6 rotten teeth - this accounted for the bad breath. The vet noticed that Ginger's face was slightly asymmetrical. Apparently, the infection from the rotting teeth had travelled up through his face and probably infected his right cheek bone. The infection had also backed up into the sinuses and had caused a partial blockage of his tear ducts which prevented his eyes from draining properly and led to the bleary-eyed look.
The remnants of cat flu - apparently the virus can stay in the system for a while causing persistent weeping from the eyes and/or nose. In his weakened state from the infected teeth, he might not have been able to fight off the infection completely. A septic cut below his lower lip - again, this probably didn't clear up due to the other infections he was fighting off. Ear infections Fleas A skin allergy A heart murmur - while a murmur was detected, his heart is strong and no other problems were detected The possibility of an immune deficiency disease which might have contributed to his inability to get well.
Why Help Was Needed
Antibiotics were prescribed to cure the infections and a flea treatment was given to kill off the fleas. The big problem was the teeth. Ginger needed 6 extractions and follow-up care. He also needed to be tested for immune deficiency diseases and feline leukaemia. And a new home needed to be found for him.
I covered the cost of the examination and antibiotics but couldn’t cover the cost of the dental treatment and tests. His original owners weren't interested in helping out.
The vet wasn't happy that his owners had let him get into his deteriorated state. He told me that Ginger was very uncomfortable (not surprising with six simultaneous toothaches) and recommended two courses of action:
find someone who would take long-term responsibility for Ginger; have him tested for immune deficiency disease and feline leukaemia and if he was clear, have the six teeth extracted. If he had either of the two diseases, Ginger could not go to a home where cats already lived as he'd pass the disease on to them. He could have gone to a cat-free home though put the cat to sleep and end his misery.
I didn't like option two and, if it was to be an option, it was going to be the one of last resort. This was a cat who'd had a miserable year and, despite the pain and suffering he'd endured and was still enduring, remained friendly and unaggressive. This gentle soul needed to have the opportunity to survive and have an enjoyable few years of life.
I asked visitors to my website to help me help Ginger survive with donations (through PayPal) to cover the medical bills. Finding a new home for him was the least of the problems and, I must admit, I was taken aback by the generosity shown.
Following the first of many visits to the vet, Ginger underwent a 2-week course of antibiotics to clear up the remnants of cat flu and to control the infection that resulted from his decaying teeth. And he responded very well. He started grooming properly again and all of the matted hair around his rump was replaced by sleek smooth hair. His coat was again shiny and well looked after rather than being matted and dull, lifeless and unclean. The skin allergy was also addressed by the antibiotics and the fleas killed off with a flea control treatment. The antibiotics also cleared up the septic lip although the lip appears to be slightly damaged from the prolonged sepsis. As a result, he dribbles a bit! He's also now interested in playing - savaging bird feathers is his current fun activity.
After the antibiotics treatment was finished, we returned to the vet so he could undergo some blood tests to determine if he suffered from feline leukaemia or feline aids and I'm happy to report that he didn't have either.
That then left the way clear for him to undergo the dental treatment and have the six rotten teeth extracted. He was put on antibiotics again as the infection from the teeth was starting to reassert itself and he was on the tablets until the surgery (15 days later, when the vet determined that he was ready to undergo the extractions).
The operation went smoothly and he returned home later that day. Naturally, with such a large number of extractions, he found eating to be somewhat comfortable. But you can't keep a good cat down! After a couple of days, he was eating normally again. A week after the surgery I took him back to the vet for his post-operative check-up. His gums had healed over nicely after the extractions but he still had a bit of gingivitis. The vet was a little concerned that Ginger might be carrying the cat-flu virus - apparently prolonged gingivitis is a symptom. On the other hand, the inflammation may just have been the last remnants of the chronic infection he suffered last year from his teeth. He was put on a further two weeks of antibiotics which, we hoped, would finally clear everything up.
Aside from that, he was in fine fettle. He must have been a lot more comfortable with the teeth removed as his purring became much louder over the following week. And he was much more playful.
After the latest two-week antibiotic treatment, it was time for another check-up visit to the vet. The good news was that Ginger was in good health. His gums had healed perfectly after the extractions. He'd even put on weight, weighing in at 5.2kg (11.5 lbs) which is pretty hefty for a cat. His gums, in general, (i.e. not related to the surgery) remained inflamed even after all the post-op antibiotics. The vet came to the conclusion that Ginger was suffering from persistent cat flu. His only current symptoms were the gingivitis - while no other symptoms were present, he is a cat-flu carrier. Aside from that, he’s very healthy. The downside is that he cannot be placed in a home where cats already reside. The vet was adamant about this saying that any household that takes him in will just introduce long term problems for their own cats.
Ginger's still living at his old house. My buddy is still care-taking out there and is giving Ginger lots of care and attention. We're on the lookout for someone who'll be willing to give him a home in the next couple of months. He's such an affectionate cat that I don't think that'll be a problem.
I'd like to thank all those who took the time and effort to send in donations. It's life-affirming to know that there are caring people out there. But the story's not over. Ginger still needs to be re-homed but at least we have a few months to line up a new residence...
One final note: I only recently learned Ginger's real name. Apparently, it's Redpuss!
Gary Nugent has been a life-long animal lover, especially of cats and is the webmaster of http://www.just-pet-cats.com - a site that helps you make the best choices to keep your cat healthy, happy and long-lived. Information about cats in general, health issues, behavior patterns and their history. And, not to forget about you...there are a few things on the site to keep cat owners amused as well.