Three seems to be the magic number for Chad and me this kitten season. We started out with our three little cosmonauts, Kova, Kaya, and Garin. Not surprisingly, fluffy Miss Kova got adopted first. Not to be outdone, Kaya got a fantastic application the day after we delivered Kova to her new home. Which is really good, because I’d started thinking about Chad and me keeping Kaya ourselves — but we already have three cats.
The same day Kaya got her application, I saw two little kittens sitting in a cage at the ARFP adoption center. One solid gray like Kaya, the other a black and white mass of fluff. They didn’t have a nametag on the cage, and I didn’t recognize them. So I asked Jenny, one of the other volunteers, about them. Turns out they had been in a foster home, but a family medical emergency came up and the foster home couldn’t keep fostering them. I asked Jenny if the kittens would be staying at the adoption center. “Until we find another foster home for them,” she said.
Jenny is ALWAYS trying to get Chad and me to take foster kittens. This time I beat her to the punch. “We can take them.” I knew we’d be delivering Kaya to her new home in a couple of days, and Garin would need playmates. He had too much energy not to have another kitten to wrestle with. It was a perfect solution.
So Chad and I took the two new kittens home with us after the adoption fair.
According to the kittens’ medical records, there had been some confusion about the black & white one’s gender. Not uncommon when they’re really little, and especially when they’re really fluffy. First they thought he was a girl and named him Helen. Then they discovered he was a boy. The gray one — well, technically he had a name, but no one was really sure how to pronounce it. So we decide to give them both new names. Chad and I spent the rest of the day tossing name ideas at one another, some serious suggestions, others just jokes. Finally we hit on a pair we liked: Picasso and Monet.
Picasso and Monet settled in well with Kaya and Garin — mostly by Picasso and Monet chasing and playing and sleeping with each other in one half of the room while Kaya and Garin hung out in the other. (The kittens stay in our office until they’re old enough and integrated enough with our cats to be out all the time. And they get to keep Chad company while he’s working during the day.) Every once in a while Monet would sit down next to Garin, and it would take Garin a second to realize it wasn’t his sister. A quick hiss, they’d run to opposite sides of the room, and things would go back to normal. Typical for introducing new kittens to each other, and we knew it’d be over in a few days.
We delivered Kaya to her new home a couple of days later. She settled in well there, and Picasso and Monet were settling in well at our house.
The next night, July 1st, we had the kittens out while we were watching TV. I’d noticed Monet was sneezing a bit, but it’s as common for kittens to get colds as it is for little kids. We were keeping an eye on it, and if it didn’t clear up in a day or two, or it got worse, we’d get him some medicine. Garin and Picasso were chasing and wrestling with each other, and Monet was stretched out next to me asleep. Also like kids with colds, kittens with colds don’t have a lot of energy. They sleep a lot.
Monet had twitched a little in his sleep, like cats and dogs do sometimes. We made the usual comments about him dreaming. He stopped, then a few minutes later started to twitch again. At first I thought he was dreaming again. It only took a few seconds for me to realize it was something else. He was having a seizure.
In all the years we’ve fostered cats and kittens, I’ve never seen one have a seizure. But my sister’s dog had them, and she’d described what it was like. This was just like what she described.
We called Sharon at ARFP and told her what was going on. It’s rare for cats to have seizures, much more rare than dogs, but sometimes pets can have a one off — one seizure, then never have another for their entire lives. She told us to keep an eye on Monet, and if it happened again to take him to the emergency vet. She also pointed out that we didn’t have to stay up with him all night to watch him. She knows us. If she hadn’t said that, I would have. We’ve done it before.
The next day, at 11 AM, Monet had his second seizure. We took him right to one of the ARFP vets. They kept him overnight for observation, and he didn’t have any seizures while he was there. They didn’t have a diagnosis, but only one of the vets at this clinic had ever seen a kitten have a seizure before — just one, a kitten with hydrocephalus. Monet didn’t have the domed head of a hydrocephalus kitty, but they were still concerned.
With ARFP’s blessing, we took him to our personal vet, Dr. Ho, who only treats cats, so she’s able to specialize in feline medicine. Chad had been texting with her already, so she was familiar with what was going on. She came into the exam room, took one look at Monet, and said, “Your kitty doesn’t have hydrocephalus.” Besides not having the classic domed head, Monet didn’t have any other developmental problems that kittens with hydrocephalus have. He wasn’t undersized, had no mobility problems, and didn’t have “sunsetting” eyes. (If anything, his eyes are slightly crossed, which is the opposite.) Dr. Ho gave Monet a physical exam, including testing his reactions by running a Q-tip along the top of his head from the front to the back. That pretty quickly turned into a game of Monet batting at the Q-tip.
Monet hadn’t had a seizure in over 24 hours, so Dr. Ho told us to keep an eye on him over the weekend. If he had any more seizures, she wanted to run some tests. But for now everything seemed okay. We took him home, relieved that it wasn’t hydrocephalus.
The next day, Monet had two seizures. His cold had also gotten a lot worse. He was congested, and his nose was really snotty. Chad texted Dr. Ho about the seizures and the cold. She replied, “Do you still have the Zithromax for your cats?”
Zithromax is a really good antibiotic. We keep it on hand for Solomon and Whateley, who had a really bad upper respiratory infection when they were kittens. It caused the scarring on Solomon’s eyes and is the reason Whateley is missing one. Sometimes it flares up, and they get congested (another reason we do a health quarantine for new fosters). Dr. Ho told us to start Monet on it, a quarter CC for 7 days. And if he had another seizure before Monday, she wanted him in for bloodwork.
We gave Monet his first dose of Zithromax that day, July 4th. He hasn’t had a seizure since.
One of the things that can cause seizures in kittens is an infection. In fact, it’s the most common cause of seizures in kittens under 12 months old. At this point, it appears that Monet’s upper respiratory infection was causing the seizures. The Zithromax knocked out Monet’s congestion within the first day, and he started eating like a horse. Still does, which is good to see in a kitten. We kept him on the Zithromax for the full week, to make sure the infection was cleared up. And we kept him home from adoption fairs, just to be on the safe side. We didn’t want him to get adopted until we were confident he was okay.
And how, exactly, is he doing now? Well, he’s running around chasing and wrestling with Picasso and Garin, A LOT. He has all kinds of energy now, which he didn’t have when he first came to stay with us. About the only time he sits still now is when he’s asleep. Otherwise, he’s racing around, pouncing on toys and playing with EVERYTHING. One of his favorite things to do is tear down the stairs to our den, zip under the couch and ottomans, come out the other side and jump up onto the couch, then race across it and back up the stairs. He still purrs when you pick him up — VERY LOUD — but he’s got too much kitten energy to be held for long. He has to get down and PLAY. Oh, and apparently, he’s practicing to be a ninja.
Since Monet is doing so well now and hasn’t had a seizure in 3 weeks, he’ll start going back to adoption fairs tomorrow. If you’re in the Greensboro area, you should stop by and see him. He’s ADORABLE! And Garin and Picasso will be there, too.