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Squirrel’s Story by Mera Alford USA

If you’re interested in what’s going on with my kitty, Squirrel. (Sorry it’s so long I’m not good at summarizing.) Also if you know me, you know I love this cat so much, literally the coolest cat out.

One morning I was getting ready for work and saw Squirrely laying in the middle of the living room floor, he was laying comfortably, not laterally or abnormally, however, he normally doesn’t lay on the floor. So I was a little caught of guard and honestly just the look in his face didn’t seem right he looked sad like something was wrong, but I also thought maybe he had just woke up. I went over to him and he started purring, so I figured he was fine. I finished getting ready for work.

As I was leaving the house I saw that he shifted slightly and went back over to him, cause I just had a feeling something wasn’t right. I palpated his abdomen to ensure there wasn’t a urinary blockage, abdomen palpations can be unpleasant, or annoying and I have a sassy boy who will try to run away when I mess with him. He didn’t show any pain upon palpation, however his body was limp and he didn’t try to move or prevent me from touching him at all… that’s concerning. I checked his gums and his teeth looked as though they were decaying, his mouth smelled sour/rotten, there was infection present. My boy had perfect teeth, no gingivitis, clean, mild calculus and one small fractured tooth. I knew something was very wrong. I immediately grabbed his carrier and told him he was coming to work with me. I put him in his carrier once again no fight, when normally he would try not to go in.

Upon arriving at work, he needed an immediate triage, idk what was wrong with him, but this was not my normal cat and this was a sudden onset decline. His temperature was 105F. His mouth, gums, and tongue were completely ulcerated and purulent. He is always vicious at the hospital, he’s probably scratched every technician that has ever tried touching him, he’s the coolest cat at home, but in a hospital setting he’s very fractious. He was lifeless...

Bloodwork was ran, radiographs taken. Catheter needed administered with a temperature as high as his he likely needed iv fluids, but I wanted to see his bw in case there was any contraindications. He allowed us to do everything, thank goodness, but also super concerning. He had no energy to fight back at all, he didn’t even flinch having his catheter placed. His blood pressure upon placing the catheter was appeared very low. (I was a mess, bawling, seeing my cat was on the verge of dying.)

BW looked horrible… kidney values elevated… basically no wbcs, neutrophils, his immune system was basically shit. So whatever was going on, his body could not fight back. SDMA, kidney function test, was ran and elevated as well. Radiographs showed enlargement of kidneys as well. Wtf was going on with my baby… he was just perfectly fine.

Rewind: Let me take you back about a month ago… Squirrel is obsessed with going outside, he will try to sneak outside if prevented. But he will always come back to the door and meow to be let in. He is an indoor/outdoor cat. He enjoys being perched on the half wall of the porch and preying upon many shrews, bunnies, and birds. Well, he was snuck up on by another stray cat in the area and that asshole bit him on the ass… he had a gnarly cat bite wound that abscessed and everything. He was treated at the vet and recommended to have a feline snap test in about 60 days to check for feline leukemia/FIV.

Fast forward: those wbc levels… leukopenia. His doctor recommends doing the feline snap even though it’s early, really great recommendation… my poor boy got FIV from that stray cat… he’s got kitty aids now and whatever virus/infection is going on in his body, he could not fight so it was running rampant. He needed iv fluids and iv antibiotics and emergency care. I needed to take him to PVSEC.

PVSEC doctor informed me he was a very sick kitty and he would need to be hospitalized and over night care. His fever was not breaking, they wanted to do additional testing and an ultrasound. The ultrasound came back fairly boring. Enlarged kidneys, but architecturally  normal. They sent some testing out a urine culture and a tick borne disease test that would take days to come back. The biggest concern is if he can pull through this and respond to the iv fluids and antibiotics. Also he hadn’t eaten in atleast 2 days at this point, definitely concerned about hepatic lipidosis as well now.

Later that night got the call that his fever dropped, thank god! And he was spicing up for the technicians while they were trying to get his blood pressures… that is such good news, cause he’s obviously feeling a little better. His blood pressure also went back to normal no more hypotension! I could actually go to sleep feeling a little better.

The next morning they called and explained he is definitely feeling better and appears to be responding well to iv therapy. He even bit the doctor when she was checking his teeth (so sorry doc) but this was GOOD news because he is always fractious in hospital settings, so this shows he’s feeling better. He still was not eating though. Which may be because he’s not home. And with everything else getting better it was best if I continued monitoring him at home and try to get him to eat here.

Yesterday afternoon I got to take my kitty babe home. He immediately perked up when I cracked open a can of food and started eating it. He didn’t eat a lot, but he definitely ate some. He kept wanting to lay in the dining room all night near his food and I kept checking on him and he was cool but I wasn’t. So I sat next to him he crawled up on my lap and purred, melt my heart 🥰. I picked him up and we slept on the couch together all night. 🥹

Well he stopped eating for an additional 2 days after he got home and had only taken a couple bites. He wanted to eat and he’s a greedy boy but he would go to his food smell it and then walk away as if to be turned off by the smell. We had gone about 5+ days without him eat so much as a couple bites.

I brought him back to the hospital and he had a feeding tube placed.

I had to feed him about 3-4x a day preparing his slurry for syringe feeding through a tube. I could not get him to eat. Every time he’d smell any canned food he’d gag, it was a reflex and even if I prepared boiled chicken he’d smell it and gag. I didn’t know what to do. I was so concerned about his quality of life. I posted on multiple FIV groups in hopes of advice he was on appetite stimulants, anti-nausea medications, antibiotics.

He seemed to have developed some sort of anemia. He was licking blankets and eating cat litter, but would eat any food. And BW reflected he did have anemia a send-out CBC with pathologist review indicated there was so regeneration which was good, but why was the count so low?… we don’t know.

His fever had come back. He was put on IV fluids again and his antibiotics were changed. It was a really rough time. He had the feeding tube in for about a month. He’d lost a decent amount of weight. I was really concerned about his quality of life… I felt like a horrible owner. I didn’t know what to do. He was on an appetite stimulant transdermal mirtazapine and it appeared to cause a really bad reaction on his ears they became red, irritated and started losing fur, so he was put on elura instead.

Toward the end of the month with the feeding tube in he seemed to perk up but still wasn’t eating food. One day he actually ate a few pieces of kibble I was shocked, but it was only a couple pieces and it seemed somewhat uncomfortable for him.

One day I fed him breakfast and then went to a personal appointment came home about 2hrs later and he’d ripped his feeding tube out of his stomach and neck… idk how he did it! I wasn’t home but I can only imagine it was extremely uncomfortable to do so!

I was so scared I was going to have to have it replaced and wasn’t even sure if I should with considering his quality of life… he made the decision for me. He felt BETTER. He began to eat and started acting like his normal self jumping back in windows and behaving as he normally would.

He was getting so much better but of course things kept happening. He lost all his fur around his neck and initially I thought it was from being shaved from where the feeding tube was but he was itching non stop! Before I had assumed his ears losing fur were a reaction to the transdermal mirtazapine too… but now idk cause all his fur was starting to go and he was so itchy! He had to wear an e-collar because he was nearly causing a secondary infection from itching and licking so much, part of his neck became a moist dermatitis. I used SSD cream to help and it did but the skin was grey unhealthy, damaged and scaley looking. He didn’t have fleas and I was scared to put flea prevention on him because he had been so ill, I didn’t want to compromise his immune system with some chemical.

I took him to a specialist to evaluate his bw, which wasn’t completely normal, but was much better than it had been when he got his onset illness. She was concerned about his skin as well and recommended doing a skin scrape to evaluate for demodex. After doing some research because he had FIV and had so many illness going on with no immune system his own demodex that naturally lives on his skin as we humans even have our own, it is not contagious, well his overgrew and became a problem. I did my own skin scrape and I FOUND THE DEMODEX!

Surprise revolution isn’t labeled for demodex but has research that indicates it can be used to treat demodex in cats! So bam 4 consecutive months of revolution and his fur and skin all returned to normal and of course after our first initial dose he vomited 4 times that day! Because he was still sick and the chemical was too much for him, I anticipated as much which was why I hadn’t wanted to use it in the first place, but it was necessary and he was well after that initial first day.

4 months later he got his bloodwork repeated to evaluate all of his bizarre bw findings and to EVERYONES astonishment!… EVERY VALUE RETURNED TO NORMAL! I mean literally every value on the superchem/cbc was within normal range without even the slightest abnormality. Omg 5k later after so much mental trauma and all the scares and concerns of quality of life and crying and stress. My baby was literally completely better and has continued to be his normal self. Now fatter and happier than ever!

He’s not allowed outside anymore because he has a compromised immune system and I wouldn’t wish FIV on any other cat. But he will sneak out of given any chance and turns out if he gets out the back door where my yard is completely fenced in with an 8ft fence, he can scale the entire fence and get out, literally running away from me. He comes right back home to the front door with a couple of kissy noises after a couple hours of adventuring.

Thank you for reading Squirrel and Mera’s story. We are so grateful for persevering through such a hard time, but that perseverance brought us to today, where Squirrely is as happy, loving and normal as ever. I believe the onset of FIV trashed his entire immune system and everything just started failing and following after. We just needed consistent supportive care to get over the hump of an onset virus that shot the immune system. We made it, thank you!

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