Kitten Drama

Well, four beautiful, seemingly healthy kittens were all born Tuesday afternoon, one week ago:


My all-time favorite kitten picture


Nursing...the wrong side of mum

As you can see, we had two tabbies, one very dark tabby (he looks black, with stripes), and one black kitten who might have had a little bit of striping on her front legs.

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon I went in to check on them and found the black kitten upside down and passed away.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch mom looking around for it when I took it out, but I had to remove it immediately.  Without any concept of what sort of health background these guys or mom had, all I could do was guess.  I recalled that the black kitten had been mewing more than usual and crawling all around the kennel that morning, and took the kitten and my phone to go call to price a necropsy.

A necropsy is a good idea whenever other animals might be in jeopardy.  Yes, sometimes kittens "just die," but if there are three others at stake and such an unknown health status, it's important to know what caused it if possible.  If you think you may need to get a pet necropsied, be sure and refrigerate (not freeze!) it immediately and try to get the procedure arranged within 24 hours so there is minimal tissue decay.

In this case, we called the woman for whom I am fostering these cats, particularly concerned about the mewing and howling the dark striped kitten was making that worried me he had the same condition.  She gave us the number of a vet out of town that had seen the other hoarded cats, and we hopped in the car and made the 30 minute drive out to the sticks.  We brought the dead kitten in a plastic bag, in case it could be of use.  Twice on the drive alone, the dark kitten had to be held and stroked to convince it to stop screaming.

We finally arrived and brought in the kittens, where the vet first thought the dark kitten was only crying because it was hungry or needed to urinate (something mom isn't quite as good about doing for them as nursing).  However, it soon started screaming again and she had a look at it.  It calmed down after being peed and put back with mom, so she decided to take a look at the dead kitten for clues.  The intestines showed it had been being fed regularly and didn't have any problems there, but further investigation showed massively damaged lungs.  They were the same color as the liver...which should definitely not happen.  The kitten had died of pneumonia.

It was difficult to impossible to tell if the dark striped kitten had the same problem and if so, if it would recover.  The dead kitten also showed signs of being pigeon-chested, a genetic deformity that happens in people as well and can make it just that much more difficult for the sick kitten.  So, with fingers and toes crossed, our only options for treatment are two shots of penicillin (one that day and the other tomorrow) and supportive care - frequent attempts at feeding, manually stimulating urination, and keeping the room they were in at a balmy 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

So far it's been about 24 hours and dark kitten has only screamed once, and that was when I tried to feed it two hours after coming home.  Actually, I haven't been supplementing because I can convince it to nurse about once every 30-45 minutes on its own.  I supplement momma with KMR and if I can find it, L-lysine, a medication that is great for helping breakouts of herpesvirus, or rhinotracheitis in cats.  It's better if I can get the kitten to eat naturally, because I don't want to risk aspiration of the KMR into the lungs, which might compound a lung infection into a lethal problem in a very, very short time.  Since we're by no means out of the woods, though, I have the KMR on hand for in case it isn't eating enough.

Herpesvirus, which displays as a recurrent respiratory infection in cats, is most active at temperatures just below normal body heat.  So, by keeping the room at that 80 degrees like I mentioned, we can keep the air going into the kitten lungs warmer than usual.  This may seem like it's bad for pneumonia, but actually, it's going to help the little kitten immune system fight its best battle.  Speaking of, interesting fact - apparently the first kitten or two to be born obtain more colostrum, so naturally have more robust immune systems.  This is why the last two kittens in this case seem to be having a harder time fighting off something that hasn't manifested clinically in the other two.  Voila.  I learned something.

Here are the three little survivors, the black one being my biggest concern (but fighting a great fight!):

I'll keep you guys posted.

Oh, by the way!  I just found out that Penny is going to be receiving at least $300 from a GLC fundraiser!!!  It's not official yet, so I haven't added it into the total, but wouldn't $670 be an amazing number to see?  We are almost there!  :)

See you guys soon,
-Miss Mouse
<:3 )~~

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