Reprinted from BEST FRIENDS MAGAZINE May/June 2003
health & behavior
Disclosures on enclosures
By Faith Maloney
Sue Strunk has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But for the
time being, she’s still able to stay at home, where she lives
with her beloved cat, Max, a big, fluffy, former stray.
Sue’s daughter, Gigi, is a veterinary pharmacologist, and on
one of her regular visits to her mother, she noticed that all was not
well. Max had stopped using the litter box, and her mom didn’t
seem to notice or care that much. Gigi, however, knew that this
would only get worse – and that even if Sue didn’t notice, the
landlord most certainly would!
Gigi called Best Friends for advice, and spoke with staffer Julie
Coon. She wanted to know whether we could take Max here at the
sanctuary. She’d thought of trying to find him a new home, she
explained, but there was another thing, too: Max, a former stray,
had tested positive for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), and
a lot of people are nervous about adopting an FIV cat. (Their fears
are greatly exaggerated, but that’s another story …)
Julie suggested another option – building a special cat enclo-
sure for Max, where he could spend most of his time and where
Sue would be able to spend time with him whenever she wanted to.
Gigi thought this was a splendid idea, and set about persuad-
ing her mother’s landlord that this could be a solution for all con-
Gigi studied the cattery information and designs we sent her,
saw some ideas she liked, and decided to adapt one of them so
that it would be suitable for North Carolina weather. The final
design took two days to build, during which time Max went to the
veterinarian for a medical checkup – dental cleaning, blood work
and his vaccinations.
“I built most of it by myself. And believe me, if I could do it,
anyone can!” Gigi laughed. “My husband Mike helped me with
the tall parts. He’s 6' 3" and could reach the roof.
“Because we are prone to ice storms where we live, I made a
solid plywood wall on the side where the pr