A stray cat had kittens out in a fellow's shed. She took off and abandoned two of them. One of them had already died, and the second was just dragging himself around a little. This tender-hearted gentleman brought in the surviving kitten. He had been working at feeding it formula.
He was pretty sure about the date of birth, and the kitten was right at two weeks old when we first saw it on June 25. The little guy should have weighed 8 ounces, but he only weighed five. He was very thin, and potbellied, like your average starving refugee. There was plenty of flea-dirt on him, and we didn't think he could afford the extra blood loss.
So, we treated him for parasites, deworming and got rid of the fleas. We showed the owner how to stimulate the little guy to eliminate after each feeding, and recommended bumping up the frequency of the feeding. At this age, they can't really maintain body temperature without some help from mama. Thus, a heating pad needs to be provided, with the option to get on or off, as needed.
He seemed a little better over the next couple of days, but on June 30, he seemed to be shutting down. He had gained only about 8 grams (less than 1/3 of an ounce). His eyes were mattered shut and he was at least 10% dehydrated. We gave him fluid therapy, and some glucose for energy.
The next day, he was reported 100% better. The day after that, he was crashing again with diarrhea, and his legs were weak again. He was up to six ounces now, gaining one ounce in 7 days. Four ounces would be a more normal rate.
More fluids, started on Albon suspension for possible coccidia (a microscopic one-celled parasite that causes malabsorption of nutrients, and eventually diarrhea). We also sent home some Nutri-cal to use between bottle-feedings.
Day 17, and he's up to ten ounces (should be 17 or 18). He had been doing better, but his eyes are all cruddy with discharge. We re-dewormed him, and started an antibiotic eye ointment. He was still taking the Albon. Still taking a bottle, too.
Day 19, now he's coughing a little, but the good news is that he will eat solid food, at least he'll eat really soft solid food (Hill's A/D is about the consistency of soft-serve ice cream). We changed his antibiotic, too.
Day 21 – He is feeling better, up to almost eleven ounces, and owner is feeding a teaspoon of A/D every three hours.
Day 23 – Up to 11.5 ounces, and feeling much better, hardly coughing at all now.
Day 39 – Up to 22 ounces, starting to look like a winner, eating better and time for re-deworming.
The point of this heart-warming story is that here at Kennett Veterinary Clinic, we didn't do much. Sure, we gave fluid therapy, prescribed medicines that helped, and so forth. All the real work was done at home: all that hand-feeding every three hours… for weeks, noticing every time that something started south, rushing him right in whenever things changed, constant tender loving care. You can't dispense that in a bottle, and you can't give it in a "shot".
The good nursing care is what saved this little guy, and the owner is the nurse who deserves the credit.