It was one of those quirky paid obituaries that appears from time to time of someone who qualifies as a true character.
Antonia W. "Toni" Larroux of Bay St. Louis, Miss., was remembered as a loyal customer at the Waffle House who died, the obit said, of "lupus, rickets, scurvy, kidney disease and feline leukemia."
It turns out most of the contents of the obituary - though not Larroux's actual death - were an inside family joke.The obit ran in the New York Times and went viral on the internet.
But few were in on the joke, including a mourner who thanked the family for "getting out the truth about feline leukemia."
Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a contagious viral disease that is responsible for the deaths of a majority of domestic cats and kittens in the U.S. each year but is not contagious to humans.
It is trasmitted through close contact such as grooming or sharing litter boxes can be transmitted from mothers to their kittens.
Sadly, cats die not just from the disease itself. Those that test positive for the disease in overcrowded shelters stand little to no chance of survival based on the misconception that the disease is terminal or the unwillingless to treat, or inability to keep separate, this populatoin.
While the disease can attack the immune system and lead to the premature deaths of kittens and cats suffering from other conditions, cats that are provided basic medical care, are fed a nutritious diet and live a stress free life can thrive.
How do I know this? I own three feline leukemia positive cats, one of whom, Suki - pictured above - is 12 years old and symptom-free.
Feline leukemia does in fact spread like a viral video among unvaccinated cats and can threaten even those with vaccinations, but research has concluded the disease is not transmitted from cats to humans.
The consulting veterinarians and public health experts who work with Alley Cat Allies, the nation's only feral cat advocacy group, said feline leukemia is specific to cats only. In a statement for Philly Dawg, the group's founder, Becky Robinson, said:
Referred to as FeLV, Feline Leukemia CANNOT be transmitted to humans (including children) nor can it be transmitted to other species such as dogs. Millions of cats lives in American homes and a very small percentage of cats are known to have FeLV which is contracted via inter-species – cat to cat – contact.
Let's hope this blog is the start of viral pushback against feline fallacies like FeLV transmission to humans.