The 2011 Marley Calendar Cat Contest is now open for entries.

The Marley Fund is dedicated to making a difference in the fight against feline retroviruses, including both feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses, through public service, promoting awareness and educating the public. The calendar contest is open to all cats, past or present, who have brought others joy with their purrsonalities, antics and beauty. The $15 entry fee benefits Marley’s educational programs (such as the “Test Your Pet” Tour) and printing of the calendar.

Proceeds from the calendar contest also benefit the FeLV and FIV positive cats in the program like Ernie, the Snowshoe shown below. Ernie is FeLV-positive, a condition that means an automatic death sentence at most shelters, even though Ernie is totally healthy. Through the Marley Fund, Ernie is being fostered while awaiting adoption into a furever home. He’s one of 100 cats in the Marley foster care network.

The calendar is both an educational tool and a very effective way of promoting awareness. The facts and tips printed on each page allow Marley Fund to educate all year long on the vitality of testing for FeLV/FIV and vaccinating against FeLV. It hosts the latest information about FeLV and FIV from IDEXX Laboratories, the international leader in the veterinary diagnostics market, which provides animal health care products and services to help pets live longer, healthier and happier lives.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER the contest.

The Marley Fund is named after Marley the Cat, a personable, affectionate orange tabby whose life was cut far too short by FeLV.

Here’s more about Marley, as told by his Mom:

Marley’s Story

Marley was my best friend, my soul mate, and my sunshine. He was the most personable feline I have ever befriended, for I have had several over the years and have a special place in my heart for them. Marley was different, he did amazing things, and we had such a connection. If I looked over at him he was always watching my every movewith one look from me he would come running. Every room I was in he was in; he was my child. Until Marley, I have never truly, on a daily basis thought to myself what a beautiful animal, for I love all animals, but Marley was exceptionally stunning, with his soft, peaceful eyes. He made me feel at peace with one glance. He would drop and roll when I entered the house as a canine, which became his trademark move for he did this when anyone entered our home.

Marley became sick over Labor Day 2001. I thought it was minor for he had had all of his shots and vaccinations. However, September 5, 2001 Marley tested a strong positive for the Feline Leukemia Virus and was diagnosed with Lymphoma at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, NC. I was not aware that the feline leukemia vaccination was helpful for prevention only 75%-85% of the time. He had a mediastinal mass around his heart and lungs determined from the ultrasound, mass aspiration, and cytology report.

Marley had the finest doctors, Dr. Carla Gartrell, his internal medicine specialist and Dr. Jerry Waddle, his oncologist and the most passionate staff at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital, as well as the his wonderful local veterinarian, Dr. Mark Hayes, and staff located at 10th Street Animal Hospital in Greenville, NC who took care of him.

They treated his cancer and cancer related complications with chemotherapy and other procedures weekly for five weeks. Marley went into remission, but the cancer resurfaced two weeks later. We tried several chemotherapy drugs, Elspar, Vincristine, Cytoxin, and finally Adriamycin. I was on a mission to save my friend and knew that as long as his quality of life was good I would go to the ends of the earth to save him.

Unfortunately, the remission was over and his body was immune to the chemotherapy, his breathing became more difficult and his attitude and appetite had vanished. I had to face that I was not going to be able to save my soul mate, for I loved him more than myself. Marley was put to sleep while in my arms, with his tail still flapping as I talked to him, and told him how sorry I was and how much loved him. I know he heard me and that he truly knew that I loved him. He went to sleep on October 9, 2001 the day after my birthday. He was 1 year and 7 months old.

He was a strong, beautiful, loving companion who fought for life to the bitter end. It is comforting for me to realize that Marley came into my life on Mother’s Day, that he was my gift for I was his mother, a fact I hadn’t thought about previously. Marley brought so much happiness to each and every heart he touched, for he was remarkably human. All who came through our home loved him and would immediately remark, “What a BEAUUUTIFUL CAT…and so LOVING…WOW!” He was definitely special…he taught me so many things about myself and others around me during his short life and now after. That we must love one another for we do not know when something could happen to any of us…that life is what you make of it, each day is a gift…that when things are bad a friend can always make you smile…and most importantly, that GOD IS GOOD, for he was good to me to give me such a wonderful friend.

God was with me to give the strength to do the right thing by Marley, the power to have faith, and the determination to do something about this fatal disease. I am diligently working to make a difference; I have more lives to save. This is why it is so important to reach the Marley Fund’s goal, to provide informative calendars and our Marley Collection Cat Tents as a thanks for donations. These donations will save lives and bring awareness to those of us who do not understand this dreadful disease among felines. I cannot stress enough the importance of testing your cats for retroviruses every year. Don’t let this happen to you. You too can help “Stop the Cycle.”

– Joy Eubanks

CLICK HERE TO ENTER the contest. You’ll help promote understanding and awareness of feline retroviruses, and maybe even make your cat a star!