Feline Rhinotracheitis advice please!

Please bear with me if I don’t make much sense at some points but it’s been a long and stressful day. I need to vent and I need your advice.
So, I was at work today and when I popped out to get something to drink at the nearby cafe, there was a kitten on a bench meowing pitifully and as I went by it was just as if it was calling me for help. So I went to have a closer look, and its poor eyes were full of white stuff and there was yellow stuff drooling down its mouth and nose. And the poor thing was so thin!
Also it was purring which is a sign of distress. (Especially when the cat is so obviously in distress).

I went and got the boy who works in the coffee shop. He brought a slice of ham cut in to little pieces and some water, and I went and got a cardboard box from the office. I managed to find my vet on the phone, and thankfully he made an appointment with us even though its Sunday! We both (me and coffee-boy) got off work at 18:30 and we went to the vet in his car (I go to work on my motorbike so I couldn’t have done it alone) . The vet said that the cat has FVR ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feline_viral_rhinotracheitis ) and prescribed an antibiotic and some eye drops.
He loaned me a carrier to take it home in and keep it in since a. I have to keep it away from my resident kitten while it heals, b. it drools disgusting gunk everywhere and c. it’s full of flees!

I went to the chemist and got the eye drops and medicine. Administering the eye drops was a matter of squirting the bottle in to its eyes so presumably the one prescribed drop got in. Giving it the syrup was another matter, as I had to forcibly insert the syringe in to its mouth and squeeze. The first lot I gave it came right out, so I had to do it again, but it did resist and tried to scratch me of course.
So, any ideas on how to give it the medicine without being shredded to pieces? (Note that this is a stray unvaccinated kitten. The vet said that it’ll be at least 15-20 days before I can vaccinate it).

The kitten stinks, so I gave it a bath when we got home. I had to do 4 rounds of soapy water before it was kind of clean (& plus one tubful for rinsing) and now the whole bathroom stinks! I think I will need to give it another bath in a few days because it still smells a little (I’m wary of getting too close to it because of the flees).

I have allocated a set of clothes to be worn for administering medication, food (more about that in a bit) and bathing which will be hung up in the bathroom.

One of the thing this illness does is interfere with cats’ sense of smell, so they don’t eat, and in any event this kitty is seriously malnourished so the doctor told me to get high calorie cat-infant milk/food which again, I have to use a syringe to give it. I will go to the pet shop first thing tomorrow morning and also get flea medication.

I have put a bowl of water in the carrier (thankfully I did see it drink some water when I had it in the office the dehydration will be resolved soon hopefully), and a plate with some yummy tinned cat food which I don’t have much hope of it eating.
I have put newspaper down for warmth and toilet purposes.

I hope the fleas don’t “escape” through the slats of the carrier and infest the room I am keeping her in.

She seems to have settled down, but meows intermittently- I hope she doesn’t keep me up all night and I hope she doesn’t keep the rest of the building awake either!
(I seemed to have settled on “she” as a pronoun but I don’t know for sure what sex she is!)

I think I will allow her some time on the balcony in the mornings before work and in the evenings when I get home because I don’t think she should be imprisoned in the carrier 24hs a day!

My resident kitten is hidden under the sofa and will not come out. In the event I decide to keep sick kitty after she recuperates, I really hope there won’t be territorial issues or other problems.

The last thing I want to say is that I can still smell the stink in my nostrils, and I think it’s giving me a headache. I don’t know if it’s the smell of filth or the smell of the sickness. Anybody know?

Anyway, I can’t think of anything else right now, but I would love to hear any advice you can think of.


I’m not a vet, but in my experience the fleas WILL escape and contaminate the room. It is difficult to treat fleas in a kitten, as the amount needed to kill the fleas and eggs can be toxic to a small kitten. Flea collars are generally not safe for a kitten. You should probably ask the vet what, if any, flea medications are safe for this one.

We took in a sick abandoned kitten years ago and had to wait until he was strong enough for a flea bath. Then we had to also de-flea the room he’d been in AND give flea baths to our other two cats. That was not a fun day.

From my experience washing and medicating cats, first, if you can get another person to assist you will be better off. Second, when washing, grab it by the scruff of the neck, and keep the cat with its back to you; all the pointy parts are thus pointed away from you. Heavy gloves will help protect your hands. Have every breakable thing well away from the place you’re washing in. Close the door to the room, in case he/she escapes. For the meds, if you can get the cat securely wrapped in a towel with only its head showing, that will help. Of course, after the first time, the cat will know what’s coming when it sees you approaching with a towel, and it will get more difficult each time. Stealth and surprise will be needed.

Our sick kitty grew into a fine and lovely friend, although one eye was scarred by his infection.

Thanks for the advice.
There is no-one to assist with the feeding and medicating (which will be 2-3 times daily) but the towel idea is excellent.
As for the fleas, there is an ampule which you break onto the scruff and as far as I know it is given to kittens as well. Mine was even smaller when I gave it to her.
As for the room becoming contaminated, well, the floor is wooden, and all the furniture is wooden (with the exception of a chair cushion which isn’t very close to the carrier).
Of course, once she perks up a bit (but before she is fully recuperated and vaccinated, therefore still to be segregated from the other one) I don’t think it will be able to keep her in the carrier all day long and I’m not sure a few minutes on the balcony will be sufficient so I will probably have to give her the run of that room. Presumably the flea problem will have been resolved by then.
Actually, that is the room where the wardrobe is (yannow, with my clothes! :eek: )and the doors don’t lock shut so I will need to put chairs against the doors to keep them from being pawed open.

I read that cats with FVR occasionally shed the virus in years to come (it belongs to the herpes family and never goes away). Does anybody know what implications that may have for my primary kitty?

ETA: the glove idea is also excellent, thanks!

Well, I didn’t sleep a wink last night worrying how I am going to handle this situation.
I’m going to get dressed now and go to the pet shop for flea ampule and baby food.

Thing is, I did try to wrap her in a towel to give her her medicine this morning and it didn’t really work. I can’t see how I will manage to giver her medicine twice a day plus food two or three times a day with the syringe.

I have now moved the kitten to the bathroom because keeping her in that box seemed too barbaric. Bathroom is tiny but still, bigger than the carrier! She doesn’t seem to be doing much, just sitting hunched up in a corner (on the aforementioned towel) purring to herself. :frowning:
Have put the lid of a shoe box with shredded newspaper down for toilet purposes but I don’t see her either figuring out what it’s for nor having the strength to go over to it and use it. I did find poop on the newspaper I had in the carrier.

When I get to work I will print a list of shelters I found in my area and call them one by one to see what they advise. I will ask them if they would consider taking her but I doubt it.

If anybody has any suggestions at all, I would be grateful to hear them.

p.s.: my resident kitty just came over to be petted for the first time since last night and is now lying next to me, so I think I should stay here for another ten minutes before I get up to go. God know how she must be feeling!:confused:

Generally speaking, shelters and rescues are almost always full and seldom happy to accept new cats. One with a medical condition, even a treatable condition like this one, is even harder to place. Shelters and rescues only have so much money and can only keep so many cats…they may keep only the healthy ones. This is not selfishness but cold logic: although everybody wants to help a sick kitty, what sense does it make to treat a sick kitty and put down a healthy one in his or her place?

Most rescue people are trying to get animals into the hands of people who will adopt and care for them. Any animal is better off in the hands of a [reasonable] adopter than thrown into the system. You are this cat’s best hope.

That said, I would be shocked if anyone recommended putting the ampule-type flea/tick poison on a young kitten, especially a sick one. IMHO you should get a flea shampoo – much milder and quite effective to use. Just wash the paralyzed fleas down the drain.

Any contact with fleas should be followed by aggressive vacuuming of the areas the fleas have been in/near (and change the bag afterward). A vacuuming every few days for two weeks will be quite effective in my experience.

Thank you for rescuing this little sufferer.

Edited to add: the secret to litter-training a kitten is relentless attention. Put a litterbox in the bathroom (not near the food) and proceed to watch the kitten like a hawk. yes, it’s boring, but the reward is worth it. Whenever said kitten finally begins wandering around sniffing the ground and pawing/scratching experimentally, pick him or her up bodily and deposit said critter gently into the litterbox. The kitten will paw the litter, discover it’s suitable for burying doodoo, and proceed to do so.

ONE TRY is all it took the last time I litter-trained a kitten this way. She was good from there on out.

You don’t want her to find her own spot and start getting into that habit.

Congratulations. You now have fleas. It’s not even a question.

Also, you now have a new feline overlord, should you choose to accept her. :slight_smile:

Ok, here’s the report of the day: I am proud to announce that when I got home from work she had peed in the shoebox top with shredded newspapers I had put down for her! :cool: Which means that she is drinking water! :cool:
Next: I scritched her a little, then stood up to do something (in the bathroom where she now resides) and she meeped for me. I gave her another scritch. Then I left the bathroom and she started meowing loudly! :cool: This means she was calling for me and wanted me to pet her! :cool:

The pet shop did advise against the ampule at such an early age and they gave me a spray (indicated for baby cats). I did get an ampule for my 7 month old resident kitty (although they are completely segregated) and a powder that you mix with water to spray round the room she was in yesterday (in the carrier) and the bathroom where she is now. I hope I get round to doing it in a couple of days.
PHS, I hope you are wrong, wrong, wrong!

Anyway, I had a friend come over, we mixed the baby milk, wrapped her in a larger towel than the one I originally attempted with, tried to feed her with a baby bottle but the nipple was too soft so we put the milk in a syringe to squirt it in her mouth. Then I put the antibiotic in a smaller syringe and gave that to her, and then we gave her some more milk.

We then took her out on the balcony and sprayed her till she was dripping and the instructions say to repeat after a couple of days. Then we gave her a little more milk, some scritches and I came into my living room to have a sit down and do a little SDMBing.

I do have a baby litter box, but the bathroom is really tiny and the cat is too weak and tiny to climb into it so the box cover will have to do till her digestive system starts working properly.

I am still wary of having to feed her and give medicine all by myself tomorrow morning, it was a tough enough task with one of us holding her and the other guiding the syringe with both hands. :frowning: . Hopefully her respiratory system will soon recover enough for her to find food appetizing again.

Of course I have a plate with a tiny amount of fresh tinned food available at all times should the inclination strike.

Thanks for everybody’s advice and please feel free to add anything you think of! :slight_smile:

To kill the fleas, fully coat the kitten in a liquid dishwashing detergent (a thick one like Dawn) for 10 minutes or so. Rub it in but don’t suds them up. Then reapply and pat it on. Dip it in a bucket of Dawn if you have to. Put them in the tub, no water. The fleas will suffocate. Stay with the kitten and distract it when it tries to lick.

In my experience the sprays do not work. I like the dishwashing liquid suggestion. Kittens are VERY easily poisoned by insecticides, which is what you generally have in sprays and washes.

Lurker, don’t you eventually have to rinse the detergent off?

I understand the principle of washing up liquid (in fact when I was a kid and used to find the occasional cockroach in the bathtub I would coat it with shampoo and watch it suffocate :eek: ) but how do you go about doing her face, head and ears (and inside the ears) without it getting in her eyes (and mouth)?
Also, if you rub it on, it will eventually lose its consistency (should I call it thick? slick? washing up liquidy? yannow what I mean…) and will become a white thick lather. Does that defeat the purpose?

I went to the bathroom to visit her and did a quick check of her back (she was sitting hunched up, as usually and didn’t want to disturb her) and didn’t see any movement… fingers crossed.

Yes, but you don’t wash it off for at least 10 minutes to make sure the fleas have suffocated.

You buy the huge size Dawn (the 56 oz) for about $6. Cheap brands won’t work. Dawn is the thickest and works the best.

Start by making a detergent ring above where the kittens collar would be. Push the fur back a little and make a detergent barrier. No fleas will be able to get past this point unless they hop. Then coat the kitten like BBQ sauce on ribs. Squirt the Dawn close to the skin over every square inch. Dip the kitten in Dawn if you can. You can push the kitten down in an inch of dawn in a cheap aluminum pan or plastic container from the dollar store and just keep coating the kitten. You don’t rub it on so much as spread what you have poured on.

You can coat the kittens chin, cheeks and top of the head the same way. Fleas don’t really go in the ears. Keep a few q-tips handy to wipe any dribbles that are about to get into its eyes.

After 10 minutes, you can suds the kitten up and rinse repeatedly.

Different brand name, different currency, different measurement units over here but OK!

I hate BBQ sauce and would never coat it on ribs but I think I get what you’re saying! :stuck_out_tongue: Do you think it matters if I squirt it over every square centimetre instead?

You sure they don’t go in to the ears? It would seem like the perfect lurking place.

Finally, deliverance! :smiley:

But seriously (well, the Q about the ears was serious and I will try and google if fleas go in the ears or not), it sounds like a good idea and I will try it, thank you very much. But isn’t 10 mins a little short? 20 sounds like a better bet to me.

I’ve been led to believe that US Dawn = UK Fairy, if that helps.

Take pics of SudsyCat for us!

You are a wonderful person. I have been told that for those that adopt a sick stray cat- when we die and our soul is weighed against a feather on the great scales of Truth, Bast will cheat a little and slip a paw on the scales when Thoth isn’t looking.

Oh guys! You’re making me tear up!

I really hope she makes it. I went to give her her goodnight petting and she is so skinny… there is literally nothing between skin and bones.

Also, she was meowing (I should say squawking) at me while I was stroking her and I am concerned as to what she wanted.

No sign of fleas though!

Poor poor darling. I hope I manage to feed her tomorrow and give her her meds with the horrible, tortuous syringe and I hope her sense of smell returns so food becomes appetizing again. Of course even if she does start feeding herself I will still give her the baby food in addition to solid food so she fattens up.

As for the pics requested, I started another thread this summer asking for advice when I just adopted my 7 month old calico, wherein I promised to provide pics but I didn’t have a cable to connect my phone to the laptop. I think someone has since given me one, so I think I will manage in the next couple of days.
As for sicky kitty pics she looks a pitiful mess and I don’t think she would want her condition exposed for all the world to see like that for all posterity!

I think Phoebe wrote “Smelly Cat” for her, and I look forward to her transforming into “Soft kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur”. *Then *I will post pics.
Oh, and **Motorgirl **(hey, are you into motorbikes, too?) I know, I was being facetious! I’m not in the UK but Fairy is what we get. :slight_smile:

Huh. Not sure where I got the idea you were in the UK. I guess a joke about naming her Bubble & Squawk might fall flat then.

Hey half-elf, congratulations on your new servitude.

I’ve discovered the trick to getting medicine down my cats’ throats is to hold the cat between my body and hand with my left arm. I then use the left hand to hold her head and gently force her mouth open by gently squeezing her jaw or reaching in to rub her teeth. That way she opens her mouth wide. I then use the syringe to shoot about half the liquid to the very back of her mouth with my right hand (I’m right-handed). Don’t shoot a whole syringe-full at once because she may choke. If it’s food and she’s hungry, she won’t struggle (much) when you try to give her more. I’ve used these tricks with several cats and am usually successful.