Things in Miami don’t happen the way they do in the rest of the US. Unlicensed usage of dangerous chemicals is my newest example. After being accidentally fumigated with a variety of bug-killing chemicals (whose true provenance we’ll likely never know), this gorgeous kitten suffered a variety of neurologic effects that ultimately rendered him homeless.

I know what you’re going to say. What kind of an idiot fumigates his own cat with an unlicensed purveyor of chemicals then can’t bother to take proper responsibility for the outcome? 

But a story is never as straightforward or as two-dimensional as we might like it to be. In this case the elderly owner was taken by an unscrupulous exterminator (these things happen far more often to the elderly, as you probably know). The kitten was supposed to be secluded in one room of the home but, in his confusion, the owner had left the door ajar––or so says the merchant.

The kitten was “fine” the first day. The day after the fumigation he was “quieter than normal.” And by the following morning the ten week-old seal-point was unable to hold his head upright and appeared to have lost his vision entirely. 

Though it was difficult to obtain a list of the chemicals employed, the exterminator eventually complied with the ASPCA Poison Control’s investigation via AT&T telephone interpreter. 

The upshot? The chemicals listed by the fumigator should not have caused the kind of neurological signs we were observing. An extreme head tilt, blindness (despite a normal pupillary light reflex) and ataxia (off balance-ness and generalized “wobbliness”). According to the list, tremors or seizures should have been the thing, if anything––not this. (A pyrethrin toxin was at the top of the fumigator’s list.) 

Conclusion: Either this process had nothing to do with the fumigation (unlikely, given the timing and my previous experience with a well-tested, healthy kitten as recently as of one week before the event), the kitten was experiencing an “adverse” reaction to one of the fumigation ingredients, OR....the unlicensed fumigator was not telling the truth in its entirety.

It’s Miami. I’ll take door number three, please.

Indeed, repeat testing of this kitten found nothing of interest. We bathed him with Dawn (my go-to product for reducing topical poison exposure), soaked his veins with fluids, and plied him with activated charcoal for good measure. 

After a couple of days, the kitten regained his sight, despite an inability to focus. Four days later, his head-tilt was still pronounced, but improved. One week after the inadvertent kitten fumigation procedure...and the kitten’s still not quite right, but he’s no longer blind––and sooooo lap-cat sweet. Here he is with one of our staff’s children:

But normality is still a way’s away. That’s why his owner’s agent, his daughter, has rescinded all rights to the kitten. If he can’t be “normal,” it’s not right for her father to keep him. After all, she says, her father is a [very] elderly gentleman who cannot properly care for an invalid kitten. Never mind that the kitten can eat, drink, use the litterbox, play with toys, etc.

Nonetheless, I can’t exactly blame her. Though the kitten is looking better every day, with excellent hopes for a complete recovery given the pace of his improvement, a week was her cutoff date, it seems. Why continue to stress out her father with a sick kitten when there are so many healthy ones out there? (And no, this case is NOT about the money.)

Sad. But understandable, I guess, from a protective daughter’s point of view––more so if you understand her history with neurologic cases. 

Still, I have a master plan. I intend to keep little Gaston in my care until he’s 100% (with any luck, he’ll get there in a couple of weeks). I will then approach the owner’s daughter with the fruits of my labor and offer to place him back with Dad.

Except for the fumigation incident, everything else points to a wonderful, loving relationship between the two parties: gentleman and kitten. How can I possibly break that bond over an accident that’s highly unlikely to be repeated? (Yes, he fired the fumigator.) 

All I want is that amazing relationship back. So can you blame me for all my “stealth” maneuvers?