Monday, February 08, 2016

Tragedy and the Next Ten Days

The female fixed last Thursday from Lebanon didn't eat after surgery.  Sunday morning the owner called me.  I then contacted Heartland and I told the woman she needed to be seen, and sooner rather than later, and that Heartland would see her but they closed at 6:00 p.m.

She didn't take her over.  This morning early before I was up, the owner texted me, saying she was going to drop her by my place on her way to work.  My head was spinning from this.  It was out of the ordinary.  Ordinarily an owner would take her in.

When she came, I took her, feeling otherwise she would not get care.  And I brought sweet Barney into my bathroom, against my better judgement.  But it was still cold in the garage and she was cold to the touch.  That should have been my big clue.  But I carried on cluelessly.

When she vomited yellow, I startled out of my clueless nature, got dressed, got her into a carrier and into the car.  She had distemper signs.  Lots of them.  Depressed body temp.  Lethargy.  Dehydration.  Yellow vomit.

Panoleukemia is feared for good reason.  It is highly contagious and can kill in 24 hours.   In this area, due to lack of vaccination, there are lots of pockets of distemper.  Its incubation period is 2 to 10 days.  The virus can remain alive in the environment for a long long time, and can be carried around on shoes, into homes, of indoor only cats whose owners may have decided not to vaccinate, and kill them.

 If Barney was positive for panoleukemia, did she catch it during surgery, with all those other unknown unvaccinated cats near her there and compromised due to stress and anesthesia?  Was she exposed before surgery at home?  Or even after she got home.

In a tizzy over it, worried I had compromised the health of my own cats, I poured clorox all over the bathroom floor before leaving and threw out the litter box and scoop that had been in the bathroom.   My cats are vaccinated, but a few of the ferals have been so only once.

Once at Heartland, they Parvo snap tested her for distemper.  She tested Positive.  Twice.  My heart sank.  I imagine they were worried also, knowing she had surgery there, and nobody knowing when or where she picked it up or from who.   Impossible to know that.  

They then tested Char, who was in the car with her overnight before surgery, he in a live trap.  Char tested negative.   Does that mean she got it after that night in the car with Char, last Wednesday night?  Not necessarily.  She was in a carrier facing the car door.  He was in a covered live trap.  She was not sneezing.

I remember she pooped after surgery, because I peeked at her when there to pick up Char, but then Heartland agreed to keep him.  I didn't transport her back to her owner after surgery, someone else did.  Her poop after surgery was normal.  That makes me think she did not have symptoms that day of surgery.

It doesn't mean she wasn't exposed that day.

Distemper is known for so badly irritating the intestinal track that a cat gets bloody sometimes yellow diarrhea and vomit.  They often die of secondary infection due to the gastrointestinal irritation.  But sometimes, a cat will show barely any sign, except maybe hanging its head lethargically over the water bowl as they expire.  Initially the cat usually endures a severe fever, but later, the cats body temp will be lower than normal.  When a pregnant cat survives the initial high fever, and her babies are born, some may be born as wobbles cats, brain damaged from their mom's high fever.

2 to 10 day incubation.

Barney is no longer with us.  She was in the process of dying by then.  R.I.P. Barney.   Let your death be a reminder that vaccination is important.

I came home and thought how do I protect mine.  Yes, they've been vaccinated, but that doesn't mean they won't get it.  I think what if the vaccines were no good, what if they were not recent enough, what if my old girls get it, and even though vaccinated, because they are old, they cannot overcome it.

But what ifs don't cut it.  All I an do is get rid of any threat inside the house.  Do the best I can.  I stripped off my clothes just inside the garage door.  All the clothes I was wearing are in the trash. My old shoes I've worn for years, almost daily, except in the summer, they're gone too because I wore them in the bathroom with her in there.  So are my socks and the pajamas I wore when the woman dropped her off.   All gone and gone with them, any threat they may harbor virus.

I've smothered the bathroom in clorox.  Over do?  Nope, not in my book.

For the next ten days, I'll be watching the cats here like a hawk, like a mother hen, like a tigress on the prowl.  There may be deaths.   Distemper is nothing to scoff about.  And the dodo's who don't vaccinate?  


  1. I am so sorry. What a sad situation. You do everything right but sometimes things just happen. My thoughts are with you...

    1. You are right, things one cannot really control.

  2. Good luck.
    Fingers and toes crossed.

  3. OH, NO! Good luck to you and your cats.

  4. Thanks for the good thoughts. I am kind of stressed.

  5. That is sad to hear, but you can only do your best now, and you are.

  6. My thoughts are with you during this very stressful time. I'm hoping for the best.