Friday, July 14, 2023

May 2023 Foster Kittens #PacManFeverKittens (have tissues)

In early May, I got the call to foster a mom and her four four-week-old kittens. I immediately said yes and made plans to go to the shelter to pick them up.  They came home on the 9th

I had a mom and five kittens.. Mom was a Tuxie as was one of the male kittens, I had two black, one with a white bikini on her belly the other solid black was a boy and a snowshoe girl for fun.

They came named, but I didn't get the paperwork so I had no idea what they were called and I was pretty convinced from the beginning that they would be named after the ghosts in PacMan. Inky, Blink, Pinky and Clyde. Mom became Sue.

Sue was absolutely petrified, so I set her up with my cat cage with everything she needed in there and covered it with a couple of sheets so she had a place she could hide away. Everything seemed to be going well, other than I couldn't see her, because food was eaten, litter boxes were filling up, and I could even see her on the webcam coming out when I wasn't there. The kittens seemed to be thriving and were super cuddly

but shortly there after I started finding this all over the room.

And it did not stop. Day after day after day I found huge clumps of fur everywhere. The kittens were all in good health, growing like weeds and eating solid foods just fine, so I contacted the shelter about bringing Sue back. It took a while but she went back on the 21st of May I finally got a look at her once I got her in the carrier, my heart broke for her.

It is unfortunate that we can't "fix" them all.  She seemed so content I observed her on the webcam, watching over her kittens and eating, but clearly she was too stressed out with the noises of the household so she went back to where she came from. I imagine she is doing well.

Shortly after she left I started noticing some odd behaviors with the boys. They were so fleeting that I was unsure if I was seeing it or not. I would hear weird scrambling noises and by the time it registered that it was happening and I looked the noises had stopped. One time Clyde was playing and he popped up and was on all four legs but they were splayed out much like the poles of the stereotypical Teepee... but by the time it registered that it was odd he was off playing, so I just chalked these things up to kittens being kittens and nothing I really needed to be concerned about.

Unfortunately, Blinky (the black girl) broke with some congestion so we started her on antibiotics. No one else seemed to have any issues at all, so I only treated her. At the time it was hard to tell Blinky from Inky and so I had to "check under the tail" to figure it out.. (until I then noticed that Blinky was wearing a bikini.. I am very annoyed that it took me so long to figure that one out) It helped that she was super cuddly at this time so I didn't have to check often.  She didn't get any better on the first antibiotic they recommended so after about a week we switched to another and she improved.

Then they ALL became super snuggly.. 

and more often than not I would have to send a text to my husband to come "rescue" me from being covered in kittens.  All he had to do was walk down and distract them so I could escape. I hadn't had such a cuddly bunch of kittens in a really long time.. it was really nice.. 

I should have known 

It went from "is this even a thing?" to "OH WHAT THECRAPISGOINGONWHATTHEHECKISTHEEMERGENCYNUMBER?!?!?" in an instant.. 

I vaccinated them one morning.  I was careful and I did it in the leg instead of the scruff and everything went well. I monitored them for a while and nothing happened, they ate, they played, they cuddled, all was well.  I went out for the day and came home a little late. I went to medicate Blinky and realized I grabbed Inky instead.  I turned and put him on the cat tree, making sure as I always do that all four paws were down before I let him go and I turned to find his sister.  I put him on the tree so that it would be easier to assess which black cat I need to pick up first.. 

Anyway, as soon as I had my back to him I heard a THUD. He had fallen off and had lost control of of his limbs. He was with me - it was not a typical seizure, but it presented a lot like one. It lasted about half an hour.. While I was on the phone with the shelter I was asked if the other kittens were okay. I had locked them up in the bathroom because they were getting all up in Inky's business and it was frustrating him, so I had my husband check and they were all fine, but a moment later Clyde lost control of his limbs. 15 minutes later the episode was over and everyone was fine.

What comes next is very difficult so I am hiding it in white font. Highlight it if you feel you want to know what happened, but you don't..

That night after the "incident" everyone was fine. I monitored them for quite some time and nothing else came of it. I finally convinced myself to go to bed and in the morning the kittens were fine. That night, and subsequently every night after Clyde would have episodes of loss of control. He would be fine when I watched him on the webcam, he would be fine when I went into the room, but when I engaged them in play he would lose control.  Initially Inky's front legs basically contracted so his paws were behind his head every time he tried to move they went further back. Clyde's legs just went out from under him, like he intended to go left but went right instead. With each additional instance, Clyde seemed to get worse and worse. The episodes lasted longer and longer and he was getting so frustrated. I would try to hold him and calm him down, which helped, but he would get up and try to walk long before his body was ready which would frustrate him which would make things worse again.  It took several weeks for me to realize that the more stimulated he was, the worse it got. I would often have to lock him up in a carrier for 10  minutes or longer for the whole thing to pass so he could walk again. Sometimes I tried to quiet him down by feeding him, and he would lay by the bowl and eat just fine. If he tried to stand at the bowl he would fall over, often into the food. He was also determined to use the litterbox while having an episode. I do not know why, but he would work his way over there, falling over every few steps and then flail in the box getting litter everywhere and far too many times I had to pull litter out of his eye.  The worst was when he was absolutely sure he could get up on the couch.. While Clyde's issues got progressively worse, Inky's seemed to almost disappear. Unless he was really stimulated he was fine. The shelter recommended some bloodwork so I took they to work to have the blood drawn and having that stimulation set Inky off. Clyde wasn't participating in the blood draw so they gave him some drugs to calm down first and he was just fine. They give Inky some anti-seizure medication and his episode basically stopped but he was quite out of it - something that never happened when he came out of it normally. Clyde's issues got so bad that it seemed to start happening when I would turn on the lights, so I tried not doing that, and still he had one. Then they started in the morning as well. He was so frustrated by his body it was killing me. Again, the visuals are heartbreaking, and to know he knew this was happening and we couldn't do anything about it... 

We ran bloodwork on them, nothing showed. they looked for a liver shut which might be causing a buildup of waste products that could cause something like this and they ran a toxoplasmosis panel. Nothing. The shelter recommended Gabapentin and we tried that but medicating them was too simulating so I had to hide it in baby food, which was also quite stimulating (being that it is super yummy smelling and the girls totally wanted to be involved)  After a week they almost seemed worse.  I had been sending regular updates and videos to the shelter but I felt they needed to be in their care. My hope was that with regular stimulation (my kitten room is so quiet most of the time) their bodies might get used to it and get better at dealing with it but at the very least they could know how frequently it happened because I had such a limited amount of time with them, having to be at work a good portion of the day and sleeping a good portion of the night. 

So back they went. My heart absolutely broke and I was within inches of adopting Pinky as she liked to crawl up in my neck and lick me much like Muffin used to (thankfully over the weeks that have happened since they went back I have been able to step back from needing to adopt her, I really don't think right now is the right time to bring another cat into my home - which is one more reason for the delay in this post - I wasn't sure if it was going to end with an adoption announcement or not and I had to wait for her to be neutered to do it if it was going to happen) 

About a week later I got the news that the episodes were still happening and lasting long periods of time. The only thing that could be done for them was to see a specialist - which would have cost thousands of dollars and there was zero chance that the vet would then say "oh yes, lets do this cheap and easy thing and they'll be fine".  Chances are they were either going to end up on medication for their whole lives - which does not bode well for them, or they were going to have a life ending issue.

The shelter opted to euthanize Inky and Clyde.. 

I don't disagree with the decision.. and while my heart hurts way too much to say I fully support it, in time I will. All they knew was that when they were overly happy their bodies didn't work. That is no life to have. Please don't try to tell me that there were other options, as I will flood you with the videos I took of just how frustrated they were. No one needs to see that. 

Getting all four in one shot was near impossible. Clyde was so excited about the feathers I brought out to catch their attention he was starting to break with an episode.. I had to stop or he was going to fall off the couch.. 

I am just thankful that they had two months of happy and joy, and good food and warm beds and oodles of snuggles and kisses.. The shelter gave me paw prints and they will live with me and in my heart for quite some time.. Their pawprints will go along side Emmy, Ollie, Jack, Muffin, Eli, Kit, and the rest of The Crew when they pass... albeit theirs are so much smaller.. 

Thankfully I have a new distraction, and kitten watch is on for a few weeks.. but that is information for another post.. 


  1. I am so so sorry. Some days in rescue are just so much harder than others. I have no doubt in my mind you tried very hard but ultimately it was for their best - even if it hurts you.

  2. Anonymous12:09 AM

    I'm so sorry! I wondered why I didn't see anymore post's of them. They had so much love with you and I know that they were happy for that. I know sometimes things don't turn out how we expect and you did everything you could for them. I know you are heartbroken over it all and know that we are too.

  3. Thank you for giving them the two months that they got. It sounds like they were basically happy with the time. They just weren't dealt a winning hand in this life. I'm hoping your next set will be a more average group of kittens.

  4. Anonymous8:31 AM

    There are viral infections and parasites out there that we haven't even "discovered" yet, gestation issues with a desperate cat outdoors who may have eaten something strange, been injured or had an inadequate diet for too long, genetic issues in both parents, so many variables we will never know, and kittens are the most vulnerable out there, living on the soil, exploring new things and sometimes the effects don't show up until their bodies start to mature. None of that makes it any better, especially with two totally sweet, innocent kittens. Their short lives were livable far longer in foster.

  5. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I'm so sorry you went thru all this...
    They left knowing unconditional love ❤️, yummy food, soft beds, lots of toys and warmth. You do an amazing job with ALL your charges, I for 1 look forward to hearing more about the latest baby watch situation :) Take care and be kind to yourself, you did all you could xoxox

  6. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you and the shelter did all you could to support the kittens and give them all you could during their short lives.

  7. We are so so sorry to read this ! They certainly knew love and had some fun, but that just makes it so much harder on you and their their caretakers We know you knew the risks going in (we lost three fosters to FIP over a period of six months - they were not tiny kittens, and we have never fostered since.) but what a valuable "service" you and all the other rescuers perform ! And how many kittens you save to go on to loving long lives.

  8. My heart is sad for you, and the kittens.

  9. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Thank you for taking the time and making such an effort to share your experience. It is a good reminder that things happen beyond our controll and that fostering is not for the faint of heart.

  10. Tammy8:52 PM

    Thank you for sharing

  11. I'm so sorry to read this. No, it always does not end up as we hope.


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