Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Journal of the Plague Year, 2

It was a rough morning. Among our various nursing chores, we have to give the kittens 2 ml of a cherry-flavored ringworm medication and I managed to let most of it run out of their mouths. We gave them an extra 0.5 ml, because I know I wiped at least that much off their fur and my husband's arm, but this is scary medication and I felt nervous about doing that, too. Tomorrow morning, my husband will give them their liquid, in 1-ml increments. We can't afford to keep screwing up.

I never made it to vacuuming the upholstery yesterday, so that's on the docket for today, along with the usual floor vacuuming, damp-mopping and laundry.

The two females came home from the groomer yesterday, looking forlorn and reeking of gunpowder from the lime-sulfur dip. This cost $150 for just two cats; we need to find a more economical treatment since we need to be dipping four cats every week, probably for a minimum of two or three months. Do the math; it's insane. And that figure doesn't include vet visits, cultures (one costs $92 and we hear we'll need a minimum of 12), the drugs (expensive), and all the bottles of stinky dip and topical medication.

The females look a little bedraggled today as well, but seem okay, although I'm bracing for them to catch the calicivirus the two males have been struggling with for 3-1/2 weeks. Their recovery is already taking twice as long as it should, so I suppose they are reinfecting each other.  We can't isolate anyone in here and the virus is spread by sneezing and saliva, so I figure we're doomed. There's not much we can do to treat it, unless we try more antibiotics in case of any secondary infection. The guys need to have lime-sulfur dips at the vet, too, to treat the ringworm, but they are too sick for that. This is incredibly frustrating.

Possum has a ringworm spot the size of a pea on his nose and it's now looking angry and irritated from the miconazole cream. I will have to call the vet to see if there's an alternative treatment.  It ruins his gorgeous face and there will be no more adorable photographs for a long time, probably months.

It's sad to be missing this time when we should be cuddling, holding, socializing, playing with, and enjoying these kittens. We have to love them from a distance unless we're treating them with medication.  Even so, I've washed my hands to the point where they feel like paper no matter how much lotion I use, and I have dozens of little cuts, scrapes, and burns that bug me all the time.

Wendy is still very skittish and runs when we come near. I don't blame her at all for this. Whenever we need to catch her, it's never for anything pleasant. I'm afraid that ringworm has meant the difference between having a friendly, sociable and affectionate kitten and the nervous hider we've got now. Maybe I should get brave and start handling her a lot even if it does mean I'll get ringworm. I need to weigh that carefully, but it might be worth the sacrifice. The ringworm will pass, even if it takes extra months or years (I simply have to consider the worst-case scenario these days, since that's all we seem to get). But a skittish cat might be a disappointment for a lifetime.

Ugh.

I started this post under the title, "Looking on the Bright Side." Sorry about that. I do try to count our blessings: we ourselves are not sick (yet), the cats don't have anything fatal (yet), we can afford to throw thousands of dollars at this as required (we'll feel it later), and the house isn't so torn apart and uncomfortable that we're completely miserable. We've got the trickier aspects of the nursing under control (except for my lousy liquid-giving technique), and the housecleaning is getting down to more of a routine, too.

If only one of the cats would start getting better, this wouldn't all feel so hopeless and sad. And, hey, it has to happen sooner or later.

Or does it? What if this calicivirus lingers forever and our cats are always this sick? I would like to ask the vet this question, but she's still got the flu, and she says she has other, more serious cat emergencies, and she won't have time to talk to us until later in the week. Ringworm can hang on forever, too....

Time to clean, and to try to think about other things.

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