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Say Hello to Foster Tripawd Cat Caithe and Sad Foster News

This photogenic beauty is Caithe (shelter name Tommyanne), a total sweetheart who sustained major injuries to her front leg and pelvis. I took her into foster the day after her amputation surgery, which was approximately a week after her intake. She has been with us for about three weeks, has gotten her sutures removed and is doing wonderfully healing wise. Much like Grandma Houdini before her, she was incredibly difficult to keep in ecollars or even onesies. The vet staff came up with the idea of using a thundershirt, which was perfect.

Now I need to pick one up to have on hand for similarily difficult fosters in the future. She has 4-6 weeks left of crate rest, but her playful and high energy nature means that she’s not the biggest fan of that.

She also really, really loves blankets.

The same day, I also took home a momma cat and her three tabby kittens (with an excessive amount of legs :P).

And I’ve had “narrowly avoided becoming a tripod” senior foster cat Sun since May. She sustained serious injuries when she escaped from her home and spent 2 months as a stray. She got a tenectomy to correct her carpal contracture and save her leg from amputation. She’s now walking around like nothing ever happened, and this 13 year old is just FILLED with character and the best creaky old lady meow. She also has a ton of character, and earned the nickname Grandma Houdini for literally escaping from her splint three days in a row!!

It’s definitely a full house of fosters!

However, I also have incredibly sad news.

Content warning: pet death mentions

The last 2-3 weeks have been very challenging on the foster front, which is why I haven’t updated since my announcement of a new foster tripod. Caithe is fine and has been recovering beautifully. However, tragedy struck the litter of kittens. After a week of having them, the kittens developed diarrhea (read: I went to the foster room to feed them one morning and poop was smeared everywhere).

My first thought was that their little tummies were just sensitive to the food changes. Diarrhea can be really serious for kittens, so our foster protocol is to immediately schedule a vet visit with our in-house vet at the shelter. The kittens were otherwise fine, playing like the little murderfloofs that they are. We got them into their carrier and they were not too thrilled about this prospect.

The appointment took awhile, and due to space constraints and policy we’re not allowed to go back with the fosters. I figured they just got busy with emergencies, which often happens in an open admission shelter. Instead, our foster coordinator found us and delivered the devastating news: all of the kittens have panleukopenia. I nearly puked when she told me.

This illness is highly contagious, does not get killed by standard disinfectants, and the prognosis is incredibly grim for young kittens. It’s one of the three illnesses that a standard FVRCP cat vaccination covers (please please please keep up with the boosters on this, the virus itself can last for OVER A YEAR and it’s present in a ton of places due to unvaccinated cats). Our little guys were only 7 weeks old, and tested a strong positive on the insta-test that we use. They were humanely euthanized as they were beginning the fast downward spiral associated with panleuk. We tried to give Flake, Sora and Riku a chance at a happy forever home, but it turns out that our job was to love them as much as we possibly could during the short week they were with us.

The momma cat, who we named Siren, did not test positive on the insta-test. Our shelter’s panleuk protocol is to try and save anyone from the litter who does not test positive, and I was given the option to do so. Obviously I said yes. It requires two rounds of testing, where her poop gets sent out to a lab and we wait 2-5 days for the results, over the 14 day incubation period for panleukopenia. Currently, we’re on the last test of the second round of testing and in the 2-5 day waiting period. Siren has no clinical signs of the disease, and is in good health other than an eye infection that probably developed from stress.

I have been a mess since this happened. The suddenness of things reminded me so much of how Tripod suddenly went into congestive heart failure. While you go into fostering, especially fostering kittens for an open admission shelter, you go in with the understanding that not every kitten is going to make it. Everyone who has fostered kittens eventually has to confront a death.

But to see the kittens alive and Flake playing with her mom one minute, and the next collapsing in the back hallway where the public in the shelter can’t see you, waiting for them to finish with Siren and bring her back out. It’s hell. I bear this pain because I want to be a voice for the voiceless, and give these cats the chance they deserve for a safe, happy and healthy life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tear me up. Everyone has been wonderfully supportive at the shelter, and we’re all crossing our paws for Siren.

I also had to toss anything pourous that was back in the foster room, and Siren has to stay contained back there until we have the all clear. I’m also not permitted to volunteer with the cats at the shelter until we get the all clear, and we’re unable to have kitten fosters for the next six months. The room and any area that any of the litter touched was also cleaned with an industrial cleaner designed specifically to deactivate panleukopenia and other difficult viruses.

When I go in to see Siren, I change into a completely different set of clothes, put on a plastic isolation gown, and tell her how sorry I am that we couldn’t do anything for her babies but stop the pain.


  • #   paws120 on 07.02.18 at 10:01 pm     Reply

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I have had the same thing happen with distemper and it is just heart wrenching. You are correct, if you foster enough you see things good and you see things awful. The successes in saving lives and finding them forever homes are what keeps you coming back. You know that at least those little ones went peacefully and not suffering out in the streets somewhere. They also knew love and kindness.. so many never get to experience that.

  • #   Purrkins on 07.02.18 at 10:57 pm     Reply

    Hi Cathe and grandma Houdini
    Excellent idea on the thundershirt I want to get one for Saxton’s brother for the thunderstorms. The never-ending wishlist!

    Oh no that is everyone’s worst nightmare come true so sorry to read this. How scary and sad for everyone involved! I wondered about the new ones coming in, makes complete sense you that you can not take in any for six months. You did help those babies; unfortunately, that was your role to love them & care for them & to let them go and not suffer. Of course, it is devasting you save more than not, and that will continue.

    Sending hugs paws crossed for Siren!
    Holly, Purrkins & Saxton❤️

  • #   jerry on 07.06.18 at 6:19 pm     Reply

    My heart hurt when I read what happened to the kitties, I”m so sorry! That condition sounds terrifying, I imagine you all felt so helpless. Thankfully you are so conscientious and knew what to do to help care for them in their too short lives. I’m so sorry and thank you for being so good to kitties who need this kind of care and love most of all.

    Good idea for the Thundershirt! Looks like more hoppy TriKitties are on the mend, thank you for that too!

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