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4-Week Old Kitten In a Coma From Fleas

May 5, 2010

A handful of three four-week old kittens, one cream, and two black with white

The three amigos

Tiny Kittens Nearly Killed by Tinier Fleas

Sugar was a 2-year-old Siamese mix short-haired cat, mostly cream with light brown and dark brown patches.  One of kittens looked like her and meowed and tugged at Sugar’s ear.  The other two kittens were black and white with short fur and almost dead.

Yes, you read that right.  Here’s what happened.

Fleas in a Multi-Cat Household

Sugar’s humans brought her to see Doc Truli 4 weeks before this day.  She was part of a group of six make and female cats that they had caught that lived in the back yard and came in and out of the house as they pleased.  Sugar’s family wanted to get everybody spayed, neutered, feline leukemia and feline AIDS tested, and dewormed.  All of the cats had tons of fleas.  One of the females, Sugar, was very far along in her pregnancy.

“Doc, we don’t understand how Sugar got so fat!” said the dad.

“Well, she’s pregnant,” said Doc Truli.

“Do you think?” asked dad. I hope that question’s rhetorical…

Get an Exterminator

“Most certainly.  The kittens are due any day.  Let’s get the fleas off of all these cats, and you need to call an exterminator and get the house treated for fleas.  Once the kittens are born, they are too small to put flea medicine on them, so you’d better get rid of the fleas now, while you have a chance'” said Doc Truli.

“We can’t afford an exterminator.  What else can we do?”

Get Products Containing IGR and Use Them per the Label Instructions

“You can buy products from the pet store or the hardware store that contain IGR ‘Insect Growth Regulator.’  But you will have to make sure all the cats and the two of you are out of the house all day when you use those products.  Follow the label instructions,” said Doc Truli.

“We can’t do that,” said dad. This is my life folks.  I have to solve obstacles all the time.  Usually, they are artificial obstacles…

All Natural Boric Acid Powder Home Treatment for Fleas

“Okay, then you can use the all natural treatment of boric acid powder.  Clean up all your debris and clutter, because fleas are smart and they hide under big pieces of furniture.  They run under magazines, newspapers, and clothing strewn about.  After you have everything cleaned up, sprinkle the boric acid powder over all the carpet and leave it for two weeks.  The flea eggs hatch on a two-week cycle and you need to break their life cycle,” said Doc Truli.

“Oh, okay.  We can do that,” said dad.  BTW, they didn’t…

Home Remedies for fleas that do not work

Like the reason a pagan tree symbolizes a Christian messiah’s birth, illogical home remedies for fleas get handed down and passed around.  You probably don’t even know the original logic.  And the remedies waste time and do not work.  Here’s the scoop:

garlic: the oil coming out through the pores is supposed to directly repel fleas.  it does not in practical doses.  it does not kill the fleas.  the fleas continue to breed and infest the environment eventually overwhelming all the warm-blooded creatures in the house

brewer’s yeast: supposed to strengthen the immune system through the addition of vitamin b complexes.  the stronger, healthier body is thought to be a poor environment for fleas.  fact: fleas don’t care.  they will infest anybody with a warm body temperature (cats and dogs are over 101F).

cedar shavings/beds/oils in collars: cedar repels insects.  that’s why we line our closets with it to repel wool moths.  cedar industry workers also have the highest levels of lung cancer of any of the lumber workers, small animals like hamsters that live in a cedar bedding environment have higher levels of cancer than they should.  therefore, cedar’s really bad for everybody, not just fleas.  again, does not kill the fleas or disrupt their life cycle in your house.

essential oils/herbal collars/medicated flea collars: Doc Truli says,”If they work, you didn’t have any fleas in the first place.”  Do not waste your money on ineffective products!

Emergency Blood Transfusion Saves Kitten

One of the kittens, they named him Miracle 1, came to Doc Truli cold, white gums, and in a coma.  He barely lifted his little chest to breathe.

Emergency Room Supportive Care

Immediately, we warmed him up, gave him supplemental oxygen to support his weak, anemic body.  Doc Truli drew blood from his mother with a special syringe , filter, and anti-coagulant solution to save the blood and give it to the kitten.

tiny catheter with IV port sticks out the back of a kittens fever, like a demented tail

femoral intramedullary kitten catheter

Intramedullary Catheter

His tired, depressed little body held only collapsed veins.  Doc Truli placed an intramedullary catheter in his tiny femur.  The bone marrow connects to the venous blood system.  A transfusion, fluid, or medicine instilled into the bone marrow enters the body circulation as quickly as if you put it into the arteries or veins themselves.

His transfusion took about 30 minutes.  By the end of the thirty minutes, a little sign of life started.  Miracle 1 kneaded his paw and pushed Doc Truli’s hand away.  Yay!  Maybe he was starting to come around.

black tuxedo kitten sits up on his blue plastic heating pad for the first time in hours

post transfusion strength

Two hours later, he sat up and mewed for food.  Too weak to suckle from his mom, Doc bottle fed him warm kitten formula.  Then he tucked into a plate of warm canned kitten food.  What a pleasant surprise!

Four Hours Later, Kitten’s Brother Needed Transfusion, too

Not to be outdone, Miracle 1’s brother set his head on the blanket and would not move.  His gums look paler than ever, even though we had given him prescription medication to kill all the fleas on him within 30-60 minutes.  Another blood donation and transfusion, and he was resting in the recovery incubator.

The kittens and mom will de discharged from the hospital when the home has been cleared of the flea infestation and the other cats treated.  Those kittens will become deathly anemic again if they return to the same environment.

siamese mix mom cat with big blue eyes stares at Doc Truli as she nurses her kittens

We feel better. K Thx.

“Those Kittens are Our Children!”

A curious pet parent saw the litter of kittens in the recovery ward, “Oh, I know somebody who would just love that little cream-colored kitten,” she said.

Doc Truli said, “I’m not sure they will be up for adoption, but they have 8 other cats, so maybe.  I’ll call and ask.”

Doc Truli called, “I have a good home for the cream kitten when she’s older, if you want to adopt her out.”

“Those kittens are our only children!  Don’t you dare; they are not up for adoption!  I should drive over there and smack you!” said the eighty-year-old mom.

Well, there it is.

4 week old kitten eats from the triangle end of a spoon dish, a "spish" cut from a paper plate in a pie wedge shape so his paws stay clean while he eats.

Kitten eats from spoon dish "spish," keeping his paws clean!

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