Kitten Milk Replacement

Kitten Milk Replacement, or KMR, is like magic.

Technically this stuff is ONLY for felines, but if you have a rodent in desperate need of protein, milk, or nutrients, this stuff saves lives where nothing else can.  I supply it to pregnant and nursing mice, I give it to sick mice, and in the past it has made the difference for orphaned mice who had nothing else to drink.  And yes, it's even helped save the lives of some orphaned kittens - it's original intent.

It's basically...magic.

When using it for cats, I mix a small bit of evaporated KMR with warm water and blend that into a small amount of wet kitten food.  Part of the reason KMR is so amazing is that unlike cow's milk or infant solution, KMR is lactose-free.  Kitten tummies, and most small animal tummies in fact, can't handle lactose and this can make them gassy or dehydrated (by giving them diarrhea).  Another solution is to add lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, in order to make different forms of milk more digestible, but I prefer mixing KMR into other foods.

KMR is also great for...say...pregnant mothers like Ghost.  Pregnant cats need to eat a lot more protein - kitten food, KMR, and a fresh water supply are all vital to helping her produce milk and build up enough strength to have a successful pregnancy (not to mention she's feeding all those little ones inside of her, too!).

There's more of a difference in kinds of milk than just lactose, though.  Milk from different animals (cow, sheep, goat, etc.) contain different types and amounts of fat.  This fat is important to both mom and babies, as is the protein, so when possible it's important to stick to the right species.  KMR is specifically formulated for cats (in fact, it's against the label to use it differently) and has exactly what they need in it. SO....if you can use KMR, that's your best bet.

Of course, never forget that kittens and any other infant animal (people included) NEED the first 24-48 hours of milk from mom.  This milk is called colostrum and is full of antibodies that protect the kittens from many diseases until they are several weeks old (before which vaccines will only be destroyed by the kitten's natural immunities).  If you know your cat has a disease transmissible by suckling, check with your veterinarian long before the kittens arrive for advice.  It is never advisable to simply skip natural nursing for the first 1-2 days.

So yes!  KMR is amazing stuff.  I have some in my fridge every month of the year - when emergencies come up it's great to have on hand!  :)  By the way, Ghost is doing wonderfully.  No signs of labor yet and she seems to be in wonderful health.  She ate a ton of kitten kibble last night and has been taking regular meals of KMR in watered-down wet food.  She's also quite busy rearranging her nest and, much to my dismay, dragging towels into her litter box.  She is very sociable now, rolling completely over and purring when I pet her, and luckily the investigation is moving in full-swing right now and it doesn't look like anyone is going to try and move her from here.  Hopefully her shocks are done with for awhile.

"Yeeeessss...Pet me moooorrrre.  And look at my niiipppppplleesss... I am so fat and pregnaaaant..."
 Later Gators.
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

It's Barely Humor

Sassy has been renamed for the time being.  I learned some more about her situation, and after staring at those miserable eyes for a certain amount of time, you realize Ghost is the only appropriate name.  In time, I hope it's a joke about the past.

The Home
I should really say house.  No place like that could be called a home.  It was so much worse than we were told, and I consider myself blessed that I did not have to be there.

It took them a long time just to shovel enough crap (I don't mean junk, I mean crap) out of the way of the door so they could enter.  It turns out 65 cats, a few dogs, and several birds were only what was left after many animals and several pounds of feces had already been removed.  The house was a one-bedroom.  There was no place in the entire house in which the feces came below your knees.  The cats were in horrible condition, several of them not able to make it through the night if they weren't removed immediately.  One had to be put down.

According to the woman heading the operation, several of the cats had such severe disease or deformity that she could not even name some of the illnesses.  She says these are things she has never seen before, outside of horror or science fiction films.  She spent all day there.

The landlord apparently has no clue, and that's why the woman came to the rescue in the first place asking for the cats to be rehomed by Wednesday.  There is no way for him not to know now.  The place is probably going to have to be burned and rebuilt if you ask me.

The woman had no clue there was a problem.  She asked the rescue head, "Is it really that bad?"

Hoarders have mental addictions to hoarding.  It's a disorder.  It's included in the DSM as symptoms of a variety of problems.  She can't SEE that she doesn't love them, that if she did, she wouldn't treat them that way.  She can't SEE that it isn't normal.

Having a lot of pets is one thing.  If you had fifty pets and they all had fresh food, water, and habitat and all saw a vet when they needed, you'd still be fine in my book.  But if you have so many pets that you have knee-high crap in your home?  If 20-something of them have been fixed, but no one else has seen a vet even when it means death?  If you can't live without 8 of your 65 remaining cats, and all it took to START this was 8 unfixed cats?

You have a problem.

So in any case, today an investigation starts.  Rescue-lady has a collection of photos from yesterday and several of the cats into a vet (with before-documentation).  She spends today and tomorrow building the case and intends to crack the whip all at once, in one fell swoop, right before the hoarder woman leaves the state.  With luck and a bit of law, she won't be able to take the cats, dogs, birds, and others with her to TN.  I'm sure that seems unfair, to take away all her pets, but with only one of the cats she's taking being fixed, we would not be doing them ANY favors by letting them leave with her.  Normally I disagree with a lot of pet laws, and the humane society is NO friend of mine.  But this time - for the cats, we need every ounce of help we can get to keep them alive and rehabilitate them.

Ghost Last Night
Ghost was...well...a ghost last night.  No, she isn't dead.  Watching her was spooky, though.  She was so depressed she wouldn't move.  Wouldn't twitch an ear when you snapped, wouldn't look when you spoke or walked in.  I put water in front of her and tapped the surface to get her to see it was there and fresh - her glazed eyes floated slowly up and stared into mine, then drifted slowly off like she was in another world.  I could make no connection with her - the only thing I could do was feel her mammaries for milk and dab a little water on her lips for her to lick off.  She looked like she'd already died.  It broke my heart.

At first I thought she was tense - waiting to strike out if bothered.  She wasn't.  She was in a literal state of catatonia, unable to respond to anything.

I left her alone, hoping she would start to come to terms with her new environment over the course of the night without unneeded prodding by me.

Ghost Now
I'm happy to say she is doing WAY better this morning.  First, she now responds to things, even if not overwhelmingly so.  I covered the side of her kennel that faces the door so she would feel like she had a little privacy, so when I enter the room I talk to her so she's not surprised.  Ghost does not need anymore surprises.  Now - she actually turns to face you when you come in or talk to her.  When you offer a hand or food, she leans forward to sniff it.  HUGE improvement!  The food and water have been touched, even if not ingested, and the blankets are rearranged - nesting, perhaps?

And this is the BEST part - GHOST USED THE LITTERBOX!

This poor cat, out of a home where dirt was the litter and filth was piled knee-high, was a very good girl and used the box the first time she had to go.  I could not be more proud of her.  She is such a trooper.  I hope her and her kittens get to live out a normal fostering here, and don't need to be yanked away for medical or legal reasons.  She may need to be, depending on how the case goes, and I know they'll do the right thing - but right now I am so hopeful I could cry.

She and her room are under a strict quarantine right now.  My own cat is in a different room, so there can be no under-the-door sniffing.  Nothing goes in or out of the room except me, not even the trash (but there's a if I need to throw out litter that's how it'll reach the dumpster).  Anything that has to, like my hands for instance, faces either a bleach solution, betadine, or 91% alcohol and a wash with hot soapy water, depending on what it is.

One last thing - there MIGHT be a little bit of discharge on the blanket.  Her face is totally clean - no facial discharge, sneezing, or other signs of URI or rhino or anything.  Could babies be on the way?  I'll have to watch her closely today.  At least now I know that her mind is a little more present, and she may even be able to handle having them.  And if not, I have a good shot at her getting close enough to me to be able to assist if she needs it.

Fingers crossed!!
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~


Just a heads up - this blog may be making a very slight shift.  I love writing instructional or informative posts, like ones on medications, foods, litters, etc., but I only get around to that so often.  I'd love to start including posts related to rescue, veterinary stuff (I'm really loving the vet tech courses and would love to share some of that with you guys!), and sometimes a bit more about my critters, since my experiences shouldn't just teach me - they should help others, too.

So anyways, here we go:

Penny Update!
     We have about $380 right now, and are slowly but surely working our way up to that $900 number.  I know $1,000 was our goal, but the second we have enough to get her in, I want to.  The longer we wait, the more it scars over, and the less chance we have (if we had any to begin with) of repair.  If you know ANYONE you can pass her story on to, please let them know.  You can donate to her cause on the right-hand side of the page or at her website.  In the meantime, she's being her typical, goofball self.  :)

     Let me start of Sassy's story...not even with Sassy.  Actually, it really begins with my mum.  My mum went to the hair salon a couple of weeks ago and noticed a cat with a collar but  no tags desperately trying to get into the salon.  The employees were quite annoyed with it and said it had been coming around for a few weeks.  They told her she was declawed.

Well, my mum went back the next day with a carrier and kitty hopped right in.  She was extremely affectionate, and my mom did everything right trying to find her home.  No takers.  So my mom watches as the vet bills stack up with all the things that go along with rescuing a lost or stray cat - tests, shots, tags, and the big S - Spaying.

BUT...kitty puts on a little weight and my mom starts to wonder if she's preggo.  My mother wants to get her spayed anyways, but I convince her to determine for sure if she is or not first, offering to help if there are little ones on the way.  We get everything set up and await the call.  Turns out she's not preggo after all, though my mum is still complaining about the cost.  :\  Welcome to the world of rescue, mum!

Now, a few days after that cat's surgery, I see a post on Facebook from a woman I know at the rescue that we're working with for Penny, explaining an emergency situation.  A woman in town with SIXTY-FIVE CATS IN HER HOUSE is moving to Tennessee and stopped by the shelter to ask if they'd take in the 57 she didn't want.  28 are fixed, none have vet records, and one is pregnant and going to pop any second now.  No.  No shelter will take 57 cats.  Heck, our animal control/humane society can only take 50 per day, and that's from everywhere in the county.  When do they have to be gone by (because her landlord doesn't know about them)?  WEDNESDAY.

Look...I have worked with that many cats before.  I worked in a shelter with about 50-60 cats per house spread out over two houses and a barn.  That took about 50 or 60 litter boxes EASILY, isolation was hell, records were complicated, and it took about 3 or 4 employees plus the owner to take care of that many cats every day.  Boxes were scooped twice daily and it took a few hours.  Imagine filling that many water and food bowls (and yes, they HAD water and food bowls).  Just imagine that many cats for a second.

This woman had 65 in her house WITH her and her husband.  Neither is wealthy and the house is no mansion.  For litter she used dirt.  Half the cats have upper respiratory infections and no attempt at medication or isolation has been made whatsoever.  The fact that only one cat was pregnant was a damned miracle.  They must have done some strategic fixing, or maybe that's why they HAVE so many cats.  Ages between 2 months and 8 years.  The cats were flipping out in the house, but the second they were removed?  Calm.  They were dying, literally, to get out of there.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, I really do.  Things get out of hand sometimes, even to very good, normally responsible people.  But if it were up to me, that woman would not be allowed to take any of the cats with her on the move, let alone eight, no matter what that means we have to do with them.  She's only taking one that's fixed.  Next thing you know, Tennessee is going to be handling a woman with 60 or more cats in one home.  Pray someone smells it and reports her to the authorities before she hurts or neglects anymore cats.

Since we were all prepped and ready to go for my mom's cat, my fiance and I had a brief talk and I contacted her to volunteer to foster the mom and her litter.  I spent the entire night and morning re-cleaning the room she'd go in, moving the other critters out so she'd have peace and quiet, and setting up a big wire kennel filled with soft blankies and towels, a shallow litter pan, a water dish and a bowl full of kitten kibble.  I readied the KMR, covered half the kennel for privacy and security, and went to pick up momma cat.  It was a lot of work, but hopefully she'll have a little less stress and be able to have a safe, healthy delivery when the time is right.

This was about an hour ago.  I now have momma cat (ready to pop any minute now, according to the woman who pulled her from the hellhole house) all tucked into her new home.  It took me a long, long time to get her to come out  of the carrier - she was practically catatonic with worry.  She explored her new home and settled in quickly.  She is a beautiful, black, young kitty with gorgeous eyes, and I hope with all my heart that she didn't catch a URI from the sick cats of the house.  No more dirt litter boxes for her.  No more crowded homes, no more litters after this one, and no more neglect.  Sassy is going to have real meals every day, vet visits, tags, and paperwork, she and her babies are going to find amazing homes.  Let's just get through this pregnancy.

I'll keep you guys updated on both Penny and now Sassy, and when the little ones come along I'll share the experience with all of you.  :)

This is a happy ending!

-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~