We have a sick kitten.
I've been mildly worried (and let's face it, I'm a congenital worrier, just like my mother and her mother) about Wendy's lack of interest in food. When we got her a week and a half ago, we were give a medium-size ziplock bag of kitten kibble to tide us over until we could get to the store for the same brand. It's been 10 days and we still have almost a cup left. She does swipe the other cats' kibble, but not much. And she's not interested in all-meat chicken baby food or "people" tuna, which are the top weapons in my arsenal for tempting cats who won't eat. She doesn't look ill, just a little bonier than she should be. She nibbles at food, but never with enthusiasm.
She spent most of Thursday out of her crate, hiding and running from us. I figured she was regressing a little in her social skills; when we caught her, she'd immediately purr, so I wasn't too concerned. But she isn't active and playing, either. On the other hand, our vet told us that ferals don't play as much as regular kittens. I don't know enough to judge her behavior.
Yesterday, I got an email from her foster owner, saying that Wendy's litter mate, a timid black-and-white guy named Amos, had been put to sleep because he had a congenital defect called megacolon, which had become very painful. I'd never heard of it; it's rare, and usually develops in older or injured cats. She didn't think we should be alarmed, but wanted us to watch Wendy for problems like severe constipation.
Wendy obediently developed weird-looking diarrhea a few minutes later. After two episodes, with her crying a bit, she threw up in her box, too. I didn't hesitate; I called the vet. It's a holiday weekend and I didn't want to be heading to Angell Memorial in the middle of Saturday night. Again. It's hard to believe we lost Bunny just five weeks ago.
It was our vet's day off, so we saw a new doctor. She didn't feel the need to check for megacolon yet (with an X-ray) but took the stool sample I handed her to test for parasites. She gave Wendy fluids because she was dehydrated, wormed her again, gave her a rectal exam, prescribed worming pills, and told me to try more kinds of kitten food in case she's just a fussy eater because she needs to gain weight. Wendy was splendidly polite and non-feral through all this.
All the women at the vet's came by to coo over her; I finally realized that it's truly an all-woman practice. I met a young tech, M., who took care of Bunny when we boarded her, and who discovered her heart trouble. She said she kept calling our vet over to show her how Bunny was breathing strangely, but she would breathe normally as soon as our vet came in. But M. persisted, and probably saved Bunny from dying of heart failure that week. She spent a long Saturday night watching over her. She told me how much she enjoyed Bunny, and how sorry she was about her death. M. said Wendy reminded her of a possum. More like a baby fox, I suggested, having seen possums up close. Possums are UGly.
Wendy spent the rest of yesterday afternoon and evening curled up in her carrier, inside her crate. I sat on the floor beside her, reading. At one point, she started purring, all by herself, which delighted me. So she likes it here. I didn't mind missing that crummy Red Sox game to be with her. Around the 7th inning, she wanted to come out of her cage, escaped into the apartment, and spent the rest of the night testing our three armchairs. I slept on the sofa with the lights dimmed to keep an eye on her. Whenever I checked on her, she was either asleep or curled up, steadily watching me. She briefly crunched on some of the cats' kibble. She's hasn't been in the mood to play for awhile, but she must not be feeling well.
The vet called this afternoon, and it's not parasites. Her main concern is getting her to eat, and my husband is having some success by hand-feeding her kibble and introducing her to Fancy Feast "Savory Salmon." This is great. She eats it up, but in tiny amounts. Soon we will be heading to the store for every brand of kitten chow they sell, and a rotisserie chicken, which is Weapon #3 in my cat-feeding arsenal.
Wendy snarfed down a lot of Wild Harvest chicken breast and is sleeping it off. Before that she displayed no interest in her new kitten chow and tried to bury more Savory Salmon.
If our only problem is that our kitten has expensive taste in food, I can live with that. She still doesn't feel like playing, just watching me play with various toys on strings and poles. But the eating is a good sign, and here's hoping it continues.