Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sorry, good-bye.

One of our good clients, who uses her own money and time to rescue lots of cats, dropped off 3 kittens for me to see today. They had been examined earlier in the week by another doctor, who diagnosed ringworm and a mild upper respiratory virus, as well as general unthriftiness.

Since then, one of the kittens had died, and the rest got worse. The mom, who only weighed a little more than 4 pounds herself and was "wild as a hare," had abandoned the litter in a move for survival. Not a good sign.

The kittens were in a pile. Two of them were scrawny, emaciated and dehydrated. Their little noses were so clogged with snot, they were breathing open-mouthed. Cats make really thick, impenetrable mucus, and they cannot blow their noses. They looked at me with distant, goopy eyes and mewed weakly. Their skin was patchy with hair loss and crust. Their bottoms were soiled. One of them had crackles in his tiny lungs, the other I couldn't hear lung sounds at all. When I put them down, they huddled again in a pile.

There was one orange kitten, though, who was sitting up, meowing and sneezing, snotty-nosed but quite full of personality. He weighed 1 pound, while his littermates were just 0.5 lbs, and his temp was normal when theirs was very low.

I applied saline to all of their noses to loosen the snot, gave the failing ones some subcutaneous fluids, and called the client. "Do everything you can, if you think you can save them." Oh, boy. I wanted to save them, but I really felt like even if I did a lot for these guys, they would die on me. I told her that they were suffering. "What should I do?" she asked. I told her she should let the two failing ones go, and focus her efforts on the perky "red-head." She agreed.

I gave the little kitties a sedative, and they huddled by their big brother and fell asleep. Then I overdosed them, and they died peacefully. It made me sadder than I thought it would. I can fight a lot of ills, but these two had too much going against them (pneumonia, virus, fungal infection), and no reserves to shore up their immune system. I knew it was the right decision, but I still hated it.

The little orange kitty got nebulized (a treatment with aerosolized medications) and a new antibiotic, along with his previous medications. He'll pull through, and I'll see him for a recheck in 2 weeks. He is a survivor.


Jess said...

oh...what a post. sometimes the best thing you can do is just let them go.

if it makes you feel any better, i would never want anything or anyone to suffer so's inhumane to let them suffer, at least they went peacefully.

mainlyclearskies said...

Oh that is so sad. I agree with Jess, I would rather have them go peacefully than to suffer.

peevish said...

Poor kitties, and I wonder what happened to the mom? I sure hope the orange one does well with the great care he is getting.

Emily said...

Oh, how sad. I feel for the little kitties and for you. Glad at least one of the litter is a survivor.

get2eric said...

After a shitty evening, that makes me feel even shittier.
But thanks for the humane post.