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Les Miserables

Wednesday
5/26/2010

Sly, Robbie, and their mom Samantha are living the good life in the 50K villa. Spring-like weather means we've kept the window cracked, and they've been able to watch and listen to birds in the bamboo outside. Three or four servings of canned food disappear from the dinner dish on a daily basis, and everyone looks clean and strong.

And the boys already have an approved application from a couple who'd like to adopt them! The couple visited Monday evening and brought them toys! It doesn't get much better than that, and that's the good news this week at 50K.

But the real story is 20 feet down the hall in the nursery, and what's happening there makes this one of the saddest weeks in our five years of kitten fostering.

On Monday morning I picked up five kittens from a very experienced fosterer who had to leave town for a week. These kittens were starting to develop URI symptoms when she left, but luckily her housesitter works at a nearby animal shelter and is completely fluent in kitten care.

But the housesitter works 10-hour shifts from Monday to Thursday, and these kittens needed feeding, meds, and nebulizing every 4-6 hours. Four of the original nine kittens in a combined litter had already died. We agreed to take the kittens Monday and return them Friday, when our fellow fosterer was returning home.

What no one knew or expected was how rapidly this litter's URI symptoms would progress to pneumonia. By the time I picked them up, their breathing was audible from across the room and their eyes were horribly inflamed. The housesitter had been able to syringe-feed them to some degree, but after we got them home, one by one they began to resist being fed. When it becomes a battle to get a few cc of Nutrical into them, it's tough for them to recover. We nebulize them and inject fluids, but their lungs continue to deteriorate.

Yesterday afternoon, the weakest and smallest of the five died. By noon it was clear to me the end was near, and I considered taking her out to our fosterer friend's shelter for euthanasia. But since I didn't know how long she'd survive, I also didn't know if driving her out there would lessen her suffering or increase it. She died at 2:30pm.

When Martha got home, we decided wed move quicker the next time we saw the telltale symptoms: agitation and wandering, flopping over, occasional sqawks. We set off for the Fairfax shelter at 7:30pm with the second and third smallest, then ran into horrific traffic. When we got to the shelter it was almost 9pm. We consulted with the after-hours caretaker and agreed she would EU the smallest and we'd take the tortie home for another night.

At the midnight feeding, all three surviving kits resisted syringe and bottle-feeding. This morning they all look weaker than they did yesterday morning, but the two largest were willing to eat a little. The tortie fought us tooth and nail.

My guess is we'll be driving back out to the shelter with one, two, or all three of Les Miserables within the next 24 hours.

filed by: TS

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