It has been a harrowing week for us since Rainy fell ill on Tuesday last week. He went to the vet last Wednesday and today again for a review consult. Here is the latest on his rehabilitation and how we managed what was likely a contagious disease.

Rainy at the vet today (in a kitten bag carrier)

When we went to the vet last Wednesday Rainy was having fits, hypothermia and dehydration, alongside diarrhoea. The vet’s prognosis was toxoplasmosis. But we couldn’t confirm it with a blood test because Rainy is too small to draw enough blood (and too dehydrated) for a lab test for toxoplasma. A fecal exam also did not reveal any parasites. So he was put on Clindamycin antibiotics which kills not only toxoplasma but other protozoans that may also be the cause. He was also to be put on probiotics supplements and kaolin for his diarrhoea. At the vet last week he was also given a sub-cutaneous injection for his dehydration. If he survived he was to go back for a review consult which we did today.

We went into ‘lockdown’ after the vet visit last week because toxoplasmosis is not only zoonotic it is also contagious between cats.

When Rainy arrived, he shared a pen with Mary Lou’s kittens Barley, Berry and Bamboo, and Simone their foster sibling. Bamboo and his siblings were ready to be weaned by then, 6 weeks old last week, and we had started penning them with Kit, Joey and Wes. We wanted to do a gradual weaning so they wouldn’t shed their mother’s milk antibodies too quickly and suddenly fall ill, but with Rainy’s condition, the separation from their mother became permanent. Mary Lou meowed for her own kittens nightly and we had to accompany her in the foster lounge at night to stop her from meowing through the night. We had to leave Simone with Mary Lou because she was still being nursed, and merely monitor her condition.

Toxoplasmosis has a 7 day incubation period so if any of the other kittens were to have any similar symptoms as Rainy by this week, they would have to be on Clindamycin antibiotics as well. We didn’t want to put all of the kittens exposed on antibiotics just to ‘play safe’ because antibiotics causes immunity suppression and may cause them to fall sick from something else instead which would be far worse. We also wanted them to build their own immunity because cats can be immune to toxoplasmosis even after exposure – if their immune systems are strong.

So, apart from quarantine, we also put all the foster kittens (except those in Bree’s pen because they were not exposed) on nutraceutical supplements daily.The 6 in Bamboo’s pen were put on colostrum, lysine and vitamin B, probiotics. Rainy and Simone were put on the same, added with CoQ10 to kitten milk and glucose to aid Rainy’s dehydration. Rainy was too weak to suckle much on Mary Lou last week, so the kitten milk replacement and glucose was essential. We also warmed him up periodically with a hot water bottle and towels.

Rainy’s fits stopped, and his diarrhoea improved. But Clindamycin does cause diarrhoea as a side effect, so he still needs to be on kaolin now and then. His dehydration improved, as did his mobility, and he began suckling on Mary Lou more.

We brought Rainy for his review consult at the vet today, together with Simone, and Bamboo (to make sure he and his siblings can be vet-cleared of the sickness). Bamboo and his siblings are officially not infected by the virus that attacked Rainy, and are in fact very healthy. We wanted to do a toxoplasma blood test to confirm it academically, perhaps on Bamboo (for sample testing), but the vet recommended that since Bamboo is very healthy with no symptoms of illness that it was unnecessary. Bamboo, Berry and Barley are officially cleared and ready for adoption, and will be posted on Adoption Alert this week. Simone is also showing no similar symptoms as Rainy, though she still needs to be monitored and on supplements since she is in the same pen as Rainy. Also, she has been having visible third eyelids, but the vet says it could be due to worms and to merely deworm her and continue the probiotics supplements – she is 3 weeks old, just past the safe age for deworming. (We normally do the first kitten deworm at 4 weeks of age.)

Rainy is to continue on Clindamycin antibiotics for the next 14 days and kaolin to manage his diarrhoea. Another fecal exam was done and no parasites were visible, in fact there was less bacteria in his poo today than last week. He is also walking well and has a stable temperature now. He has already started exploring solid food – kitten milk with canned food – and when Mary Lou stops lactating next week or so, he should be weaned by then.

All things considered, Rainy is doing very well, and we can finally stop holding our breath worrying about a disease outbreak. It was a test of competent cattery management and I think we just passed.

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