We took Wendy to the vet for her shots today, and Possum joined her in the carrier voluntarily, so he came along. Both finally saw our regular vet for the first time; she hadn't been working on the two days when we needed right-away appointments recently.
Snalbert also had an appointment. Our vet anesthetized him briefly and look down his throat. It is horrendously inflamed, probably from a virus. He'll be getting more pain meds and more soft food. He should get better....
But then the vet spotted a strange patch on Wendy's ear and another on one claw. Thus it begins.
We're waiting for a culture to tell us if she has ringworm. It may take one to three weeks before we know, and if she does, all hell is going to break lose around here. It will be the end of the world as we know it.
It's not terminal, or even life-threatening. But few things suck more than ringworm. I've been Googling it for hours and it's horrendous.
All the cats will need to be bathed a couple of times a week in a disgusting lime-sulfur solution that can be caustic and will turn white fur yellow, along with anything it touches, like marble, wood, jewelry, and fabric. We'd have to saturate each cat, and not rinse it off, just let it dry. And it smells like rotten eggs. (People who have done this advise doing it outside and letting the cat dry in the garage. Ha! What do those of us in little Back Bay apartments do, I wonder?) These "dips" can go on for a month and often longer, until two new cultures come back clear for all four cats. A culture costs $92.
All four cats will also need oral medication, which costs hundreds of dollars per cat, I hear. There are topical medications for any lesions, as well.
Oh, and we humans can get ringworm, too. Can this get any worse?
Yes. The ringworm spores — it's a fungus, not a worm — can live for 2 years anywhere, so we'll have to disinfect the house and vacuum it to death, and launder and dry clean everything we (or should I say I?) possibly can. And then pray that we and the cats don't get infected down the road. If it sounds like a losing battle, it often is.
I don't think our two old Persians can handle this; they are both fragile right now, and they hate baths in water to the point where we think they're going to die of heart attacks. And their beautiful fur will have to clipped short for this, too. Their fur is their dignity.
Our two kittens may suffer just as much. Wendy thinks getting a liquid medication once a day is sufficient torture for her to avoid us the rest of the time. And poor, gorgeous Possum just doesn't deserve this. Unless he's the carrier. Sometimes a cat can spread ringworm without having any symptoms. Fun!
I know I'm getting ahead of myself because we don't have a positive test result yet, but I think I can see the writing on the wall. It's the most common skin disease in cats, and I've spent the night reading forums about how people are coping with it, or not. At least we don't have 26 cats, like one poor guy. But even eight baths a week is likely to kills a few of us around here before it kills the ringworm.
I think I need to look up the patron saint of skin diseases and light a lot of candles.
Perhaps we should have expected more trouble than a few parasites from adopting feral kittens. I'm not sorry we did it. We love the new kittens. I am sorry we didn't take them to our sharp-eyed vet before we ever took them home. Live and learn.