Update from Michael Brown - July 3, 2014

Smudge thrives with foster care

Last week, I talked about a stray cat who came into the clinic and needed his eye removed due to damage and a poor prognosis. He’s been with his new family for a few days now and he’s still doing great. Around the same time he came into the clinic, we had a tiny one-day-old kitten brought in as well who we’ve named Smudge.

For whatever reason, the mother wasn’t taking care of this kitten in her litter. She may have had a really large litter and thought this kitten was the least likely to survive. It may sound harsh but having a litter can be really hard for a mother cat and they may need to make hard decisions for the survival of their litter and themselves. Fortunately, in this case, the owners noticed soon enough that they were able to bring him into the clinic before he became malnourished or hypothermic.

Three things that are important to look for in neonates are strong rooting, righting and suckling reflexes. Rooting can be assessed by holding a clenched fist up to their nose and they should try pushing their nose in between the crevices of your fingers. Suckling can be assessed by putting a finger in their mouth and they should attempt to suckle from it as if they were trying to get milk. Neonates want to lay on their front, so righting can be determined by placing them on their backs and they should correct their position to be on their front. Smudge was great for all these, giving him a great start.

During the first week of life, they need to be fed every two or three hours.  Luckily for Smudge, one of the vet techs at Temiskaming Veterinary Services has fostered many kittens before and has willingly taken the role of mother cat for him. This means getting up multiple times throughout the night for feedings and bringing him into the clinic during the day. Since we don’t have any cat’s milk available, he has been getting a milk replacer formula. During the second week, his feedings can be reduced to every four hours.

He has continued to do well as he grows bigger and bigger and become more active. But he has started to become constipated. Typically, neonates need a little help pooping, which you can help with by rubbing around the bum to stimulate muscle contractions. He did well with this up until he was about a week old when suddenly, he just wouldn’t poop. You could tell he was getting really full as his abdomen was really big, round and firm. So to get things moving through, we needed to give him an enema. Normally, you would use some kind of soap to help break up the feces, but for this little guy, we just used a little bit of water to moisten things up. This helped get a lot of poop coming out. He must have felt a lot better!

He’s continuing to grow and develop as his eyes and ears have started to open up. He still has some trouble getting constipated but that’s nothing we can’t help out with.

I’m all done in the small animal clinic for my externship now and I’m back to large animal for the last two weeks to finish up in Temiskaming.   

Be sure to check out The Externship Project videos


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