How to Be a Sucker for Kittens 101 (If you can get past the maggots)
In my case, all you have to do to be a sucker for a kitten is get home late from work and nearly trip over the mangled body of a maggot-ridden rat—oh God no—it’s a kitten!
A well-intentioned neighbor, apparently desirous of anonymity in case kitten stress should befall him, must have left him on my doorstep. How NOT to Be a Sucker for Kittens 101 is clearly something this individual has down pat.
Bloodied from its mid-section on down, all I could see on this three day-old feline specimen was a writhing sea of micro-maggots having a romp in two large, open wounds low down over his haunches.
He was somewhat mobile, using his legs in that flailing way kittens do, so it seemed reasonable that he might be capable of surviving even this degree of injury (probably a dog bite).
All this I absorbed in a microsecond, throwing down my bundles (but not my laptop) and trading them for this little white, rat-like kitten, which I wrapped in my scrubtop.
It’s seven o’clock on July the 3rd and it’s back to work…
So you know, maggots disgust me more than anything else I have to deal with in this biz. I can handle mangled limbs, oozing abscesses, pools of blood, infected anal glands and severe periodontal disease (though this last one makes me gag, too—the stench!). But nothing gets to me like a cluster of maggots colonizing a wound.
Partly, I just get mad at the maggots—get out of there you horrible parasites!—though I know they’re just doing their thing. In fact, an early infection of maggots can be good for some wounds, debriding the dead flesh first and helping me determine the timing of the wound.
But when maggots start making new opportunistic inroads (as in the case of this kitty’s anus) I start to get truly angry…and truly grossed out.
Every vet has a different way of approaching maggots. Some dunk the animal in a vat of hydrogen peroxide or disinfectant. Others pull them off with gauze sponges, forceps or hemostats. But in a small creature like this with tiny, day-old maggots, I prefer a dilute disinfectant solution sprayed on with a large syringe and a 22-guage needle. This method offers just the right amount of pressure to send the grubs spinning without actually harming the living tissue beneath them.
To make it all possible, a pain relieving intra-muscular injection (buprenorphine in this case), along with some gas anesthesia delivered through a red rubber catheter (we have no trach tubes that fit three day-old kittens), kept him from feeling the worst.
Subcutaneous fluids (10 cc for this four ounce creature seemed like more than enough, though it disappeared into his dehydrated flesh in a flash), intramuscular antibiotics (ampicillin) and a thin coating of triple-antibiotic ointment on the wounds (can’t bandage them) completed my ministrations.
An hour later he was sucking down the cat milk replacer in short bursts. Success!
Now, thirty-six hours later, he’s driving me crazy. He’s the kind of kitten who wants to eat every hour but refuses to take more than a few choice slurps at a time. And he cries pitifully until I hold him, at which point he happily sleeps on my arm. Only four days old and already he’s got me trained.
In case I had nothing else to do this long weekend (and I don’t), my hours are full-up with kitten detail. All I need now is a queen to take him on. Know any willing moms in the Miami area?
Here are some pics: