You know the answer to that question.
Upon arriving, we noticed that Frenchy was a bit small for her age. A kitten her age (a little over 5 weeks) should weight about 1 lb 4 oz. Frenchy was 15.5 oz. Still, kittens sometimes start slow, then catch up later.
We also noticed that Frenchy had some feeling in her rear legs and toes. She had a little voluntary/involuntary movement when scratched behind the ears. This was a good sign that recovery is possible. Not a guarantee. But a good sign.
We started physical therapy (PT) right away. With kitties like Frenchy, we start with flex/extension movement, massage, and bicycle pedaling. We do five reps of each three times a day.
The flex/extension PT is taking the rear leg and gently pulling it straight back (parallel to the body). We want the kitty to resist (if the kitty can). This helps strengthen muscles so they won’t atrophy.
The massage PT is massaging the whole limb, from tips of the toes to the hip joint. This helps stimulate blood flow through the limb and, like the flex/extensions, helps strengthens muscles and avoid atrophy.
The bicycle pedaling is a “range of motion” PT than just the flex/extension. We lay the kitty on her back (if possible), hold her by the hocks, and circle the legs as if the kitty is riding a bike (upside down, of course).
Being that we’re a very busy, short-staffed rescue, we weren’t always able to do all of the PT sessions each day. This weighed heavily on me. I honestly thought that Frenchy had a great chance of gaining all of her rear leg mobility back. But only if we did the PT as planned.
What also weighed on me heavily was that Frenchy has lost an ounce. She was now 14.5 oz.
Luckily Kathleen, a new volunteer, said she could take Frenchy into foster care and devote the time needed for Frenchy’s PT (Kathleen works from home). She’d also feed Frenchy Hill’s a/d to hopefully help Frenchy gain weight.
Looking back, giving Frenchy to Kathleen was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
Katheen took Frenchy on May 29th. Frenchy was now down to 12.7 oz.
Two days later, 12.5 oz.
For the next week, Frenchy held at 12.5 oz.
Click on image for video
On June 2nd, we received a video of a small black & white kitten walking across the floor. Is that Frenchy?! WOW!!! Frenchy was up on all fours. I bit wobbly, not 100% recovery, but a HUGE improvement.
Excellent work, Kathleen!
Still, our main concern, though, was Frenchy wasn’t gaining any weight. In fact, she had been losing weight since being with us/Kathleen. Despite Kathleen syringe feeding Frenchy Hill’s a/d every two hours and feeding her as much wet food as Frenchy would eat, still no weight gain. So we applied just a drop of Mirtazapine, and appetite stimulant, hoping this would increase Frenchy’s appetite. The a/d and wet food seemed to stabilize her weight. Still, Frenchy was seven weeks old and now down to 12 oz.
Then, on the morning of June 6th, Kathleen found Frenchy lethargic and almost non-responsive. Katheen rushed Frenchy to a local emergency clinic where they discovered Frenchy’s blood sugar level was extremely low. They started fluids with dextrose, supplemented oxygen (incubator), and worked their magic. The clinic wanted to get a fecal sample to check for parasites, worms, etc, but Frenchy wouldn’t poop.
By the next day, June 7th, Frenchy was alert, moving around in her space at the clinic, eating on her own, her blood sugar was back in the “normal” range. The clinic felt that Frenchy was stable and well enough to go back to Kathleen.
What a relief.
As soon as they got back to Kathleen’s, Frenchy pooped. A “thank you” to Kathleen for taking such great care of her. We sent the sample in to the lab.
We continued the a/d and PT.
The lab results for Frenchy’s poop indicated that Frenchy had roundworms. Could that be the cause for her weight problem? Frenchy had been dewormed before we got her, but we dewormed her again hoping that was THE cause.
Now Frenchy had diarrhea. We added psyllium husk (fiber) to her regimen.
By the next day the diarrhea had cleared up and Frenchy was doing better. We were hoping the dewormer was doing its thing and Frenchy would start gaining weight.
“Hoping” is the key word.
The next day Kathleen emailed to say that Frenchy was doing well, but still weighed 12 oz. I emailed back saying that it’ll take a few days for the dewormer to work. Let’s see what happens in the next few days.
The next day – still 12oz. But, Frenchy was much more verbal that before, and seemed in better spirits. Hey, we’ll take anything that we can get at this point.
The weekend passed, and word from Kathleen was Frenchy’s weight was now 12.5 oz. Not a huge increase. But an increase. The good news was Frenchy was very active, running and playing like crazy!
On June 15th, Frenchy weighed in at 13.3 oz.
Today, as I write Frenchy’s story, Frenchy weighs 13.8 oz. Seems she’s headed in the right direction.
Click on image for video
I’ll keep you updated.
Post Story Updates:
On June 19th, Kathleen emailed me that Frenchy was back down to 12 oz.
On June 20th, Frenchy was down to 11 oz.
On June 21, Kathleen emailed me that Frenchy has passed that morning. Kathleen had been up with Frenchy all night, and did everything that she could, but it wasn’t enough.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care, no matter how much you want or wish or pray… it’s just not enough. It’s just not enough.
It hurts. It sucks. But it’s life.
We have a good cry. We pull ourselves together. We take a deep breath. And we try again. That’s all that we can do.