This page: Blackie was a stray cat who was rescued by individuals, but when testing positive for FIV at the vet, the vet put him down - who was to blame?

What we are up against

Blackie's betrayal -

How would you have protected Blackie?


A tragic tale of "Cat Betrayal"
by those who should have been helping

Imagine it, you hear a plaintive cry from the bushes in your garden and, on investigation, you see a cat who looks dishevelled and thin, and is obviously looking for food.

So you go inside and get bowl of cat food for him and, although clearly nervous, he eats it with haste, and quickly shies back into the shrubbery again.

Later that day, you see him again, and he demolishes some more of your offerings. You wonder whose he is, or where he has come from - is someone looking for him, or has he been abandoned like others you have heard of?

What do you do to help him?

This is exactly the scenario faced by Paul and his neighbour, Rita, when 'Blackie', as they called him, came into their lives.

They saw him more and more regularly and, over the following days, he started to become a little more confident, and emerged from his shrubbery shelter to accept the regular offerings of food Paul and Rita provided.

One day, when it had been raining hard, they did not see Blackie, and were worried, but then, as they turned round, they saw the half open door to the greenhouse, with a mournful black face looking out; Blackie had found the shelter and relative warmth from the open greenhouse.

Over the next few weeks, Blackie took up almost permanent residence in the greenhouse, and Paul and Rita put cushions and water inside for him to be more comfortable - Blackie was really learning to trust Paul and Rita and seemed to look forward to his three square meals a day and regular contact!

Rita suggested that they should find out if Blackie had any identification, like a microchip, in case someone was looking for him.

Blackie was not neutered, turned out not to have a microchip and there was no cat answering his description on the local Cats Protection lost and found register.

So Paul and Rita took it upon themselves to give Blackie flea and worming treatment. He was beginning to look so much better, his coat was improving and he was obviously less thin that he had been, and generally seemed much more relaxed in his garden environment.

It was at this stage that Paul and Rita felt they should get Blackie neutered and see if a home could be found for him - actually, Paul felt Blackie was more than happy with the life he was having at that time and was in no hurry to move him away.

When they talked to the local representative from Cats Protection, they were told that they had no room to take him on, and homes for a nervous black cat were not easy to find at the best of times. But they did offer to issue a voucher to help get Blackie neutered, which seemed to everyone to be the best next thing to do.

Blackie was still somewhat nervous and they needed to pick their moment to put him in a carry basket to get him to the vet. Blackie was actually a very large cat, the small basket they had borrowed was far too small for him, so they had to think again.

As Blackie seemed more than happy as he was, it was several months later that a friend lent them a large carrier that would accommodate his size. Rita telephoned the vet to say it was time for Blackie to be neutered. The receptionist told Rita that the neutering voucher that had been supplied by Cats Protection had actually expired, but not to worry, the vets knew CP well and would sort that out.

The arrangements were made and, on the appointed morning, Rita and Paul drove Blackie down to the vet's surgery and left him there for his neutering, with an arrangement that they would collect him that evening to take him back to his garden haven.

Paul and Rita had absolutely no idea
what was about to unfold!

About an hour after leaving Blackie at the vet's, Rita received a phone call from the vet, who told her that Blackie had "Cat AIDS, and that as he was not suitable for an indoor home, he had to be put down - that is Cats Protection policy."


Rita was shocked, she had never heard of 'cat AIDS', and didn't understand, but was given no further explanation. She went to her neighbour, Paul, to tell him the terrible news.

Now, Paul knew about FIV and was completely devastated, he tried to call the vet back, but he was 'not available'.

Later that day, Paul and Rita collected Blackie's body from the vet, who still was not available to speak to. They brought Blackie back to their home, where, in disbelief at what had happened, Paul buried him in the garden that had been his haven until that fateful morning.

Paul and Rita had cared for Blackie for the best part of a year, they were trying to do the best for him, they asked for help from Cats Protection, yet Blackie, a large healthy black cat that had become their friend, was now dead.
How could this have happened?


Later, in one of Paul's emails to us, he said:

"On a personal level this has been an extremely distressing time for me,
as I am solely responsible for putting Blackie into the box
that resulted in him being put down. 

As someone who has always looked after abandoned cats,
that moment will haunt me forever."


Clearly something went very wrong, Blackie had been saved from straydom and semi-starvation by Paul and Rita, he had been given shelter, regular food, routine flea and worm treatment. He started as a very scared stray, but Paul and Rita won his confidence and he became more and more trusting. Blackie had come a long way since those days of probable abandonment by his original owner; he was now ready for the next stage of his life, safe and cared for.

29 January 2015,
a date that will be for ever etched
on the minds of Paul and Rita.

Paul and Rita were in shock and completely devastated, their beloved friend had been killed when he should have been neutered ready for the next stage in his life; how can things have gone so wrong?

The one thing we know for sure is that the vet tested Blackie for FIV and when the result was positive he put Blackie down -

what we don't know, is on whose authority he did so.

Any vet needs 'informed consent' to carry out a procedure on an animal. As Paul and Rita only wanted Blackie to be neutered, and gave no other instructions or consent, then either the vet acted without consent, or another party gave the instruction - the only other party involved was the local Branch of Cats Protection; but neither the vet nor CP will confirm or deny who gave the instructions.

We have tried hard to find the truth, but have met with a wall of silence from the vet and the local branch of CP. Only CP head office have responded, but they too, refuse to confirm or deny if Cats Protection gave the vet the instructions.

If you would like to hear in more detail our attempts to get to the truth? [read more]

In our view, this is a story of betrayal -
Betrayal of the cat - Blackie
Betrayal of those who rescued the cat - Paul and Rita
Betrayal of supporters who give their money to help "Protect" cats.


Local Radio...
It is somewhat ironic that, the day after Blackie was killed for being FIV+, there was a BBC Somerset local radio programme, broadcast from Taunton, just 25 miles down the road - the morning phone-in programme had a respected local vet on for the regular, monthly "Ask the vet" feature.

The subject of FIV was raised and he said about cats with the virus that:

"unless they are very ill with anything else, there is no reason to treat them any differently from other cats? The FIV diagnosis is not a death sentence."

He went on to say that
"20 years ago, maybe vets wouldn't have had the understanding of these viruses (FIV and other similar) but, hopefully, now everybody is on board"

- meaning, with the understanding that the virus is not a death sentence and cats with the virus should be treated just like other cats.

"20 years ago, maybe vets wouldn't have
had the understanding of these viruses

Little did he know that, on the day immediately before this broadcast, a vet in Minehead, not 25 miles away, had put Blackie down simply because he tested positive for FIV.

But then again, what responsible vet still calls FIV "cat AIDS"?

It used to be an irresponsible shorthand, which put fear into the minds of those who heard it, usually used by those who either had no idea of FIV's true nature, or who were stuck in the past, like when the human HIV was treated that way back in the 1980s.

AIDS stage FIV is rarely reached, the vast majority of FIV cats live out perfectly healthy lives with immune systems remaining strong enough for most situations.

Blackie certainly was NOT in AIDS stage FIV - if he had been, he would have been suffering with chronic health issues for a long time, whereas he was perfectly healthy when he went for neutering.

To use the phrase "cat AIDS" to an elderly lady (Rita) who had no knowledge of FIV was either crass misdiagnosis, or plain irresponsibility.


To read about how we tried to get to the bottom of what happend, see below:

Our attempts to get to the truth

Background information

Links to:

RCVS - vets code of practice re 'informed consent'

CP - Veterinary notes re FIV and FeLV

CP - flow charts for management of FIV cats

CP - Strays policy

Ownership - general

Cats and the Law (ICC/The Cat Group publication)

Report by those who put together the 'Cats and the Law' publication

The Cat Group - policy on FIV

ICC (International Cat Care) - latest notes on FIV

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