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The Clementines Arrive with Unwelcome Guests Part 2

(Continued from Part 1)

We got home around 1 A.M.

The kittens were ready to explode out of their carrier and I felt badly confining them to a large dog crate for the night, but I had to contain the fleas, as well as the kittens. I got them settled and brought them food, wondering if they would even eat. I knew they’d been fed all sorts of dry food and that transitioning them over to grain-free canned might be tough.

Buttercup first day R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our first look at Buttercup, the sole buff colored kitten.

The kittens went crazy for the food and ate so much I had to keep bringing them more. For six little guys they ate three, 6-oz cans of food. If nothing else, they would be able to rest now that they had a full belly and a soft bed.

The kittens had been removed from the shelter in two groups. The first one to get out was a solo kitten named Blossom, along with a dilute calico who was on her own and not part of Blossom’s family. They left the shelter and entered rescue days before I even knew about the Clementines.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Out of the cage and ready for fun.

Because Blossom got out earlier she had advantages over the others-access to better food and more of it, a less stressful environment and a lot more love. As a result, Blossom grew much larger than her siblings as they continued to wait in hopes of rescue. It meant, at least, Blossom should do better than the others, but I was wrong.

Blossom was the first to get really sick.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

The next morning all I had to do was feed the kittens and load them into the carrier, but I needed a few minutes with them before we left. I wanted to have a chance to at least get a good look at the little guys, maybe grab a few photos. Even knowing about the fleas, the poor kittens wanted to run around so I let them out of the crate. They raced around the room, exploring every nook and cranny. Each one came over to check me out, too. A few were purring at the slightest touch. The energy in the room was one of joy and I couldn’t help but feel charged up by it.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The littlest, Mandarin (Mandy).

My joy was short-lived when I saw Mango. His left eye was runny and swollen. The folks in Kentucky had mentioned eye issues in two of the kittens and that the Vet had put “salve” on them. I cringed wondering if it was vasaline or if it actually was medicated and I wondered why they didn’t include the meds along with the kittens. Due to the laws in Connecticut the kittens had an appointment to see one of our Vets in a few days to be issued a health certificate, but looking at Mango’s eye, I knew it couldn’t wait. I called for an appointment to see Dr. Mary and asked our new foster mom if I could delay getting to her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This can't wait a few days. Off to the Vet with Mango and gang.

The kittens had fun at with Dr. Mary. She examined a few of the kittens and we discussed treatment plans. I asked about treating them for fleas but she said there was no way we could do anything more than bathe them at this point. I was to treat everyone with eye drops and hope that would do the trick. She said she wished we could get terramycin because it’s the “go to” medication for this sort of conjunctivitis, but it’s on some sort of universal outage for vets. They can get it for newborn babies, but that’s about it. In fact there’s a program in Philadelphia where a hospital donates their one time used tubes of terramycin to animal shelters so they can get access to the drug. I don’t know why this is going on. Is Pfizer causing a shortage on purpose to make a buck? I didn’t understand. All I knew is that Dr. Mary had just met another vet who said they could get it but it was very tough and if they didn’t respond to the current treatment we’d get the medication.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Spring fling.

The plan was to take the kittens to their new foster home and see how the meds worked. I was very relieved they were out of my house because the cat population was up to 22 cats and that just didn’t sit well with me. Every spare room was loaded and I was grateful that Jeannie offered to help. Without her home I would increase the risk of illness racing through the other cats. The more cats, the more stress, the better the chances that things will go downhill fast.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup gets a bath.

Jeannie is great. She’s got a big smile and friendly, chatty demeanor. She’s fostered all sorts of kittens in all sorts of situations. Nothing fazes her. She actually wanted to bathe the kittens and has a routine all set up. I knew I could learn from her and was eager to get these kittens cleaned up.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yikes.

We set up an assembly line. Jeannie bathed the kittens and picked off the fleas. I dried the kittens and placed them into a big cat carrier that was lined with a thick blanket and had a small space heater blowing warm air into the space. Jeannie cooed over each kitten, talking to them about how we’d get those nasty fleas off them, and saying how cute each one was. It wasn’t until we bathed the kittens that I realized how very underweight they were. They were basically skeletons with fur, made more extreme by seeing them wet. One of them, a tiny little girl, seemed so fragile I worried if she got sick we’d lose her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh the humiliation!

One by one the kittens got bathed. They were either relaxed by the warm water and got sleepy, or being so malnourished they went limp in my arms since many struggled against being in the water. It was rather unnerving to see them like that. It took them awhile, but with the warm air and being clean they slowly began to groom themselves and show signs of life.

Blossom Wet Portrait R Olson.jpg
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Did you ever have “one of those days?”

Jeannie was ready to take over the helm and I had to race off. Why? To help another family of kittens who were arriving on a transport from Georgia get to a temporary foster home for another rescue group. It meant having a chance to see our dear friend Bobby and I couldn’t pass it up.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

A few days later I had to bring the kittens to another Vet for their health certificates. I told Jeannie I was going to bring them back to my house after the vet visit because we’d been fortunate enough to adopt Lolly and Clark and their room was now open and it would give me a chance to get a few photos of the kittens and see how they were doing. I’d bring the kittens back in a few days or we’d take on other kittens for her.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wet and flea-free.

The vet visit was unremarkable in nature. What we’d already started doing based on Dr. Mary’s orders was fine to continue doing. I went home thinking things would be all right.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Having fun wherever they go.

On Friday, Blossom seemed picky about her food. On Saturday, clearly she wasn’t feeling well. Jeannie and her friend stopped over to see the kittens and we examined Blossom. We took her temperature and it was 105.2° F but then her friend reminded us that Blossom had been laying on a heated bed. Relieved it probably wasn’t a fever, we still noticed she seemed lethargic and depressed. Jeannie has a medical background and suggested taking Blossom home with her where she could give her round-the-clock care for the next day or two. We went back and forth about what would be the best thing for Blossom. Would it be safer on the others if she was separated from them?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What? We're not doing anything!

I was ready to let Blossom go with Jeannie, but then we got her to eat a little bit. I knew if Blossom got worse I’d have to run her to the Vet anyway so I told Jeannie I’d take care of her.

The next morning, Blossom didn’t want to walk at all. She was like a limp rag in my arms. She wouldn’t get up to eat and she was crying. I tried to get her to walk but her back right leg was tender and she favored it. I’d read about kittens limping being a possible sign of Calici virus and I started to panic. Dr. Mary and Dr. Larry were off, being that it was Sunday, so I took her to their associate, Dr H. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Dr. H, but she is the only game in town, unless I wanted to spend $1000.00 or more going to the ER Vet.

Dr. H. barely looked at Blossom and talked to me about what she wanted to do. I had to ask her to watch Blossom try to walk and talked to her about my concerns about it being calici. What sort of exam is it if she’s not even looking at the kitten walk or checking out why she is lame?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Trying to get Blossom to eat.

I felt like she was ignoring me and talked about levels of care and their costs. She wanted to do full blood work, x-rays, repeat the snap test, and a PCR test and pain meds. I told her it was very clear to me it was calici and I didn’t want to do all these tests. Yes, Blossom could have fallen but there was no obvious sign of injury and she was painful all over her body, not just her leg.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blossom's x-ray shows good growth plates but no issues.

Dr. H. wouldn’t let up so I said to go ahead with the blood work and x-ray. Both were normal. Now I was out $500.00. I was really pissed. I was to take Blossom home and give her sub-q fluids a few times over the next two days. If it was a virus, giving her antibiotics wouldn’t help, but the fear is secondary infection. I said no to the antibiotics, but got pushed into getting pain meds. She wanted Blossom on Buprenex because letting her suffer wasn’t fair. Again, I felt it was off base. When I get a bad cold, I feel like crap, but I don’t want to load myself up with drugs that give me more problems than help and this was a little kitten. I thought supportive care was what she needed, not more drugs that really only make her loopy and possibly lose her appetite…which again..does not make sense. Why make it harder for Blossom to recover by taking away her appetite? It was the only thing she had going for her. At least if she couldn’t get up I could feed her if I held the plate next to her mouth as she laid on the heated cat bed.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor sweetie. Blossom was wiped out from the virus.

I feared that Blossom was going to die she was so weak and then I started to wonder if this was going to become my worst fear—some sort of terrible virus wiping out the whole litter and Blossom was only the first to go.

I thought to myself; “Baby steps. Just breathe. Keep her comfortable and fed. Give her fluids and hope she can beat this on her own. Don’t freak out. Just focus on keeping her comfortable.”

The next day I didn’t believe what I saw when I entered the foster room. When I looked at Blossom all I could do was shake my head in disbelief.

Part three next…


...Hoping it's GOOD surprise that you registered.  Waiting hopefully and *PRAYING* the next installment will be good news. They sure are adorable <3

^This. This is why I voted for you. I'm on the edge of my seat wondering, worrying, just like you were, about these kittens. What's going on? What's wrong? I actually said, "Ugh! I have to wait to find out?" 

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