While I’m recovering from Insane Bike Ride 2017 (Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.), I should probably let you know I’ll be at Hal-Con, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, this weekend. The gust list is pretty awesome – come check it out!
Friday, Sept. 22
- 4 pm – 5 pm Signing, Booth A2
- 6:00pm – 7:00pm ~ Sketch Battle (Coca-Cola Stage)
Saturday, Sept. 23
- 12:00pm – 12:45pm ~ Dork Tower and Munckin – A +10 Life in Gaming (Room 301)
- 1 pm – 2 pm Signing, Booth A2
- 7:00PM – 9:00pm ~ Stargazer Soiree in Delta Halifax
Sunday, Sept. 24
- 12:45pm – 1:30pm ~ Creating Fun: Game Creation From Script to Sale (Room 302-3)
- 1:45 – 2:45 Signing, Booth A2
Hal-Con very generously gave me a table (a2 – about as appropriate for a British-born cartoonist as you could imagine), but I won’t be bringing anything to sell. I’ll post additional times there, though, if you’d like to bring anything along to get signed. Saturday and Sunday I’ll try and be there as soon as the doors open.
Judith and I adore Canada, and it will be great to be back!
Insane Charity Bike Ride 2017 was magnificent. A record-breaker, even! Thank you all!
I’ll try and post a full report soon, but here’s how I spent my Sunday night:
When they first moved in with us, nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Annabel, Rosalita, and Chip. They came to us with a touch of diarrhea -- but that's completely typical for kittens transitioning from liquids to solids. Things are always a little rocky during this stage of kittenhood.
Every time I entered their room, they raced to the cage door, climbed the bars, and screamed their baby cries.
"HOORAY! IT'S YOU! We've been waiting for YOU!" they sang until I opened the door, plucked them off, and put them in my arms. It was always a warm welcome with this crew -- they were very good at making you feel loved.
Each meal they were served a plate of "kitten gruel" -- a mix of KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) and wet food. They would eat a little on their own but didn't take in enough by themselves to fill their bellies, so they required a little hand-feeding by syringe to top things off. They weren't gaining weight, but they weren't losing weight, which was good.
Their activity level was great -- they scampered and chased each other like kittens of that age should. They played with furry mice and mylar balls. They discovered the joy of scratching cardboard. They made biscuits on their fuzzy blankets and each other. They were a little wobbly at times, but I don't think that was due to weakness, rather, the absence of tails.
For those first few days, everything felt completely fine. There were no worries -- we were just enjoying getting to know these three delights.
But come Monday, things started to shift. Their diarrhea got much worse. Their interest in food became noticeably less -- they would investigate what was served, but only took a bite or two, if that. I began feeding them all of their meals by syringe, but what was going in, just raced through their bodies and none of the calories seemed to be sticking.
I made an appointment with the Foster Department for the next morning and gave everyone a round of Sub-Q fluids that night.
Annabel provided a fresh fecal sample on the blanket in the carrier once we arrived at the shelter Tuesday morning, which tested negative for parasites. We returned with probiotics, more fluids, a nutritional supplement, and a prescription food for GI issues.
We continued with the hand-feeding and fluids, but come Wednesday, everyone was dropping weight, losing energy, feeling frail, and sleeping much more than normal, so we made another appointment and returned to the shelter early Thursday. We came home with a new prescription food, a broad-spectrum dewormer, antibiotics, and instructions to continue with all of the supportive care we've been giving them.
So, we did all of that and worried and waited and hoped for things to get better, but they didn't. Annabel started slipping severely that afternoon. Her breathing was labored, her tiny 8-oz body was limp, so we raced to the shelter before Doc left for the day. There was nothing to be done to save her, so we said our goodbyes.
Because of the symptoms, their age, and the rapid rate of her decline, it was suspected that Panleukopenia might have been the cause of her death, so she was tested for the virus, and an hour later I got a call confirming that she did have it.
Of course, we had been through all of this once before with Wylla's brother, so we knew what our course of action was: clean like crazy and hope the others don't have the virus too.
We put Chip and Rosalita into a carrier while we bleached their cage, removed their linens, toys, dishes, and litter box and replaced them with fresh ones. Once everything was clean, we returned them to their cage, then bleached the floor of the room and all surrounding surfaces.
We fed them, gave them their meds and fluids, then called it a night, though technically, I think it was already morning.
Come Friday, Lita was much weaker, and it was clear by the speed of her decline that the virus had its grip on her. That afternoon we took her to the shelter and said goodbye.
Chip actually seemed to have a little more energy on Friday, and things were looking up for him. With Panleuk, there usually are no ups and downs, just downs and downs, so any sign that things were going up could mean that he didn't have the virus, so I was feeling a little hopeful for him.
I watched him closely. Mostly he slept and would wake up on occasion to toddle over to the litter box, return to bed, then sit, blink a few times, then nap again. He ate his lunch under protest and with clenched jaws, but I did manage to get some food in. But as the day progressed he became weaker, struggled more, and my hope faded.
Around 5:00 PM, I wrapped my favorite kitten blanket around him -- a pale yellow flannel from my own childhood with a print of white, bright-eyed kittens with bows covering it. We had a little conversation and I let him know how special he was, how much he was loved, and how grateful I was to have met him and his sisters. When I was done talking, he let out the few dry sounds that sounded like weak "I'm hungry" cries, so I unwrapped him, set him down, and ran to get a can of kitten food. I offered him a plate of gravy and he ate it on his own --- something I hadn't seen since Monday. When he was through he walked, though a little wobbly, to the cage door, over the edge, up my arm, and onto my shoulder. In his weakened state, I could hardly believe he could manage such a feat.
I called to Craig, and together we marveled at this recent rally. I spent the evening cuddling Chip, then fed him again, gave him fluids, warmed his bed, changed the linens in his cage, scooped the box, and tucked him in at 1:00 AM.
We went to bed feeling hope-filled and had a peaceful night's sleep --- the best sleep I had all week.
I got up at 6:00 AM, opened the door to the kitten room and called his name, fully expecting to hear a bright kitten rustling, then racing to the cage door.
I walked over to the cage, pulled back the sheet I had wrapping the sides, and saw that dear little Chip had left us. His cage was undisturbed -- not a grain of litter moved in the box, no signs he got up in the night. Everything was as tidy as it was when I put him to bed. I think he just went to sleep then drifted away peacefully.
As crushing as it was to find him gone, I am so grateful he gave me that last night. My last memories of him on Earth are good ones.
Here's a video I took during his little "rally" at the end. The photo above was taken right after I put him to bed on his last night.
We've spent the last week doing some very deep cleaning. The kitten room has been scoured, and we bagged up and took a load of contaminated kittten gear to the dump. Though the kittens were in quarantine, traces of the virus could have been tracked out, so all floors have been scrubbed and bleached in our house.
We're not worried about the girls' -- they are fully vaccinated and healthy. Panleuk gets the vulnerable ones, like our Waddells, who were no longer receiving antibodies from mom's milk and too tiny for their first round of vaccines.
All of this has been a lot to process. It happened very fast -- we lost three kittens in less than 36 hours. It had been a hard week leading up to that too, so I was feeling pretty raw, stressed, and sleep-deprived --- which isn't the best state to start wading through something like this.
Craig has been amazingly understanding and sweet. The girls, though I don't think they understand what happened, know something is askew and have been extra-loving and are always close by.
I'm still sorting through a lot of stuff in my head and figuring out what's to come, so I'm not holding myself to any blogging or social media schedule right now. My plan, for now, is to just post when I feel like sharing.
I know this blog is normally a bright spot and escape for you. I'm sorry, especially during these really hard times that our country is going through, that I can't offer that place for you right now.
I appreciate your understanding and patience during this time. I also appreciate your love, support, sweet notes, many comments, and kind words.
I know this is your loss too and we all have some grieving to do. We'll get through this.