The war I may not win?

I wonder if this is a war we may not win. We have certainly lost a few battles and the things did not turn out as I expected.

I had to mix the first batch of medicine against TF with a protection mask on my face and put in the cats’ mouth. It took about 2 hours every day to medicate them all. They of course did not like that. Sometimes they drooled. It did not taste that well, perhaps. But maybe it was not THAT bad, since the most were not drooling or spitting it out. The medicine we got was ‘produced’ in Sweden, but actually it is just a cheap powder for birds, 10% Ronidazole that they imported from Germany, repacked it, and sold it to us about 70 times the commercial price in Germany. But what were our options? Ronidazole is obtained only via license in Sweden.

The powder made for birds was not the appropriate form to give to cats; it is the very formulation that scientist and one of the world’s most famous researcher on TF in cats, Jody Gookin is against, since you cannot guarantee the dose that cats get is exact every time. Some cats get cured from it, some don’t. I read about cases on German discussion boards where cats died. Ours did not have any side effects, and I am happy for that, although they did not get cured.

We tested the cats as a part of the study we are in 2 weeks after the finished treatment and only Claire and Miii were negative. All six kittens were still positive and also four of our big cats. So, only 2 out of 12 cats were negative after a 2200 EUR treatment (20 000 SEK) and a lot of time and effort from our side! That felt like a disaster.

I saw no pattern there. Claire and Jossan were isolated with the kittens, and Claire licked the small bottoms all the time, so she should have been positive. But, she was not. (It could have been a one-time thing, but she was tested a month later, and she was still negative.)

Also, Maven, who is not a Siamese, has her own toilet box (she likes Pee-Wee, Siamese hate it), got really bad and she was alone in one room, since poor thing had watery diarrhoea.

Two-three kittens got a bit better at start of the treatment, but after a week they started having soft smelly stool and blood in it. I tested them immediately after the finished treatment (that test was not a part of the study) and they were positive. 😦 Ronidazole just did not seem to work. I wondered if TF our cats had was resistant to the medication, but then, Claire and Miii got negative. They could have gotten TF-negative on their own, though, that is not impossible. They got it 5-6 months before the time they got retested, and sometimes cats can get rid of TF on their own during that time (9 months in average).

But no kittens could move to their new homes, since their owners-to-be already had other (TF-free) cats and I also wanted to cure the small and big ones.

To cut the story shorter, and omit many details – the new medicines were ordered, our veterinary found the new company that could get it for us, this time in capsules, from England, good form (100% Ronidazole). Surprisingly enough, they were cheaper, and although kittens got up in weight (the dose is proportional to the weight, the dose is 30mg/kg, so if your cats weigh more, you pay more), we paid about 75% of the price for the first batch. And the form of the medicine was good, and capsules are so much easier (and less risky for my health) to give.

Our veterinary suggested that the kittens should move to their new homes and be medicated there, to minimise the risk for re-infection at home, since we had so many cats. At the same time, it is not a good way to bond with your kitten you’ve just got with putting the pills every day for two weeks in its mouth. I proposed to the future owners of the kittens who had homes who waited for them to get them immediately after the treatment was done. There were risks, but also, it was better for many reasons – if someone else at home still had TF and its quantities grew again, the cured ones could get it back. The cats were isolated, but not one and one, we found that pretty much impossible.

One owner to be took her kitten 4 days before the medicating was done, and finished it at home. Another couple took their kitten home immediately when the treatment was done. One decided to wait. One was travelling abroad, and could not pick her kitten. One kitten’s future owner changed her mind (not because of TF, but because of a beauty fault that the kitten developed; she was supposed to go into her breeding program). Dexter we did not have heart to sell.

As I write this, I am still waiting for the results of the tests after the second Ronidazole treatment. The cats at home had an occasional diarrhoea after the treatment, but right now they seem fine. The two kittens that moved are well in their tummies, and no foul smell, and the cats that they live with are also well in their tummies. No matter what the results of the tests are, I would have made the same decision as the ones who took the kittens did, but I did not want to decide for others. There was not right or wrong here, only “risky in this way”, or “risky in that way”. My other option was to find new homes to the kittens where there were no other cats, but their future families opted against it. And that was not the option I would be happy about either. The homes that were waiting for the small ones were the perfect homes.

It is a very hard situation, emotionally, and in many other ways, both for us and the owners to be; they waited for their kittens for so long, and then I did not have good news for them after the first treatment, and we had to wait for a long time for the medicines to arrive, just to go through all of it again. Our veterinary was fast to obtain all the licences, and to help us, but that is the procedure – it takes time. So bad. I did not think this will be such a nightmare. I thought we were prepared.

The kittens who moved are very loved and happy in their new homes, Tsuki and Ender (called Ozzy now) moved. The kittens that stayed are also loved here, but they will need to move to their new forever homes soon. Our big cats are okay with the small ones still being here (they are six months now!), except for Jossan that occasionally hisses at them, saying that it is time they move, and Claire that became angry recently and thinks they should move. It is normal reaction, they are moms, and in the nature they should push out their small ones out of the nest at some point. Albert and Leroy think that it is good that they are here, we should have 200 cats, they love cats! Maven and Miii are okay with them, they play and run around gladly with the small ones.

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All the kittens on the cat tree

The kittens are big and beautiful, you would never think that they had (and maybe still have) that parasite. We love them so much, and we hope that this nightmare will be over soon.

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Dexter, Elric, Eleonora and Electra

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Electra

 

Hours

My ordinary day during the working week:

1 hours of playing with kittens, cleaning and feeding them in the morning

0,5 h getting ready for work

45min – 1 hour traveling to work.

about 9 hours at work

45 minutes -1 hour traveling from work

1 hour eating, getting ready for bed.

1 hour playing with cats and cuddling, feeding them, cleaning

2 hours feeding cats TF medication

2 hours other chores, answering mails etc. Cats are with me.

Sleep? 6 hours? If I am lucky and everything flows.

I am so tired. Then I go to bed and I am too tired to sleep, too worried about the cats and will they be cured after only one round of medications. I worry about different things, my family and what is my part in changing the world for the better.

It takes about 2 hours to medicate all the cats, 6 grown up and 6 kittens. They are kind and nice, but they are not too keen on eating the paste I make of Ronidazole powder, a drop of water and vitamin paste which I am pushing into their mouth. They need different amount, all of them, so it is not easy to measure and mix it. Joakim gets the cats and brings them to the bathroom, one by one, while I am mixing the medication. Then we hold them and pet them and talk to them and get the medication in their mouth. I think it tastes okay, since Albert is not flipping out, he is very sensitive about tastes. On the other hand, he is a cat that prefers eating cactus, pelargoniums and similar to cat candy, so what do I know how tasty the medication really is…

The cats are feeling well, and we notice no side effects. No one has soft stool anymore, already after three days.

Tired.

And I almost forgot – the best part of my day is when, after medicating the cats, and before going to sleep,  Joakim and I eat ice cream on the sofa, and all the cats are cuddling there with us or playing.

The kittens are getting bigger

The kittens are getting bigger. They got their second vaccine, and chip recently. They also passed the big health check.

The fur babies have been growing nicely and there were no problems with them, except for an urgent trip to the veterinary last week when Elric threw up a lot and went down in weight fast (I weigh them often, every day during the first few weeks, then every second day or so). It turned out that he managed to swallow 5-6 cm semi-elastic straw that belonged to the brush used to clean the fireplace. We are not sure how he managed to chew it and swallow it, but he apparently did. He threw it up in one of his throw up attacks, so we saw it. That was shocking. So many questions in our heads when we saw it. But we did not say much, I took the phone and called the veterinary to announce that we are coming urgently and what the problem was.

Elric got help fast when came there. He got a lot of fluids under the skin, medicine and he recovered fast. Still, it was a sleepless night, watching over him. If he continued to throw up, we were to drive to the hospital for an operation. Luckily, he had already thrown up all that irritated him, and it did not damage his stomach and intestines. The brush is now locked in the cellar where kittens never go. We are not 100% certain that the thick hair straw he ate came from the brush; it could have been the new kitten furniture, but we threw away the straw in our hurry to get ready to drive to the hospital, and we do not know. We removed that furniture as well, just in case.  Elric is completely fine now, and the biggest kitten in Jossan’s litter. He likes to eat, apparently. 🙂

Elric, Leroy's grandchild, he likes to eat. :)

Elric, Leroy’s grandchild, he likes to eat. 🙂

So, now all are checked, no defects or health problems. Dexter/LillMupp suffered a minor injury on his tail during the birth, which looks like a little knot, but he has no pain and I do not want to operate it (since that would cause him pain). He is charming with his little ‘knöl’ close to the tip of the tail. He is special. ♥

Here is a video with little Dexter:

And a video with a few of the other kittens and big cats:

There are more pictures here.

And what about TF (tritrichomonas foetus)? Our big cats had it for some time now (almost 5 months I think), but stopped showing the majority of the symptoms; only sometimes their stool smells foul, acidic in a way, but they had no diarrhea and did not go down in condition. The small ones had no problems except from when they turned about 10-11 weeks. Or it was not a problem, really, but my nose detected TF smell, how I call it, in their stool. But I did not feel it for all of them. Then we sent the samples for analysis with PCR method that looks for the parasite DNA and we got an answer that all of them had it. They are symptom-free carriers (or – symptom-free… for the most of time, yes, besides that smell).

The good things about the kittens is that they are well; they did not have diarrhea and are growing as they should. I understand that many breeders and owners can miss the signs of TF and mistake it for a slight tummy disturbance. But not all cats have it that easy and are symptom-free. Some have chronic diarrhea and can with time develop anal incontinence. They can get various inflammatory conditions and get depressed. Some go down in condition as well, depending on their overall health status.

And about having TF mistaken for a sensitive tummy; well, there are not so many sensitive tummies around as one may believe! We had a few litters during these years before we got TF in our cattery and NEVER had bad tummies, and those kittens ate many different kinds of food, changing often, eating various stuff at the same time, licking whatever they saw etc (we cleaned and steamed, but you cannot sterilize the whole house, they will always find something to chew on). And we never had an upset tummy, except once when Claire ate some sand, but that went over in a few hours. We did take her to the veterinary to get some extra fluids under the skin though. When they are small, kittens can go down in condition fast, it can be a matter of hours, so one has to react immediately.

So, I am  a bit skeptical when people talk about bad tummies when they get their kitten home. It could be stress and food change (hopefully you did not change food totally at the same time when the kitten moved to the new home?), or it could be something else, like TF or giardia. The causes vary.

We will start to treat TF on Saturday, in two days, with Ronidazole that we waited for a very long time (7-8 weeks, and we still haven’t received all the doses). Or veterinary ordered it promptly, when we got the kittens and they turned 4 weeks, but since it is a medicine that is obtained on license in Sweden, for some reason it takes weeks and months to get it. I will be updating the blog about how the treatment is going and with more facts about TF and the view on it. Now the kittens are old enough to get the treatment and we will finally treat both them and our big cats. All are in good health, and have good weight (some more than just “good” weight; yes Leroy, I am talking about you!) and that is positive.