Friday, September 29, 2017

A Precious Gift


We received the most wonderful surprise in the mail the other day --- three itty bitty Waddells. One had a tail and two were without, of course.

They were knit by our friend Leigh and they were a gift from her dear family.  She included a very sweet message, too


Thank you for this touching gift, Leigh. We will treasure these always. They will serve as a sweet reminder of not only the dear beings we knew so briefly but also the of the love and kindness that surrounded us when they passed.

Your thoughtfulness lifted our spirits -- thank you for this.  


Monday, September 25, 2017

Where We're At


I spent a lot of time cleaning, editing, and rearranging the room once occupied by kittens. I hung a new pair of blinds in the windows that filter the fall light beautifully.  There's a soft new rug on the floor.  I made a little window seat and covered it with a comfy quilt and the girls have really enjoyed having this new vantage point that looks into the backyard and vegetable beds. The squirrels are working overtime right now so they've been offering lots of entertainment for Wylla and Charlene.

This room is a comfortable space and we've all been spending a lot of time inside of it.  It's very peaceful and serene.

We are all doing fine.

Of course, we were all very sad about all that happened, but we're moving away from that and now we're in the "well, what's next?" phase of processing.  And honestly, I don't know what's next.

When Panleuk enters your home, there is a mandatory one-year period of waiting before you can foster again.  Even after a thorough cleaning, the virus can live in porous surfaces for up to a year, so we're sidelined for now to prevent future litters from becoming infected.

But there's a very big part of me that's thinking we might be through with fostering. I'm not 100% sure, and not making up my mind about the future right this very moment, but this is where I am currently leaning.

And if that is the case, what will happen here on this blog?   I do want to continue something here, but I don't know what shape that will take yet.  I will figure that out. I know some might have ideas of what direction I should go, but I feel I need to find this on my own --  considering first how what I do impacts those closest to me first.

For now, I'll continue to share stories and photos here.  I am going to post less though -- without kittens, content isn't as plentiful.  I always struggle to fill five days when we're between litters or taking breaks. I would rather do fewer posts of quality than five posts of filler.

SO, that's where I'm at. Which really isn't any further along at all, but I'm not racing to make decisions right now. When a clear path appears, I'll start heading down it and a decent clip.

Thank you for your patience as I think things through.

And thank you again for all of your love and support -- the comments, sweet notes in the mail, emails, flowers, thoughtful gifts, and donations in memory of our precious Waddells.  We appreciate you so much and we love you.

I'll wrap things up today with a batch of photos of dear Wylla basking in the lovely fall light. She's been so happy spending time in the room. I hope you all can find as much peace in your day.

xoxo, Laurie



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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Normal, Then Not.


 When they first moved in with us, nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Annabel, Rosalita, and Chip. They came to us with a touch of diarrhea -- but that's completely typical for kittens transitioning from liquids to solids. Things are always a little rocky during this stage of kittenhood.

Every time I entered their room, they raced to the cage door, climbed the bars, and screamed their baby cries.

"HOORAY! IT'S YOU! We've been waiting for YOU!" they sang until I opened the door, plucked them off, and put them in my arms.  It was always a warm welcome with this crew -- they were very good at making you feel loved.

Each meal they were served a plate of "kitten gruel" -- a mix of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) and wet food. They would eat a little on their own but didn't take in enough by themselves to fill their bellies, so they required a little hand-feeding by syringe to top things off.  They weren't gaining weight, but they weren't losing weight, which was good.

Their activity level was great -- they scampered and chased each other like kittens of that age should. They played with furry mice and mylar balls. They discovered the joy of scratching cardboard.  They made biscuits on their fuzzy blankets and each other.  They were a little wobbly at times, but I don't think that was due to weakness, rather, the absence of tails.

For those first few days, everything felt completely fine.  There were no worries -- we were just enjoying getting to know these three delights.

But come Monday, things started to shift. Their diarrhea got much worse. Their interest in food became noticeably less -- they would investigate what was served, but only took a bite or two, if that. I began feeding them all of their meals by syringe, but what was going in, just raced through their bodies and none of the calories seemed to be sticking.

 I made an appointment with the Foster Department for the next morning and gave everyone a round of Sub-Q fluids that night.

Annabel provided a fresh fecal sample on the blanket in the carrier once we arrived at the shelter Tuesday morning, which tested negative for parasites. We returned with probiotics, more fluids, a nutritional supplement, and a prescription food for GI issues.

We continued with the hand-feeding and fluids, but come Wednesday, everyone was dropping weight, losing energy, feeling frail, and sleeping much more than normal, so we made another appointment and returned to the shelter early Thursday. We came home with a new prescription food, a broad-spectrum dewormer, antibiotics, and instructions to continue with all of the supportive care we've been giving them.

So, we did all of that and worried and waited and hoped for things to get better, but they didn't. Annabel started slipping severely that afternoon. Her breathing was labored, her tiny 8-oz body was limp, so we raced to the shelter before Doc left for the day.  There was nothing to be done to save her, so we said our goodbyes.

Because of the symptoms, their age, and the rapid rate of her decline, it was suspected that Panleukopenia might have been the cause of her death, so she was tested for the virus, and an hour later I got a call confirming that she did have it.

Of course, we had been through all of this once before with Wylla's brother, so we knew what our course of action was: clean like crazy and hope the others don't have the virus too.

We put Chip and Rosalita into a carrier while we bleached their cage, removed their linens, toys, dishes, and litter box and replaced them with fresh ones.  Once everything was clean, we returned them to their cage, then bleached the floor of the room and all surrounding surfaces.

We fed them, gave them their meds and fluids, then called it a night, though technically, I think it was already morning.

Come Friday, Lita was much weaker, and it was clear by the speed of her decline that the virus had its grip on her.  That afternoon we took her to the shelter and said goodbye.

Chip actually seemed to have a little more energy on Friday, and things were looking up for him. With Panleuk, there usually are no ups and downs, just downs and downs, so any sign that things were going up could mean that he didn't have the virus, so I was feeling a little hopeful for him.

I watched him closely. Mostly he slept and would wake up on occasion to toddle over to the litter box, return to bed, then sit, blink a few times, then nap again.  He ate his lunch under protest and with clenched jaws, but I did manage to get some food in.  But as the day progressed he became weaker, struggled more,  and my hope faded.

Around 5:00 PM, I wrapped my favorite kitten blanket around him -- a pale yellow flannel from my own childhood with a print of white, bright-eyed kittens with bows covering it.   We had a little conversation and I let him know how special he was, how much he was loved, and how grateful I was to have met him and his sisters. When I was done talking, he let out the few dry sounds that sounded like weak "I'm hungry" cries, so I unwrapped him, set him down, and ran to get a can of kitten food.  I offered him a plate of gravy and he ate it on his own --- something I hadn't seen since Monday.  When he was through he walked, though a little wobbly, to the cage door,  over the edge, up my arm, and onto my shoulder.  In his weakened state, I could hardly believe he could manage such a feat.

I called to Craig, and together we marveled at this recent rally. I spent the evening cuddling Chip, then fed him again, gave him fluids, warmed his bed, changed the linens in his cage, scooped the box, and tucked him in at 1:00 AM.

We went to bed feeling hope-filled and had a peaceful night's sleep --- the best sleep I had all week.

I got up at 6:00 AM, opened the door to the kitten room and called his name, fully expecting to hear a bright kitten rustling, then racing to the cage door.

Nothing. Silence.

I walked over to the cage, pulled back the sheet I had wrapping the sides, and saw that dear little Chip had left us. His cage was undisturbed -- not a grain of litter moved in the box, no signs he got up in the night. Everything was as tidy as it was when I put him to bed.  I think he just went to sleep then drifted away peacefully.

As crushing as it was to find him gone, I am so grateful he gave me that last night.  My last memories of him on Earth are good ones.

Here's a video I took during his little "rally" at the end.  The photo above was taken right after I put him to bed on his last night.

We've spent the last week doing some very deep cleaning. The kitten room has been scoured, and we bagged up and took a load of contaminated kittten gear to the dump.  Though the kittens were in quarantine, traces of the virus could have been tracked out, so all floors have been scrubbed and bleached in our house.

We're not worried about the girls'  -- they are fully vaccinated and healthy.  Panleuk gets the vulnerable ones, like our Waddells, who were no longer receiving antibodies from mom's milk and too tiny for their first round of vaccines.

All of this has been a lot to process. It happened very fast -- we lost three kittens in less than 36 hours.  It had been a hard week leading up to that too, so I was feeling pretty raw, stressed, and sleep-deprived --- which isn't the best state to start wading through something like this.

Craig has been amazingly understanding and sweet. The girls, though I don't think they understand what happened, know something is askew and have been extra-loving and are always close by.

I'm still sorting through a lot of stuff in my head and figuring out what's to come, so I'm not holding myself to any blogging or social media schedule right now.  My plan, for now, is to just post when I feel like sharing.

I know this blog is normally a bright spot and escape for you. I'm sorry, especially during these really hard times that our country is going through,  that I can't offer that place for you right now.

I appreciate your understanding and patience during this time.  I also appreciate your love, support,  sweet notes, many comments, and kind words.

I know this is your loss too and we all have some grieving to do.  We'll get through this.

XOXO Laurie

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Deep, Deep Sadness

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With a heavy heart, I'm sorry to announce that we've lost Annabel, Rosalita, and Chip.

It all happened within a 36-hour window, and as you might imagine, our hearts have been shattered into a million bits.

I'm not in a place to tell the whole sad story right now, but they left the earth peacefully and knowing that they were loved. I need to do some processing first, and when I'm able, I'll tell the whole tale.

I know this news is shocking and sad. More than anything, I wish I didn't have to share it with you.

XOXO, Laurie

Friday, September 1, 2017


Well, things aren't going well here right now. I don't have the time or headspace to tell the story, but I've got some very sick kittens on my hands.  

I will update here when I can. 

XO, Laurie


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