Back in June, my family had four foster kittens exposed to a fatal disease, and the only way to possibly contain the disease from other cats, including our own 7, was to put the sweet little kittens down.
I’ll just start off by saying, this post is going to be a sad one. Tear filled, at least for me. Writing this will be hard. It isn’t even the particular word choice, it’s the life experience that just happened and truly sucks. I thought this experience with the foster kittens would be no harder than any of our other fosters. Sure these kittens required eye drops and dewormer, but they also needed food, love and socialization.
I’ll start with a short over view of the weekend. Saturday Dad and I went down to Purcellville to get 9 out of 12 kittens from the vet to go into foster homes. We got our four kittens home and they were covered in their feces, pee and vomit. We gave them baths, put them in my room and gave them dinner. That night I slept in my room with the kitties lose in the room.
Sunday morning we were supposed to leave for Richmond to go look at Virginia Commonwealth University and take a college tour on Monday. But we were in the room with the kittens when we realized that they had fleas. So we cancelled our plans and I went to PetSmart and Target to get things to use when we bathed the kittens. Mom and Dad took Michelle, one of our smallest kittens, to Pender Emergency vet to get a spot checked out on her tail. We thought it looked like it might be ringworm. This of course, along with the fleas caused a non-postable Facebook dilemma. The rescue wanted to keep the public unaware of the fleas and ringworm. So I had to delete all my posts about the ailments. Sunday night I decided I was going to sleep downstairs in the living room on an air mattress.
So finally on Sunday night after my various shopping trips and cutting my foot on a shopping cart (don’t need a tetanus shot unless it doesn’t heal soon), we started the bathe the four kittens. It took practically an hour for each kitten to get their bath in blue original Dawn (for the fleas) and anti fungal/anti bacterial shampoo for the potential ringworm. Then we would rub them as dry as we could well my mom, dad and I picked thoroughly through their fur to get the fleas out. So many came out, it was absolutely disgusting. By the time we finished bathing the cats (3 am), we put them in crates in my room. We were hoping that it would contain the fleas, ringworm and whatever as best as possible. Poor Frack did not like being in the crate, he really complained. I felt bad but it was best for them to do this.
Monday morning mom and dad fed the kittens. I got dressed and ready to head out to Petsmart and Target to get some more supplies for the kittens. I went into my room and told the kittens good bye and that I would be back later. Little did I know that it was basically the last time I would truly see them. I wish I could go back, but there is nothing I can do.
I went to PetSmart and Target and picked up the supplies. There was a message on the phone. Dad had called and told me that the kittens have been exposed to VS-FCV which is Virulent Strain Feline Calicivirus. It is a mutated strain of the Calici Virus, a deadly cat virus that kills easily and quickly. Our cats were exposed and the only choice we had was to take the kittens to the vet to be euthanized. I called my dad back and he said not even to come into the house and to call when I got home. I got into the car and started to cry. Maybe wail is a better term. I sat there for a few minutes. Dad told me I couldn’t see them again. I thought that if I left then and took the Parkway home, I could get there in time to at least see him leave with the babies. The parkway was closed so I took the long way home, crying the whole entire time. I tried to compose myself as much as I could, seeing as I was driving. I made it home and the kittens were still here. My parents had to decide what we were going to do about decontaminating the house. As far as we know, from the day our cats were exposed, it would take 2-4 days to see if our cats were to fall ill within those few days. After tons of online research and talking to our friend Ingrid and a few vets, it sounded like the virus could live up to 28 days without the host (cat).
Not too long after I got home, dad went upstairs to get the kittens, put them in their carrier and drive them to the vet. We had been told to try to limit our stress/sadness, as hard as that was, so our cats wouldn’t become upset and more susceptible to VS-FCV. Every time I thought of their little faces, tears filled up in my eyes. The moment dad brought down the carrier I saw little calico Michelle inside. I know he did his best for me not to see them, because it is hard for all of us. I truly think a little part of me died as I watched dad drive the kittens away to their terrible fate. Something didn’t seem right with Michelle and Abby, something was wrong with them. Lewis seemed okay, but Frack was great. It killed me to put any of them down, but particularly Frack – with his loving personality. But our cats were exposed to a deadly virus that we have to protect them from. Euthanizing those lovely kittens was the only way.
Mom and I began to bleach the house. The floor, kitchen, hallway – basically anywhere that the kittens had been/exposed the virus. Dad eventually got home. He told us that the vet didn’t even want him in the building. He called to let them know he was there. Dad said that the little kitties got some fresh air and to look around outside before they were put down. They came out and got the kittens and said they were going to dispose of the kitten’s carriers as medical waste. They were serious about trying to limit the spreading of the virus.
Before dad did get home, Michael and I went out to Target to buy new cat litter boxes for our cats and a swiffer and swiffer supplies. We were sad but moving on as much as possible. Mom texted she needed more paper towels so Michael and I detoured into Safeway to buy some. We also picked up salads for our dinner and some cake. I ended up going back out to Safeway to pick up more salads for mom and dad. We all felt sick to our stomachs, but I knew we would feel worse if we didn’t eat.
We were up very late, until about 2am on the screened in deck just talking and trying to figure out plans for Tuesday. We cleaned but not nearly enough. The vet where dad brought the kittens told him that they thought we should seal my room for a month. It totally sucks, but it’s just a necessary measure to be sure that we’re taking care of everything to kill the virus. Eventually I will have to get out my clothes, jewelry, cameras, chargers, books, iPod dock, etc out of my room. Of course it will have to be cleaned and bagged up for a while. But I need things out of my room before I can go to the beach.