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Do you love your cats enough to tattoo them on your back?

This cat lover adopted five special-needs cats and loved them dearly.

As cat lovers, we love our kitties. That's how it works. Each one has its own unique personality, leaving its own mark on your life as they pass through on their too-short journeys with us. Each cat owner chooses to immortalize their beloved pets in a different way. Some more different than others.

Fran Bailey, 23-year-old Welsh cat owner, has gotten portraits of five of her deceased cats tattooed on her back. Bailey had gone to an animal shelter and asked for five of their sickest cats, "so that they would have somewhere to go." 
 
Bailey left the shelter with five cats who were suffering from FIV, also known as "feline AIDS," an incurable condition which is closely related to the HIV virus that gives humans AIDS. FIV-positive cats can lead relatively healthy lives for years after contracting the disease, but because they are contagious to other cats, and because of the stigma of a "sick" cat, they are difficult if not impossible for shelters to adopt out.
 
All five of her cats eventually died from the condition. Bailey, who works as a tattoo artist herself, immortalized them in tattoo portrait form, each cat being pictured with a distinctive reminder of its personality. One cat is depicted in a dunce cap, another with a bandaged ear. A third, and my favorite, sports a monocle and bow tie.
 
Between 2-4% of cats worldwide are infected with FIV. Although there is a FIV vaccine available, it isn't yet clear how well the vaccine works. I once adopted a cat who turned out to be FIV positive, he had slipped through the diagnostic cracks so to speak because he had been infected right before entering the animal shelter, thus his tests at the shelter showed no infection. Had I known that he was FIV positive I might have monitored his health more closely. Sadly, he had to be put to sleep a year later because he suddenly developed a massive chest infection. 
 
Although they require a bit more attention to be kept safe, needing to be kept indoors and away from other cats, FIV-positive cats - as Bailey can attest - make excellent pets. Even if you choose not to have their portraits tattooed on your body after they die, perhaps you might consider following Bailey's wonderful example by adopting an FIV-positive cat and giving it the "forever home" that it deserves.