By: Dana Oltman, Amazing Foster Mom and Felius Volunteer
My name is Dana, and I am a volunteer at Felius. You might know my face from the cat room some evenings, making sure the cats and people all behave and play nice.
After volunteering at Felius for a while and working with some awesome (and sometimes super shy) cats, I decided to open my apartment to foster cats who may not fit in the cat café environment, for whatever reason. As soon as my application to Omaha Wags to Riches was approved, I got my first cat: an FIV+ surrender who needed a place to go ASAP. Enter: Howie.
Howie, a 5-year-old flame point shorthair, was placed in my apartment that weekend. Howie is a special needs cat for a couple of reasons. For one, he is FIV positive (aka feline immunodeficiency virus, aka feline HIV). A common misconception about FIV+ cats is that they have short lifespans. This is not true. FIV+ kitties can live long, happy lives if they stay indoors. There are many instances where these cats never even exhibit symptoms from being infected. So far, this is the case with Howie.
Second, and most prominent at the time, was a condition called entropion. In short, this meant his eyelids were inverted and his eyelashes were going INTO his eyes. This resulted in coronary ulcers. Ever get a hair stuck your eye? Imagine that feeling happening constantly. This required an ointment to help with pain, which I gave him daily, much to his disdain.
Despite his conditions, he's the sweetest boy - constantly cuddling, following me around, and purring up a storm the entire time. Still, his entropion condition required corrective surgery.
Immediately after getting back from surgery, his eyes were wide open without hair to obstruct his view. As his recovery progressed, he had more energy; before surgery, he never had the ‘zoomies’ (random running around for no reason - cat owners know). Now, he has regular ‘zoomie’ outbursts. The outside window gazing that used to hurt his sensitive eyes is now his favorite source of entertainment. His curiosity has blossomed, climbing more and insisting with his high-pitched squeak meow to be let into places he's not allowed to go (my basement). His sweetness has persisted all the while...although it's been a bit more vigorous in the mornings when he wants breakfast.
Howie is my first ever foster. I grew up with cats but was always resistant to owning one as an independent adult. Fostering has proven to be a great alternative; Omaha Wags to Riches provides food, litter, and vet checkups. I simply provide shelter and lots of love! Additionally, with shy cats (or in Howie's case, special needs cats), you get to see them come out of their shell and blossom into the cats they couldn't become within tight cages. For more information on fostering, please contact Felius or Omaha Wags to Riches. It is truly an amazing way to help cats and make a huge impact on their lives.