Many of you may remember last May when we began working with a lady in Logan County who supposedly had 45 outside cats that needed fixed and re-homed. We have continued to work with that woman and I honestly think her estimate of 45 cats was very low. If I would have to guess, I would say we’ve probably helped fix nearly 100 cats. And we still are not done yet. She thinks there may be 10-15 more that she is having trouble catching at this point.

The latest batch to go in to be fixed were a mother cat and a litter of four kittens that I had coerced the woman into taking inside to care for. The woman has a male cat outside that routinely kills newborn kittens. I told her she could not let that happen to these babies and she agreed to take them and mom inside until they were old enough to fend for themselves.

A few weeks ago, I contacted the woman to see if the kittens were big enough to be fixed and if the mom had weaned them. Many, many of the cats in this woman’s colony have horrible bouts of upper respiratory infections–sometimes so bad that they die. The woman told me that all of the kittens were really ill and she was treating them with antibiotics. When I contacted her again two weeks ago, she thought they were well enough to go to our weekly clinic, but she told me that one of the kittens, who she had named Ruby, had almost died. Because of the upper respiratory infection she had survived, Ruby was tilting her head. The woman thought the head tilt was because the kitten had not received enough oxygen to her brain while she was ill. I told her that cats usually develop this tilt because of damage to their inner ears from infections or severe ear mite infestations that cause their equilibrium to be off and so they continually tilt their heads. 

When I picked up the kittens for clinic the following Wednesday morning, they all seemed very congested. I wasn’t sure if they were well enough for the surgeries, but I left them at the shelter for Carol and Dr. Amy to check over.

Later in the afternoon Dr. Amy called me. Two of the kittens had stopped breathing during their surgeries and she had to intubate them to bring them back. Dr. Amy was very concerned about the kitten named Ruby. She wasn’t sure if she would have a normal life, because it appeared that she only had one kidney. Additionally, she was having a very hard time breathing and Dr. Amy did not know if she would live through the night. She wanted to know if I wanted to euthanize the kitten. I told her that since the kitten was already waking up from her surgery that we’d give Ruby a chance. If Ruby got worse in the meantime, before I arrived to pick her up, or tested positive for feline leukemia/FIV, then it was okay to euthanize. 

When I got to the humane society to pick everyone up from clinic, Ruby was still alive, but breathing with very labored breaths. Dr. Amy asked me if I could keep Ruby and her brother, Stevey, for the next week to make sure they were going to live. Both kittens were in very poor shape and were struggling to breathe. I knew that they could not go back where they had come from, so I talked to Carol and we agreed to help these babies.

I put them in my spare bedroom with a vaporizer on them and began administering antibiotics and hefty doses of Lysine, since I believed they were probably suffering from both the herpes virus and a bacterial infection. The little boy, Stevey, who looks like a Maine Coon, also had a weepy eye.

Besides struggling to breathe, the kittens were also very frightened, not only of their new circumstances, but because of how rotten they felt. They had just endured major surgery and were gasping for breath. I suppose I would be terrified, too, in those circumstances. They cowered in terror in the back of the large dog crate I had placed them in. But even though they were very sick, they still ate like troopers and that gave me hope that they had a chance. 

They lived through the night and continued to get better. 

Because I had to be out of town for a few days, Carol took the kittens from me and continued on with their care. She asked me to stop over recently to see how much they had improved in just two weeks. She also wanted me to evaluate Ruby, who she thought was deaf. 

When I arrived at the shop where Carol was keeping the siblings, she demonstrated why she thought Ruby was deaf. Opening the door to the room where Ruby and Stevey were playing in a large dog crate, Carol advised me to creep in very quietly. Stevey instantly looked up when the door opened. Ruby continued to play, unaware of our approach until Carol reached out to touch her and she jumped. She had not heard us coming.

Carol said she had noticed Ruby’s deafness the very first morning she had her. She had walked into the room and Ruby had not responded. Carol rushed over thinking the kitten had died, but then saw Ruby’s sides moving with her ragged breathing. Ruby, however, had not noticed Carol. 

We tested Ruby further, making noises and watching for her responses. It does appear that this poor baby, with the tilted head who has survived so much, is deaf. 

The kittens are doing much better now, eating and playing. They are very bonded and we think they will need to be a team for the rest of their lives. They love to be petted and begin purring immediately, but they are not very sure about being picked up and held. We don’t think they were picked up much previously. Carol is working on that and they are coming around. 

Carol told me that it will take a very special person for these two, since they have a few things stacked against them. I assured her that with a bit more time and attention that I think they will be adoptable and someone with a big heart will want to give them a home.

I’ll keep you posted.

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