their expensive rehabilitation. I’ve got bigger fish to fry in the form of the fixable ones whose loving homes I can return them to. And I can’t bear knowing I’m allowing them to pass on their feline misery.
But that’s not how most of the cat colony workers I know see it. Instead, they take pity on the sickies. Their goal is to fend for all the cats equally. They pay for the care of even the most egregiously infected (dual FeLV and FIV positives). When they return these cats to their colonies they vow to watch them and trap them again—for more care—when they decline again.
Though I disagree with their approach—and they know it—I don’t stand in their way. That’s when I have to wonder: Is my treatment of these infected cats a tacit endorsement of their tactics and philosophies? Should I refuse to care for them?
So what’s your take? If you’re a colony worker do you rehab individuals in spite of knowing they might infect their whole colony? Or do you do what I do…test and put to sleep the sickly, infected ones? Is my treatment of positive cats wrong given my personal standards? How would you handle this ethical dilemma?