We already know Hiro isn’t well, and the vet had already said he might be a fading kitten because of the acquired FIV from his mum during her pregnancy. Infant-FIV is a totally different ballgame from FIV contracted in an adult cat. The adult cat has a better fighting chance to overcome the symptoms from FIV.
It is very difficult for a neonate like Hiro. I have prepared for the worst, but I have not given up trying everything possible to help him.
So we started him on RetroMAD1 yesterday. He had two doses yesterday and one early this morning.
But at breakfast time, Hiro came to the kitchen by himself but tried as I did, he didn’t seem to be able to eat much.
I finally ended up trying every single cat food I had in my house: raw beef, raw duck, raw chicken, Coco&Joe’s barf, Cubgrub’s barf, cooked chicken with soup, steamed fish, canned tuna, canned fish, canned chicken, Primal Freeze-Dried, kibble – everything I had. One after another, I offered it to him. He licked just a big then he started scratching/pawing again, beside the bowl (more about this pawing later).
Oh, I even alternated between the usual metal bowl, to a Tupperware and a plastic dish, just in case he preferred a certain type of receptacle.
Among the many types of food offered, Hiro only ate a bit of the canned chicken, a tiny bit of raw beef and that’s about it.
For all the rest, he pawed around the bowl.
Finally, he ate some steamed fish (tilapia).
This is either a case of being extremely choosy or he is just unwell. I am more inclined to think it is the latter. But one thing got me very, very worried, Hiro drank a lot of water. Could this be a sign of kidney failure? I was very worried, but what can you do with a kitten this small? We couldn’t even draw enough blood to test the 10 parameters that day. Only enough to do the FIV/FeLV test and to check his PCV.
And do I want Hiro to be hospitalised on drips? He’d be so scared and lonely. I’d really rather not resort to this.
I took out my little kitchen scale and tried to weigh him. He was moving a lot, but it looked like he was about 640g. That’s a small increase from 625g. Not much, but at least there’s some increase. I’ve already ordered a new scale (like the ones at the clinic), but delivery is slow, especially with the upcoming public holidays.
Hiro slept all morning.
The Singaporean vet has gone on leave, so I couldn’t consult him anymore. I was also worried that the RetroMAD1 had affected Hiro’s taste buds. If so, that would not be as worrying as the fear that Hiro was going down (fading).
So I took a chance and contacted the scientist who created RetroMAD1. He is Malaysian. We chatted and I learnt a few things. The taste of RetroMAD1 can be quite off-putting. So he suggested that I dilute it with water, 4-10 times, before giving it to Hiro. Also, he suggested I could reduce the dosage each time for Hiro as well, but I could increase it to 4 times a day instead of 3 times. Then he said I must ensure Hiro drinks water. I said Hiro has been drinking too much and that got me worried. Well, he told me not to, because after taking RetroMAD1, you will be very thirsty. That gave me a little consolation, though I am still not sure if Hiro has kidney issues. The scientist said the fact that Hiro drank a lot is a good sign.
So I decided to halve the dosage for Hiro and yes, dilute it many times with water to reduce the strong unpleasant taste.
But Hiro was sleeping and I decided not to wake him up. Sleep is always good. He was resting very comfortably.
Then Hiro got up and came to the kitchen.
He looked hungry. By then, I had already bought a can of AD, waiting on standby.
But I noticed that with Hiro, you must keep changing his position all the time. He won’t eat at one spot. He’d eat, then stop and paw/scratch around the bowl and go away. But if you follow him with the food and put it down in front of him in a different position, he will eat again.
So, why is he like this? I don’t know, but here’s what I think: It’s a feral instinct. He has to keep shifting positions to avoid predators (who? Either an imaginary one or Riley). Then, what’s with the pawing? Now, most of my friends say their cats paw because they don’t like the food so they want to bury it. But here’s the thing…another friend said it is to save for later. So which is which? Big cats like tigers also paw and actually bury their food to be dug up later to be eaten. So it may not mean that they don’t like it. It could mean that they have had enough for now, but would like to save the rest for later.
But in any case, only the cats know why they paw. We humans are just speculating.
Riley paws a lot. But for her, it means, “Hello, I don’t feel like eating this now, could you please serve me something else?”.
Maybe it’s the same for Hiro too?
I know for a fact that cats paw/scratch to bury their pee and poo NOT because it smells bad. It is to detract predators from following their trail. Only we humans think it is because it smells bad. I don’t think it’s “smelly” to cats. Cats will even sniff at their own pee and poo, right? Just think, if it smells bad to them, then why do male cats mark their territory with their own urine? Aha…tell me why.
Anyway, for AD alone, I shifted Hiro’s position a total of SIX times. He would stop eating and paw around the bowl. But after shifting it, he ate again.
Then I offered his favourite beef chunks. He ate this too, but not so much. Granted, hasn’t he already eaten so much AD, right?
Also needed to shift positions.
Good boy, Hiro. Good boy. You have to eat, okay?
Then, he ate Cubgrub’s chicken.
Pawing again around the bowl. This time I’m sure it really means, “I’m full now. Can I save this by burying it for later?”
Earlier in the day, Misty and Gerald were out frolicking in the garden. I wanted to put Hiro there too but he was fast asleep, so I didn’t want to disturb his sleep. Sleep is so important for recovery.
So I took him out to Bunny’s Place in the afternoon to get some sun.
He wasn’t too keen to play on the grass, though.
Hiro then took a very long nap again.
By evening, he woke up and came to the kitchen, but he didn’t want to eat anything that I offered.
He finally just perched here and accompanied me while I cooked dinner.
After we finished dinner, Hiro had gone to bed on his purple blanket without eating any dinner. This means, he only ate one meal around noon. That’s not enough. The vet said he has to eat, and if he doesn’t, I’ll have to force feed him.
So I took him into the kitchen and the nightmare began all over again. Offered various foods, starting with AD, but he refused to eat. He just pawed around the bowl again. He did finally lick a little bit of food, but definitely not enough for a meal.
In the course of trying to get him to eat, I also tried to force feed him (as advised by the vet), but Hiro bit me. Yes, again, on that same index finger of my right hand which has just “almost healed”. So it bled and now it is swollen again. I figured this absolutely cannot go on. There is so much I cannot do when that finger is injured. I still have to force feed Indy on a daily basis or he won’t get enough nutrition. Cow Mau need to be pilled too. I need to have that finger functional.
So I tried syringe feeding him but it did not work either. I did give him some Nutriplus gel by rubbing it onto his mouth.
Later, he went back to his purple blanket to sleep for the night, and I offered him some Cubgrub chicken. He ate some. But I had to keep turning the bowl around to make him eat. It’s so strange, why do I have to keep rotating the bowl? I don’t know, but that was the only way to get him to eat on his own. It wasn’t much, but at least he ate some.
I don’t really know what is going on with Hiro. But there was a not-so-good sign this evening. I noticed his urine was quite yellow. I cannot be sure as it was mixed with the litter, but it definitely looked yellow to me. That could be a sign of liver failure.
How common is liver disease in kittens?
Liver disease is quite common in cats and can occur at any age, from kittens to old age. Usually the signs of liver disease, like many diseases in cats, are a bit vague; affected cats are often just quiet, have reduced appetite and lose weight.
Hiro has all three of the symptoms above.
I have done my best for Hiro for today. We will probably go to the vet’s tomorrow and see if there anything else we can do.
It has been a very long day for me.