Saturday, July 21, 2012

Our New Family Member

OK, what have I been doing this week in my spare time you ask? Well, we have a new unexpected family member I wanted to tell everyone about. Here's the story...

Jamie and I took a long needed break last weekend and went up to the mountains in Tucker co (WV). We've been going up there for several years for getaway weekends, and especially enjoy it during the summer because it gives us an opportunity to unplug and get back to nature. Hiking, kayaking, biking, wildlife, old growth forest and all that. There are places up there that are very remote, and thus have no Internet or cel phone access, and we love that. Plus it's one of the darkest places (at night) left on the east coast and the night sky there is simply amazing.

So anyway, we stayed late last Sunday and came home pretty late, starting the 4 hour trek back home around 11:00pm. We usually come back home via US50, which is a twisty single lane road that runs through the mountains, but since it was so late and I was concerned about the deer on the road, we decided to come back via the southern route on the new dual lane US55 which now has been completed between Formen and Wardensville WV. It's a little further, but much safer driving late at night. So instead of making our half way potty stop in Romney on US50, we made it in Moorefield (both towns have Sheets stores, which are open 24/7 and have gas/food/ and restrooms). So here we are, coming out of the Sheets in Moorefield around 1:30am Monday morning with sandwiches and sodas in our hands when we stumbled across a little orange Kitten on the sidewalk surrounded by a group of 9 or 10 slack jawed gawkers who were commenting about how cute it was but were not making any moves to do anything to help it at all.

Jamie and I have been cat people all our lives, and knew this kitten was in big trouble. First, it was clear he was really sick, dehydrated, and emaciated - plus he was very dirty, and he was so small could not have been more than 4 or 5 weeks old. He was very friendly though, so it was clear he was not feral. The crew at the Sheetz said he had been there hanging around the store parking lot since around 9pm. We figured he came from a family litter and some asshole must have dumped him close by because he was sick and they could not afford to take him to the vet. The two cats (girls) that we currently have had for 5 years were originally ASPCA rescues from a litter that some fuck hole left in a dumpster inside a styrofoam cooler to die - but someone found them in time and took them to a local shelter. We have always gotten our cats from the shelter or from rescue - it's a rule here.

This little guy was clearly very weak, and was either going to get run over in the parking lot or die soon of dehydration. When we first saw him a guy was shooing him away from the front door of the Sheetz to keep him from getting crushed in it or stepped on. Being basically in the middle of no where and still hours away from civilization, we bought some water and asked the store manager for a cardboard box. Some guy who had been standing there doing nothing but looking at him the whole time thanked me for taking him. I told that guy in no uncertain terms to screw off, and Jamie put the little guy in the cardboard box, put the box in her lap, and we set off for home figuring that if he expired before we got there at least he was with us and not under someones truck tire. Jamie tried to give him water on the way home, but he was frothing at the mouth and I figured he had gotten into something toxic (like licking diesel fuel or antifreeze) and would only live a few more hours. His eyes were swollen and almost completely crusted shut, and he was lethargic, breathing shallow, and moving very little.

When we got him home he was still hanging on, so we setup our big cat cage (which is actually a dog cage) in the garage (we had to segregate him from our other cats because he was sick), wrapped him in some spare towels, and tried to get him to take water. We stayed up with him all night applying warm compresses to his face to try to clean up some of the hard crust that was keeping his eyes shut and brushing the dirt and grim out of his fur - and after a couple of hours he finally stopped frothing at the mouth and took a little water. We were very happy about this, because it meant he had a chance to survive. Exhausted, we finally left him sleeping safe in his cage around 6am and grabbed a couple hours sleep. The next morning Jamie got up early and ran him up to our vet to get treated. The vet told us he was in really bad shape, and had a number of problems including a severe eye and respiratory infection, and some other more minor problems like ear mites. He was also dehydrated, weak, and probably hadn't eaten in at least 2 days.

Jamie called me and I ran out and picked up some KMR (a good mothers milk replacement), some solid kitten food and a high calorie nutritional supplement. The supplement is like a paste and you can put a little on your finger and get him to lick it off, and a sick cat can usually take that even if they can't pallet solid food yet. After more warm compresses, brushing, and a little mothers milk during the course of the day given via a syringe and later a bottle, his eyes started to look a lot better. We also started him on an antibiotic regimen via syringe, and the vet gave us and flush and special antibiotic drops for his eyes to treat that infection too.

We worked remotely from home on Monday and Tuesday so we could take turns caring for him, and after 2 days he was clearly feeling better, the infections were starting to clear up and he even started to take a little solid food, and then lap mothers milk and also regular water out of a bowl. By Wednesday he finally started to purr when he was being groomed and had an audible meow again, and by Thursday he started to get a little playful where up until then all he did was pretty much sleep. He even looks like he's put on a little weight.

So I think we've got him over the hump and that he won't have any major problems going forward. We haven't gotten much sleep this week though, so that's what I'm going to be catching up on this weekend. Because of the infections and the mites, he'll probably have to stay segregated from our other cat's for two or three weeks because we cannot treat the mites until he is healthier, plus we have to make sure his infections are completely gone. Since our other two cats are all orange and he looks just like them, we've decided to keep him and add him to our family here. Our current cats are named after characters from Dune (Alia and Chani), so we're going to name this little guy Duke Leto. After all, the sleeper must awaken...

Here's some pictures of Duke Leto, taken today and feeling and looking MUCH better:

See, he'll fit right in over here... :-)


Steven Diggs Jr. said...

He is cute. Thankfully people like you two were around to rescue him. I applaud your efforts.

Eric Potter said...

He really couldn't ignore the camera, could he?

Very, very sweet. Thank you for sharing and making my afternoon!

Sarah Amanda said...

You are so amazing to take the cat in. Just imagining the little guy wandering around for 2 days and not eating or drinking made me cry!
He is so lucky to have you both as parents~

Sarah Amanda said...

You two are so amazing to take that little guy in.
Just imagining him wandering around for days not eating or drinking made me cry!
He is so, so lucky to have you both as parents. It's not often you find people who are willing to sacrifice their time like that for an animal they didn't originally plan to keep. :)

Doug said...

Good for you!!

In November 2010, my son was driving up here (high desert) on the freeway from Los Angeles when he saw the people in the car in front of him throw a kitten out the window. He pulled over and picked her up, drove on up here, and left her at an animal hospital to see whether she had internal injuries. Well, she had what yours did - malnutrition, dehydration, eye and ear problems, as well as scrapes and bruises, but no fractures or internal problems.

We had a friendly family argument over who would adopt her, and she has now been with us since then. She's a purebred Siamese, and the most lovable little cat I've ever seen.

How people can do these things entirely escapes me. First of all to mistreat an animal, and then to try to kill it. It just leaves me speechless.

Harold said...

What is his fave sgi-fi movie? and don't say "Dune".

Robert said...

He likes to wrap himself up in a towel and say:

I are Dune Cat,
I controls the Spice,
I controls the Universe! -_^

Anonymous said...

this little guys story just breaks my heart.. bless you folks for taking the little guy in, and caring for him..! in the pictures you posted, you can just see the trust and love in his eyes.. he knows that he's one lucky little guy. :)

Robert said...

Thanks so much. We had not expected to add another family member anytime soon, but we're really glad we found him.