Our three little rescue kittens have been taking a whole bunch of medicine lately because it turns out that they have all kinds of icky stuff going on inside them. Mom knew there was something wrong with them because they were not like regular kittens, who play and run around being crazy and getting into everything. Instead, these kittens just mostly sleep all the time, and also they eat and poop. But at first they weren't even eating all that much, and some of their poop was diarrhea. But some of it wasn't diarrhea, so that was confusing.
Anyway, Mom kept telling Dr. Regan that she thought there was something wrong with the kittens, and Dr. Regan said that the medical term for that is ADR. Which stands for Ain't Doin' Right. So Dr. Regan decided to do a complete blood test, and to save money, she just did it on one kitten. Jilly was the one picked to get her blood sent to the lab because Jilly is the puniest of the three kittens. Then Mom said we should also send some poop to the lab, and she brought a sample from Janey, and Dr. Regan sent it in.
|Toxoplasma gondii, which can be dyed|
all sorts of pretty colors!
So what we found out so far about the kittens is that they have giardia, which I told you all about in a previous blog entry. And the blood test showed that the kittens have toxoplasmosis, and they have a whole bunch of it, which we know because they have a ton of antibodies for this disease. In fact, they have so many antibodies that the lab ran the test a second time, just to make sure there wasn't a mistake.
Well, you may be asking yourself, "What the heck is toxoplasmosis?" And the answer is pretty complicated, so I'm just going to try to explain it in a very simple way, because that's the only way I can really understand it myself.
Anyway, there's this one-celled little thing called a protozoan, and its name is toxoplasma gondii. It can get inside any warm-blooded animal, including humans, but the animal it likes best is cats. And the reason it likes cats best is because that's the only place this protozoan can have sex and make more of itself. I can't explain why this is. I am just telling you the facts.
So the way cats get the toxoplasma gondii inside them is by eating an animal that is already infected with it, such as a mouse or a rat or a bird. Then the parasite multiplies itself inside the cat's guts and makes these things called oocysts, which are immature eggs. The oocysts get pooped out, and then other animals or humans might accidentally get them on their hands or feet and into their mouths and swallow them.
Most cats become immune to toxoplasmosis, but kittens can have actual symptoms of the disease, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. Also the the kittens' eyes can get inflamed, plus they might get pneumonia or hepatitis. Well, of course, this fits with our kittens' symptoms of lethargy and poor appetite. And also, Janey has had an eye infection, but she's mostly over it now.
People can get toxoplasmosis by eating meat that hasn't been cooked enough, like especially pork. Also they can get it when gardening in dirt where cats have pooped or by cleaning out litter boxes. Lots of people have been exposed to toxo, and it either didn't affect them at all, or else they just had some mild flu-like symptoms. But people who have a weak immune system, such as people with HIV or women who are pregnant, should not do anything that will cause them to get toxoplasmosis. If a pregnant woman gets it, she might have a deformed child or else she might have an abortion.
|Jeeves and Janey playing|
But anyway, getting back to cats, if they take an antibiotic called Clindamycin, they can get rid of most of the toxo protozoa. Sometimes cats can get rid of all of them, but other times, they still have some protozoa hanging around in the body someplace. And maybe those parasites will never make the cats sick again, but they might come back and do some damage to the cat's brain or kidneys or whatever. Or maybe the damage has already been done, but it won't show up for a few years.
All of this is kind of scary to think about, and when Mom thought about it, she felt sad, because she wants the kittens to be adopted and have a good life. But Dr. Regan said she thought maybe it would be best to treat the kittens and then take them back to Aunt Linda's farm to live in the barn the rest of their lives. Mom doesn't want to do this, but she and Aunt Tania haven't decided yet what they should do with the kittens. And anyway, it will be better to wait until the kittens finish taking all their meds and then see how they are feeling and acting. Mom thinks they are already starting to feel better, because they are playing with each other some, and doing more stuff like that.
|Jeeves giving himself a bath|
Today Mom took Nicky to Mission MedVet to talk to Dr. Grigsby, the internist, about Nicky's diarrhea. And when they finished talking about Nicky, Mom told Dr. Grigsby about our kittens and asked if Dr. Grigsby thought they would be adoptable, since they had the toxo and all that. Dr. Grigsby said there was always the chance that the kittens would get sick from it again later on, but she thought most cats didn't haven't any problem, and her opinion was that the kittens could be adopted out. Which made Mom feel lots better, and it makes me feel better, too!