Guest Blogger: Animal Friends’ Volunteer and Blog Contest Honorable Mention Diane Friske
Last August, I was asked if I would take over the fostering of a very small kitten. Because all the “fostering rooms” at the Friske Foster House were not filled, I immediately said yes. Molly came to stay with us and she was little. As a matter of fact, she was still a bottle baby. In addition to needing to be fed with a bottle, she also had some medical issues to contend with. Molly’s back side was red, raw, and swollen as a result of continuous leakage of bowel.
Molly was a loving kitten and purred constantly. She needed to be cleaned frequently due to her bowel problems and when doing this she would cry out and then continue her purring. I thought of ways to improve the condition of her backside. I would clean her with cool compresses and then pat her dry. Initially, I tried Vaseline. Then I tried A&D ointment. I figured if it was good enough to help with a baby’s diaper rash it should be good enough for a kitten’s sore bottom. I finally had better results with Bag Balm, which is an ointment that farmers use to treat chapped teats of a cow. Don’t ask me how I know that.
Molly’s bottom improved and almost looked normal. She continued to have leaking bowel and it was painful to watch her try to groom herself. She would try to clean herself and cry out because it hurt her but she knew that was what cats were supposed to do. She would run to the litter box, only to pass gas and have the stool drip out as she exited the box. The floor was covered with towels and each day there was a basket full of towels and washcloths to be laundered.
Various medications and different foods were tried to help and improve this problem. During this time, she developed ringworm and that meant that each week she had to be given a medicated bath. As you all know, cats are not fond of baths. Molly tolerated these baths and continued with her purring.
Molly loved to play with a ball and also run and hide. She loved to be held and would always reach up with her little paw and touch my cheek. I continued to try various foods but nothing seemed to work. I finally decided to stop all the store bought food. I read what ingredients were in store bought foods and was surprised to learn about all the additives that were also there, even in the most expensive ones. I then decided to make my own kitten food. Every other day, I boiled a chicken breast, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, barley, steamed carrots and peas, hard boiled eggs, crushed up egg shells. I mixed these up and added some water to meal size portions. Molly ate everything but still had leakage problems. I then thought that maybe with all the antibiotics she had been given, not only were the bad germs killed but possibly all the good germs were also killed. So I started adding some organic Greek yogurt to her food. She ate that. It was suggested that I may want to try giving her some pumpkin in order to add fiber. She really liked the pumpkin. It was like her dessert.
She gained weight and even grew some although she remained far behind what was normal. I knew that unless a chef or someone who loved to cook and wash towels adopted her, that she would have to be weaned onto store bought food. So I attempted to gradually add a little of the most expensive kitten food that I could find. For a short period this appeared to help but her leaking stool continued. She began to lose weight.
One weekend I noticed that she appeared to be depressed. She did not want to play and she did not want to eat her pumpkin. She had been in my bathroom all this time because of the leaking stool and then the ringworm. On that day though, I promised her that I would get her out of the bathroom. I have a 3 story cat condo that can be taken outside and the cats can enjoy the fresh air without running off. So the next day, I set the condo up outside the bathroom door and covered the floor so no stool could get on the carpet. Molly could go in and out of the bathroom and watch my cats and all the activity outside of her room. She sat in the condo all day.
I put her back in her room at bedtime and before I went to bed I looked in on her. I was surprised to see that she had vomited as she hadn’t eaten much that day. I cleaned that up and returned to my bed. I could not get to sleep so about 45 minutes later, I got up to check on her again. When I went into her room I saw that she had vomited twice more. She looked very lethargic and sad. I picked her up and sat with her. Soon I knew that she was not going to make it, that she was dying. As I was holding her and crying I asked her to please don’t die, please get better. Molly reached up with her little paw and touched my cheek. With that gesture I knew that I was asking for the wrong thing. I then told her that it was okay if she left. That she no longer had to fight or be sick. That I would be alright and so would she. Molly died at 2:30am on November 19, 2012. This little kitten taught me that sometimes the miracle is not the one we hope for.
I could not have done this without the support, kindness, patience, and encouragement from the medical staff at Animal Friends, those who taught me how to make my own kitten food, those who scoured pet stores for the best kitten food made to give to her, Dr. Porge for sharing the pathology report which eased my pain, my husband, and the other staff members and volunteers who shared my tears at the end.
Diane Friske received an Honorable Mention in our volunteer blog contest! Congratulations and thank you, Diane!