In late September, 2014, nearly sixty cats and kittens from a single neglect case were surrendered to FieldHaven Feline Center.
The majority of the cats were very sick and/or had serious eye problems, requiring extensive veterinary care. Many needed surgery in order to address their medical challenges. None of them had been vaccinated, spayed/neutered, or given the treatment they so desperately needed. We brought all of them up to good health. Your support changed all that!
In the beginning, FieldHaven’s staff and volunteers worked non-stop for weeks, first setting up an emergency shelter and bringing all 60+ cats under our care, then setting about taking care of their medical needs. This was a huge endeavor for our small organization to take on a project of such a large magnitude, but we had faith in our community and our supporters. They helped save these animals in a big way.
All of the September 60 kitties are now in great homes and most all of the cats and kittens with severe eye problems have had their sight restored.
One of the kittens whose eyes were too diseased to salvage was Champy. He had surgery to remove what was left of his eyes. Currently, he is FieldHaven’s spokescat and he is doing great. You will be inspired by his indomitable spirit: you can’t help but have a smile on your face.
Feline Herpes Virus
Most of these cats were infected with the Feline Herpes Virus, also known as Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR). The feline herpes virus is the most common cause of upper respiratory disease in cats; it is more common in kittens, cats in stressed/overcrowded environments such as animal shelters and multi cat households. Kittens and older cats are more at risk than healthy adults, and are also at greater risk of dying. Once your cat becomes infected with the feline herpes virus he will have it for life.
The first outbreak is usually the most severe, but once a healthy cat has recovered, the immune system usually manages to keep the virus in check. However, there may be the occasional outbreak at times of stress (pregnancy, lactation, overcrowding, while boarding etc.) or sickness. Corticosteroid injections may also bring on an outbreak in the infected cat.
What Does Feline Herpes Do?
The virus infects and grows in nose, eyes, sinus, throat, mouth and tonsils of a cat which causes inflammation and fever. Due to the nasal discharge, the cat’s sense of smell is severely diminished, causing it’s appetite to wane. While loss of appetite is dangerous in all cats, it is especially so in kittens where anorexia and dehydration can quickly take hold.
Due to the damage caused to tissues, it is possible for a secondary bacterial infection to take hold. If a pregnant cat catches herpes, it may lead to abortion of the kittens.
How Do Cats Become Infected?
In Utero: It is possible for feline herpes virus to be passed onto unborn kittens via the mother
Direct Contact: Feline herpes virus is transmitted by oral and respiratory secretions of a cat who is actively shedding the virus.
Indirect Contact: Contact with infected food bowls, litter trays, bedding (fomites) etc., which have been in contact with an infected cat shedding the virus.
How is Feline Herpes Treated?
There is no cure for herpes, once a cat is infected it has the virus for life. The goal is to give supportive care, treat the symptoms and try to shorten the outbreak. Treatment also depends on severity and symptoms and may include:
- Keeping the nostrils and eyes clear of discharges. Use cotton balls dipped in warm water to wipe away any discharge.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed, these are ineffective against the herpes virus, but may be used to treat secondary infections that can occur.
- Antiviral drugs.
- Ensuring the cat is receiving food and liquid intake.
- Force feeding, IV fluids or sub cutaneous fluids if necessary.
- L-Lysine is an essential amino acid which has been shown to suppress viral replication and inhibit cytopathogenicity.
- Just a little bit of powder in the cat’s food daily is all that’s necessary.
Can I Catch Herpes from My Cat?
No, only domesticated cats and close relatives can catch feline herpes virus.
If your cat has contracted this virus, once the initial symptoms have been resolved, it just takes minor supportive care and your cat can live a long and healthy life.
09/23: Initial call from neighbor notifying FieldHaven of hoarding situation. Visit to the home to assess number and condition of cats.
09/24: Brought the 15 sickest kittens and their moms back to FieldHaven for medical assessments.
09/25: Dr. Horikawa and her team of RVTs came out to FieldHaven to complete opthalmic assessments on the cats and kittens with the most severe eye infections. Applied for a grant from PetSmart Charities to help cover some of the costs of this rescue project.
09/30: Completed intake assessments on the 2nd group of eighteen cats and kittens.
10/03: Thirty temporary cages were set up in the boat garage and the kitties were moved in.
10/04: Press Release sent to media. KCRA ran our first news story about the “September 60,” including video clips from the initial site visit and a written account of the intake process.
10/05: Donations of funds and supplies from the community begin to come in.
10/06: Received notification from PetSmart Charities that they approved emergency grant funding to help with expenses.
10/07: The first batch of healthy cats were sent to Animal Spay and Neuter.
10/10: “KittyLand” was put together in the boat house to give the S-60 kitties a place to stretch and play with each other in a safe area other than their cages.
10/13: Good Day Sacramento came out to FieldHaven to do a live story on the “September 60.”
10/15: “Niblet” was the first cat from the September 60 to be adopted and is on his way to a new home in Montana.
10/17: “Occupy FieldHaven” the kittens and a some of the adults with more siginificant eye issues were able to go outside in the safety of soft sided kitty tents.
10/18: Champy was on featured on Channel 13 with an update on the September 60 project.
10/23: Champy became the new “spokeskitty” for the September 60 project and now has his own Facebook page.
11/01: The September 60 kitties have had visits from several girl scout troops in the area who have brought much needed supplies as well as some handmade collars, beds, scarves and blankets.
11/11: FieldHaven celebrates all the wonderful people who donated to the September 60 with a dinner and meet and greet with the all the September 60 kitties. Champy and Peanut were special guests who roamed the party on leash and posed for pictures and kisses.
11/25: Champy was the representative and model for the September 60 group during a photo shoot at our thrift store Snap it Up!
12/06: Champy takes part in the Lincoln Christmas Parade to help spread the word about spaying and neutering pets.
12/13: Champy gives kisses under the mistletoe at FieldHaven.
12/21: Five of the September 60 cats undergo eye surgery donated and performed by Dr. Horikawa from The Animal Eye Center in Rocklin with the assistance of Dr. Sanchez one of FieldHaven’s part time veterinarians. Dr. Brick from Madison Avenue Veterinary Clinic donated the use of her Clinic and with the help of three volunteer technicians. All five kitties had successful surgeries.
12/24: Champy helps hand out dog and cat food at the annual FieldHaven Christmas Eve food pantry.
12/25: Champy is adopted by the director of FieldHaven and made the official spokescat and greeter of all who come through the doors.
12/30: Champy and three other September 60 adults get to move into a community room at the shelter. All four have spent the last 3 1/2 months living in the isolation room recovering from illnesses they came in with.
01/08 to 01/11:Several September 60 kitties, including Champy and others go to Paris for an adoption event hosted by Gypsy Chic Vintage Marketplace. September 60 Oreo along with several other FieldHaven adoptables find homes.
01/30: Champy attends a Lincoln City Council Meeting to accept a grant from the Community Foundation of Lincoln for FieldHaven’s SNAP fund.
02/02 to 02/15: Seven more September 60 cats and kittens are adopted.
02/06: Champy attends Dr. Kate Hurley’s Million Cat Challenge seminar hosted by FieldHaven in Lincoln. Many animal organizations as well as officials from the City of Lincoln attended to learn how we can work together to save a million cats.
02/23: Pirate, a cat who our medical team felt would not survive, was adopted. After extensive diagnostic work-ups failed to provide a definitive diagnosis, she was placed on a hypo-allergenic diet and began to improve significantly.
03/01:Only Cheerio and Dennis remain at FieldHaven. Cheerio was recently released for spay surgery and enucleation of one eye. Dennis continues to avoid socialization efforts.
03/28: Cheerio gets adopted! In caring for this little waif who would not grow, volunteer Courtney Handl fell in love with Cheerio. On March 28, she and her family adopted “Hope Solo Handl” as a full member of the family.
04/05: On Easter Sunday, our little Cheerio (now Hope Solo) had eye surgery. Thanks to the skill of Dr. Horikawa of Animal Eye Center, the surgery was much less extensive than planned and both eyes were saved!
04/13: The last kitty from the September 60 group, Dennis, finally gets adopted and with his buddy, Rusty, for double the fun! Dennis’s last weeks at FieldHaven showed marked progress in his socialization skills.
Natayo’s Adventures in Montana
November 3, 2014
Niblet (now Natayo) recounts his first impressions of home.
“Well, I finally got out of that bedroom and have the run of the whole house – I am into everything. My adventures have led me to get trapped (briefly) in the drawer under the oven, digging in some large house plants and getting scolded repeatedly, hiding under beds, chasing those play mice and carrying them all over the house in my mouth, and stalking that other cat. He mostly ignores me, but I keep trying to be friends. I love my dog…she is so tolerant of my running and jumping and getting into her space on the bed and she waits so patiently for me to finish my wet food, then she gets to lick the dish clean. My parents are wonderful and I do love them a lot. I knew I needed to persuade the male to select me, but I really have bonded to the female and follow her all over the house when she goes from room to room. I love it here and I am anxious to get out side but they keep saying NO and scaring me away from the doors. I hear them talking about snow, but I have not seen any and do not know what it is. I did go to the vets and got a clean bill of health. They want me to have a leukemia shot as I will get outside…someday. Here is a photo of me sleeping in my window basket. My Mom says that taking photos of black cats is difficult – I do not know why since I am so beautiful.”