sick kitten

newhomeseekerFebruary 12, 2010

There is a young cat at the shelter that I volunteer at that is seriously ill, I believe. He has been there since October and I never even noticed him until a few weeks ago. He is shy and keeps to himself. He doesn't seem afraid of other cats or people- he just doesn't care to seek anyone out. I found him sleeping in a box one day and mistakenly thought he was a young kitten (I thought he was about 4 months old and he's actually 8 months old). He is small for his age. He is very friendly though. If you pay attention to him he just purrs and purrs and wants to snuggle with you. When I was there a week ago he was climbing around and a few days ago when I was there he was sleeping so I didn't bother him. When I arrived yesterday I thought he'd been adopted because I couldn't find him.

It turns out he'd been moved to a cage where they could keep an eye on him. I was told he's not eating and is very lethargic. I went to see him (he's not in the medical ward but on the floor for adoption) and he was sitting in his cage. I fed him some treats and he wolfed those down. He is very skinny. You can feel his ribs. The whites of his eyes would show at times and he seemed lethargic and weak. They had been feeding him canned food (the other cats get dry food) and said he'd been eating it. But when I fed him he only ate a few bites and wasn't interested. He has a little bit of a cold and his nose is stuffed up so that could be one reason he's not eating. They have him on antibiotics but do not know what is wrong with him.

I wanted to adopt him just so I could rush him to MY vet (who would probably put him on IV fluids) but was told I'd have to wait a few days because they might have to give him iv fluids since he wasnt doing well. He has been tested for feline luekemia and is negative. Could he have FIP? I'm thinking maybe he just wasnt eating enough for a long time and no one noticed because he was in a room with so many other cats and he's not social so you dont' see him often.

I took him out of his cage and held him last night and he loved that. He just purred and purred. He seemed weak and somewhat out of it though. Any time you'd pet him he'd start purring and rub his face all over you. I'm worried that he's going to die because they aren't giving him enough medical attention. I'm not saying they are neglecting him (not at all) as they have had the vet check him out and are monitoring what he eats and also giving him special food. But I feel he needs more intensive care. He needs IV fluids or to be force fed or at least fed tempting foods so he will eat more than he is currently consuming. I also think he is too weak to get up to his food dish (its on a ledge he has to jump up onto and I haven't even seen him stand up)

However, I dont want to adopt him and nurse him back to health if he has something that is contagious to my other cats. Any guesses on what is wrong with him? What should I do?

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Why dont you offer to take him to your vet for more intensive care.....

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:13PM
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Oh my.. newhomeseeker, you are one of a kind!!!!!! Bless your heart.. but do not rush into bringing another one home--I know you already have your hands full!!

I fostered a young cat last fall that I took pity on.. because she seemed so depressed, and always in a cage. She was very skinny, but in desperate need of affection. She was treated for an eye condition--which turned out to be uveitis, but they did not know the underlying cause (leukemia, toxoplasmosis, FIV, bartonella, herpesvirus, FIP). She had been on meds (antibiotics and eye meds) almost since she was admitted--which just did not do anything for her, except weakened her immune system even more. She was a stray, and almost right away went through spaying, shots, antibiotics, shelter stress... I paid for blood work and this is when she tested positive for exposure to corona virus. Wish now I had adopted her right away so I could have had a 'freer' hand in taking her to MY vet, for example. She passed away early January after 3 months of 'home" TLC with us. She probably had FIP.

Now, this is really the WORST scenario. This kitten may just have an URI, and may be under too much stress. Also, she may be suffering from intestinal parasites... Lots of things... Kittens are put under a lot of stress in a shelter.. So, YES, giving her a temporary home would be tempting (this is what I, too, would want to do...).. yet, do think about your own cats. I have (temporarily) taken a break from the shelter as I truly wanted to take too many home...
Keep an eye on this kitten... visit often.. This is the best you can do.

Good luck, Anne-Marie

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:14PM
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Having been through FIP w/ a kitten we'd had, that is always my first thought when I hear or read about some of the symptoms. There are other things it could be as well--the only way to know what he's dealing with is with a vet visit and testing.

I will keep the little one in my thoughts.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:48PM
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The shelter isn't doing its job of "sheltering" helpless animals if it's letting this poor, obviously sick, baby linger without veterinary care.

Please, if you can, get them to let you take him to *their* vet at *their* expense.

If they won't do that, take him to your vet.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:56PM
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in my experience, vets do not regularly (or even EVER) visit a shelter. If you offered to pay for this particular cat's treatment, I bet the shelter would jump at the opportunity. Just express your interest in helping this particular cat to the shelter manager and i bet they would jump at the chance.

I use to manage a shelter and vets charged us for EVERYthing -- full price.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 3:23AM
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Oh, this is very sad. Why won't they put him in the medical ward right now? Is the cage that he's now in at least quarantined off from the rest of the animals? I would have a concern that the rest of the cats he was initially housed with have been exposed to whatever is ailing this poor kitty. Housing multiple cats seems to be a recipe for disaster to me, I don't know how the shelters do it.

You have such a big heart to be considering adopting him to care for him. However, I have to agree with your reservations about keeping your own kitty-clan safe from possible contamination. (Not to mention the utter distress you set yourself up for if you bond and things don't go well). Unfortunately, given the environment you are volunteering in, you are probably going to see things like this more often than you like. I don't volunteer for a shelter. If I did, I would have to make a pact with myself before going on what I was and wasn't capable of as far as helping. They pull on your heart-strings so much that it would be difficult for me to not try and save them all! You are already doing so much! You are volunteering which makes such a difference to all the cats you spend time with, you have your foster kitties and you've just taken in a new addition to your home. At this point, I would just try to persuade them to get the cat to the medical ward. If he's truly not eating, that should be a concern for them. I hope he's able to fend off what is ailing him and pull through.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 9:40AM
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This story does not end well. I was too late. I wanted to take the cat home on Thursday night when I volunteered and rush him to my vet. But when I offered to pay his adoption fee so I could take him to my vet the manager told me to wait a few days because they would probably have to put him on IV fluids themselves. (there are vets on site that work specifically for the shelter). My instincts were to push the issue but she had read me what the vet had said (he was dehydrated, not eating much losing weight with a slight cold) and it didnt sound very serious (except for the dehydrated part) I cuddled him for about an hour or so on thursday and told him I love him and that when he got better I was going to take him home with me. He purred when I held him. I wanted to go back on friday to see him but I didn't (I normally don't volunteer that day).
When I got there on saturday his cage was empty and his name tag was gone (which usually indicates the cat has been moved to medical). Well, I found out they had euthanized him on friday. I don't know what happened. No one told me anything. I overheard the manager telling someone that she had lost a cat and I looked on the web site and his picture was gone from the adoptable list. So I asked and yes it was him.

I feel terrible. I keep thinking that if I had gone with my instincts and taken him to my emergency vet thursday night I might have saved him. I know this may not be the case but the fact that I did nothing and this poor little baby lost his life is killing me. I don't know why I was drawn to this cat in the first place and why I am so upset over his passing. He was only 9 months old and had been at the shelter for five months. So basically he never had a home. I have volunteered at the shelter for several months but I never noticed him until about a month or so ago. I probably have only picked him up and loved on him about ten times (every time I was at the shelter since I first saw him) I "met" him by accident. I was cleaning and moved some boxes and he was sleeping in one. I picked him up and he was such a sweetheart. He didn't seek people out (like most of the other cats who swarm you) so that is probably why I never noticed him till recently.

I am so sad and feel sick about this. Rationally, I know that pets don't feel human emotions and they don't think like us. So its not as though this little cat felt unloved or that he didn't have a good life. But I humanize my pets too much and I keep thinking he never had a good home and I wanted to give him that and it is too late. I have never gotten attached to any of the other cats there (even though I've known most of them a lot longer) the way I was attached to this little guy. If one of my other favorites got sick and had to be put down I'd be sad but with this one I'm devastated because I feel like it is my fault I didn't try harder to save him. I was drawn to him for some reason and felt so protective of him and I just didn't do what I could have (it may not have helped but that is beside the point)

I just don't understand why they didn't have him in the medical ward in the first place. When my 7 month old kitten (about a year ago) stopped eating for three days my vet freaked out and immediately put her on iv fluids. He was VERy concerned. I know at the shelter it is more about numbers (how many get adopted) than about the cats themselves but still...

I am just so upset it is ridiculous. I almost feel like I'm mourning the loss of a person, not a cat I had known of for a month. I would hate to leave the shelter because they need volunteers and it is for the good of the animals but I just never thought I'd have this reaction. Poor little guy, I hope he knew he was loved.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 8:16AM
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I'm so sorry.

Don't sell your emotions short;
it's that ability to love that gives us depth & worth.

The fact that you care is a good thing.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 12:29PM
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I'm so sorry too. I'm thinking you are so upset because you are feeling guilty ... don't blame yourself. You said their vet had looked at him, and they were following his instructions.

Don't leave the shelter, they need someone there to ask the hard questions. Because you care!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 12:44PM
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I'm so very sorry too. I would have put myself through the same hell because I also feel responsible for every living being that creeps into my soul. You seem to have the heart for the broken kitties. They're the ones who will always most need you. I don't think that you should feel guilt because you clearly tried to help the little one. The shelter made some mistakes, knowing that he needed care and that you wanted to provide for him then mishandling his case. Poor little thing.

Say a prayer for him, and maybe add a tribute to, for he surely was yours although it just didn't work out the way you wanted. He still occupies a piece of your soul and you are entitled to your grief. I send hugs to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pet Loss Grief Support Website

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 5:43PM
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I am so sorry as well.

If there is any fairness in this world, it is that he knew he was loved by you before he passed on.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 6:49PM
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Oh.. I'm soooo sorry!! I was checking the thread every day hoping to read a happy update. It's very hard to take, especially when no one there shares with you what REALLY happened. They missed the signs for this cat, and it is very sad especially after you warned them. They simply have too many cats.. That's the problem!
It is exactly what happened to me when I brought my little foster cat home, and she passed away almost 3 months later (probably of FIP). I had the comforting thought that she had known a real home, but had I adopted her instead of fostering, I would have had freer hands in her care--although I managed to get permission to take her to my own vet.. I have stopped (temporarily?) volunteering at that shelter after 2 years, although I missed the cats there so terribly, because I had a hard time with the staff who would never give me any straight answer, and I was just too attached to too many cats.. I'm currently going to a different one.
Shelter cats need people like you.. as long as you can take it--
I wish I knew what to say, but I'm trying to find answers myself to the same issues. This won't help, but they are the ones to blame.
Thinking of you,

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 7:38PM
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Thank you all for your kind thoughts.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 8:49AM
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This is so sad, and I am so sorry for you and that little soul. I admire you (and everyone who volunteers) so much, I tried, but I just can't do it. I get attached so easily and I wanted to bring every needy animal home. Hugs and condolences to you, and remember, you did make that little guy feel loved, and you made his life a lot better.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:26AM
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Thank you again for listening. It helps to "talk" about the situation. I feel badly because I'm reading so much on here lately where people have lost their beloved pets and they are going through a much deeper grief of losing someone that was basically a family member. I don't have years of memories and experiences like most on this board who have lost pets.(and I know how painful that can be as my parents lost their 2 11 year old dogs within 4 months of each other last year)
I only knew this kitten (his name was Tom) for 2 months at most. It just hurts me that I couldn't save him. That his life was so short and that he never had a real home and I had planned to give him one. I have volunteered at the shelter since November and he was brought in as a foster in October. Yet I never even knew he was there until sometime in January.

It was an accident that I found him. He was in the largest room at the shelter that houses about 30 cats. They normally put the active cats or young adults there. Normally 9 out of 10 of the cats there will flock to you if you sit down or walk through the door. Tom was the tenth cat in that bunch. In the short time I knew him he never sought anyone out. He was just content to watch from a distance. He wasn't scared, he just seemed very laid back (maybe he was even ill at the time and no one knew). I was sweeping the floor and they have cardboard boxes for the cats to sleep in and I was moving all the boxes and when I picked one up a little black and white face popped out. I'd woke him up and he just looked at me curiously like "hey whats going on?" He was MUCH smaller than any of the other adult cats in the room and I immediately thought he was a young kitten and that he'd been put into the room by accident. His picture wasn't on the wall (for potential adopters to see) so I definately thought it was a mistake that he was in there. I picked him up out of his box and cuddled him. He was the cutest thing! A little medium haired tuxedo (with more white than black)and a white nose. He looked at me adoringly and started purring. He was the happiest little guy when you paid attention to him. I asked the manager if he was in the wrong room and she told me that no he was actually 8 months old and he'd been small for his age since he'd come in.

I had two foster cats that recently came to the shelter so I'd always pay attention to them when I was volunteering but I'd always look for Tom. Usually I found him curled up somewhere, sometimes I found him up high (he liked to climb) and I'd climb up and get him and he'd sit on my lap for a half hour and be perfectly content. He'd purr the whole time and just snuggle up against me. I probably only did this a total of six times but it seems like I'd known him longer. he was such a sweet cat, never asked for anything, but seemed to appreciate everything, any attention you gave him. I'd bring him treats and always cuddle him for awhile. When I'd arrive, i'd always selfishly hope that he was not adopted yet. About two weeks ago (after my foster cats got adopted) I decided I wanted to adopt him. He looks almost exactly like my timid girl who is a tuxedo and he was so laid back I thought he'd fit right in. Then we got this huge snowstorm and I couldn't get to the shelter for a week. When I did return (last Thursday) that is when I found out he was not eating very much and was weak. That night I fed him some treats, cuddled him on my lap for about an hour and talked to him. Told him I love him and I wanted to take him home with me when he got better. And the next day he was euthanized.
And that is Tom's story. He was only 9 months old and I didn't know him very long. But I did love him and I'll never forget that little guy and I am so so sorry I couldn't save him.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Oh, you're making me cry .. again ... I lost my 13 year old dog last week, so I cry easy.

But I know you did love him even if you knew him for such a short time. But he loved you right back, and you gave him comfort. They are all so easy to love!

As I told a friend who is also an animal person, we share our lives with these wonderful animals. They live for a short period of time compared to our lives, and leave a hole in our hearts when they pass. But I always find another animal companion to fill that hole for a while again. My life would be too empty without my pets in it.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 12:55PM
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I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your 13 year old furbaby. I appreciate your kindness and I didn't mean to make you cry with my story. I know the grief you are experiencing runs far deeper than mine as you lost a precious companion. I wish you the best and hope that one day soon you can think of your beloved dog and smile at the memories instead of feeling sadness. My heart goes out to you.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:45PM
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Newhomeseeker, while it's very difficult to lose a long-time animal companion, it's also very hard to lose the opportunity to help an animal and to think about what might have been. I know I don't regret the ones we rescued, but I still think of those we weren't able to take in and it makes me sad.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 4:24PM
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Honey, it really sounds like he was so sick, even if you had brought him home or gotten him to your vet there was nothing they could do.

You loved him, and he had someplace warm and dry to sleep and food to eat- cats don't want much more than that, and he'd never had a home to know what he was missing.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:27AM
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Newhomeseeker, it was very nice of you to share the story of this sick kitten with us all... He has grown to have a lot more 'friends'! I bet this was very hard for you... I just hope that, whatever he may have had, he did not pass it on to other cats! I know you will keep a close eyes on all of them.
I don't know where your shelter is, but it reminds me a lot of the one I volunteered at until very recently..

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:23AM
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I'm so very sorry to read about Tom. You can built up such a huge amount of love in such a short time when you meet that special friend. We bond differently to different animals and it sounds like the little guy ended up capturing your heart. The amount of time spent together only plays a factor in it because you received less time together opposed to the years and years some are blessed with. I think in some sense it actually makes it harder. It's extremely heartbreaking to watch a kitten suffer after a bond is made and equally hard to reconcile when one can't be cured. If it's any consolation at all, I like to believe they can still feel our love wherever they are resting without the physical discomfort.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 1:32PM
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Newhomeseeker ... it's OK that I cry for your lose and mine. To me, it's healing. I had my guy for 12 years, but you had an attachment also. Each day gets a little easier ... doesn't it? And I'm looking forward to Spring when I will start looking for another dog to adopt to keep my Lily (younger female dog) company.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 6:20PM
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More than the loss of the cat, I am disturbed by the lack of appropriate attention the baby received by staff. Newhomeseeker did not have control of the situation, because she was a volunteer, and it looks like the staff dropped the ball on this kitten.

This is what happens, unfortunately, when shelters take on more animals than they can properly care for, and that is a hard problem to fix. Please don't flame me for this, but this is the reason some shelters are more "proactive" in euthanizing. It is nice to save them all, but in doing so, some will not get the attention they need. No one who goes into animal services wants to euthanize animals; nor do they want to lose touch with their medical needs and have them die without proper care. There is a big grey area between "kill" and "no kill" shelters.

Your gut feeling was on target, and it's too bad the shelter wasn't more responsive to your observations. You could do no more except give the love and comfort you did to that poor baby. None of that was your fault.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 9:26AM
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I am so sorry about Tom. Don't lose your ability to experience love and loss- it is needed. YOU are needed by these cats.

I suspect the kitten had a very serious disease to have died so quickly, maybe FIP or something similar. I've lost patients like that and it never stops hurting. But you do what you can and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 2:37PM
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