If you know anything about me, it is that I really do like animals and enjoy having lots of different pets. However, I feel that our house is currently at capacity with two dogs, three cats, four chickens, a guinea pig, a baby alligator snapping turtle, and various fish.
My parents have a lake house on Kerr lake (aka Buggs Island Lake if you're a Virginian), and at the top of their neighborhood, there are two dumpsters. Living around the dumpsters for years have been a few feral cats. Before this year, we have never seen more than two or three.
This year, there was a baby boom. Someone who lives close by must have gotten a few young females and there must be a male or two also, because at last count, there were 14 kittens living around the dumpster! Spay and Neuter your pets, people!!!!
Well, these kittens were super cute, and their mamas were so sweet, nursing them in the shade of the nearby trees. Each time we ventured up to the lake house over the past month, we would buy some cat food at the dollar store and leave it in trays. Other people also did the same or would leave sandwich meat, roasted chicken carcasses, etc for the many many cats to eat.
Of course, the kittens were looking pretty decent each time we drove by, and they would always scamper away hissing whenever we tried to get near them. One of the mama cats was used to humans and would let us pet her while she ate. For the most part, we just left food, watched them for a while, and then left.
We really liked these two kitties the most though. They were white and calico mixed. The calico has orange stripes and tabby stripes all throughout... so pretty! There was a long haired one and a short haired one, and they looked almost like twins, except for the hair length.
My parents have said that when they're both retired and living up at the lake full-time, they'll get "barn cats." My kids have been convinced all summer that these two we like would be able to be those cats! Well, this last trip, when we drove by the dumpster, there were all of the kittens, hunkered down eating some canned food someone had dropped off. We stopped, put out our bag of food in the trays, and looked around at the kitties.
We saw the longhaired one that we liked, but didn't see the shorthaired one. The longhaired one let Mike pet it, and then also let Taylor Anne pet it. That was unusual, but a welcome change. I asked TA to pick up the kitten so we could have a good look at it, and she tried, but it ran away under a nearby bush. I followed it, and saw the shorthaired one sitting/laying down on its haunches. It hissed at me, and tried to run away, but it was so weak it couldn't move well, and gave up. I picked it up without having to chase it at all. Uh Oh. It was also very very thin, and I could tell it was very dehydrated when I picked it up.
The body condition of this kitten as compared with the week before was insanely diminished. Mike and TA caught the strong one, and I checked - they were both girls! I decided right then that we had to take these sisters home with us and to the vet. I couldn't stand to think of what would happen if we didn't.
We put them both in the guinea pig cage, and put the guinea pig in a small box for the ride home. The strong one seemed fine, a little spitfire really. Aside from ear mites and seed ticks, she was good. The weak one was obviously lethargic, seemed to have a fever, and wasn't really caring about much of anything.
We got home, set them up in the huge dog crate, and I tried to get them to eat. Mike picked up wet food (which they were used to eating), and I mixed in some non-flavored Pedialite to help replenish electrolytes and maybe perk up the weak kitten. The strong kitten ate well, but the weak one didn't even try. I held her, her heart was racing. I put some really liquidy food to her mouth and she licked it off. She realized it took very little effort to eat this way, and decided to finish the spoonful. I fed her about three more spoonfuls, but then she refused any more. She was exhausted.
Last night, I decided I needed to check on her and see if I could get more fluids into her. I was able to get her to take a little more at 1:00am and 3:00am, but she never had more than a few spoonfuls, and her belly was not getting full. She continued to be listless and limp. This morning, I noticed a sore on her neck, and that the side of her neck and her face were swollen. Anytime I touched it, it was hot, and the kitten protested. It was obviously some sort of infection.
Anderson and I took both kittens to the vet this afternoon. Anderson asked on the way if the vet would have to put down the weak one, and I told him that it was a possibility, but I hoped not. The vet saw the sore, and the swelling, and said it must be a worm - a fly maggot living in her neck, and it was infected. He cut out the maggot, put in two drains and released a lot of the pus, and then gave her electrolytes subcutaneously. I explained to Anderson what was going on. The vet said that the kitten likely would have likely died last night if we hadn't brought her home, and would have died in the next 24 hours if we hadn't brought her in to the vet when we did. She was in bad shape.
The strong kitty was in pretty good condition, and she got flea, tick, and ear mite meds, as well as her vaccines. The weak one also got those meds, plus antibiotics and special food to eat for a few days. By the time we left the vet office, the weak kitty was able to walk on its own, and looked perkier! We will probably not see typical kitten behavior from her for another day or so, but she is on the mend. I called my mom on the way home from the vet to let her know what happened, and that we hope she and dad will take them for their lake house kitties. I hope they'll both be great mousers, and live happy relaxing lives with my parents. I know Anderson and Taylor Anne will like to visit them!
Knowing what has happened to these two kitties makes me feel sad for the other ones living out there by the dumpster. If they don't get themselves cleaned enough, they could end up dying a painful slow death from a maggot. At least we were able to save two of them, maybe the others are stronger. This is a prime example of why you should get your cats fixed. Even if they're feral kitties, and you just feed them... trap, fix, release! It could save hundreds of kitty lives.
Some good places to seek help with those random kitties: