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Brain Damaged Kitten Finds Friends

October 15, 2009

A tiny black domestic short hair kitten was left in a box on the animal hospital doorstep.

Apparently, he had been hit in the head by a car. His little skull looked half caved in on one side and he was only semi-conscious and twisted into a little neurological ball of kitty misery.

I treated him for infection, pain, and starvation. Throughout the first day, he had about ten small seizures. Not surprising, considering his brain injuries. Yet not hopeless, because kittens and brains are more resilient than most people imagine. Still, the head trauma looked massive.

We nursed him at the hospital, and tried many different anti-seizure medications. We named him Billie.

With no medication, Billie experienced about 100 small seizures a day. He would not drink water (and still never has), and needed to be hand fed 1 morsel of canned kitten food at a time (eats on his own now). He couldn’t walk a straight line and he needed to run a crooked little jig before he would be able to have a bowel movement ( still needs a running start to get the ‘ol bowels goin’.) Yet everyone grew so attached to Billie, all we could think was how to find the right medication so he could become normal.

As the months passed, and he grew into a young cat man, it became obvious Billie would never be normal. We found a seizure medication for people that kept the seizures down to about one every other day, but his eyes still looked a little dull on the medication.

Billie never learned to be touched. If he walked by a person, and they reached down to pet his back, for example, he would automatically twist around and bite them. He was impossible to hold for medical care without sedation. Billie was never mean, bit he wasn’t safe to handle, either.

I started wondering if he enjoyed life, or if he had any understanding of pleasure or being cared for in any way close to what other cats may experience. I grew doubtful, second-guessing whether Billie had a life worth living.

One of my nurses was convinced Billie’s life was worthwhile, and here’s how she proved it.

She took Billie to her house. He had access to one room in the beginning. Three other cats lived in that part of the house. At first, Billie fought with them, or shied away from them and would sit alone all day and all night.

One day, Kisses (yesterday’s bossy Yorkie miracle pup) busted into the cat room, ran right up to Billie, and started licking him all over! Billie allowed Kisses to lick him. He did not move. He maybe looked a little bit like he enjoyed the tongue bath.

Then Sammy, an 11-year-old red tabby cat found the forbidden room. Their mom found Kisses and Sammy sandwiching Billie on the sofa. Billie was calm and still. They lay like that for hours.

Day after day, Kisses and Sammy would go into the cat room and sit touching Billie on either side. Until one day, Kisses came running into the kitchen.

“Bark, bark, BARK!” His mom knew something must be wrong, bit what? A few minutes layer, she heard the distinctive sounds of a flopping, seizing cat on the sofa, knocking decorative pillows to the floor.

A couple of nights later, Kisses barked at 2 am. Another seizure!

The seizures almost never happen now, because Kisses barks a few minutes before a seizure is due to start, and then his mom gives Billie some of his seizure-control medicine. If she can get it into him before he starts, the seizure is averted.

Who knew Billie would develop friendships and have a somewhat normal cat social life? I would not have bet on it, but life certainly works in mysterious ways!

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