Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Eyes Have It

Thank you so much, friends, for being so understanding and sending thoughts and prayers my way.

The last three weeks have been weeks from hell. Not only did I have to deal with the horrid rescue (which allowed me just hours of sleep daily for the first week leaving me extremely tired), I then got the crud which I am trying to get over (eating better, trying to sleep more).

I want to WARN you that this post will be difficult for some of you to read. The photos are extremely disturbing and graphic, so if you are very sensitive, it might be best if you do not continue.

In a nutshell, we took in 23 hoarder cats from Lancaster, CA. 16 were kittens ranging in age from 9wo to about 17wo. All but four were in horrific condition as the photos will attest. The hoarder had kittens infected with the feline herpes virus and let the disease ravage these kitten's eyes. They didn't HAVE to turn out this way.

Here is a picture of a shelter cat I fostered for another group that came in without us being able to see the eye at all (though this was a short term problem in an adult cat, not kitten). With correct and aggressive treatment, this beautiful cat not only kept her eye, but just LOOK at him! I can see a tad of corneal scaring in the photo, but you probably can't.
Smokey Shelter cat healed

Again, you might want to stop here if photos of neglect are not tolerable to you.

Of the 16 kittens, we lost one on day five despite our best efforts. We lost this very sick little kitten, Baby Bell:

Of the remaining 15, 9 will have to have one eye removed, and two will have to have BOTH eyes removed.

Here is a quick slideshow (click on the healthy-eyed cat below, then on slideshow which is in the upper left area under the Picasa symbol):

Lancaster Kittens

We really bit off a lot with this one. The medical, food (we go through a case/day of food that is $25.00/case) and extraneous costs (e.g. litter... we go through about 30#/day) so far are extraordinary, and we havn't even reached surgery. I am madly writing grant requests, contacting anyone that might be able to help. I have gotten cover from a 501(c)(3) (we are so small, relatively speaking, we never did this... we were always able to self fund until this year--but you all know what is different about this year...), Helping Persian Cats who I help and have fostered for. They are a fabulous group and their Director is VERY helpful and so kind to help with this situation.

As you might imagine, the time involved in caring for these little ones has been extreme.

The first 14 days, each received oral meds 2x/day, had their ears flushed (they were LOADED with ear mites... I went through 1000 cotton tips in two days!) and ears cleaned 2x/day, and every single eye had to be treated 3x/day. That is a LOT of ears and eyes and it takes a LOT of time!

Their food was prepared with a second antibiotic included, plus L-Lysine (an amino acid that helps knock out the herpes virus in many cats).

Because we suspected a horrid disease as the cause of Baby Bell's death, panleukopenia, EVERYTHING had to be sterilized... from linen (I washed 7 loads/day w/10% bleach), to counters, to utensils (I had to switch to plastic), to floors, cages, laundry... me... every time I came in contact with a cat box, cat, linen, water bowl... gads. What a nightmare.

I switched to paper plates and bought a dozen cat scoops and gallons of bleach (something I don't like to use because it is also a poison and has to be used very carefully around animals, especially babies).

We didn't lose another cat or kitten. It probably wasn't panleuk (death rate is extremely high and the virus is resistant to freezing and heat up to 133 degrees C and persists in the environment for a VERY long time) but we had to do the incredible protocol nonetheless. My other rescues are in lock down.

To say I am tired is an understatement.

But as of today, we are three weeks out from the last of them coming, so I can relax a bit.

Nine of the kittens rather than being in iso kennels, are now having a blast in their playpen with a giant cardboard box with holes in it, a bunch of toys, food and neat-o bedding. The remaining six, including the two cats who are functionally blind, and those with extreme conditions such as Jupiter and Mercury (whose detatched pupil has pierced his cornea... argh) are not able to enjoy this fun and freedom just yet. I HAVE done all I can to make them comfortable and secure, but until they are stronger and get their surgeries, it is all I can do.

With kittens, you have to keep their nails cut short anyway as they are little razors, and these guys require constant attention to nails given their very fragile and sick eyes. I have honed my clipping skills to lightening speed--the upside.

Today, it only took me 4 hours to clean and feed and another couple to do the laundry and wash windows (a couple of very large cages are up against the large front window so they can watch the birdies). The afternoon feeding cleaning took about 1.5 hours. Evening was a cinch. I scoop boxes VERY frequently because, well you know how it is when you come across a dirty toilet... cats aren't any different.

Of the adults, two of the five females came in pregnant (of course!). We managed to spay all but one of the adults prior to birth, and she had five kittens the second night (a Sunday) she was here. She was SO stressed she ate three of her kittens. The remaining two are fine and appear herpes free, but I am quite concerned about one that is too thin. She is a very sensitive mom and I borrowed a huge crate from another rescue and set it up to allow her the utmost privacy.

The poor two males have gotten the least attention, and must be neutered... but first things first.

So... this is why you haven't seen me around much for a while!

The good news is that I have another group putting out a funding letter for me, and Best Friends is helping with a $1,000.00 grant which should get some eyes done quickly. I am also working with other groups hoping to get help for the spays/neuters and to help cover other costs. It's a full time job, and then some. We are also appealing to other national groups asking for help, but it's like taking on the Queen Mary in a row boat. So I just paddle as fast as I can.

All this because of a mental illness, hoarding.

It has been just heartbreaking.

Thank you for inquiring about me (and Fred, thanks for the note). I'm alive
(maybe not well), but at least things are now looking up!