On Monday eve, I noticed the hair directly above Frieda's eyes was thinning, which gave me cause for concern, so I emailed the foster department to request an appointment with the doctor. I brought them in for their appointment Tuesday, and by the then, the thin parts on Frieda were now bald and expanding.
I left the kittens in vet treatment, and went down to the foster room to wait. Within a few minutes, the vet tech came into the room and said "It's not good, Doc will be here in a moment to talk to you."
And it wasn't good.
They have ringworm. Which isn't life-threating, but it's hard on wee kittens, and it's a monster to deal with. It requires a long quarantine period that can mean anywhere from two to six months of confinement for the kittens during their treatment. It requires being very careful, and keeping things very clean - it's a fungus, and spores can travel. During the quarantine period you treat, test, re-treat and retest until there’s no sign of it.
At this time, calls were being made, but we didn't have a plan in place for the kittens, so I brought them home and put them back in the basement. I ran to the store to get bleach, gloves, and a few other cleaning supplies. When I returned, I fed them, tucked them into their carrier, stripped all the linens from the cage, then started a load blankets and towels in the washer. I scrubbed down their cage with bleach water, and wiped down all surrounding surfaces and the floor. Once the cage was dry, I added fresh blankets and returned them to their quarters.
I wasn’t sure was what going to happen next, but as heart-crushing as it was, I knew they couldn't remain here with us. I couldn’t risk exposing the girls, and we're not set up here with a space that can comfortably hold them for the length of time they would need to be quarantined. We don't have a room, we have a wire kennel in the corner of a big, open basement. And this kills me, you have no idea how much this kills me, but we had to find them a place outside of our home where they could be treated and recover. Thankfully, there is a foster mom who has taken such kittens before, and currently has a pair she is treating, so she agreed to take in our Lumpkins. I’m so, so very grateful she’s willing to do this. I know it’s not an easy task and it requires much work and huge dedication.
Yesterday afternoon I packed up the Lumpkins and took back them to the shelter. Their new mom will be picking them up today.
You put your heart at risk when fostering. I know this, and I’ve prepared for this. Mine is strong enough to weather the usual goodbyes and gold medal ceremonies, but having to hand over these three wee beauties, before they’re done at our finishing school, is breaking my heart right now. There have been many tears in the past 48 hours. I've cursed even more than I cried. I know this is what they need, this is what is best, and they'll be fine, but I feel so horrible that I can't see them through this on my own.
There is still much cleaning to do, and do again. Though the kittens were contained and we were careful, these spores could have wafted anywhere in our house, and we need to be thorough and be rid of this before we bring in any vulnerable kittens again. I'm not sure how long this will take.
Ringworm is contagious, but the big cats haven't done any mingling with the kittens because the little ones were still in the quarantine stage. No common surfaces were shared, and we're always VERY careful about washing hands after handling kittens, so I'm not worried about Charlene and Wylla. As for us humans, we can get it too, but we buy hand-sanitizer by the gallon and wash hands religiously. And if we happen to catch it, it's easily treated.
I’ve offered to provide help, or whatever the new foster mom might need for the babies while they’re in her care, and when they are fully treated and ready for adoption, I will help find them homes. Any updates she shares, I will share with you, but I have no to plans to pressure her for any reports or photos. Her hands are going to be really full, and I can’t ask any more of her.
I'm sorry to have to share this news with you, you know how I hate to share sad things here, but of course I had to tell this story. This week has been intense, but a plan is now now in place. There are still bright futures ahead for these kittens, it's just going to take a little time and extra work to get them there.
I did take a couple of pictures of the Lumpkins before they left, but honestly, they’re hard to look at. The kittens don’t look good, and I would prefer that these aren’t the images that linger with us. So instead, here they are, ten days ago when they first moved in.
Please think good thoughts for the wee ones, and hope for their sake and their new caregiver's too, their recovery is quick.