Friday night we were at a porch party at a nearby house when some children found an injured kitten. It had its head tilted to the side, and its right front leg was dragging uselessly. It hissed and ran, but one of the teens at the party and I were able to corral it. I scooped it up and took it to my house where we set it up for the night in an extra dog kennel in my basement. We gave it some food, which it ate as best it could given the odd angle of its head and the inability to bear weight on that right front paw.
First thing Saturday morning, Annabelle and I took it to the vet, who quickly figured out that the head and leg problems were not orthopedic but rather neurological.(Apparently the kitten's pupils were also of unequal size.) He told us "it" was a "she" and found a pretty nasty open wound on her neck in the fold created by the head tilt. He gave her shots of fluids and antibiotics, cleaned the wound, and pulled a bunch of ticks off of her. He said the paralysis could be a result of the ticks or a result of the infection on her neck or possibly even tetanus from the wound. With either of the first 2 options, there was a chance it might reverse, so he sent her home with us along with oral antibiotics and orders to fatten her up. We knew then that her prognosis was not necessarily good, but we had hope.
When we arrived home, I sat in the basement cuddling her on my lap while Fred and Annabelle went to the PX for a flea comb and some proper kitten chow. They got back and we put her back in the kennel with some dry food. It was frustrating to watch her try to eat; the head tilt and leg paralysis kept her from being able to go nose-first into her bowl, so she was pushing more food away than she was getting in her mouth. I decided to try to hand-feed her and thought I would have better luck with wet food. So I popped open a can, scooped a dollop of food onto my finger, and presented it to her.
She chomped into my fingertip and refused to let go. She was growling, and I could feel her chewing on my finger. I scratched my thumb on the other hand trying to pry her jaws open, but she wasn't giving up. Annabelle ran for Fred, but by the time they got back, I had managed to get loose and was just sitting on the floor crying.
I knew I needed to go to the ER for a tetanus shot, but I was worried about what would happen to the kitten. I called the vet, and the receptionist said we could take her there for a 10-day rabies hold. Fred put on some gardening gloves and transferred her back to the travel kennel, and we took off.
When we arrived, however, the vet said that while he would indeed hold an otherwise healthy animal for observation, the fact that this kitten was already displaying neurological symptoms made that impossible. He essentially decided for me that there was no time to waste in having her tested. I was beyond distraught, feeling like my stupidity had signed her death warrant.
The hospital visit was unremarkable. The nurse cleaned the wounds (puncture on the top of my finger, more like a slice underneath) and gave me a tetanus booster. The doctor discouraged me from getting the rabies vaccine, saying that it would be just as effective if started 48 hours later. I went home and took a nap and then started having second thoughts about passing up the vaccine. I called my friend who is the nurse-midwife who delivered Annabelle and her response was unequivocal: "Go get the shots, Bonnie!"
So we went out to dinner and then back to the ER where I saw a different doctor. I got the first of 4 rabies vaccines (a painless shot in the arm--if they were ever really giving rabies shots in the abdomen like they told us when we were kids, they're not now), as well as a whopping 10 cc of the rabies immunoglobulin, divided into a shot in the arm, a shot in each hip, and a couple units injected right into my finger, which would have been quite traumatic had they not numbed it well first.
I'm glad I went back to start the shots (got my second one today in fact), because it is now more than 72 hours since I was bitten, and we have yet to get the test results.
I still feel horribly sad about the kitten. I know that I rescued her from an awful, certain death outside and that her prognosis was not the best even with good medical care. I also know that with me trying to give her oral antibiotics twice a day, I stood a fairly good chance of being bitten anyway. It's still a disappointment though that she never got a chance to get better.
Let's all learn from this: Help the strays of this world because God knows they need it. Just be smart about it!
2 weeks ago