1st Troy police cat to retire to kitty sanctuary

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A second test on the first kitten picked by Troy Police to be its so-called "pawfficer" has confirmed she has feline leukemia, officials said Thursday.

The kitten, named Badges, is also being taken in by an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit called Leuk's Landing, said Shaun Bailey, a spokesman for the Michigan Humane Society.

Leona Foster, the founder of Leuk's Landing, said her group is also taking in Badges' brother, Kel, also afflicted with the disease.  

Founded in 2007, Leuk's Landing is a sanctuary that provides a permanent home for cats and kittens diagnosed with feline leukemia. It also finds long-term foster homes for cats with the disease.

The group is run by volunteers and has space for 40 cats and kittens in its sanctuary and accepts new animals as slots open.

"The minute it hit the news (Badges had feline leukemia), a number of our volunteers started texting me and sending me Facebook messages saying "You've got to save this kitten,'" Foster said. "Then I got in contact with Michigan Humane Society. It was just like everyone is looking out for her and her brother. It's worked out very well." 

Foster said initially the kittens will stay at the sanctuary with other cats, but she will try to place them place them in a long-term foster home.

Although called feline leukemia, the disease isn't a cancer but a contagious virus that only affects cats. It can result in several medical conditions, including cancer and blood disorders.

There is no cure for the virus, which can shorten an indoor cat's lifespan to about 2.5 years from about 17 years.

In April, Troy Police chose Badges to serve in its newly-created Feline Unit. The month before, the department said it would get a police cat as part of a Twitter challenge that called for 10,000 new followers.

Since Badges was not able to perform her duties in the post, police officials selected another kitten, Donut, as her replacement. The Michigan Humane Society cared for Badges and Kel until they were taken in by Foster's group.

The almost-kitten cop was a spokes-animal for the humane society and raised people's awareness about feline leukemia.  

Foster said she hopes Badges will continue that work. 

"One of goals has been to educate the public about the disease," she said. "I view this as an opportunity to get the message about about re-testing to make sure a cat has the disease and how you can still give cats with it a good life."


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez