It’s 4:oo a.m.

I woke up about an hour ago tothe sound that I am beginning to dread…one of a kitten throwing up. Olive was in the middle of the living room rug hurling his guts up in the unmistakeable first signs or distemper, the dreaded orange fluid like vomit.

I hustled him into the bedroom and was relieved to see that he did drink water, although it didn’t stay down long. I dropped some pepcid into his drinking water, checked his dehydration level which wasn’t alarming, and removed all the food from the room for 24 hours. Hopefully, this isn’t what I am dreading it is going to turn out to be.

When I walked through the hallway, I observed Phoebe using the litter pan- she has diarrhea, so she is also isolated from the group until I figure out what is actually going on.

Lord, I am tired today. I worked yesterday just a few hours but there is strain in the workplace now with the economy being so poor. We were busy which is good, but there was still unrest there because no one is exactly sure what “changes” are going to happen when corporate comes down next week.

I hope these babies are experiencing parasitic problems or digestive upset, but deep in my gut, I do not believe they are wormy or dealing with bad food. Time will tell- until then I stay in prayer and vigilent that two more won’t be joining their brothers who have already passed this world.

Feline Distemper Update

It has been two days now with no deaths and no visible signs of distemper in any of the kittens. The last kitten to succumb was Sophie, bless her heart. She was actively playing under my feet when I left for work on Friday. When I came home at midnight, I found her barely able to move, refusing food, vomiting and diarrhea soon followed. She died, early Saturday morning.

I was misinformed by my vet. The feline distemper vaccine is not immediately effective. It depends on the length of the exposure the kitten has had to the virus, wheter the vaccine works or not. It also takes a good week for the vaccine to get into the kitten’s system and then the follow-up booster shots are essential. I did all I could do and now it is just a crap shoot. I am waiting for the dice to fall where it may and hopefully, the worst is behind us. It seems the virus gives me a three day break before it claims another victim though, so I am not relaxed yet.

Such beautiful creatures to have their lives ended so quickly. It is not a lingering death though, the distemper strikes quickly and shows no mercy. My vet bill is climbing again but there is nothing I can do about that. My concern lies with not allowing these kittens to suffer and trying to eradicate this disease from my house which seems to be virtually impossible at this point.

The Veil of Tears

Today was extremely difficult to get through. Even in the midst of the rushes at work, my mind would travel back to last night and Sinbad’s final hours. I talked to a vet friend of mine and she said that distemper is very difficult to kill off. it could be anywhere in the house and because we don’t know when the kittens were exposed to it, the shots might not be effective- in other words, the vaccine came to late to save them.

I feel like I am sitting on a powder keg and waiting for it to go off. Sharky is now acting off- she has been laying in one spot for hours and when I go to pet her, she barely lifts her head. There is no fever, no evidence of diarrhea and no ringworm. The first sign of distemper in the kittens has been ringworm invading their body AFTER they have been cured of it- evidence of their immune system shutting down and the cells splitting. I am keeping a worried eye on the whole crew and I begged God to not take any more from me. They say things happen for a reason, but I have no idea what reason could be given for putting these beautiful babies into such crisis and through such pain.

I don’t know how many we are going to have to say goodbye to before this is over- but what I do know is there will be no more cats or kittens brought into this home for at least four years. I have read that the distemper can survive up to two years sometimes even three. Even knowing the vaccines might not be effective just strengthens my resolve to keep new strays out of my home. My vet friend said if they are vaccinated before arriving here, they will be safe, but color me spooked. To many babies have died in my arm for me to put them through this painful journey.

Another Loss

When I came home from work, I noticed one of the black kittens wasn’t moving much. I picked him up and he went limp in my hand. Long story short, he has gone to be with his brother and I hope God will forgive me that he had to suffer. Mike had to go to bed early, so I have no idea how long Sinbad was in pain. Please forgive me God for not being able to rid my home of this horrible monster. Please don’t take anymore from me, black, white, calico, tabbies I love them all and the pain I feel right now is immense.

Joining the Herd…..

Sophie is now with the rest of the herd. She only has problems with Charlie, which is typical. Although Charlie is my smallest cat, he is the most alpha. Whether this fierceness of territory stems from the early abuse or just because he has stunted growth, I do not know. I know that he has to act tough or the others will just run over the top of him. I just wish for some peace and quiet these days. I have a small, dark blanket that I toss over him when he confronts Sophie aggressively. Although all I am hearing are growls and screams, I would prefer to stop the actual fighting before it begins. He has also started spraying again…..sigh…. The vet said to put him on Prozac, but I hate putting him on the drug because of the side effects. He is acting naturally and if he were outside, this would be no problem. But removing urine off of woodwork is tougher than removing urine off of the leaves of bushes. Thank God for Urine-Off!

Through the Grace of God

All cats and all the kittens but two have now been innoculated against distemper. I suppose I should receive an “A” in Kitty Wrangling as yesterday was spent in a mad dash to get everyone confined in the enclosure so when the vet arrived, the shots could be administered quickly. Dash of course proved to be the most challenging to catch as she is the true feral of my group. But I perservered and although it made for a long day- it was quite satisfying. I only pray the shots will be effective. Thank you to those of you who pitched in with your charitable hearts. I could not have managed without your generous spirits. God Bless you all and may 2010 bring you prosperity and joy for your giving hearts.

Acceptance….

I realize that Mike is not going to get better. He has hit a sort of level in his pain and thankfully, he is not getting worse. But, I know that he will never be able to function as he did in the past.

This realization was slow to hit me, mainly, because like him, I was in denial. I want the house to be finished, I don’t want to live in a half-remodeled home, but there you go, I am. So this morning, I set about taking the small dining room (where the entrance to the tunnels are) and redid the inside of the area for the cats. There is now an 8 foot homemade ladder with carpeted rungs leading up to high cat platforms over the window. I have cleared off the top shelves that wrap the area and put down cat beds instead of my bric-brac. I found an old cabinet at the thrift store which now has been converted into bunk beds for kitties and they love it. They have toys to play with, a couple more pet fountains I found stashed in the attic and they are in love with the room. Most of them are overhead now just peering down at me. I just hope they don’t decide to play Snoopy and launch themselves at my head!

Holding my breath

The gang appears to be healthy and happy. I am holding my breath.

The other night at work, the weather was nasty. I opened up my car door to get out of the wind, and out of the wind and darkness this white shape streaked between my legs and leaped in my car! She is a beautiful 7 month old kitten with a white blanket of fur with black spots. She is in the haybarn at the moment to keep her safe. She is friendly, skinny and I have dewormed and de-flead her. She loves people, she isn’t to crazy about other cats though. I have no idea where she came from though.

In Crisis Mode-

This morning, two vibrant kittens of the night before are now dead from distemper. :(

Distemper hit here last year at Christmas and we lost so many lovely babies. I immediately did everything in my power to eradicate the disease from the house, but it is an evil monster and it clings. It can live outside the host for over two years. We barracaded the room the kittens had been in and turned it into a human only library/study area. I bleached, scoured, soaped, threw out litter pans, toys, beddings even burned the futon mattress. I hot steamed the carpet and then just prayed all my efforts were not in vain- but apparently they were.

As it is with this monster- the kittens go from loving and active one minute to near-dead the next. Succumbing first was Ember a little black boy newly arrived- following him was Goblin a kitty with lovely black spots against a dark black fur coat. Forgive me babies for being able to rescue you from peril only to put you in harm’s way. Forgive me for not having the funds to vaccinate all arrivals and although I did have you tested- distemper isn’t something they “usually” test for. The especially test for leukemia as that is rampant in this county.

God help me, please don’t let me lose anymore babies. They deserve so much better than this disease gives them.

The Not So Familiar Path

The path we follow today is a path discovered a few years ago. Yet, now it bears noticeable differences. Initially, the path was narrow, flanked with wild blackberry bushes and ferns leading deeper into the woods. During the winter, the path became an obstacle course of trees unable to stand the onslaught of the high winds and mud that would sink my mud stompers almost ankle-deep in mire. Wild rabbits would scamper off in the distance and once we got into the wooded, shady forest, our presence revealed, scared off the deer. As mysteriously as they appeared they would vanish blending into the foliage making one doubt they had been there in the first place.

Now, the path has been broadened by front loaders, the dirt beaten down by gravel. The mud monsters laid to rest. So many logging trucks have traveled this path now. The path is no longer a path but a road into the wilderness. Progress at it’s finest, man proclaiming dominance over the once mighty sitka spruce, evergreens, spruce pines now reduced to a pile of toothpicks on a flattened landscape.

Through Gretchen, I still find the magic in the moments. She leaps into a nearby pond, actively chasing the frogs that swim quickly to their hidey-holes. With their absence, she turns her dog-attention to the waterfall and chases the ripples and bubbles the water creates in her wake.

I stay on the main trails now, heistate to branch off into the narrow, secluded paths. With all the hunting in the area now being that accessing the forest is easier for four wheelers, the larger predators have been reported in the area looking for fresh kill. I don’t wish to be on their menu and I know they would love to sample Gretchen if given the chance.

The changes now sadden me and will continue to do so for some time. I wonder a year from now, should I still be able to access this path what changes I will see then? Whatever they are, I fear they won’t be for the benefit of the forest.