I got the call last week about a trio of kittens needing foster care. They came from a pretty bad situation and were apparently absolutely covered in fleas. It took a few days for the testing and defleaing to commence and I took them home on the 25th.
Yes, they were completely freaked out, but I had the feeling they would be better off in the room and not caged fostered, so I let them out to roam. They absolutely loved it, and had a lot of time running and playing and climbing on things. They also spent quite a bit of time sleeping on Happy Bear, which made me very happy indeed.
They also did very well with me. Feral kittens will hide from me and not be out and about in the room when I am there - which is why I lock them up so I can force interaction. They would walk with in an arm's length of me, and considering they had just gotten here I was very happy with that. I also had them playing with a toy with me.
However I wanted to put my hands on them so I could feel how they felt and so I could double check genders. I was able to tease the little black and white one with in reach and I reached down and got a hold of her and she completely flipped out. If she had been any older than she is I am sure I would have been quite bloody with great big deep bite wounds, but because she is so small her attempts to kill me dead were just sad instead of painful. I held her close and apologized for freaking her out and she was painfully thin. She is also dramatically smaller than the other two.
Because she flipped out, the other two weren't coming anywhere near me, so I continued to play with them and talk to them and then called it a night. When I went down in the morning I realized they hadn't eaten. I viewed the video of the room (see web cam links at the top of the page) and saw that they were acting like very normal kittens but they weren't eating. Their stool was even nice and firm. I was concerned, but considering all of the other signs were okay, I went to work. I watched them all day and they still didn't eat more than a bite or two. I offered them everything.. and when I mean everything, I mean everything. They looked great, were active and playing but simply not eating. Two of them did vomit though.. but since they weren't eating it was simply liquid.
Since I couldn't put my hands on them with any reliability, it was time to lock them up and cage foster them.
This way I could force feed them. I tried commercial kitten milk and I tried raw goat milk. Neither option suited these kittens and I was lucky if I could get 5ccs in them. I force fed them meat baby food, and if I got two ccs of that in them of that it was a good thing. Kittens of this size (about two pounds) should be eating a great deal more than that.
I contacted the shelter and explained my problems and picked up some fluids, some a/d and some more dewormer. My hope was that their tummies were full of round worms and that is why they were so reluctant to eat enough food. Thirty six hours after the deworming they still weren't eating. So Saturday I brought them to the shelter and found out that the largest girl went from 2.23 lbs to 1.74. This was not good. The staff was quite perplexed too. They asked me what I would like to do next, and my thought was a vet visit. The woman I was talking to went to discuss them with another tech. They looked them over again and then went to talk to a third staff member. The decision was to put them on antibiotics on the off chance they had an upper respiratory issue going on, despite not seeing or hearing anything. The kittens still had good energy and were still looking good so I didn't push for the vet visit.
The antibiotic went over about as well as you might expect and I got the look of disgust. I also decided to deworm them again on the off chance that their bellies were so full of worms that the first dose didn't kill enough to make a difference. They had given me a package of Fancy Feast Appetizers saying that they had kittens that didn't eat that would eat those, so I gave them that and went about my day. When I checked on them later they ate about half of that appetizer, so I brought them down some raw food. They ate some of the raw food.
Things were starting to look up. Since I don't know if it is the antibiotic that is helping or the second dose of strongid, so I am keeping them locked up for a few more days while we finish the round and make sure they are eating. They are eating two to three times what they were originally, but to me it is still about half what they should be eating to put some body weight on. So I am feeling optimistic enough to start blogging about them, but I'm still quite concerned about them.
I've also gotten the largest of the three to purr for me, which is very nice. She was purring before but I think it was because she wasn't feeling well, but she did start purring when I was holding her and patting her, so I am encouraged. The middle one.. oh she is a pip. When I force feed her she throws her head back and tenses up so hard it is almost like she is having a seizure... she isn't, she's just being a drama queen. The littlest one, the black and white one really wants me to go away and not come back. she looks a bit like a gremlin when I hold her and pat her... but hey, at least she doesn't growl.
So I have my work cut out for me.