Hamilton rescue cat finalist in North American “underdog” contest

A Hamilton shelter cat has been named one of 12 finalists for a North American contest that brings awareness to overlooked rescue cats all over the U.S. and Canada.

Pantry Four Paws (PFP), a Hamilton pet food bank, says five-year-old Bogart has been chosen for Petcurean’s Uplift the Underdog: Cat Edition contest, which showcases the stories of cats in desperate need of “fur-ever” homes.

Founder and president of PFP Mary Hebert says they came across Bogart after getting the heads up from a real estate agent who saw the cat while showing off a house where a woman had recently died.

“He’d been living on her porch all his five years of life. So when she died, there was no one to take care of him,” said Hebert.

Hebert said the cat was “super sick” when they found him, having a mouthful of rotten teeth and testing positive from feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which is in the same class of virus as HIV and typically causes a weakening of the cat’s immune system.


“It means he was beaten up by another cat that had FIV. He had cuts and wounds all over him,” said Hebert.

Dr. Matthew Kornya from the Cat Clinic in Hamilton says despite the condition, Bogart is likely to live a fairly normal cat life with the disease.

“It’s comparable to HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, and while it is in the same family of viruses, it’s a much more mild condition,” said Kornya.

“The term feline AIDS is commonly used, but is actually a very poor term because it really doesn’t lead to that kind of severe immunodeficiency syndrome.”

Kornya said the virus is not contagious to people and FIV cats typically can live safely in homes with other pets.

“If it’s a stable household and the cats get along with each other, then the risk of transmission is very low. It can’t be spread by licking each other in casual play. It really does need to be either sexual contact or deep wounds,” said Kornya.

“Most of the time with a stable household, that’s not an issue.”

The biggest drama in Bogart’s trip to the vet was the need to have all but four teeth pulled. Hebert says it was more difficult for PFP than the cat as the agency had to pick up a $1,800 bill for his dental work. However, Hebert said it was worth it seeing him recover.

“But you know, he seems happy and healthy now. He eats kibble. He eats everything he can. He can do it pain-free now, which is wonderful.”

Hebert says Bogart’s nomination in the Uplift the Underdog contest started when Global Pet Food, a regular donor to the food bank, sent an e-mail asking if they had a cat in desperate need of a home.

After a conversation with an associate Karen, who’s a vet tech and the cat’s foster mom, Hebert says they enlisted a photographer that Karen knew to take pictures of Bogart for the contest.

“So we submitted that with a little blurb about him, and he was one of only six picked in Canada.”



All the finalists of the contest take home a one year supply of cat food, have their adoption fee paid for, and score a donation of 2,000 meals of pet food to their local shelter.

The winner gets a three year supply of cat food, the adoption fee and meals for their local shelter.

Every year, 860,000 animals in shelters across the U.S. are euthanized while 38 per cent of the 81,000 cats taken into Canadian shelters last year were not adopted, which usually results in euthanization or spending the rest of life in a cage.

Win or lose, Hebert says the contest is really about raising awareness for pets who need homes.

“We’re hoping to turn heads toward the plight of cats that might be suffering in our community like Bogart was. We suggest for any pets well-being that they be spayed and neutered and live a sheltered life indoors.”


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