“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

On our way home from Seattle we stopped at a feed store to pick up chicken feed and I needed to stretch my legs so I walked around the store listening to really bad country music and looking at the shelves of products bought by people who live lives that would occasion them to shop at such feed stores.

A small black cage sat on the floor with 3 kittens, two playing and one sitting in the corner looking stunned. A conversation started up when the employees noticed I had crouched down to get a closer look. They had a list of people asking to bring their unwanted spring kittens to dispose of them by way of the feed store, and the occupants of this cage were the latest round.

We already had two inside cats; Dora and Bitsy. Our house is an old rural behemoth  at 2700’ sq feet and could potentially accommodate one more mouser. I had a choice to make.

Supposedly these kittens were the usual 8 weeks old but the stunned black one looked so tiny & quiet so I wasn’t sure. Lights, conversations, jokes and sounds often swirl around me in public places at a speed I’m uncomfortable with and happen faster than I can process so I’ve become accustomed to just checking out and focusing on what’s in front of me. In this case it was the black kitten.

The chicken feed was being purchased at the counter and more jokes about free donuts were happening, then the young woman employee came over to me, handed me donuts and said that Will had bought them for me. We left with the kitten.

This was the look she had in the Feed Store

black kitten6 - Copy

That was June 16th Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday the kitten began a life threatening bout of diarrhea. She was exceptionally small and didn’t weigh more than a pound. She had not been given shots of any kind so I had no idea what diseases she might have.


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For the next six days I did what I do best: research every possible cause while observing every minute detail of her behavior, even if that meant taking her to work with me. I have learned that the best way to help the local rural vets diagnose an animal’s situation is to go with as much knowledge and data as possible.


Here are my notes:

  • IBD  Inflamed (I)  Bowel (B)  disease (D) GI inflammation, various causes – parasites
  • Parts Inflamed – Large Intestine
  • Hers: Large – intermittent bouts of vomiting and constant diarrhea
  • Look for: Blood & Mucus in stool, good appetite, remains somewhat active.

Yes, this was happening

More notes

  • Part Inflamed – Small Intestine
  • Look for: vomiting, weight loss, appetite loss, malaise

No, this was not happening

I had a list of possible parasites to ask the vet about.

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Her first visit was June 22nd

Hookworms were ruled out as they are found mainly in the Eastern US but the signs of something called Hypergut (parasites create lesions) were evident. She was treated for tapeworm.

This is a strong treatment for an animal this small (and young). Mother’s milk carries antibodies that protect their offspring when they are nursing, but when they’re not – as in ‘weaned’ that protection goes away and the parasites take advantage of this.

Sometimes things get worse before they get better. I use Anitra Frazier’s book The New Natural Cat to guide me while working with vets and it has never failed me.

Given the significant low weight and potential for dehydration this cat did not have much wiggle room and that concerned me most. Water is everything in this case and Anitra is a strong advocate for taking sick animals off of solid food – all solid food and offering broth with dissolved Vita Mix to keep the cat going while receiving treatment.

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I sent Will to get Amoxicillin on June 24th as a backup and he told the vet I was not giving the cat solid food and the Vet was adamant that I should force feed the cat pellets of dry food so that was where we parted company on approach. Not to be graphic but to the extent her stool contained blood it was obvious the tapeworms were doing extensive damage to the intestinal walls. Brown rice can be good in some situations when added to broth but can also eventually exacerbate the situation (complex carbohydrate) by fermenting in the GI tract and causing more irritation. Clearly any more irritation would be detrimental. That’s why I did not give her the anti-biotics when I got them.

More notes:

Gut Biology: All this gets interesting when thinking about gut biology.

  1. There’s damage caused by worms
  2. Rice & Broth help initially but trigger side effects down the road (irritation, hypoglycemia)
  3. gut (S&L Intestines) react by passing worms, undigested food, blood, mucus after broad spectrum antibiotic wormer is given.
  4. Lastly a broad spectrum antibiotic is given and wipes out any good bacteria and causes more potential problems.




Will was wondering why I hadn’t chosen a name yet.

I’m not going to give up, and the situation doesn’t look good. Eight days of not retaining any food is life threatening because weight loss, dehydration can kill a kitten this young and small.

My mother is my go-to person in these situations. She has a 30 year background in the medical technology industry and has the sensible wholistic medical approach to solving situations like this. We compare notes, discuss pro-biotics and antibiotics and how they work.


Timing is everything. Keep her on a liquid diet, order the probiotics, hold off on the antibiotics and wait for the probiotics to arrive.

Carbon footprints aside, I order Premo Probiotic for cats on Amazon on the same day (June 24th) and know that the UPS truck will come down the driveway on Friday June 26th at 5:00pm.

But that’s two days away and once I start her on this regime Friday night there are no vets open over the weekend and they don’t do house calls or emergency calls for cats.

As a precaution against dehydration over the weekend we haul her in on Friday for subcutaneous hydration.


I happen to have Buffalo meat, ground. I make a broth with this, add the Vita Mix, Probiotics and start her on the Amoxicillin, at the same time. She gets the Amoxicillin as prescribed and the broth mix every three to four hours. On Monday she begins to show signs of recovery, by Wednesday she is becoming a kitten, by Thursday passes her first normal stool, and on Friday I call the Vet to thank him for accommodating our rush visits.

Now she is a maniac and is in full blown squirrel mode. The small quiet animal we saw in the cage has a name: Yoshi

And here’s her song courtesy of the Flaming Lips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzlMeTxVdH8



















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