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The perfect London cat?

Written By: David Harris

Living in London can put different strains on owning a pet. The stress of living in close proximity with a lot of other people affects us and our pets. In vet practice we see many cats in particular having issues with stress due to sharing their outside space with other cats.

This stress can result in health and behavioural conditions and I know of a few friends in London who have had cats severely affected by living in areas with a high cat population. We have always avoided this as we have had indoor cats – they could access the garden if we were there but otherwise they were very happy with their indoor lifestyle. However, as we always rehome the very elderly, very needy and sometimes quite smelly cats, I wouldn’t recommend following in our paw steps, unless this is your ideal cat!

How do you get an indoor cat?

 If you are looking for a new cat then you may find a lot of rescues or breeders will stipulate that a garden is required and you may find yourself asking how do I get an indoor cat?

Well, there is one way a rescue would guarantee that a cat needs a completely indoor home – it’s with cats with FIV.

What is FIV?

 The feline immunodeficiency virus has suffered in its description as being ‘like AIDS for cats’ and this easy to make statement carries a few untruths that frighten people and put them off rehoming one of these beautiful cats.

The truth is that FIV is an immune condition and it is passed on through cats fighting and mating. It has been shown to be a fragile virus that doesn’t live long once out of the body and so there is little chance of it passing to other cats through normal daily activities of eating/drinking together or sharing living spaces.

Several studies (find info here) have shown FIV cats can have a lifespan only a little shorter than a non-FIV cat, and that if they have episodes of illness these can often be treated and overcome. Taking on an FIV cat does not always mean you are taking on a sickly cat!

How do they catch it?

As I mentioned above, the most common ways to catch FIV are from close proximity with other cats that they fight or mate with. Neutering your own pet cat is the most important step to stop them catching this disease and some people also consider fenced in gardens or ‘catios’ so their cat can have outdoor exercise but not come into contact with other cats.

It seems to be more common in areas with a high cat population which is where getting an ideal London cat comes in – one that needs to stay away from the cat population outside and live a relaxed and healthy indoor life.

What does it mean for the cat?

In my experience most cats with FIV are happy and healthy pets and offer a loving companion without the stress of an outdoor cat. I think they are just as likely to live as long and healthy life as non-FIV cats.

Many cats with FIV that need a home are male and are often ex-Tom cats that have lived a life of cat excess before being neutered and realising that the days of pillaging the female cat population are no better than a comfy bed, a warm lap and lovely cat food in a bowl.

So many of these cats at first glance look like big bruisers that have just stepped out of a cat fight. They are stocky and strong and sometimes still have the big cheeks that signify their recent unneutered status. I think they are handsome and wonderful and when they decide to turn their back on their marauding ways they are the most loving and soppy of cats.

Indoor cats should be provided with opportunities to ‘hunt’ and play and using a variety of toys and treat balls provide a way to have an interesting and cat-friendly indoor home. You may find some easy options for cat toys hereand you should also consider providing beds and hiding places that are off the floor to allow cats to find a space where they can feel safe and observe what is going on.

The perfect London cat

There isn’t ever really a ‘perfect’ pet for a busy city but if you are looking for an indoor cat then please don’t overlook the beautiful cats with FIV – they deserve love as much as the cute kittens.

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