Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Duchess Josiana, the odd-eyed cat

Duchess Josiana was a stray living in a local park. She and her already weaned kittens were all rather friendly, so they were trapped and have been taken to foster homes. I knew with the first sight of her, Duchess Josiana would find a home very, very soon.

Duchess Josiana has a lot going on genetically and health wise so this will be a somewhat long post with a lot of topics.

Odd Eyes

Duchess Josiana is an odd-eyed cat. Her most outstanding feature are her mismatched eyes, one blue and one gold. This eye color difference is a genetic mutation referred to as Heterochromia iridis. This mutation is most often seen in cats that are entirely white but can also be found in cats with the gene for white spotting.

Odd Eyes and a Name

In the case of this kitty, her name was entirely inspired by her eyes. She is named for Duchess Josiana, a character from the Victor Hugo novel L'Homme qui rit or The Man Who Laughs. In the novel, the character of the Duchess is described as having one brown and one blue eye. To be honest, I could only think of just one female character from literature that is described as having heterochromia. So, that nicely helped to limit my literary naming pool.

White Coat

White cats have a particular set of genes that creates their spotless coat: namely the white masking gene. The W gene, when found in cats, prevents the production of pigment-producing cells during embryologic development. No matter what other color genes the cat may have, if they are W/W (white masking dominant / white masking dominant) or W/w (white masking dominant / white masking recessive), they will have a lack of melanin producing cells and thus have a white coat. Some cats with the W allele are also deaf. In odd eyed cats, they may be deaf in one or both ears.


Duchess Josiana tested positive for FIV. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is found in about 2.5 to 4.4 percent of cats world wide. The virus is a retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency in cats, meaning that cats with the virus can be more susceptible to secondary infections, especially respiratory infections. Each infected cat is unique. Based on their overall health and the care they receive, they may live very long lives relatively free from trouble. If they are street cats exposed to more diseases and prone to more fighting/aggression they will be more likely to become ill due to their reduced immune system being less able to fight off various bacteria and infections.

FIV+ kitties are those who have tested positive for the FIV antibody. Cats who have had an FIV immunization will forever test as FIV+, so if your cat is immunized, make sure they have a microchip and that their chip file explains their immunization. Many shelters will immediately euthanize cats that test positive with FIV even though the disease has a fairly mild transmission rate. FIV is generally passed through one cat biting another and the FIV+ cat's saliva entering the wound of the other cat. Transmission is most common in unaltered male cats that are fighting for territory, resources and mating rights.

A Home for Her Grace

Because Duchess Josiana tested positive for FIV, we try to find her a home where she will be the only cat or where the family may have another cat with FIV. We found a winner! Leana and her family have one cat who is FIV+ and is 16. They know how to take care of FIV+ kitties and live in a nice rural place where Duchess Josiana can enjoy life and be well loved, especially by a little girl who is very anxiously waiting for her to arrived. The Duchess will be spayed tomorrow and goes to her new home on Friday

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1 comment:

  1. Duchess became part of our household, and even though the eyes were what caught our attention this girl has so much more interesting traits (though they shine two different colors). She has since learned how to talk and does so regularly. She may be deaf on one side but it does not slow her down. She has taught us how to play her favorite games and enjoys complete control of the household, including our lanai and Florida rooms. On occasion I will find her sitting on top of the Canary cage, how she gets there I have no clue. This girl has significant stealth. Her nicknames include: tuba-lub (because of her incredibly loveable belly) and ghost. But the most amazing thing is she is a huntress at heart; since moving in she has caught a snake, a mouse, a multitude of cockroaches, and can catch a fly mid air. She is so amazing and I am ever grateful that she was rescued from an almost certain death sentence.