The Saga of Grace and Her Babies

Grace and her four beautiful kittens were trapped off the street and surrendered to EHS. A short time after going into foster, it was discovered that she had an odd lump on her side.

Grace with lump (kidney)

Grace with lump (kidney)

A vet appointment was made immediately. The vet shaved and checked the lump, and a biopsy was scheduled as it was impossible to determine from the physical examination what exactly the lump was, and it wasn’t responding to antibiotics.

When Grace went in for surgery to remove the lump and be spayed at the same time, the vet was astonished by what he found.

The lump protruding from Grace’s side was actually her ‘dead’ kidney which she had been carrying around for at least 2 weeks. When he removed her uterus, a pellet from a pellet gun was found in her uterine wall. It had entered through her side, causing a hole to open up and a hernia to form which pushed one of her kidneys above the surface level of her skin, cutting off its blood supply.

Upclose of lump

Close-up of lump

Although it seemed unlikely that she would survive, we refused to give up on her, and the vet was ultimately successful in removing the kidney and her uterus, and stitching up her large hernia with multiple layers of tissue to secure it. Against all odds, Grace not only survived the procedure, but has made a complete recovery in foster.

She now has only one kidney, and will require semi annual blood and urine tests to monitor her kidney function. Her latest bloodwork shows that she is doing just fine with one kidney, and could very well live a long and normal life. She is not on any medication right now.

It is a distinct possibility that at one point Grace did have a place to call home. Unfortunately for her, she ended up on the streets where she suffered the unthinkable. The vets have determined that she would have been shot while nursing her kittens who were 9-weeks-old when they came to EHS. We have filed a report with the OSPCA in the hopes that the perpetrator of this horrific crime can be found and brought to justice.

There are many lessons to be learned here, the most important of which is to keep your cat indoors. We frequently hear anecdotes of outdoor cats who lived to ripe old ages, but these are exceptions. Every day, beloved cats go missing, are run over by traffic, eaten by coyotes, attacked by raccoons and other cats, and contract diseases and parasites, among other things. Strictly indoor cats, on average, tend to have much longer life expectancies than indoor/outdoor cats. Being shot with a pellet gun is probably the least likely thing that could have happened to Grace while outdoors, but it still happened, and she is paying the price for the rest of her life.

Another lesson is to spay and neuter your pets. Mothers are resilient creatures, but one can only imagine what kind of strain feeding and protecting four kittens put on Grace while she was also enduring this awful trauma outside.

Grace now

Grace now

Despite all that she has been through, Grace was an amazing mom, and never gave up on herself or her kittens. She is slowly regaining her trust in humans, and after her instinctual hiss when approached, Grace allows petting and begins purring and rubbing up against her foster mom. She is a gentle soul who has never lashed out at her foster, even when she was in pain or scared. Grace is now looking for her forever home, where she will be safe and protected and cherished like the special “miracle kitty” that she is. She is FIV positive, which has no impact on her risk of kidney disease.

While Grace battled and suffered through her trauma the babies fought their own battle. Stark, Abel,Tabigail and Leona went into foster where they remained a little frightened but showed they were just like any other kittens. The foster mom saw very little of them during the day but when she would check in on them first thing in the morning, their room was topsy turvy, indicating they’d clearly been up to no good – i.e. playing like all kittens do, hard.

The fours babies arrived to the shelter on Sunday night after two weeks in foster. Tuesday morning something was clearly wrong with Leona. Volunteers found her listless and immobile. She was rushed to the vet where aggressive treatments were pursued and all that could be done was done. However, the very next day Leona succumbed to whatever ailed her. Her siblings were immediately placed under quarantine.

A loss like this is never easy. We were shaken by it. Our vet had his suspicions but nothing would be conclusive without a postmortem. Little Leona had Panleukopenia, a highly contagious and life-threatening viral disease. It is most commonly seen in cats 3-5 months of age and death is common at this age. Kittens that are more than two months old have a 70% mortality rate if treated and almost 100% mortality rate if not. This percent is smaller for adult cats but not by much. Adult cats have an 85% mortality rate. Panleukopenia is a virus that the FVRCP vaccination covers and therefore all cats should receive it. These kittens did, as all EHS cats do, but unfortunately the virus already existed in Leona’s system. We suspect that the others were able to fight it off but the virus proved too strong for little Leona.

We consulted four different vets, we took trips to the emergency vet and we adhered to strict quarantine procedures. We were determined that Stark, Abel and Tabigail would not follow Leona. This little furry family had endured enough. After many blood tests and a 14 day quarantine period the remaining 3 kittens were cleared. We were assured by all vets that if they survived the quarantine period they would be out of the woods and ready to start the next phase of their lives – happy and healthy.

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