Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner's Guide

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Jac Hapka's Story


Jac was ill. The once proud tomcat was wasting away, and he’d developed a serious upper respiratory infection. Blood tests showed he was suffering the effects of Feline AIDS, otherwise known as the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV. This is a disease that attacks and impairs the immune system. It cannot be passed to humans and is not the same virus as HIV, although both viruses do attack their victims in a similar manner. Veterinarians said Jac’s condition was untreatable, and they suggested putting him to sleep.

Thomas Hapka, who had cared for Jac since he was a kitten, wouldn’t consider it. With his beloved pet growing sicker, Hapka launched a desperate search for answers. There were no books or helpful articles about Feline AIDS, and calls to vet clinics in neighboring communities produced the same grim recommendation: euthanasia. 

Hapka eventually found holistic practitioners who suggested that something other than prescription drugs like antibiotics and steroids could improve Jac’s condition. Their approach called for a variety of natural therapies, intended to build up the cat’s failing immune system.

Through a series of consultations with these practitioners and his own research, Hapka developed a regimen with which to treat Jac. The first step was to change the ailing cat’s diet to include a wide selection of raw and cooked meat. 

Hapka also used carefully selected vitamin supplements, which he whipped up in a blender to create a feline sports drink of sorts. Jac received this supplemental beverage daily, and the results were remarkable.

The elderly cat, who had suffered from raging fevers, endless colds and a dull, scraggly coat — was suddenly bright eyed and full of energy, despite his 14 years. His fur was soft, although he was far from a show cat. His head bore the scars of many street fights — a common way Feline AIDS is spread from one cat to another and, undoubtedly, how Jac came to suffer from it.

Sustained by natural treatments, Jac went on to enjoy his senior citizenship. He died at the ripe old age of 18 from a cardiac condition – not Feline AIDS.

The things Hapka had learned to save Jac were too important to set aside when the old tomcat died. He posted a website with basic information about Feline AIDS and some of the things he did to treat his beloved cat, including a recipe for Jac’s sports drink. 

Hapka supplied his contact information on the site and was inundated with requests from desperate cat owners seeking the same kind of assistance he’d struggled to find when Jac was originally diagnosed. “I was contacted by pet owners from around the world – everyone from teachers and corporate executives to U.S. military personnel and grade school children. The biggest surprise, though, was when two American zoos contacted me, asking for information when their lions and tigers tested FIV+.”

The site eventually reached 80,000 hits, and the demand for information proved to be more than Hapka could handle. His solution was to write a book, Feline AIDS: A Pet Owner’s Guide, which covers everything from symptoms and diagnosis, to whole food nutrition, treatment of mouth sores (a common FIV symptom), necessary euthanasia and grieving. The book is available from 
http://milwaukeeweb.net/fivbook/ and http://selz.co/1anDJn6.

“I’m not a veterinarian, and I would never pretend to be. I’m someone who turned to natural therapies when traditional medicine couldn’t save my cat. In Jac’s case, it proved to be the answer, and countless pet owners have reported favorable results with this approach as well. Not all cats with this disease can be saved, but natural treatments can help many. I always encourage anyone caring for an FIV+ cat to have a good relationship with a traditional vet — but natural treatments really have their place, too,” Hapka explains. 

Thomas Hapka is a freelance writer and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He first learned of FIV when his cat, Jac, was diagnosed. Since then, he has consulted with hundreds of pet owners, and his work has been featured in the magazines Australian National Cat, Cats Life, and Animal Wellness. Hapka also studied at the British Institute of Homeopathy USA.

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