I'm not even certain where to start all this…the past week has been a nightmare and there are no signs of it being over any time soon. Even with all the doom and gloom there were a few bright spots; maybe just enough to keep me from jumping off a cliff.
My Vet took on three, eight-week old kittens who were found by a friend. They were all sick with an upper respiratory infection and needed a lot of care. Two of the kittens were basically friendly, but one was not. Clearly this kitten had no socialization and was in dire need of one on one time to turn him around. I was asked to take all the kittens, but I could not at the time so my Vet provided care for them.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Milo.
During that time the two kittens got better and more friendly. They may be getting adopted together soon, but sadly, the lone gray kitten was still fractious and faced the sad reality of being released outdoors once he was vetted and healthy.
I just couldn't let that happen. After King was adopted I picked up the cat who my friend, Jill named Boogie. I liked the name because the kitten wanted to "boogie" away from me (and he had “eye boogies”).
The goal was to get him socialized and ready for adoption. I'd done it before with much older cats. I could do it again.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Otis.
What was different this time was that I made many mistakes and Boogie had to pay the price.
One of the Vet Techs was able to handle Boogie, but he was very fearful. With that in mind, I chose to allow him to have free reign over the small bathroom that would be his home. This is a mistake. I should have crated him so I could control the space and his interaction with me.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie, not loving being handled by his friend, Kristen.
Boogie was clearly SICK, not just a runny eye. He cried and he cried, missing his brothers and being scared in the new space; his meow was clearly rough. He was hoarse, sneezing, shooting goo out of his nose. He obviously was not going to be able to smell any food I offered him. It would make it impossible for me to get him socialized if I couldn't get him to connect me with something good (food).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie, terrified, in the cat tree in the foster room.
For a few days I struggled with him and made some progress, but after about four days he got worse and more skittish. He also stopped eating more than a bite of food. The kitten only weighed a few pounds. Not eating is potentially fatal. As I grew more stressed out about him not eating, I'm sure it didn't help him want to eat. I even gave up and offered him some dry food. He ate a few bites, but not enough.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie arrives and sings a song of sadness.
By the fifth day I decided he needed to be crated and I'd just work on getting him well, then worry about socializing later. The problem was that I couldn't medicate him. First, I had to get him in the crate if I had any hope of doing anything with him.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A moment of calm. I wish I could have cleaned the crust off his eyes, but he was too fractious for me to try.
I set up the crate. There wasn't much space around it. I got a broom and figured I would gently sweep him into the crate. It didn't work. He flipped out. I had to move everything out of the room other than the crate. He hid behind the toilet, crying. I kept trying to get him to move. He wouldn't. I started to get mad and frustrated. He flipped out more, then jumped into the sink, accidentally turning the faucet onto himself! He sat there crying, looking at me terrified with the water drizzling over his fur.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Crying. Missing his brothers, but “tough love”-separating Boogie from other kittens was the only way to get him socialized.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Baby steps with baby food and canned grain free food.
I finally got Boogie into the crate after about 30 painful minutes. He sat on his pink bed and cried. I had to leave the room and cry. I didn't go back for a day because I felt so guilty. I asked Sam to try to get him to eat off a spoon taped to a long stick. Boogie ate only a tiny amount of food.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The first day or two went all right.
The next day I tried again, very calmly to get him to eat. I know all the tricks and I tried most of them. He just wouldn't eat, but I did happen to catch him near the front of the crate. I reached out to pet him. I needed to feel his body to asses how thin he had become. As I touched him he turned, violently hissing at me, but he didn't bite me. I tried not to be scared, tried to soothe. I stroked him again and felt a skeleton under my fingers. Boogie was in critical condition. He had to go back to the Vet—NOW.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. It was clear that Boogie was in no hurry to make friends, but at least he wouldn't hide.
He had to go back and get fed and get WELL. I would work with him all over again once I knew for creation his URI was resolved. I couldn't take him to the Vet. Sam had to do it, so I asked him to underscore that I wanted Boogie back as soon as he was well. I couldn't let him go back outside and live the life of a feral cat. I got him to play, jump over my leg, eat just inches away from my hands. I could turn him around, but first he had to be well enough to smell his food and get some weight back on his frail frame.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Afraid of me taking his photo…
The Vet was supposed to contact me with an update, but I haven't heard a word in 48 hours. I fear the worse for Boogie. The Vet is closed tomorrow. I'll have to wait until Monday to find out what became of him. I pray I was not too late and that they could help him.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Boogie felt safe in the tub and would even play with a Cat Dancer until he started to feel worse and refused to play.
I will have nightmares for a long time about him crying in the sink with that pleading look in his eyes, the water running over him while he was too scared to move.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky on one of his two trips to the Vet.
The clouds continues to darken and the pressure of trying to cure what ails my cats is crippling. More on that in part two, along with the silver lining no one could have seen coming.