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
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
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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