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The Story of Our Bengal Kitten, Purrrcy
Written by John & Sheila Fowler
Once in a while things come together in an unforeseeable way that gives pride to a breeder's efforts in raising Bengal cats. Such is the case with our newest young boy named Purrrcy. What follows is Purrrcy's story of birth, mother's rejection, feeding, pottying, infections and many other issues to resolve before our exquisite Purrrcy emerged strong and healthy.
Breeding Bengal cats (or any animals) requires the best combination of science and experience one can accumulate. The care, happiness and condition of any animal part of a breeding program requires the needs of that animal come first. The needs of the human are secondary to those of our Bengal cats.
It all began one evening in March. Purrrcy's mother, Bindi, seemed to be having problems. We knew she was pregnant and had carried her babies throughout her pregnancy with no problems, until about a week before she was due to deliver. On March 28 we began to notice a small amount of blood which made us very concerned. Behavior-wise, she was fine. But blood is never a good sign. Then, on Saturday night we noticed there was pus with the blood. So, early Sunday morning, we took her in for evaluation and possible caesarian section (C-section). Fortunately, the vet was not overly booked, so he could fit us in.
While the bleeding was concerning, the pus indicated an infection and made the C-section necessary. So, as worried as we were, we left Bindi in our vet's hands and waited in the office for the result. Several hours and multiple cups of coffee later, the results are known: Bindi had three babies. Two were males and the third was a deteriorating fetus that would have prevented Bindi from going into labor! So getting her to the vet was critical.
Now, we are faced with feeding the two preemies. But more concerning was would Bindi accept the kittens? When kittens are taken by C-section, there is always the chance the mother won't recognize them as she did not participate in birthing them. A lot goes on when a Bengal kitten is born naturally as the mother smells and licks the newborn as it is being pushed out. This part, Bindi missed. So, how she will react to the two Bengal kittens is unknown.
The vet staff believed she would do well as they put her Bengal kittens next to her. But, she was still under the anesthesia and had no idea what was going on. The vet actually wanted to euthanize the weaker kitten before we took them home, but we said no, we wanted to give him a chance. He gave the other a 10% chance of survival.
We decided to stay in the hospital a while and have the staff help us figure out how to bottle feed the two young ones. One of the technicians had good success bottle feeding both Bengal kittens. But when we tried, it was not easy and we were worried we might lose them. So, we worked hard to learn how to bottle feed and took Bindi and the kittens home.
Both kittens were struggling to recover from being exposed to the infection due to the aspiring fetus. One was extremely weak and barely moving and despite all our efforts, that kitten passed away that Sunday evening. So, at this point, we had only one kitten left and Bindi was not ready to accept him and, in fact wanted to kill them.
So, now we had to figure out how to feed a premature Bengal kitten and, of equal importance, how to potty him as necessary. We had already bought cans of KMR. KMR is a liquid milk replacement for the mother's milk. During this time, we also had to keep in mind that Bindi's milk glands need to be developed and the kittens need the colostrum from Bindi to develop good immune systems. But, Bindi doesn't know he belongs to her. So, we went ahead and held Bindi so the kitten could nurse. We did not know if it would happen, but we needed to try and if unsuccessful, we would try again. Losing the one kitten was devastating, but we must persevere.
We did get the one kitten to nurse a little, but not enough to sustain him. Bindi did not know her kitten and could not be trusted alone with him. In fact, she showed no sign of wanting to mother him. She treated him as a "thing". This was not good. We had to put him with her periodically and stay with them to make sure she would not hurt her kitten while putting him on her nipple and making sure he was able to suck without getting bit or pushed off.
Without the continuous care a mother cat can provide, we had to improvise. That means several things. First, we had to keep him in a bathroom in a box with a heating pad covered with towels to keep him warm, but not too warm. Some people have a knack to bottle feed, but we were unable to get the kitten to nurse from the bottle. The alternative is to tube feed. This has to be done very carefully and with the right equipment. We have had bad luck doing this in the past, but learned we may have lost kittens due to the tube being too thin and turning around as we inserted it making the milk go into the lungs. Our vet schooled us to use a larger diameter tube (#10 for his age) that will not turn upon itself during insertion. What a difference it did make. Next, we had to follow a careful schedule of feeding volume so as not to exceed the capability of his digestive system. For a premature (preemie) we had to start with 0.5 mL every two hours.
Oh, and before I forget, because of the infection caused by the deteriorating fetus, we had to give injections of Clavamox inra-muscularly twice a day for five days! Try that on a preemie weighing less than 97 grams. Again, these are the kinds of issues that can occur in a breeding program and the humans involved must have the capability to do all that needs to be done.
Now, this feeding schedule is critical. And, one might notice that feeding with such frequency does not allow sleeping. Further, even though there are two of us, it took both of us to prepare the KMR, insert the tube and deliver the small amount of KMR and make sure it goes into his stomach and does not come up on him. There are those who do these things alone, and so have we, but a premature kitten takes a little more caution to be sure everything is done right, so for the first day, we fed every hour, and as the week progressed, we were able to go to two hours between feedings.
Then there is the matter of making sure he goes potty - both 1 and 2. The procedure is variable depending on the need. For example, if after a feeding, he does not go, he would be pottied before the next feeding and checked after feeding. The basic procedure we used was to take a tissue and, with a little warm water applied to the tissue, begin gently massaging his excreting areas. Usually, he will give urine right away. He may not defecate every time, but, here is where one's gut instinct comes in. Should he be defecating by now? So, we might try a little longer. This went well until the eighth day of feeding at 4:00 a.m. He needed a little help. He was not defecating. We began to suspect he was constipated. But, how do you get a one week premature kitten to be un-constipated? Not knowing any better, we have used baby fleet enema successfully in the past on very young kittens, but not on premies. It was the zero dark thirty timeframe and could not call anyone. So, with the enema in hand, we noticed the extreme difference between the enema container diameter and Purrrcy's rectum. But, we had one of those thin feeding tubes the vet said not to use for feeding, but it was just right for this application. To be safe, we used only up to about 0.1 cc of the enema drawing it up through the tube so we did not have to account for the fluid that stays in the tube.
At first, it was like hitting a brick wall with the tube trying to insert it. That confirmed he was constipated. So, we had to push a little of the enema fluid outside this rectum to sort of lubricate the area so the tube could be inserted past the hardened poop. We had to maneuver the tube around and in and out until it got past the hard portion. Then we inserted the enema and like a broken dam, the poop came shooting out - tons of it. It must have been six inches long or more. Now, we reviewed this with our vet and he said the baby fleet enema can cause death in very young kittens if too much is used. But, a review of the ingredients used today in Fleet's Pedia-Lax, shows the product has been changed by removing any sodium or phosphorous ingredients and, instead, they use Glycerin as the only active ingredient. Our vet may have been recalling the older formula that contained sodium and/or phosphorous. Since this new formula is what we used, we felt safe as glycerin is a safe, non-toxic substance - even to very young kittens. We advise everyone, however, to read the ingredients on any enema to be sure it does not contain harmful ingredients. While our vet prefers using warm water, the new Pedia-Lax is also a safe approach. So, while his solution may have been safer in the case of using the older formula, our procedure worked very well using the Pedia-Lax with Glycerin as the active ingredient and more time could not have been spent waiting as his system needed to be un-clogged right away.
One must have a good scale to keep tract of whether or not he is gaining weight. We have an excellent electronic scale with a bowl that he fits comfortably within and we can select grams, kilograms, ounces or pounds as one needs. For Purrrcy, we used grams at this stage. It was not possible to gain weight on him for the first week. The vet said, for preemies, we are lucky to keep the weight constant and not lose. And along about day eight of feeding, we began to see some weight gain.
Also during this first week, we had to inject fluids under the skin to keep him from dehydrating. All these things were carefully noted every feeding, every fluid injection, every enema, every excretion and his weight was recorded after every feeding. There were scares along the way that we had to think through like milk coming out his nose. One suggestion was if milk does get in the lungs, hold the kitten upside down (tail up and head down) and the fluid will drain and it did! Whew!
So, we found ourselves going to the internet constantly whenever we needed to solve problems or find answers. Then on about the 11th day, we noticed his eyes were still closed, but one was bulging. We have seen this before. In fact, on a Bengal kitten we saw the same bulging and the eyes were not opening. Then, one opened and the eye popped out! So, we took the kitten to a vet who said that could not happen and in his office, the other came out in his hand. So, we know what it means when the eye should be open, but is swelling under the eye lid: infection.
We took him right to our vet who was very impressed we knew what was going on as he had seen multiple cases where the people did not have a clue and lost the eyes. He took Purrrcy in the back to open his eye lids and to apply antibiotic. Good news was his eyes were in good shape and we got him there in plenty of time to treat him.
Now, all during these first 11 days, we put him with Bindi to both keep her milk glands working and to help her develop a bond with him. This did not seem possible in the first week, but gradually, she began to accept him including cleaning him. This was needed and much welcomed as we were getting worn out with lack of sleep. But this shows that breeders must persist to make sure all the right things are being done and the cats are receiving the best of care. We knew that time was on our side - eventually.
So, let's review. Bindi had one deteriorating kitten that was threatening the health and well-being of the other two. A C-section one week before her schedule due date (day 63 from mating) was the only way to save the kittens. We lost one in spite of our best efforts due to the infection. Purrrcy was on his own and given only a 10% chance of survival. During his first 11 days, we had to tube feed him, inject him with antibiotics twice a day, inject fluids as needed for dehydration, potty him before/after each feeding and treat his eyes for infection as many times a day as possible.
His weight never stayed above 100 grams until this time. It was difficult giving him more than 1.5 cc per feeding until day eight. Now we upped it to 3 cc per feeding and by day 14 he was up to 5 cc per feeding. This seems right to me because the entire first week he would have been inside his mother, so that explains why he did not grow during that week. If he was in his mother, nature would not want him to grow so big he could not be delivered naturally. So, we just discount the first 7 days and all seems to fall into place.
By 6:00 p.m. on day 21, Purrrcy was accepted fully by his mother who fed and cleaned him constantly! Now we can sleep through the night. After all the weighing's we did in the bowl on the scale, Purrrcy purrs every time we take him in the bathroom to be weighed. He never forgot his everyday routine and really likes sitting in the bowl - although he is getting too big to fit in the bowl.
Problems solved, right? Wrong. Now we notice his right front foot collapses when he tries to walk; back to the vet on 28 April. The vet pointed out that the leg needs to remain straight during early development or it won't grow right. He came up with a soft splint using a thin cotton fabric wrapped first and held in place with vet wrap, but not too tight. So, that seemed nifty, so we took him home and found the wrap slipped off. We came up with a solution using double sticky tape, but the next morning, while the wrap was still on, his foot was swollen. So, we removed it and let the swelling go down and then re-wrapped looser and all worked well. And, after a week or two, it was amazing how what appeared to be a lack of bone became a normal leg and he was able to support himself very well.
Well, we still are not out of the woods. We found Purrrcy vomiting for some reason. We took him in as this was a show stopper. The vet prescribed medicine to prevent vomiting. After treating him for some time, we caught him eating the clay cat litter! Wow. So, anyone would vomit after eating clay cat litter. So, stop the med and find a litter solution. We started using an old standby: wood pellets. But, then he would not use the litter. There was poop everywhere but in the litter box. After some research, we found Yesterday's News. Now, this is also like the wood pellet, but it is much smaller and comes in two types: hard and soft. He liked the small soft after we put it in a litter box with lower sides making it easy for him to get in. So, we are still using Yesterday's News and he is using his litter box religiously.
So, that is Purrrcy's story; a story of how a premature Bengal kitten, rejected by his own mother can be given the help he needs until his mother gets over the anesthesia and lack of natural birth. But through it all, there is one attribute that shines above all others and that is Purrrcy's perseverance to overcome all the issues he faced. With that in mind, we named him Summermist Purrrseverence as his registered name giving "Purrrcy" as his call name.
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(Inquires invited by phone (760) 744-7886)
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Inquires invited by phone (760) 744-7886
(Rush) X (Bindi)
Rush and Bindi future litter planned.
Rush is the son of Champion "Command Purrrformance (Perry)" - Supreme Grand Champion Bengal cat. #1 Regional Bengal Cat Winner and the 8th best Bengal Cat in the World! 2006
Inquires invited by phone (760) 744-7886
Deposits Are Nonrefundable.
Summermist Bengals has the right to refuse to sell any cat or kitten at anytime and during the negotiation. Until a written Sales Agreement has been signed by both interested parties, these cats and kittens are the sole property of Summermist Bengals. DEPOSITS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE. They are considered to be a partial payment toward a kitten you have reserved in a litter and assures your place on our waiting list for a kitten. If the reserved kitten becomes unavailable for sale, your deposit/partial payment will go toward another kitten which may be in the same or a new litter.
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