Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Kitten Nightmares


Having been born in an old abandoned house had exposed the minions to many dangerous, scary, unhealthy things. They came to me at one week of age. When the outlaw minions were two weeks old, they went to visit the vet for the very first time. Bonnie was really there as moral support for Clyde. Tiny little Clyde had a very big, serious situation to confront. He had a Cuterebra.

Cuterebra are botflies. The adults seek hosts in which to lay their eggs, using any opening in the host to do so. The eggs are hatched under the skin of the host, where they grow and evolve in the warmth and safety of the host. Cuterebra hosts are usually rodents, such as mice, chipmunks, and squirrels. Rabbits are common hosts, as well. Since cats frequently stalk areas with these animals, they often ingest or pick up the botflies and their larvae.

The larvae (maggot) itself can be picked up, in which case it will find an opening in the skin to complete its life cycle. This opening may be a wound, the nose, ear, eye, or any orifice. The Cuterebra larvae will migrate through the host's tissue until it chooses a suitable place to grow. As the larvae grow, a welt often becomes noticeable under the skin of the host animal. This is a warble. Eventually, a hole will appear in the skin. This is an air hole for the larvae to breathe. Often, it can be observed as it pokes through the hole for air.

The safest way to treat this situation is to seek help through an experienced veterinarian. The warble must be treated with a local anesthetic, usually through the air hole. The hole is enlarged to ensure full, intact removal of the larvae with hemostats. The complete area is then flushed thoroughly. An antibiotic ointment is used to help faster healing. Sometimes, an oral antibiotic is given, as well.

     Cuterebra being removed from a kitten 
                                                                                     ~source~

Unfortunately, where there is one Cuterebra, there may be more. This is the nature of flies, including botflies. Clyde was a good example of this, as he was an easy target for the evil Cuterebra. As he turned four weeks old, he spent the day at the vet for Part Two, or Cuterebra Revisited.

This time was a bit more involved. The second warble was next to where the first had been, leaving one long, gaping wound. The first area had begun to heal but became re-infected as the second Cuterebra was taking over. There is not much room on a tiny kitten’s left shoulder. This was a serious infection. Clyde is now cleaned out, stitched up, on an oral antibiotic, and is now recovering well. Clyde is a real trooper. Thankfully, I was able to get Clyde the help that he needed.

Not all animals get assistance with Cuterebra. Wild animals, such as rodents and rabbits, suffer these horrible infestations. Many die slow, agonizing deaths. Horses can also become hosts because of their availability to botflies. While Cuterebra rarely infests dogs, cats often become targets because of the rodents and animals they stalk or hunt.

Sometimes, warbles are thought to be abscesses, injuries, sores, or “bug bites. Cats that spend a lot of time outside are at risk for Cuterebra. Naturally, cats that live outdoors are at a considerably higher risk. Strays and feral cats, like Bonnie and Clyde’s mother, cannot avoid this exposure.

Cuterebra infestations cause many secondary health issues. These parasites can attack various systems of the body, eventually shutting them down. Infection can be localized or widespread.

One system that is noticeable when compromised is the respiratory system. Cuterebra can cause visible breathing difficulty, coughing,  wheezing, or shortness of breath, along with fever. There may be any combination of these symptoms.

Another serious consideration is the neurological system. Symptoms of an affected system include dizziness, paralysis, and blindness. More unusual symptoms include odd movements such as pacing, circling, or twitching.

If the eye becomes the area of the parasitic infestation, a lesion may be noticeable. This will lead to blindness and loss of the eye.

I am not an advocate of cats being allowed to roam, even after they are altered. I have seen too much, and know too much. It breaks my heart. This is the down side of rescue. It is a reality that most never speak of, because of the nightmares the Cuterebra (and creatures like them) invoke. And, it should invoke those horrific scenarios. If the Cuterebra is ignored, it will continue on its evil, self-serving mission.

There are too many dangers outside. In my opinion, they outweigh the benefit of being there. Traffic is a serious concern. One of our feral cat rescues (Chanel) had been hit by a car and dragged for blocks. After three surgeries, we were able to rehab her enough to get around the house, though she remained disabled.

Dogs, wildlife, people, and other predators are obvious dangers. Our aging feral cat, Echo, had been shot with a hollow-point bullet, shattering her rear leg. Again, we were able to rescue and rehab her. We gave her a permanent inside home with dignity. But, she lived her golden years on three legs, never quite understanding she was safe.

Now, add to all of these seen outside fears the unseen parasites from hell: Cuterebra. It is one more very real reason to keep pets, especially cats, inside the safety of your home. May your pets never meet a Cuterebra. May their dreams always be sweet. 

~Sweet Kitten Dreams, Clyde~

32 comments:

  1. Our shelter only allows adoption to indoor homes, with very rare exceptions. We've had a few ferals that had to be adopted to be barn cats. That decision is never made lightly.

    Our Tripod SissyCat is a former feral. She loves going out on the porch and eating grass, so i sit out there with her. She became a three-legged cat because she thought she could take on a dog. She's much wiser now and stays on the porch and in the grass right in front of it, and comes to sit next to me if she sees anyone walking a dog in the area.

    My heart goes out to Clyde, i pray he makes a full recovery.

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    1. Mimi, thank you. SissyCat is blessed to have you. Thank you for loving her. I know you feel as I do about this kind of thing. Our experiences have been similar in rescue. Thank you for your prayers for Clyde. Hugs.

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  2. That is a very informative post. Unfortunately, a lot of mine do stay outside but so far haven't gotten that yet. Clyde, glad you found such a good home that took such good care of you. Hope you are all better by now.

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    1. Marg, I know your cats and critters are well cared for. I am hoping this will make people aware of this nightmare, so they can prevent it.

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  3. That sounds like such a horrible thing to have cats infested with this parasite. I hope I never have to deal with this stuff.

    Poor little Clyde, he is so lucky to have you.

    Hugs, Julia

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    1. Thanks, Julia. It is a really horrible thing to witness. It breaks my heart to see them suffer. They were born with strikes against them. This makes it so much worse.

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  4. Thanks for the information. Our first cat (three decades ago) started his life being able to roam outside, then was converted to indoors-only. It was hard on him to make the change. Our current cats have never been outside. I don't think they miss it.

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    1. Our first cat together, Bob, spent a lot of time outside. But, it was a different time, a different world. We learned to not let him outside when he was injured, unfortunately. When I became a vet tech, I learned a lot about pet care.

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  5. Yikes! I've never heard of this and hope I never see it in person. Little Clyde is blessed to have you, and my boys are sending him healing purrs. ♥

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    1. Thanks, Kim. He really is a trooper. Hugs.

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  6. Best wishes, Clyde! Last night my partner and I watched an episode of "Monsters Inside Me" in which a woman visiting Beliz ended up with this infestation in her thigh. Nasty stuff. The physician who diagnosed it at first recommended letting the thing hatch on its own. Gross! No way! She tolerated the pain of removal.

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    1. Yes. I have seen that show. Believe me, this is a nightmare like that!

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  7. How horrible and for such an innocent babe. But for any animal.

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  8. I never knew this even existed. I'm horrified! Poor Clyde. Thank you for taking care of him. It's so sad to think of all the kittens and cats that have nobody. I hope he fully recovers very soon.

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    1. That is the sad reality. It is not talked about...until it has to be. People need to know, to prevent it. Thanks!

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  9. Botflies are disgusting. Not many things make me heave, but that's one thing that will. Yes, cats should stay indoors, and we hope for the best for our feral friends.

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    1. Thanks, Bernadette. I agree entirely.

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  10. Annie, I had never heard of this parasite. How terrible for tiny Clyde. Is it possible that he could have more of these forming? This was a most informative post, and all cat lovers should know about this. Any cat can escape. Prayers that little Clyde heals completely and remembers nothing about his ordeal. Prayers and hugs for you, Maggie and Chloe Jo as well, Janet

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    1. Yes, it is always possible they are incubating. We don't think so, but, we are watching for it. I knew about these and have dealt with them before. But, this has been the worst. Thanks, Janet. I appreciate that!

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  11. Excellent and informative post. I feel bad for all the ferals that have no one to help them when they get these. I am glad Clyde will be OK. I am a firm believer in indoor only. XO

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. This breaks my heart for all of the strays and ferals who have no one to help them. I am with you: inside only. Hugs.

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  12. Oh, that sounds horrible! We are glad Clyde was treated for these botflies, and hope they are gone forever.

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    1. Thanks, guys. Me, too. He has been through a lot, but does not give up! Hugs.

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  13. Very informative post. So glad Clyde was able to be treated.

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    1. Thanks. It has been a nightmare for him. He is so tiny, too.

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  14. I hate to see cats roaming around outside and often wonder how they survive. All of the cats that I have owned lived indoors. My 15 year old furry diva would not fare too well outside.

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    1. I know what you mean. Some of mine could make it outside, but some...no way. I pray they never have to try. Hugs.

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  15. dood.....sorree buddy.....we noe ya feeled like crap ola timez 20 but we iz glad mom getted ya de help ewe knead N we hope de bass terd cuterebra goez two hellz ina hand baskit N never botherz ewe again....ever....st francis' blessingz dood ~ ♥♥

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  16. Poor baby. Good to know he has a great foster mom.

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  17. I had never heard of this! I was shocked and horrified. It's like a science fiction story. My cat goes out in the lane but i never thought she might become a host for a botfly. This is truly scary as hell.

    Jean

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  18. How awful. I'm glad they were able to help him. I've trained as an EMT and a nurse, so I have a pretty strong stomach for medical stuff, but this made me feel queasy.

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