Sunday, April 16, 2017

The dilemma of Tink and Tank

Tink and Tank keep heaping health issues on. Just to screw with my head, they keep adding issues that are individually non-lethal, like a sort of "add a straw to the camel" game. They were in to my veterinarian last week for blood and urine samples, and for Tink to have his eyes checked, as he now has a corneal ulcer, in addition to small irritations on his face. They also had both lost some weight. They are both on an antibiotic, and Tink is on two eye medications. One was quite pricey, but since my veterinarian has been doing a ton of work for me for basically free, I have no complaints there.

Tank has now followed Tink into bowel incontinence.

Through all of this they remain alert and personality-driven silly little cats. My veterinarian said to feed them whatever they like (previously I had been feeding them just super-premium dry food so they were on a single food) so they have re-learned the joys of running for the sound of a cat food can pop-top. The weather is nice so they explore the porch. But even with the weather so warm, they quickly run back to their heater and huddle up as close as they can (I had to put a grate in front of the heater to keep them from getting too close). They still love to snuggle with me even though now they are forced to remain on a fuzzy towel.

But they hate that they are now confined a big two-level Ferret Nation cage at night and when I'm not home, instead of being allowed to roam at large. And slowly they seem to be losing their willingness to explore now that they are subjected to regular regimine of medications, baths, face wiping, butt wiping, and caging. Right now the door to the porch is open. They just looked up, and then snuggled back down in front of their heater, uninterested. Once the sun hits the big dog pillow, they might be willing to shift there. But for just breeze and open air, they are not willing.

I am quite aware of the impact their appearance has on people unfamiliar with their issues when they come to my home and see these two dudes coming running up. Honestly, if you walked into my house and saw these kittens you'd wonder what abuses I'd been subjecting them to. Half-furless, skinny little faces that look like they've been starved (but fat little bodies). Unthrifty fur that looks like it could be resolved with just a bath (nope!). Crust on their eyes an hour after they have been wiped. Poopy butts an hour after having a bath. Poor little bugs!

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a person who hangs onto cats who are suffering. I don't want to live beyond when I am happy with my life. Especially now that I have cared for a person who has died, I know there comes a time when you wish God would just turn off the switch and call you home, while you are still able to ask for it. I used have a wildlife control business and had to kill scores of rabies-infected suffering raccoons. As life-or-death decisions go, rabies is a fairly simple one. Rabies is 100% fatal for wildlife, so you never have to feel "I could have done more."

While I admire many of the changes that the so-called "No Kill" movement has brought to animal sheltering and rescue, I have issues with the extremes some people have taken it to--keeping animals alive just so we can say we did everything we could...even when the animal will ultimately be killed anyway, is miserable in his continued existance, or is confined for the rest of his or her life. I've watched countless on-line dramas of kittens "saved from the awful shelter who was going to kill him" due to serious health issues, have watched the fundraisers and veterinary efforts...only to see that kitten ultimately die or be put down.

Absolutely there are many successes as well. But it is a difficult decision. When is it about the animal, and when is it about us?

I've never had kittens like this, nor been in a position where the answers to questions still pending may not come until Tink and Tank are too far gone to save. Honestly, I feel they already are. I feel that perhaps there are issues they have that perhaps could have been prevented if they had been diagnosed two months ago. But now that they already exist, can they be reversed? I'm almost certain that when test results come back, the answer will be "These young cats cannot survive much longer."

But what if they say "Oh look, just an inability to produce an enzyme!" (for the digestive issues--obviously more is going on than that)--and I have already had them put down for something that perhaps could have been mediated?

Because I travel for work, this issue does not just involve me. It involves different people who have fostered these kittens and are scheduled to foster them in the future. It involves a lot of issues that I don't share on a public blog (I whine enough as it is).

But mostly it involves Tink and Tank, and at what point "enjoyment of life" tips into "just existing for the sake of an answer." We know that cats enjoy grooming, being clean, eating, playing, and enjoying the company of others. Basically all Tink and Tank have at this point is their comfort in one another and with me. And food. They love food.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Facebook stalking: Daphne

Daphne (formerly Goggles, abandoned on our road and found by neighbors) just discovered her family got a rice cooker. What is that thing?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Facebook stalking: Ziggy and Tiger Tom

Ziggy and TigerTom's family adopts hard-to-place pets, and just adopted a senior dog. Clearly Ziggy cares not. Ziggy was a former-feral who was hit by a car and we had his leg amputated with the help of the SPCA of TC and the Maddies Shelter Med program at Cornell:

TigerTom is getting up there in years but he sure looks content! They adopted TigerTom because he had been at the Owl House longer than any other cat (5 years):

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Saturday, April 8, 2017

FIV and Fern and Grayson

Fern has been adopted! She came here almost five years ago after being dumped on Hagadorn Hill Road with her tiny kittens. Craig and Valarie found them and brought them down the hill to us.

She was too freaked out to feed her kittens, so I ended up bottlefeeding them. Unfortunately, they failed to thrive. They seemed to do pretty well for a week or two, and then went downhill. They are the only bottle babies I've ever lost.

Fern doesn't much understand the meaning of the word "walk" and sort of dashes from point A to point B, which made it difficult for potential adopters to interact with her. She also isn't a fan of being picked up. I found her unbearably cute, as she would turn somersaults asking to be petted in her run, but she was a tough sell when there were more traditional cats and kittens available for adopters. From a distance she looks like an average tiger cat. You have to get close to her to see just how unbearably cute she actually is. She also make a wonderful range of tiny sweet noises. Even though she's pudgy she's a small cat...only 6.5 pounds.

Ferns "run-mate" was Grayson. Grayson was also here quite a long time...almost three years. He tested negative for FeLV/FIV on arrival, but then when he was chosen for adoption, he tested positive for FIV in his pre-adoption check-up, so the adopter took another cat who had been his equal choice.

Because Fern had already been housed with him for so long, I left them together. After Grayson was adopted by Janine in Sayre, I figured I'd re-test her in 3-4 months to be able to advertise her as FIV free again. By then, Grayson's adopter was thinking she wanted a second cat. Who did she choose? Fern!

So off Fern went to her pre-adoption vet visit. And after three years living in a 4x8 run with Grayson (with liberty half the day of course)--cuddling, wrestling, having kitty spats, sharing bowls--Fern was still negative for FIV.

So back with Grayson she has gone, to live with Janine! I was worried that after a few months apart they might not get along, but it appears I need not have worried:

The only long-termer we have left is pudgy little Heidi. The rest of our cats have been here just over a year or less. My goal this spring is to get Heidi adopted. She's another little cutey that just needs the right person to come find her. So I'll get some updated photos and video of her soon.

(Oops! I forgot Pitter and Patter. They have been here longer than a year. Sorry kits, didn't mean to forget you!)

Bath night for Possums

The Possums needed their dirty butts bathed again tonight. Their fur seems less greasy that before, and it appears the fur on their backs maybe slowly growing back...however that may just be wishful thinking on my part. The incontinence is a real problem. Tink really wants to cuddle, and that's difficult when he's oozing poop. I guess it's off to the vet again.

A nice gift for your local shelter

Don't get one for me, I already have the poster, which I picked up at a conference.

"Hold old is that kitten?" booklets available here from Alley Cat Allies.

No cats, just music.

My apologies if you get the rainbow-pooping unicorn as an ad. :)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Goji and Sully get adopted!

Due to family responsibilities, I wasn't available for adoption visits most of January, February and into March, but some intrepid would-be adopters hung in there, and three adult cats, Goji, Sully, and Fern, were adopted. Fern will get her own post for special reasons.

Both Goji and Sully were off the northern part of Tompkins County. Goji has gone to the Mill apartments right near where I used to live in Etna, and he was immediately chilling on the couch--although when I left he was hiding behind it, which is usual for a new arrival.

His new mom reports:

Goji is doing fabulous! He's so well behaved and is really nice to come home to. He's more like a dog than a cat, complete with drool and all haha He's been adjusting very well though, I think by day 2 he felt right at home...He's the best!

Oops, yes, I'd forgotten Goji drools a bit when he's really happy being petted. Since I get so little long-term sit-down time with the cats, that had totally slipped my mind. I'm glad she seems to be OK with it!

Sully is now on the outskirts of Cayuga Heights. This is an adopter photo of him in his new home:

He is still settling in and has get to meet his new housemates...two standard poodles who can see him through the glass door. Sully is pretty bombproof, so I'm hoping they get along well!

Have great lives, Sully and Goji!

The Possum Kitten Page

Update 4/10/2017. All of the lab reports for these kittens are not listed here and they are still with the veterinarian.

This post gathers together all of the info on the Possum kittens (so-called because of their skinny possum-like faces). Suggestions from professionals--or non-professionals who have experienced a strikingly similar case in a personal pet--can be emailed to . If you just have a guess or a comment(stab-in-the-dark) please include those in the comments below. Messages from professionals will be forwarded to my veterinarian.

The photos and videos below are in chronological order from when the kittens came to me, to present-day.

Tink (has more white, 3.5 lbs) and Tank (larger kitten with more orange, 3.7 lbs) are almost 8 months old.

Thin possum-like faces
Their limbs are in proportion to their body size
They have thin fur (just the undercoat) that started to look shabby at around 6-7 weeks of age
Alopecia along the back and rear sides (photo below)
They sometimes have eruptions of very small scabs on their back toward the tail. Antiseptic wipes seem to clear this up.
Thin fur on paws--digits are clearly visible (photo below)
Toenails split easily.
Eat and drink generously. They drank almost constantly up until about two weeks ago. Their intake seems normal now.
There is sometimes a grinding noise in their jaw/teeth when they chew
They sometimes gag on their food
Messy eaters. Dry food is often stuck to their chins and they get this food in their water when they drink and it falls off.
Dirty paws inside the leg from cleaning their faces.
They trot but seldom run. They play when encouraged, but don't often initiate play or play on their own.
They spend a great deal of their cage-free time hugging the electric heater
Thickened joints on Tank (photo below)
Cloudiness to eyes (veterinarian states cataracts), and eyes if unattended have periodic dark-brown crust. I do not yet have a good photo of their eyes.
Broken-off whiskers. I thought this was originally barbering (kittens chewing one another's whiskers off) but I have seen no sign of this behavior.
Soft barely formed stool. They have had diarrhea in the past, but after treating with fenbendazole this returned to their normal soft stool. (photo below)
They each have 4-6 bowel movements a day.
Recently (since 4/1/2017) Tink has become slightly incontinent. Very small amount of soft stool (not diarrhea) extrude from his rectum. He did not have this problem previously.

Tests run: CBC/Chem, fecals, Giardia, Toxoplasmosis, T4 free T4,T3 and TSH.

The kittens were vaccinated for FVRCP with Heska Ultranasal and have been vaccinated for rabies.
They have been neutered
They are receiving B12 injections
They are fed a dry low-grain super-premium diet

August 31, 2016, Tink and Tank arrived with a litter of kittens who were found scattered about as neonates in a lumber yard in Vestal, a few feet apart. While it's possible they came for different litters, is is not probable, as they were all in the same area at the same time, and were the same size. A calico cat meowing around the area later that day was subsequently captured, spay/neutered, and returned to the lumber store, were she is slowing taming up and has become their store cat.

Here is their mother on February 25, 2017. She is now the store cat at a lumber yard in the Southern Tier:

October 5, 2016. Tink and Tank as nice normal-appearing kittens, with their littermates who quickly outstripped them in size. The littermates were transferred to another organization, so I don't have access to their adopters, however they were all of normal growth, round and robust when they left here. Tink and Tank are the orange kittens.

October 10, 2016:

Tink and Tank both fell behind their brothers (the entire litter was male) at around 6-8 weeks. While their brothers were over 3lbs at 10 weeks and went off the be neutered, Tink and Tank were still just under 2 lbs.

November 29th, 2016:

Approximately November 29th, 2016. Tank, looking unthrifty, but still with some roundness to his face at that time:

Both kittens seem to have faint voices, but Tink is most "voiceless"

Here is another "meow-less" video with Tink on his back (the veterinarian would like various views of them):

March 29, 2017, Tank. You can see his greasy fur in the front, lack of fur in the rear, low-fur toes (no cute soft round paws), short broken-off whiskers (although not clearly seen) and thickened joint areas (front knees and elbows) as well as his thin "old man" face.

If they are not given regular baths their fur becomes greasy, however even after a bath, they do not have neat fluffy fur.

March 28, 2017. Here are Tank and Tink after being left without a bath for a week. Note the alopecia in the rear and sides, and the greasy fur in front.

March 28, 2017. A close-up of Tank's back. My veterinarian states this is alopecia not overgrooming. The hairs are not broken off:

March 28, 2017. Tank's toes. No soft fuzzy paws here. The crust on the far inside paw is from Tank cleaning his face. These kittens are also very messy eaters. They don't seem to lick their lips. Dry food is often stuck to their chins. (Note: These kittens were left without a bath so my veterinarian could see what their coat etc. looked like. They were given a bath after their vet appointment).

They hug the heaters whenever they can, and after baths, I put them in little sweaters until they are totally dry:

March 31, 2017 walking around:

April 6, 2017. Body is fairly in proportion (legs are not stubby). Tink seen here with 19-year-old Fluffy

A visitor mentioned they looked larger online than in person, so here is Tank with a soda can to compare:

The soft somewhat formed stool which is their norm:


Thyroid (3 images)