Finding dead kittens on the road is unfortunately a too familiar sight. Each time though, my throat tightens.
This little man wasn’t dead though. The woman who found him said he was trying to crawl, but could not use his back legs. How many people passed and saw him without stopping?
She picked him up and brought him to her shed before ringing Breda, who rushed to him despite being expected at work. Annie and Breda found the kitten where the woman had told them he would be. He was cold, so they wrapped him in a towel and Annie held him close to her on the way to my house. Annie may only be 6 years old, but she knows the realities of life. She handed me the kitten with a serene dignity.
I held him and touched his back legs. There was no response; he didn’t seem to feel anything on the rump either. I didn’t have any hope for him and just wanted to stop his pain. His breathing started to become worse and I guessed I wouldn’t even have time to bring him to the vet on-call in Youghal to end his suffering kindly. I believe this is the most distressing, feeling helpless. His breathing slowed down and then he gave a final, very soft sigh. I was holding him in my arms, close to my heart. This is probably the only consolation, that he didn’t die alone, on the side of the road.
I wrapped him up in a white sheet and buried him in the garden, next to the fern plant. I don’t believe in heaven, don’t believe in the rainbow bridge, but I believe in giving them some dignity when they live this planet we all share.
Sleep tight little man x
Back in September, a feral kitten was brought to The Cat Hospital after a road traffic accident. The kitten, who was later named Lieutenant Dan, needed an operation to have his leg amputated. The operation went well and Lt Dan recovered quickly thanks to the loving foster home Maggie and Jim offered to him. Soon, Lt Dan was running around the place, apart from the odd tripping from his foster sisters.
However, worries were not over for Lt Dan who had to be brought back in emergency to The Cat Hospital because an enormous abscess had appeared on his head. It was emptied and Lt Dan was put on antibiotics. However, two weeks later it reappeared, and again two weeks later. It became evident that it could be something serious. We also feared that the infection would get to the bone and infect the marrow, resulting in poisoning the blood.
Clare explained that an operation would be needed to properly clean the abscess, but also take a culture to be sent for analysis so that he would receive the appropriate treatment.
This post is called “to be or not to be” because too often animal welfare people are left to decide of the destiny of the animals they rescue. It is a difficult choice and should not be so. Animals should be loved and treated with respect and compassion by what we call “humanity”, but this is not so, they are left to suffer because too many members of our society believe that their own little comfort is more important. Maggie and Jim though decided to go ahead with the operation and try to offer a better quality of life to Lt Dan.
The operation took place at the end of November, leaving Dan with a huge scar. The culture was sent to a laboratory and all waited for the result with expectation since it would enable Clare to prescribe the appropriate treatment. However, the results showed nothing wrong and Clare was uncertain as to what should be done next.
At this stage things with Lt Dan have got desperate: countless trips to vets, numerous examinations, several operations from which tissue was taken and sent for cultures to be grown, and no result. Lt Dan’s recurring abscesses have proven to be a complete veterinary mystery. There is no detectable infectious agent present. There is nothing that can be eradicated through the use of antibiotics. But still the abscesses pop up, and out, on poor old Dan’s head regularly. The only treatment that could be offered to Dan was the nightly removal of the scab and bathing the abscess with salt water in order to keep a channel clear so any puss could exit the wound areas. This was far from an ideal method of dealing with Dan, who had already suffered a great deal in his short life. It was also becoming obvious that all this ‘pulling and tearing’ at Dan was having an adverse effect on the cat’s wellbeing and he was starting to exhibit signs of stress.
A lady called Emma Robertson contacted us and offered to treat Dan with laser therapy. Emma, who is a chartered veterinary physiotherapist, also specialises in a range of holistic therapies and very kindly offered to take the problem of Dan’s abscesses on. So Lt Dan was marched (unwillingly) into the car and over to Tower to see Emma. The actual treatment took a matter of minutes and involved no intrusive or painful procedures that would stress Dan out even more. Emma has a portable laser generator and she merely took out a handset – it looks like a small torch with a right angled head – and held it over the abscess on Dan’s head. The laser light is red in colour and within a few minutes of beginning it was all over and Dan was back in his cage glaring at everybody.
Today (Monday) the early results look promising with no significant discharge from Dan’s head wound; the first time this has been the case in quite a while. The wound itself looks a lot drier and healthier than it has been. Dan is due to return to Emma for further treatments, spread over the next few weeks. We are very grateful to Emma for her kind offer to help Dan as both ourselves and Clare Meade are baffled by Dan’s refusal to get better. Emma does volunteer for the Donkey Sanctuary and is no stranger herself to animal welfare. She can be contacted from her Facebook profile.