Friday, January 22, 2010

Vintage Kitty!

I thought of a lot of titles for this blog. "Crazy Cat Lady" "OMG...I Must Be Out of My Mind" "Throw Away Kitty" The first two are dead-on accurate, lol. The last sounded a bit harsh. I got to thinking how some sellers consider anything pre-owned, passed around or tossed away as "vintage". Hey, with that loose a definition, I figured it could apply to kitty cats too!

Meet Evair, aka Evie!

She's a DLH (domestic long hair) blue smoke kitty who is maybe 5-7 months old. She may appear ginormous in the photo, but she weighed all of 4.2 lbs at her wellness check a week ago. Her face is so teeny tiny and her legs are short making her tres petite. I took her name from the French word for winter, "Hiver" (pronounced ee-vair). Her fur is a wintery, cool blue-grey so I thought it suited her and the nickname "Evie" will always remind me of the moment we met.

I work as Client Services for an emergency vet hospital. I was pulling the overnight shift on New Years Eve into New Years Day. We got a call close to midnight from a local police officer saying he had three kittens in his car, all were very friendly but one wasn't doing so well. Now, if animals are considered stable, the police have instructions to use their key to the SPCA run and drop them off for staff to find in the morning. Since one kitten's status sounded questionable, we advised the officer to bring all three to our hospital. We figured we could check out the sick kitty and always take the healthy ones to the shelter at a later date.

When the officer arrived, he entered without the kittens. He told me a fella was plowing snow in the parking lot of a grocery store and found the three kittens in a box outside the store doors. Typical "dump" scenario. I guess they figure somebody would find them when they opened the store in the morning. Great plan unless they freeze to death, wander away, get attacked or hit by a car in the meantime. Quell idiots! Anyway, the officer went out to his car and came back with two boxes. One box had two larger blue DLH's just shivering together. The second box had a petite kitty with her legs splayed out behind her. I was really worried she was a hit-by-car and if her back was injured, well...not good.

I took the boxes to treatment and said, "Hey Dr. Sprague, could we please not have to euthanize anybody tonight?" Dr. Sprague said, "I'll do my best" and started examining the kittens. (btw We affectionately call Dr. S "the cat whisperer". Owners come in telling us we will have to use gloves to handle their fractious cat and 20 minutes later Kitty Kujo is draped over Dr. S's shoulder while he's reviewing bloodwork in the lab. It's a GIFT!) The techs started heating up IV fluid bags to bring their body temps up and getting a cage ready with food and blankets and a litter box. I sat at the desk biting my nails and wondering about that little kitty. As I waited, the info came out little by female, seems strong and healthy...a male, looking good...finally the pipsqueak, a GIRL and other than being a lot thinner and smaller than her siblings, she was just fine. Hoorah!

Now, if it's not evident to the reader, let me explain. From the moment I looked in that box, I was drawn to the pipsqueak. I don't do Boy kitties, only girls. It's just seemed to work that way for me. So, when the word came out she was a girl, I was pretty must toast. :) The official hospital policy is that all strays are remanded to the SPCA where they can be legally adopted out. This protects the animal and the practice. I was on the phone the next morning telling their shelter manager that pipsqueak had a home, that I put an ID band around her neck with my name and number and to CALL ME IMMEDIATELY when they got her. I also told them that I would run a snap test for FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIV (feline aids) at our hospital and indicate the results on her ID collar. She tested NEGATIVE on both counts.

We quickly had a home lined up for the other female pending FeLV/FIV results. Here's where the size 8 Springolator drops. She tested a weak positive for FeLV. Now, typically if one sibling is exposed to the disease, they all are. I had no clue this was going on and was hounding the shelter only to find none of the kittens had arrived. I went in to work and all three were still in residence. Our wonderful, compassionate practice manager juggled policy to protect the kittens. She was concerned that a weak positive in one kitten might prompt the shelter to destroy them all. This isn't done because they are cruel but because FeLV is contageous and they don't have resources to quarantine kittens for months on end pending a retest.

The news hit me like a brick wall. I have other kits in my life and bringing home an FeLV cat really wasn't an option. But, I wasn't ready to give up. I talked to our doctors and I did my own reading. What I learned was that snap tests can be wrong and all three kits should be retested. Our head doctor felt retesting now was superflous because FeLV tests should be run 3-6 months after last known exposure. Additionally, if a cat is "exposed" to the FeLV virus, they can show a weak positive while their bodies attempt to fight the virus. Some cats, a lot of cats with strong immune systems can fight the virus, it never takes hold in the red cells and bone marrow and they will test negative at a later date, will never manifest the disease and will never carry it nor pass it to any other cat. Very, very rarely there a latent carrier pops up. This is a kitty who never tests positive, never shows signs themselves, but is actually infected and serves as a carrier, infecting other cats. I really had to review the risks and it was starting to look like a broken heart was immenent!

Time to regroup. Our house is unusual because it had been converted to 1st and 2nd story apartments decades ago. We have always occupied the 2nd floor and so have our kitties. When we bought the house and started renovating back to a single dwelling, we installed a glass interior door between the floors specifically so our cats could get spooked and run outside. That meant I could actually bring home Evair, quarantine her completely and entirely away from our long time resident felines and wait out the 3 months necessary for retesting. Once we hit that mark, I will have the ELISA snap test redone which will show possible exposure. But, I will also have an IFA test sent out. IFA is more involved and doesn't pick up simple exposure but actually flouresces any affected red cells, meaning the virus is in the bone marrow. Naturally, I'm hopeful for Evair to test negative. She is beyond sweet and deserves a long and happy life of laziness, toys, food and ridiculous amounts of creature comforts! If we do get bad news, then decisions will have to be made. It is possible to maintain an FeLV cat until such time as the disease interferes with quality of life. It just means a bit more effort to continue our very strict quarantine. Ah well...whatever it takes!

BTW The boy kitty was neutered and went home to the friend of one of our vet techs where he is an only kitty and can safely wait out his quarantine. The other girl went to a vet tech's mom's house where she is being fostered until she can be retested. All three kittens were very unique in their overly loving, pleasing purrsonalities. It truly saved their lives and made everyone bend rules and policies to give them the chance they need and deserve!

Peace out and remember, when faced with a lost little soul...If not me, who? If not now, when?


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  2. What a story! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that the 3 month retests are clean! she's a cutie!

  3. My heart breaks for the little love! I'll be keeping my fingers (and toes!) crossed too.

    The world needs more of your compassion.

  4. I am almost in tears - what a courageous and empathetic person you must be. Just what is needed for these poor babies. Good thoughts and wishes coming your way.. and Evair too