If you keep up with me on the No Ordinary Homestead Facebook page, you know that we recently had a rather emotional and unfortunate journey. I really wanted to post something about this experience because the message of this post is now very near and dear to my heart. And if people would act more responsibly and humanely, things like this would never happen!
But let me back up to the beginning first…
On July 10, we found a kitten huddling under our neighbor’s pickup truck. I thought I had seen it about a week earlier, dashing through the bushes in front of our house. But the kitten disappeared after that. It had actually gotten to the point that I figured I must have seen one of the numerous wild rabbits that we have living around here. But when it showed up again, I knew I had been right the first time.
Instead of running around and trying to catch bugs, it looked a bit frightened and hungry. And didn’t really seem to want to move. When I got closer, it seemed like it was favoring one paw, and I wondered if maybe it was broken or had somehow been crushed. We tried to give it something to eat and it seemed ravenous. I must admit I have a bit of experience with stray cats and that’s actually how Stefan and I got our first cat (which passed away last year). But nothing prepared us for this one.
Our first idea was to call the local animal shelter, which promptly informed us that it was kitten season and they wouldn’t be able to take any new kittens until August.
So we called a local cat rescue association and they were also up to their eye balls in kittens. What to do?
Since we have a dog and a cat at home already, and this kitten looked pretty dirty and clearly had some fleas, I tried to give it a bit of a rinse off. I was a bit alarmed to find that the belly of the kitten had what looked like lacerations all over it, and the water I was washing her turned brown and eventually red.
Anyone with experience rescuing cats and kittens will tell you what that comes from — a flea infestation.
We dried the kitten off and decided that before we got attached, we needed to know what exactly was going on. Thankfully, Mackenzie was at school, so we got an appointment to see a local vet and headed out to see them.
As we were standing at the counter, waiting to see the veterinarian, we ran into someone that Stefan has met before. He was there having his Pug spayed and we explained that we were there to see if we might be able to rescue this kitten. His response was, “You know, what you’re doing is a great thing and definitely has to be good for karma.”
We hadn’t really thought of it that way – we were just trying to do the right thing. What we hope most people would do in a similar situation. Help a defenseless animal within reason and give it a chance to survive after being left for dead. We certainly believe in karma and that good begets good (and vice versa.) So we decided to make the kitten’s “working title” name Karma.
The first thing the vet’s office noticed was just how large the kitten was. Although quite emaciated, she had ears and feet that were almost the size of an adult cat (we compared them to our own cat later). But judging by her teeth, Karma was only about 5 weeks old. Now we were intrigued.
On that first day, Karma weighed about 1.5 pounds (700 grams). We were astounded because our adult cat weighs about 7 pounds — but usually a 4-5 week old kitten only weighs 1/2 – 1 pound (225g to 450g).
But unfortunately, the rest of the diagnosis was not very positive or encouraging. Her body temperature had dropped so low that they couldn’t take a reading. And her gums and even tongue were white, which indicates serious liver problems. Basically it seems that her iron levels were dangerously low due to all of the fleas feeding on her and the levels they told us indicated that she’d probably been drained of about 75% of her blood. It was just an unfathomable situation.
At that point, the kitten was still eating on her own and has a bit energy although she was clearly weak. She even chomped down on the doctor’s finger when he gave her some vitamin paste.
He indicated that her chance of survival was 50-50 at best. And said that if we really wanted to see an impact, blood transfusion would be the best bet. But spending $1,500 on a stray cat for a procedure which may have worked (but may not have) didn’t seem practical. Especially when he added that there was a good chance the kitten would later develop feline leukemia.
So we packed up the cat and went to gather a few supplies so that we could try our best to nurse this little creature back to health.
The veterinarian instructed us to bathe her with Dawn dish soap (just like the animals rescued after an oil spill) just to get some of the fleas and dried blood off of her. That bathing experience was even more harrowing than the first. But we did get a ton of the fleas off.
The vet also gave us a recipe that would be considered a body builders milkshake if this cat were human. We took a can of kitten cat food and puppy milk formula. We were mixing just a bit of the milk into the food to make a thick sludge, which the kitten chowed down on… for a while.
The first day we had Karma at home, we slept outside on our screened in lanai with her. Her body wasn’t staying as warm as it should be and we didn’t have a heating pad for her — so we slept with her in our laps all night, waking up every 3 hours to feed her.
By the next morning, Karma seemed to have taken a bit of a turn for the worst. She wasn’t interested in eating anything, so we decided to beef up what we were feeding her ourselves to make sure she consumed enough calories and minerals. Instead of water in the milk mixture, we used electrolyte water and a bit of colloidal silver. And we threw some brewers yeast in to discourage the fleas, along with vitamin gel. We also were told to try out carbo vegetablis which is a homeopathic remedy which is sometimes called the “corpse reviver,” especially around farms when young lambs are born with complications.
The next four days had lots of ups and downs. We were rooting for her from the start. And as each day passed, we got more emotionally attached to her. But we also tried to physically distance ourselves because we somehow felt that even with a small step forward, we still weren’t seeing real signs of what would happen. We just took it day by day.
We cried a bit. We pleaded with her. We let our hearts fall in love. But all the love in the world wasn’t enough to make her pull through. We saw small indications of her getting stronger and having more color in her gums. In fact, on day 3, we actually started to think that she might have a chance of surviving.
But on the morning of day 4, we woke up and she had passed.
There were many tears all around. And that we managed to not go out and get another kitten still amazes me a bit. But it just wasn’t meant to be. And we’re thankful that we had the opportunity to show this sweet little kitten, who purred even while I gave it a bath, a chance to know what love is. Because clearly no one else had in her short life.
We learned many things about love and compassion during our time with Karma. And we also were reminded of the importance of spaying and neutering. Fleas are actually a number one killer of kittens born in the wild in Florida. And if this hadn’t happened, we probably never would have realized.
The fact that people dump out their pets like trash just is unfathomable. These animals are meant to be companions and they will love and trust you unconditionally…well aside from a few cats that are just evil.
There’s a few ways that Karma may have found her way to us, and they involve the mother cat being tossed out into a wooded area behind our home because she was pregnant. Or just the kittens getting the boot. Either way, it’s disgusting and I hope to never meet someone who has done something like this.
And for those who work at rescue organizations or do this on a regular basis — you are amazing! I have no idea how you can do this time and time again without hating humans. But thank you for giving these creature a chance at a happy life.
Need more reasons to spay or neuter? How about these facts:
- About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs—about one every 11 seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets.
- Neutered male dogs are said to live 18% longer than those that weren’t and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than those that weren’t spayed. One of the reasons for this can be that unspayed and un-neutered have increased urges to roam and mate, making them susceptible to fights with other animals that they encounter, getting hit by a car and some other form of accidents.
- Spaying and neutering is also said to reduce a pets’ risk to certain types of cancer as well as other forms of diseases such that involve the reproductive system. Medical evidences reveal that female pets spayed before they experience their first heat are healthier in comparison to those that have not been spayed.
- Neutering of male pets is also beneficial in curbing bad behavior. Studies have shown that most dog bites involve those that were unaltered. Barking, mounting and dominance-related display of behaviors are also more common in unaltered pets. This doesn’t mean to say that you can completely eliminate such behaviors when you spay or neuter your pet. It does, however, minimize their tendencies for bad behavior.
So the next time you want a pet, consider whether or not you could adopt from a local shelter. There are tons of cats and dogs there of all ages who would love to have a new forever home.
Have you ever rescued an animal? Or adopted a pet from a shelter?