TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - More than 100 special needs cats have found their forever homes, thanks to the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary, Tucson’s oldest cat shelter. These new homes were thanks to the Hermitage Lease for Life Program (L4L), in addition to those through regular adoption.
According to Hermitage the L4L program began as a foster program that placed special needs cats into foster care, often on a long-term basis, this resulted in changing the program from foster to adopt in 2013.
In the last several years the L4L program has been refined to allow for the best medical care for the cats.
L4L allows adopters to 'lease' a special needs cat, with The Hermitage covering the cost of care resulting from the pre-existing condition of the cat such as feline immunodeficiency (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV), diabetes, food allergies and much more.
These special adopters enter into a contract with The Hermitage for the life of the cat, for a fee of $50 the adopter is able to take one of the cuddly felines home, without worrying about the medical costs associated with stomatitis and dental extractions (which can result from FIV), lymphoma (sometimes resulting from FeLV), or other medical complications.
According to The Hermitage, this contract covers the financial obligations of the adopter, and The Hermitage, including low-cost vet check-ups, a co-pay for medications, including insulin, and the cost of prescription food. This diminishes the high-costs of caring for cats with special needs, and gives adopters a sense of relief, financially.
The Hermitage has found that the L4L program provides many benefits, not the least of which is that a cat with chronic special needs finds their “forever home”, and their health often improves away from the stress of the hustle and bustle of the shelter environment.
Placing a special needs cat into a home via the L4L program, The Hermitage is able to rescue another cat in need, saving two lives.
Adopters benefit from the advantage of the financial safety net that the L4L program provides for emergencies related to their cat’s special needs.
The L4L program further helps by raising awareness of the long, healthy lives that cats with FIV or FeLV can live. Neither of these viruses are a “death sentence”, nor are the cats living with them in immediate danger of dying. Rather they are long-term, chronic, viruses, and for most cases, the cat will pass away after a long, uneventful life of “old age”, no different from any other pampered, beloved house cat.
Although cats living with FIV can live with FIV negative cats, it is recommended that careful introductions are done, to prevent fighting that could result in deep bite wounds, one of the only ways for cats to contract the virus. So long as the blood barrier isn’t breached, there is no chance of transmission.