As I understand it, the story of these three kittens began when an unnamed individual on the Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota happened to be walking by. To where and for what purpose, we will likely never know. All of a sudden, a tiny little gray and white kitten (minus her tail) fell out of a nearby tree and landed on the ground within view of the passerby. The anonymous wanderer picked up the kitten and attempted to place her back up into the tree, where then, two more kittens suddenly emerged. One was a black and white male with merely an inch or two more tail than his sister. The other one was also a black and white male, unique from his siblings in being the only one to wield a full-length tail (Mom ran out of toner, apparently).
Too young to survive without milk and their mother nowhere to be found, the individual who discovered these orphans decided to bring them to the Lake Traverse Animal Rescue. In turn, the kittens were relocated to a rescue group in Minnesota where they were tested for diseases, bottle-fed until weaned, given their first round of vaccines, and then passed along to Suzie’s Cat Refuge where they would remain until ready for adoption.
In many ways, almost any litter of kittens could be referred to as the “Poopy-Bottom Gang”. It’s not uncommon for kittens, especially ones who didn’t exactly enter the world in ideal circumstances, to experience intermittent bowel upsets while their digestive systems adapt to a solid-food diet and they are cleared of parasites. These guys, however, were literally covered…. from head to toe…. in poop, and while all three were experiencing some degree of difficulty with their bowels, it was immediately apparent that one kitty in particular was producing the majority of the mess.
The little gray kitty with no tail (then, simply referred to as Butt) was the only one of her siblings to test positive for coccidia, a nasty parasite that wreaks major havoc on the bowels, resulting in symptoms such as severe diarrhea, rectal prolapse, and in some cases, nausea and vomiting. Although her brothers had tested negative, they were being medicated for it also as a preventative measure, since healthy cats who share the same litter box with an infected cat will certainly contract the bug themselves if not treated.
In addition to miss Butt kitty’s unfortunate drizzly poop episodes, she was also afflicted with a prolapsed rectum….which is a polite way of saying that her butthole was turned inside out. While not a life-threatening condition (so long as it doesn’t get infected), it’s bloody horrifying to look at! It’s also quite frustrating to manage, as the delicate tissues are highly vulnerable to injury and chafing. And because a cat’s butt (well, everyone’s butt for that matter) has to be used on a regular basis for obvious purposes, there’s really no way to protect the area by covering it, or even let it rest so it can heal.
Unfortunately, Butt missed out on her chance to have surgery for this condition during the time when it would have done the most good. She weighed barely over a pound when she came here, and she would have to weigh at least twice that before she could safely be put under anesthesia. By the time she had reached a safe surgical weight, her coccidia infection had already cleared up, and her prolapse, while far from gone, had shrunk enough on its own that the vet didn’t think the surgery was worth the risk. The surgery doesn’t correct the prolapse anyway, I am told, as much as it holds everything in place while the underlying cause is being treated. The hope is that once the condition is cleared and the stitches are removed, the rectum will remain in place, although that’s not a guarantee. Once an animal has had a rectal prolapse, the chances of it happening again will always be higher than if it had never happened at all.
No amount of having an abnormal hiney, however, would be enough to keep this little kitten’s spirits down. And I’m going to stop calling her Butt now, because that’s not her name. This sweet little fur baby carried out her days at the refuge, romping with her siblings and playing with her toys, with no knowledge whatsoever of herself as being any different from any other cat. She never lost her trust in humans either, bless her heart, in spite of all of the unpleasant things I had to do in order to keep her clean and treated. We still don’t know if her bottom will continue to improve as she ages, or if she’ll have this problem forever to a certain degree. Either way, it’s not expected to cause her, or the man who adopted her, any significant problems.
Right. Their names. When I acquired these three little poop-crusted cuties, I was given strict instructions to assign them proper names, since Butt, Stub, and Tail, while descriptive enough, simply weren’t cutting it. So….Butt became Daphne (named for the tree sprite from Greek Mythology), Stub became Luigi (because he looked like his name should be Luigi), and Tail became Pepe. My partner was actually the one who named Pepe, and I’m pretty sure he had the Looney Toons character Pepe Le Pew in mind. It doesn’t matter though, because he gets called Tinkerbottom most of the time anyway. He’s our naughty little goon bug, that one. You know, kind of like a June bug only cuter.
Just two months after I had brought them into the refuge, all three kittens were adopted. Pepe, who my partner fell in love with from the beginning, stayed right here with us. We had always planned on adopting at least one of the kittens, since two of our elderly cats had recently passed away. I wanted to adopt Daphne, myself. I loved her trilly little vocalizations and the way she would sing through her purrs when she was happy to see someone. And she was always so trusting and cuddly, even though I made her take butt baths and gave her icky tasting medicines. In the end though, Pepe proved to be the best choice as a cat for our household for a number of reasons, especially since keeping all three of them wasn’t an option. Daphne had to be on a strict, low-residue diet, so I couldn’t give her full run of my house without the risk of her helping herself to the other cat’s food. She doesn’t like to be alone either, so she really needed a companion, and Pepe would not have been a good one for her. The two played so incredibly rough with each other that it became dangerous for Daphne’s bottom. More than once, he hooked her poor little butt with one of his claws, which almost caused an infection, and significantly added to her recovery time. Luigi, by contrast, grew to be a big, lazy lump, who would rather find a human lap on which to plant himself, or buddy up next to his sister for a snooze, than anything else.
Thus, the two Manx kittens, one, a cuddly lap dweller, and the other, a climbing, dancing ball of energy, were a match made in heaven! They were adopted as a pair, at first, on a trial basis, to ensure that their new daddy would be able to handle all of Daphne’s upkeep. During this time, the animal rescue continued to offer support in case anything needed to be done, and Suzie’s Cat Refuge remained vacant in case I needed to take Daphne back for any reason. Fortunately, all went well, and Daphne and Luigi are now official, permanent residents in their new home.
So, here ends Suzie’s Cat Refuge’s first ever blog post. I apologize that it ended up having a lot to do with anuses and poop. I promise you that won’t become a trend, but there is simply no getting around the fact that some of the things we have to deal with as fosterers don’t exactly make for polite dinner conversation, and I want this to be an honest blog, even if it’s sometimes hard to read. I do hope that all of this “honesty” doesn’t turn people away from the idea of fostering, however. With most animal shelters busting at the seams, the service that we offer to these organizations that rely heavily on limited shelter capacity and donated funds, is truly invaluable! Ultimately, I find that the rewards of it all far exceed the burdens, and I can’t wait to see who our next guest(s) will be!