A couple weeks ago, I was asked to care for 5 orphaned kittens that were left in a box on the steps of a church in a nearby town. Most of my experience is with adult and feral cats, but I am okay with hand feeding for a few days. My time caring for the kittens got longer until, starting last Monday, July 1st, I ended up with them full time.
Within a day or two, one of the kittens stopped taking the bottle. Because they are right about 4 weeks old, I offered her canned food, which she gobbled up. After that, she refused the bottle altogether. This was well and good, as she was eating well, until I ran out of the canned food she loved so much. The shelter I volunteer for provides the food, and replaced the food with a completely different brand and flavor. She refused that as well. A day later, I managed to get cans of the original food she had loved (which is going out little by little and getting hard to find), but she refused it as well.
The next thing I knew, this little tiny life that was in my hands was in danger. And I did not have the experience to save her.
I contacted the shelter owner, and she came over with Lactated Ringers (bag of fluids, like what you see hanging on IV hooks in the hospital) and needles. We gave her some fluids subcutaneously (this I am familiar with, as I have done it a million times with adult cats). The difference was, this little thing was much harder to get some loose skin on and way too small for a line running down; hence we used a needle and syringe and gave the fluids like a shot.
Two days and she was not getting any better. She had diarrhea severely, refused any food other than a tiny bit of human meat flavored baby food (chicken flavor to be exact), and I was force feeding her formula. Even with the formula, the fluids several times a day and some baby food, plus some appetite stimulants and tummy settling meds, she was just not getting better!
At this point, I knew I needed extra help. The shelter owner had provided me with all the information she could, so I contacted a friend whom I know is an expert at caring for kittens. She came over and took a look at the kitten. She said she has seen worse. She brought with her all sorts of “weapons” to cure whatever might be ailing this little cutie, including dewormers, anti-diarrheals, Nutri-Cal and special prescription foods. She explained that first we need to get rid of her diarrhea and that this kitten was not too bad off… her gums were still pink and I had given her fluids so she was hydrated.
I talked to her, asking if she could maybe take the kitten for a day to get her “jump started.” I knew she could do more for her than I could, and I was moving my horse to a new barn (third barn in a week… long story) and was stressed enough and was not going to be home. Since it was weekend, she would be home, so she agreed.
This is where we stand now. I will get the kitten back tomorrow night, hopefully in a better state and on her way to eating once again.