The Remarkable Story of 9-Lives Blacki

The Cat That Keeps Beating the Odds Thanks to Dr. Busselman

Blacki portraitIf you consider the statistics, 13-year-old Blacki the cat should have died years ago. To begin with, he spent his first six years living as a stray, hiding in the city sewers and prowling for food in the fields behind a neighborhood in northwest Omaha. The average outdoor cat lives just 2 to 5 years.


During those six years, homeowner Pat worked to make friends with Blacki but the suspicious feline wasn’t having it. Pat was patient and persistent, however, and slowly Blacki began to trust the man who talked to him and left him food and water outside each day. One evening Blacki followed Pat into the house and decided to stay…but his life was still at risk.


Black on the prowlPat immediately took Blacki to Dr. Busselman for an exam and vaccinations. Amazingly, most of the cat’s test results were excellent except for one. Blacki tested positive for FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Much like HIV in humans, FIV attacks the immune system leaving the cat vulnerable to many infections. The median survival time for cats infected with FIV is 5 years.


However, Dr. Busselman was positive in his outlook for Blacki. “It’s not a death sentence, this is one strapping cat,” he said, and he began to explain a treatment and lifestyle program for Blacki.

While the rescued stray couldn’t infect people or dogs, he could infect other cats so Blacki had to be kept away from Poody, Pat’s other pet. Since Pat owned a two-story home, Poody became the upstairs cat while Blacki took the downstairs.


“It was funny how both cats just immediately adjusted,” Pat recalls. “Now they pretty much just ignore the existence of one another,” he says with a smile.


Since his initial diagnosis, Blacki has maintained excellent health with the help of Dr. Busselman. However, just recently the “strapping cat” developed a nasty rash that Dr. B believed to be the result of a contact allergen.


“The rash was red, angry and all over his body,”says Pat. “Plus, there were bloody patches where Blacki had licked and scratched at himself and he was losing his hair.”


Treatment for Blacki was complicated by his FIV.

Pat with Black

“Normally I would have recommended the use of Atopica, a highly effective med but one that has corticosteroids which can compromise the immune system,” says Dr. Busselman. So Blacki’s treatment took place in stages:

Stage 1: Dr. Busselman gave Blacki an antibiotic shot and prescribed an antibiotic cream to calm the inflammation and to prevent infection. A hydrocortisone cream was prescribed to relieve the itching. In addition, Blacki was put on a prescription non-allergy food.

Stage 2: While Blacki was better, and he liked his new food, he wasn’t healing as quickly as desired. However, Dr. B had done some research and had reached out to his veterinary network. The consensus was that a limited steroid shot for Blacki would work. It did.


“Within 10 days there was remarkable improvement,” says Pat, “and in just a few weeks Blacki’s rash was essentially gone and his hair had begun growing back.”


So far, Blacki has lived three times longer than anyone would have predicted, and with the love of a great owner and the excellent care he gets at Fort Street Vet, Blacki may continue to beat the odds and live as long as “the upstairs cat” Poody.  She’s also a patient of Dr. B and just turned 19.