At my job at St. St. Francis Animal Rescue in Venice, FL, I collaborate closely with our wonderful veterinarian and shelter manager to care for the health needs of our many felines. My greatest challenge has been learning how to “pill” or give oral medications to these feisty, acrobatic creatures. Hiding tablets in food or the tasty little pill pockets sold commercially seems to work only temporarily with our population. I believe that at night, when there are no humans around, the older cats educate the newcomers about how to avoid meds. The general directions on the internet of swaddling and gently opening the cat’s mouth to insert a pill are OK with my own cats but a high risk method for acquiring scratches and bites from our shelter population.
We also have a standard pill ejector apparatus and I have failed miserably to master its use. Most of the time I drop the tablet or the cat ends up spitting it out onto my lap. Some medications dissolve easily and can be given with gravy in a syringe. Most of the kitties like the gravy taste and actually cooperate. A few refuse to swallow my tasty concoction and simply drool it out. However, not all pills can be dissolved so it is better to check first with your veterinarian. Many antibiotics are in liquid form and are flavored with chicken or tuna. Absolutely my favorite medications!
St. Francis Animal Rescue of Venice, Florida, received three very tiny kittens that were found in a rubble pile during a home demolition project. In addition to being emaciated with runny eyes and upper respiratory symptoms, all three kittens had visible signs of mange. Yes, it is the “M” word and animals unfortunate enough to have this affliction are often treated like the lepers of biblical times. Many shelters, even ones that are technically “No Kill,” would have euthanized these unfortunate babies. But not St. Francis! We recognize that this is an easily treatable condition that takes a bit of time but can be cured. Mange is caused by tiny mites that are normal residents of a healthy cat’s skin and fur follicles. In fact, mange is rare in cats but very common in dogs. Cats that are malnourished or those with compromised immune systems are prone to the normal mite population on their skin getting out of control and causing a severe skin itching and inflammation.
This first photo is of the black male kitten that we estimated to be 6 to 7 weeks old. The hair loss around his eyelids, head and neck are common symptoms of mange and the ears and hair coat have a moth eaten appearance. Named Altair, the little guy weighed only 1.24 lbs. on admission and was severely dehydrated. He was so weak that we initially had to hand feed him a special nutritional mix with a syringe. His two sisters Alecia and Akita were able to eat and drink without assistance. The three tiny kittens were prescribed a total of 3 doses of Revolution, rubbed in the fur on the back of their necks every two weeks. After the first dose, the mites had pretty much disappeared and the fur began growing back. All three gained weight rapidly and went into foster care.
Altair’s recovery was slower but he proved to be a very affectionate and handsome kitten. He now resides in a loving forever home.
Patricia Lynn Hough has been involved in many charitable organizations and is currently volunteering as the staff supervisor at St. Francis Animal Rescue of Venice, Florida. Patricia Lynn Hough’s responsibilities include coordinating with people who want to adopt animals, as well as working with the shelter’s veterinarian.
St. Francis is a non-profit organization that cares for adoptable cats and foster kittens in the community. It also coordinates with local volunteers in feeding colonies of feral cats, as well as organizing trapping, spaying/neutering, and returning.
The organization was founded in 1992, when a group of women at North Jetty in Nakomis, Florida, helped stray and abandoned cats living in the community by feeding, spaying and neutering them. These women founded St. Francis Animal Rescue to continue the cause, which became a non-profit organization the following year.
Three years later, the organization purchased a property big enough to be a shelter and adoption center. Apart from that, it added a thrift store, whose income helps fund the organization’s activities. Today, the thrift store is located in the new building next to the shelter. It sells items ranging from clothing to household items, and many more, but is also open for donations toward the operating expenses of the center.