A CAUTIONARY TALE
as told to Nancy Marano
We are grateful to Marilee Garcia for allowing us to share the story of Callie Cat with PETroglyphs’ readers. This story focuses on what can occur when a pet is not spayed or neutered and the sad consequences it can have for everyone. She wanted us to tell her story as a warning so that others never face this type of heartbreak.
Marilee noticed a woman in the Wal-Mart parking lot with a box of kittens she was giving away. Marilee, who already had two grown cats at home, was not looking for a new cat, but she bonded with the five-week-old calico kitten immediately. Since the woman planned to leave the kitten in the parking lot if no one took her, Marilee brought her home.
The playful kitten became a valued member of Marilee’s family. But it became apparent rather quickly that she had a problem. Instead of normal bowel movements the kitten oozed gray stools. Marilee had not planned to adopt a cat so she didn’t have extra money set aside for expensive veterinary treatment.
Marilee had no choice but to take Callie Cat to Albuquerque’s West Side Shelter. “The vet tech told me that normally when someone drops a kitten off that young and with a problem, they just put them to sleep. But, in this case, since I loved her so much and there were extenuating circumstances, they would try to worm her to see whether that would help get rid of the problem. If she got well, they said they would call me so I could adopt her,” Marilee said.
PETroglyphs contacted the Alliance Against Animal Abuse (AAAA) to see whether they could offer any help. AAAA offered to pay the veterinary expenses if the problem was relatively minor or the euthanasia bill if that was what needed to be done, as long as Marilee paid the reclaim fee. It looked as though a solution had been found.
Unfortunately Callie Cat needed to be euthanized. When they did an x-ray at the shelter, they learned her intestines were so impacted that they ruptured. “Of course, this was the most humane thing that could be done for her as there was no way to save her,” Marilee said. “She was a very happy little kitten in spite of the pain she must have been going through. She loved to curl up on a towel in my lap. I will miss her tremendously.”
Since the problem was an impaction, members of AAAA wondered whether the cause could be clumping litter. Marilee said that she had used clumping litter because that was what her other cats used. “When I started looking for help for Callie Cat, I learned of the possibility that she might have eaten either litter or cement. I believe she had already used a similar litter in her first home. It sickens me to know that maybe she had a small blockage and our cat litter might have made it worse. If I’d only known about this possibility, I wouldn’t have used clumping litter. My grown cats use it without a problem, but now I will be changing their type of litter, too.”
This is where the cautionary tale comes in. For most adult cats clumping litter is fine. It is used by many cat owners because it makes cleaning the litter box easier. Clumping litter adheres to the moisture from urine or feces forming a clump. When you clean the box, you just pick up the dirty clumps. While there is no scientific evidence or study that proves kittens are prone to getting intestinal impaction from eating clumping litter, there is anecdotal evidence from cat lovers like Marilee. Many veterinarians warn their clients not to use clumping litter until the kitten is past the stage where everything goes in the mouth. It is always better to err on the side of caution than to have your beloved kitten die from something you can prevent.
There is a second cautionary tale in this story as well. Marilee’s loving nature caused her to adopt Callie Cat rather than see her turned loose in a parking lot and left to an almost certain death. If the original owner had spayed her cat, she wouldn’t have had a box of kittens to dispose of in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Marilee ended her message to PETroglyphs with a plea for everyone. “I need people to understand how extremely cruel it is to not spay or neuter their pets. If a pet is going to have babies and the owner plans on giving even one of them away, they shouldn’t let their pet have babies. The future of the babies is unknown. To have them go through even half of what my Callie Cat went through is inhumane and cruel at the very least and torture at the most.”
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