Every animal that crosses the Nova Scotia SPCA’s doorstep is special. SPCA staff and volunteers work tirelessly to mend broken bodies and spirits so that each animal gets a chance for the happiness they deserve. Some animals need more care and attention than others, but these precious souls are always worth the extra work. Take Diggory for example.
Found stray, Diggory was brought to safety at the Dartmouth SPCA on May 12 by a kind man. We don’t know his name but want to thank him for saving this sweet kitty. Diggory had a huge deep neck and face wound and received emergency medical treatment, but then he began to sneeze – sometimes even sneezing blood. It was devastating. But after weeks of medical care, monitoring and attention, Diggory was back to looking healthy. He gained some weight and was cleared for adoption.
The only concern was that Diggory tested positive for FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus – that causes a weakening of the cat’s immune system. The most common way FIV is transferred is through a deep bite wound from an FIV+ cat. Being stray, that’s likely how Diggory got infected. Only cats can get FIV; people and dogs cannot. The good news is that FIV + cats can live full, long lives with some special considerations. They must be kept solely indoors and either be the only cat in the household or live with other FIV+ cats. Adoptive families need to pay extra attention to keep FIV+ cats happy and healthy, monitoring their well-being (ex. weight loss or gain) and behavior carefully, maintaining dental health and getting regular vet checks.
With these special needs, everyone was hopeful that Diggory would find a loving home and on June 17, he found his perfect match! I spoke with Diggory’s doting dad Cliff who shared “I think that fate brought us together. After my beloved cat Bob died, I didn’t feel ready to get another cat. When I was ready, I looked on the SPCA website for a new furry family member. Cats were getting adopted quickly, likely due to Covid. I kept seeing Diggory there and thought that perhaps no one wanted him because he had a huge gash down the side of his face and was FIV+. My heart went out to him. I decided that he deserved a loving home too, so I started doing some research on FIV.”
SPCA staff spent time with Cliff explaining the special attention that Diggory would need to keep him healthy. Some folks may not be up to the challenge, but Cliff was. Diggory adapted quickly to his new home. “The day I brought him home, he cautiously checked out the place and then parked himself under the couch for a few hours,” said Cliff. “I visited him periodically and talked gently to him. Eventually, he came out, gave me a head-butt and started rubbing up against me. Then he made himself right at home.” In fact, Diggory proved himself to be a real trouper during those first few weeks. “When I adopted him, he had a bad cold and I had to give him oral meds and supplements. Thinking back, it wasn’t the greatest way to earn Diggory’s trust – a new owner trying to shove stuff down his throat every day, but somehow, he got over it!” chuckled Cliff.
Diggory’s favourite things to do? Cliff said “His number one favourite thing is eating! He loves his toy mice that he had in his SPCA kennel and enjoys playing with the laser pointer – he can sure move fast for a big cat! Diggory’s also fascinated with the sound of water – shower, sink, toilet, it doesn’t matter – he comes running! And I can’t leave my shoes out because he loves my laces.”
Diggory fills the house with smiles and laughter every day. “When I’m brushing him, and I’m done, he’ll grab for me as I’m pulling my hand away, then he’ll reach out and wrap his front legs around one of my legs trying to stop me,” exclaimed Cliff. “When I go to bed, he attacks my feet as I’m sliding them under the covers – it’s quite a sight! As soon as I wake up in the morning, Diggory starts talking to me – I’m not sure what he’s trying to tell me most of the time, but it’s very entertaining. He’s an awesome little buddy. In fact, Buddy has become his nickname.”
Reflections of Diggory’s hard life as a stray surface at times. Cliff shared “He loves being around people. He seems to need to touch me. He’ll reach out and put a paw on me when he’s beside me on the couch.”
While many people may overlook homeless pets with special needs in search of the ‘perfect pet,’ Cliff looks at it this way………… “Animals can’t help their special needs, whatever they may be, any more than a person can. But they need and deserve respect, love and a forever home. Diggory waited a long time for a loving home and after meeting him, I couldn’t imagine why. When I look at him, I don’t see an FIV+ cat, I see a handsome sweet cat who loves people.”
Understanding the commitment involved in adopting a special needs pet is crucial to a happy healthy relationship. There are important things to consider before adopting a pet with special needs.
- Think about any long-term dietary requirements, special medications or treatments your pet will need. Pets with behavioral issues may need special training; those with mobility challenges may need therapy or surgery. Ensure you can fit these costs into your family’s budget.
- Your pet may need medications/injections at specific times of day. Ensure you’re available to do this.
- Talk with your family about the challenges that come with adopting a special needs pet and ensure everyone’s onboard.
- Your pet may need more frequent vet visits. Pets with an injury or physical disability may need assistance with standing or walking. Some may need you to physically accompany them outside for bathroom breaks, as opposed to simply being let out.
The Nova Scotia SPCA makes every effort to place special needs pets with their perfect human match. Before deciding to adopt, speak to shelter staff since they’re familiar with the animal and consult with your vet to get a good understanding of the pet’s ongoing requirements. Whatever the pet’s special needs, the SPCA will be there before and after adopting to support you by providing information and advice.