A Second Chance
The Tenth Save of Christmas 2017: Fauna
A Second Chance
Fauna and her two calico sisters came into rescue when they were about a week old, after their momma was trapped as part of a feral cat spay and neuter program. The kittens were found alone in the barn, and since their mom was going to have surgery and then be released, they could not be reunited with her. Besides, a feral kitten caught soon enough has a great chance of being socialized and made ready for comfy future with a loving family. So, Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather—remember the three good fairies from “Sleeping Beauty”?—began anew with their foster mom.
These pretty calicos had such a good time together! They were very active, happy kittens as they grew. Because they arrived in rescue so young, they were fed kitten formula until their teeth started putting holes in the nipples of the baby bottles. Then canned kitten food was added to their daily feedings.
At about this time their foster mom began to notice evidence of vomiting on the bedding that the kittens shared. It seemed pretty clear that one of the kittens was bringing her food back up, but which one? It took a little time to narrow the focus to Fauna. She wasn’t gaining weight as rapidly as her sisters. She was also quieter, slept a lot, and was hungrier, even desperate, for the bottle during the few times that they still got bottle fed during the day.
Sometimes a kitten has an unsettled stomach, for any of several reasons, so her foster parents started by giving Fauna medications to reduce vomiting, but she still had trouble holding down solid foods. Her foster mom quickly noticed a pattern: immediately after eating solid food, Fauna would begin to swallow in an exaggerated manner; soon after, she would bring up everything she ate. Her foster parents started giving Fauna more formula every day and were relieved to see her gaining weight and becoming more energetic. Her personality was also really starting to show. She was a mellow kitten who liked nothing better than to snuggle in a lap. She would patiently wait while her foster parents fed the rest of the kittens and then would follow her foster mom to the table, where she would climb in Mom’s lap so she could put her front paws on the table and drink her bowl of kitten formula. Often she would play with crinkle balls and try to keep up with her sisters, but they were so much bigger and faster that she just couldn’t do it. Even though she was obviously feeling better, it was crucial to get to the bottom of her digestive problems.
Fortunately, Fauna’s foster mom works at a veterinarian’s office. (In fact, our rescue is lucky to have several volunteers who are veterinary professionals. Not only are those volunteers skilled at observing potentially important symptoms, but they have access to some of the best veterinarians in the area.) In early July, at the request of Fauna’s foster mom, several of the veterinarians at the hospital examined Fauna. After watching her eat and then swiftly regurgitate the food, they recommended that she see an internal medicine specialist as soon as possible. So it was that on Monday, July 17th, Flora underwent a Fluoroscopic Swallow Study.
What we discovered was that this precious little girl Fauna had an esophageal stricture. The opening from her esophagus into her stomach was closed down, allowing formula and liquids to pass, but blocking solid food from reaching her stomach. Once her esophagus was filled with several bites of food, it would become uncomfortable and Fauna would try to swallow harder to make the feeling go away, and when that didn’t work, she would eventually bring up what she couldn’t swallow. The longer this process continued, the more chance that she might aspirate food or that her esophagus would be permanently damaged, so more procedures were scheduled. The cause and size of the stricture would actually determine the treatment, so Fauna was scheduled for a CT scan. Once that was completed, we would know whether Fauna needed surgery or whether her esophagus could be stretched open at the site of the stricture.
Fauna had her procedure on August 9th and came home on August 11th. She did have an obstruction in her esophagus but was not a good candidate for surgery. The doctors tried increasingly larger feeding tubes until they found one that was snug. They then put a camera down her esophagus and found a lesion. At this point, they believed that there had been tissue blocking the esophagus but that it had been scraped off by the repeated placement of feeding tubes. Fauna was placed on antacids and medication to coat and protect the healing tissues. Her foster mom was told to continue the formula as her only food until her recheck. Through it all, Fauna stayed her happy, purry, loving self, although twice-daily oral medications definitely tested her good nature
The follow-up on the 16th of August indicated the area was indeed scarring, so the decision was made to try to stretch the tissue to the same size as the rest of her esophagus by passing a device with a balloon on the end that could be inflated at the site of the scar. The doctors, and of course the foster parents, were hopeful that the procedure would succeed. Fauna was able to come home on the night of the procedure and was started on a slurry of formula with increasing amounts of canned food added. After about 2 weeks, her foster parents were able to feed her canned food only. Then they were given the go-ahead to introduce some dry food. Fauna wouldn’t need to go back to the hospital unless she started showing symptoms again.
Fauna is now 8 months old and she is continuing to do well. Her sisters have been adopted, but she is still with her foster family. As of November, Fauna is eating a canned food diet. She tried some dry in September but started showing symptoms if she ate more than a few pieces of kibble; at that point her foster Mom decided that if she was doing well on canned food, then she could stay on canned food. She enjoys the crunchy treats that everyone gets at bedtime and never has an issue with those, and through all her trials, she has maintained her sweet, sunny personality. She is doing so well that we are optimistic for this little girl’s future.
Fauna is ready to meet you. She’s ready to call your bed her bed. She’s ready to find a family forever. She would really like to do this in time for Christmas. Can you make her dream come true? Contact information is available here.
Fauna thanks all the generous supporters whose compassion and contributions made it possible for us to give her a fighting chance. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of you.