Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Illness of a kitten
“Doctor Howard,” Robin called from the intensive care ward, “he ate, the kitty ate, a little.”
Mrs. Andrews had found a dying kitten in the alley behind her home the previous day. When she brought him to the hospital he was so weak he could not stand. About four weeks old, he was mostly bones, frizzy fur, and fleas. A Siamese, and quite handsome we thought, in spite of his wretchedness, with black outline of his eyes, nose, and mouth. On closer examination we found the black markings were flea dirt. There was no outward sign of infection other than the parasites, but the membranes of the mouth and eyes were almost white because he was so anemic. I supposed the anemia was due to fleas draining his blood as they fed, which was partially correct.
Our first order of care was to rid him of the fleas. JoAnn, knowing the little fellow might be killed by routine flea treatment, dampened a piece of cotton with flea spray and gently rubbed the hair against the lay getting the chemical to the fleas but not on the kitten’s skin. Then, with a flea comb she and Phyllis removed the poisoned pests. This took more than an hour.
In the meantime, John found the kitten’s blood cells had hemoplasma organisms on them. These bacteria, spread by fleas, sensitize blood cells which are then destroyed by the spleen faster than the bone marrow can replace them. We had our diagnosis, but what to do? While JoAnn bathed, dried and warmed the little tyke, we caught Tazz, the clinic cat, varmint control officer, and donor of blood for ailing kittens. We transferred six milliliters of his blood into the kitten’s abdominal cavity so it would flow into his circulation giving him essential blood cells, protein and immune factors. Then, just a tiny bit of antibiotic was injected to start controlling the hemoplamas.
By this time it was getting late in the day so Robin fed him milk replacer with a dropper and put him to rest in a small cage with an insulated heating pad to warm him. The next day he was able to stand and, as mentioned earlier, eat. The day following he was released to Mrs. Andrews’ care with two more weeks of antibiotic treatment. He recovered and grew to be a handsome cat. Never cross or arrogant, he seemed to understand that he was in debt for his life.
When you consider adding a new pet from any source to your household, you should realize that the new animal may be carrying a disease that can spread to resident animals. To help avoid trouble be sure your existing pets are current on vaccinations, and regardless of how healthy it seems, have the new pet examined by your veterinarian before it is introduced to its new home as Mrs. Andrews did.