The teenaged girl sat crumpled in the floor of our examination room, sobbing loudly. I evaluated the kitten’s problems as her father and older sister sat on the bench, waiting.
Instinctively, they all knew the verdict as well as I did, but waited for me to make it official: “I’m sorry, but the kitten is beyond help. It’s best that we let her go.”
This hurt was preventible.
As was the inevitable recurrence.
We call it “fire engine medicine,” the worst kind of avoidable pet health problems that are allowed to worsen until there is a crisis. Or even a catastrophe, such as this one.
In this case the ingredients of the recipe were nature, combined with man’s unwillingness or inability to control it, creating an end product of heartache.
A friend gave the family a kitten. The family never took the kitten to see a doctor for preventive care or reproductive tract surgery. And they allowed the kitten to roam outdoors.
The unvaccinated kitten interacted with neighborhood strays and became infected with a variety of diseases.
She also became “infected” with pregnancy.
The family never noticed.
A little over two months later the kitten has kittens and, at about two weeks of age, the litter and the whole family arrive in our examination room. The mother kitten has generously shared her variety of diseases with the defenseless newborns.
A basket is filled with sick babies. One has been so sick for so long that she’s not going to make it. All are heavily parasitized with intestinal worms that could even be transmitted to the family. The next two weeks will be touch-and-go for the other five. That is, IF the Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus tests are negative.
I’d like to say that this story has a happy ending, but, we’ve already lost one kitten.
But, at least the Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus tests did turn out to be negative.
We did successfully treat the remaining kittens and get them through a full series of kitten vaccinations.
I’d still like to say that the story has a happy ending, but that’s the end of the story.
The mother cat never had spay surgery. None of the kittens were altered. None have been back for followup preventive care.
And it’s just a matter of time until the whole scenario is repeated. All because no one cared enough to provide basic care for one precious kitten.
As a father and grandfather, I ask myself, “What wouldn’t I do to prevent one of my loved ones from heartache?”
As veterinarians, your pet’s doctor wants to provide you and your pets the opportunity to avoid the avoidable and keep your pets healthy and happy.