When I first talked with Julie Williams about being in Foster Focus, she wasn’t sure she was right for this column. “I’m kind of well-known as a foster failure,” she says with a laugh, admitting that she’s ended up adopting every one of the 11 cats she’s fostered in the past six years. But it’s not because she hasn’t tried to find them homes. It’s simply because adopters have overlooked them. Her fosters have all had feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus, which makes them special to Williams but unattractive to adopters.
FeLV and FIV are communicable viruses that can weaken a cat’s immune system and put him at greater risk for various ailments. But according to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s website, cats with these viruses can show no sign of disease for years. Some can even live long, symptom-free lives. “Cats with FIV and FeLV all deserve a chance to experience life in a home, just like cats without the viruses,” says Williams, who volunteers with Crash’s Landing and Big Sid’s Sanctuary, a nonprofit cat rescue and placement center in Grand Rapids, Mich. The group operates two separate facilities. One is Crash’s Landing, which houses up to 135 stray adult cats. The other is Big Sid’s which provides a safe haven to 115 homeless cats with FeLV and FIV, making it the largest sanctuary of its kind in the Midwest.