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Wed Oct 17, 2012, 11:05 PM

My feral kitteh boy is feeling really bad. Can you please read and help?


(This has turned out to be quite long - if you can read through it all and offer some suggestions, many heartfelt thanks. This was also posted to the Lounge)

I think maybe the easiest way to explain this is to use mostly bullet points. First, a little history: Jesse (adult male cat) was fed for at least a year by our neighbor before we moved here, but then the neighbor adopted a large dog, and Jesse wouldn't go back to the house. So the winter of the huge snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic in 2010 (I'm in northwestern Virginia - about 75 miles west of DC), I started to put out food. It took almost 10 months - until the next winter - before Jesse started to come around relatively regularly, and I set up a little bed with heating element for him (he never stayed over night but he'd wait there for me to feed him). We have a covered, raised porch (not screened, but covered) that runs the length of the house, and his bed is on the porch tucked against the house with two enormous flowerpots flanking his bed).

He's at least 4 years old, from my experience the last 3 years and the neighbor thinks he was feeding him for at least a year.

So, probably 4 days out of 7 for the past 2 years he's shown up in the evenings for dinner. A few times he'd had the shit kicked out of him; one time his left eye was badly damaged but I have a stash of Clavamox (feline antibiotic) left over from caring for other ferals back in North Carolina and he got 10 straight doses ground up in food, and his eye mostly healed (though remained a little cloudy ...). He knew he was injured and that my house meant food, so he hobbled back here every day for 10 days straight.

Also, for additional info, we live in a rural area. Homes are probably on a half acre or more, across the way our neighbor has probably 2 acres of grass and woods, and behind us is a bunch of corn, and behind that is cattle grassland.

Until earlier this summer, I couldn't find someone to lend me a humane trap, so while it has always been on my list to catch him and have him neutered and vaccines administered, I just came up on the list to borrow the trap last week. And honestly, I've had a hard time rubbing two pennies together these past 5 years -- there just is no spare cash or credit for me to pay for any vet bills aside from the care for my own cats, which I've had to spread thin. Jesse also never let me get closer to him than 5 feet -- even after two years, he kept his distance.

He used to sing after he ate -- he'd sit on the porch and stare at my indoor cats, and sing/yowl/talk at them for about 10 minutes before he'd head out. I loved it. He's a sweet, small cat, mostly white but with a gray saddle, cap and tail, with dark eyeliner around his eyes. I love the little fella and will care for him until he or I are no longer.

Anyway, here's what's happened recently:

1) Last Tuesday (10/9), he showed up limping badly - right front foot, but he moved pretty freely other than that. He was pretty thin, but he always got stringy near the end of summer, and it seemed as if he'd been starting to put on some winter weight (last winter he actually waddled - he got fat ). He ate well (I always leave out dry kibble and fresh water, and give him a can or two when he shows up). He had probably a half a cup of kibble, and probably a can of fancy feast and maybe a 1/4 can of tuna. I know tuna isn't great for cats, but I treat him simply because he's out in the big bad world on his own, and he loves it. I also used that to give him a double dose of Clavamox to care for anything wrong with his foot. I have always doubled up on the first dose of antibiotics for all of my animals just so they get the 'hit' of the drug; then I go back to the normal daily dose.

2) Didn't see him on Wednesday.

3) We get home really late on 10/11, about 1 a.m. He's in his bed but when I go out to see him he is just miserable. Both of his eyes are completely gunked up with thick mucus. Some is yellow and has dried around the rims of his eyes, and there is a LOT of clear mucus running out of both eyes, but more out of the one on the left that had been injured before. Both eyes were very cloudy, and he could barely see - probably could only tell shapes were moving around him because he let me touch his head (hissed at me, but still) but that was only because he couldn't see my hand moving above his head. I thought this raging infection was odd because I'd already given him Clavamox two days before. So, I turned to the big gun antibiotic (hereinafter "antibiotic #2") I had from when one of my girl cats had a horrible, horrible nasal infection that Clavamox couldn't even make a dent in --- the vet had given me more than enough, so I gave Jesse a double dose of this other antibiotic. He ate ravenously, once I got the tuna close enough so he could smell it. He'd also managed to eat a lot of the kibble before we got home. When I fed him the tuna, he couldn't get out of the bed, he just sat there, crouched, and ate what I put in front of him. He ate probably an entire can of tuna. The bed has a heating element in it, so he stayed warm. I checked on him a few times, contemplated trying to catch him and get him to the emergency vet, but my husband was coming down with the flu, felt like shit, and I wanted to see if the antibiotics would help.

Poor kitty sat in the bed, whimpered if I was near him, and seemed to breathe heavily (though he could have just been purring - I couldn't hear it, but his sides were moving visibly).

4) Early the next morning (about 7am) I went out to check on Jesse. He *never* stays beyond dawn, but he was out of the bed, cowering against the house by his food bowls. Could barely see, poor baby. His eyes were still cloudy but the mucus - the thick yellow stuff and the runny stuff - were all gone. Also, he never had any mucus coming from his nose. He tried to walk away from me (probably sick of me checking on him and fussing) and he jumped through the railings onto the ground, and then just sat there. I ran inside to get a box in case I could somehow toss it over him, and when I came out he was weaving his way toward the back of our house (which also happens to have our landlord's garage and work shed). He stopped in our backyard for an epic pee. Then he continued to weave toward the garage, stopping every so often to get his bearing (as I was tiptoeing behind him with a box). He cried every once in a while. I imagine he could see about the same amount I can without my contacts -- shapes are OK, but clarity and distance are nil. Unfortunately, the landlord drove up then and Jesse made a break for it, trotting to the back of the garage / workshed and made it under the shed before I could catch him. He hunkered down there for a while, I brought him fresh food, and then when I went back an hour later, he was gone.

5) That same night (10/12), he came back, ate a lot of kibble, had another dose of antibiotics, tuna, cat food and water. Curled up and slept. His eyes were better, but still about 50% cloudy. There was still clear mucus in his eyes. All of the thick yellow stuff was gone after that first night, but clear runny stuff was left. He also had a HUGE tick on the top of his head near his ear, and another enormous one on his right jawline. I fed and medicated him, and just left him alone to rest. His appetite is normal. He wasn't there the next morning, though I wasn't up nearly as early. I also fed him in his bed that night. He seems to move stiffly, like he's sore.

6) The next night, 10/13, he came back again, same routine as above. Tick on the ear is gone, other one still in place. I think he got out of his bed to eat that night, but still moved stiffly. Eyes clearer still, not much mucus. Gets another dose of antibiotic #2. Appetite what I'd call 'normal' and in any other situation, 'healthy'.

7) Next two nights, 10/14 and 10/15, he doesn't show up. Some dry kibble is gone in the morning, but that could well be from our neighborhood baby possum.

8) Shows up last night, 10/16, and gets out of bed the second he sees me open the front door. Eyes look good! Maybe 80%. No mucus. Eats well. Gets another does of antibiotic #2. Lots of tuna. Two cans of fancy feast. Though when I check on him before bed, he's hunkered in his bed, breathing as he was before (not labored, but obvious - again, could be purring or ??) and you can just tell he doesn't feel terrific. Not sure if the big tick on the
right jawline is there or not. I just feed him, medicate him, and try not to bother him. He seemed really better, but still stiff.

However, now that his eyes are clearer, there is a dark spot below the iris in the "good" eye, and a dark spot below the iris in the formerly-injured eye. Just information, I have no conclusion.

9) He shows up tonight. Not looking too hot. A little mucus in the eyes. Seems sensitive to the light, but he has all along (probably sick of me shining a flashlight in his eyes, to be honest). Sits in his bed while I give him his medicated tuna (a double dose since he missed the last two days), but then gets out of bed when I give him fancy feast. Eats more tuna. Has already eaten kibble. But he just is sort of sitting still, seems like he's swaying a bit, and moves stiffly. Looks almost like he's burping - moves forward slightly once or twice - like people sort of jerk forward with strong hiccups. He just feels like crap. Doesn't clean himself after eating, though licks his lips a lot (but doesn't do the lick-foot-rub-face kind of cleaning). And he's looking a little raggedy in the keeping-clean department. He now has two enormous ticks on his left jawline and neck. Fucking goddamn ticks. I manage to sneak behind him and dump some Advantage for cats on his shoulders - on top of the fur, but enough should soak through to hopefully dislodge the ticks, and he can't reach it or lick it.

I'm leaving him alone to sleep. Will check on him later tonight. Hoping the antibiotics will help. He's so wary of anything he's not familiar with that I have no idea if he'd go into the (rather large) trap.

Any thoughts? I know I need to stop his suffering. But I'm interested in observations. I also know that cats can and do get Lyme disease and that antibiotics usually help.

Thanks, if you've managed to read all the way through.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 11:24 PM

1. I know that cats do purr when they are sick or in pain. I don't know why

but they do.

You have done a great deal for this little fella. Maybe call around and see if vets have a stash of free leftover antibiotics they can give to you. Maybe you can find a vet who does pro bono work.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 01:06 AM

5. ... or frightened. Back when we used to let our kittehs roam, one came home and was obviously

terrified (probably had been chased by a dog) and she sat in her litterbox and purred for almost 4 hours before I could coax her into my lap.

Anyway - I have plenty of antibiotics... just wishing he'd start to feel better.

I am wondering how old he is -- and if he may just be near the end of his life, and weak, and susceptible to illness.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 11:25 PM

2. I read the whole thing. I have nothing to offer regarding what/how/when/where, but . . . .

. . . . . kudos to you. You obvious care a lot for the little guy and he's lucky to have you.

And I think he knows it.

Good on you, Flaxbee. You're really good people.

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Response to Stinky The Clown (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 17, 2012, 11:51 PM

3. Nothing to offer except hugs for you.

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Response to 840high (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 01:08 AM

7. thanks, 840high. My heart breaks when I see him; I can't stand to see him

feeling so punk.

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Response to Stinky The Clown (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 01:08 AM

6. thank you for reading it all, STC. I appreciate it.

I pestered him a little earlier just to see how mobile he was (I put a chopstick with tuna on the end near him; he bit the chopstick (then licked it - yum!) and reared back on his hind legs). He can move, but doesn't really want to.

I'm trying to get him to get used to being touched. Maybe that way I can catch him, or at least touch him so he can trust me.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 12:36 AM

4. My girl cat had similar symptoms and had an upper respiratory infection. Antibiotics worked for her.

Call your vet and tell him or her what's going on. Maybe you can get some suggestions as to how to "detain" the cat so you can get him in for treatment. Or, maybe get some medicine. The fact that he is eating is a good sign. I hope he starts feeling better. I can picture him after your description. Sounds like a sweet boy. Keep us posted.

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Response to Tess49 (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 01:10 AM

8. I'll be talking to my vet in the next day or so. I have plenty of antibiotics on hand, and am also

encouraged by his appetite - nothing wrong with it at all -- I just can't quite figure out why he's so unsteady on his feet, and had such trouble with his eyes.

Thanks for reading through. Will keep you posted.

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #8)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 04:36 AM

9. Are there any rescue groups

in your area that would take him to the vet? That's the only thing I can suggest. both of my cats came from rescue groups.

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Response to Flaxbee (Reply #8)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:46 AM

14. It could

be an ear infection that makes him seem unsteady
I'm so glad he has some like like you trying to take care of him.
I hope somehow you can get him to a vet.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 09:27 AM

10. Being feral, it's very possible that he's FIV or FeLV. I have a small colony of 4

that I've been feeding for years. They were all males that showed up at different times and have all been neutered and vacinated for rabies. Three of the four have tested positive for FIV. (Now before somebody yells at me for keeping them and exposing other cats, they stay on my two acres and mostly are on my back, screened porch.)

They go through periods when they're not well. I also keep Clavamox on hand and use as necessary.

I don't think there's much more you can do other than trap him and take him to a vet.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 06:26 PM

11. One of the biggest dilemmas you have is

that if you do try the trap, and it doesn't work, you may scare him away for a while. I think that sooner or later he would be back, knowing this is a place to go for good food, but you will not be able to monitor and medicate him if he does disappear.

I think that trapping him is something that you have to try though. He really has to get to a vet to find out if he can get well or if he is sick with something that cannot be cured. If he was not so sick, I would work at getting him to the point where I could touch him, then grab him at the nape of the neck to put him in a carrier...but that takes time, and you may not have enough time to get him to trust you that much. There are so many diseases that a feral cat can contract, and many are fatal, so you have to know to do the best for him.

You are a saint for caring so much about this little creature.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 19, 2012, 12:22 AM

12. hey, Curmudgeoness... I know, re scaring him away

I want him to feel better, but I suspect I'm making him healthy enough to really resist my efforts to trap him. Sigh. But I will persevere because I worry not only about Jesse, but about my babies, as well. The outdoor ones ( I let two out during the day when Jesse's never around ) have had their shots this year, but the indoor girls haven't...

I can't stand for any creature - especially one who really has no idea why he feels so bad (children and animals) - to suffer. I mean, I don't want anyone to suffer, but at least if I felt like crap I'd understand why... And this is one little guy I can do something about, so I'm going to, one way or another.

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Response to Flaxbee (Original post)

Fri Oct 19, 2012, 01:41 AM

13. maybe you could try throwing a blanket over him to catch him?

It seems you're able to get close enough though it would be better I think if someone could get behind him to toss a blanket over him and get hold of him while you distract him in the front. I don't know. I can't think what else might work if he doesn't want to go into the trap.

Or maybe you could get a tranqualizer from your vet to put in his food along with the antibiotic to make it easier to catch him and get him to the vet?

I just don't know what else to suggest. But good on you for caring so much for this poor sick kitty and wanting to help him! It's obvious you love this little guy, and whether your realize it or not you've adopted him.




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