Some details have been skipped or this would be incredibly long. Other pages with more detail may be added later. This is just to give you the gist of the whole sad story. There were a few other people involved peripherally in addition to those mentioned directly.1: HOW MOM GOT INVOLVED:
Mom was helping a friend who was starting up a conservation non-profit. Mom had known this friend for several years and trusted her judgment. Mindy knew and loved animals, she and Mom had volunteered at the same preserve for several years. Mom felt that Mindy would be a great director of her own organization. So Mom put all her spare time and energy into whatever projects were going on.
Mindy had a friend, Sheri. Sheri was in need of help and needed to relocate her animals. Mindy offered housing for the exotics and asked Mom if she would be willing to house a breeding colony of domestic cats. Mom agreed.
Mom trusted Mindy’s judgment of Sheri, trusted that a “breeding colony” was suitable to breed and that Sheri took good care of them. (Mistake #1, leading to subsequent mistakes).PART 2: EARLY WARNING SIGNS:
Mom had noted that cats and dogs at Mindy & her SO’s place did not have pest control. They usually had fleas and ticks, and were behind on their shots. Mom put this down to a tight budget and trying to use a the vet who had agreed to help with the non-profit (stupid Mom).PART 3: THE ARRANGEMENT:
The animals arrived, along with what both Mindy and Sheri called the Breeding Colony which consisted of 8 cats.6 queens, 1 tom and 1 8 month old male who was trying to become a tom. Mom agreed to house them for an indefinite time. Sheri was to provide food and litter for them. It was up to Mom to keep or sell the kittens. Sheri said that she was breeding Pixie-Bobs, a breed Mom had never heard of and so knew nothing about. It was agreed that Mom would care for the cats, and be reimbursed for vet expenses.PART 4: TROUBLE WITH THE FIRST AND SECOND LITTER:
Mom was looking forward to many healthy kittens. She had cages set up for each Queen in what was now the “Colony Room”. The first litter was born on 8/29/00. The second litter was born on 9/3/00. Trouble started early (in brief) many kittens developed sores on their feet, some were just red others were swollen, and had yellow toes. Mom dubbed this “rotting kitten” disease.
Mom left several voice mail messages for Sheri asking what was up with these kittens, there was no reply. Mom sent an e-mail, and received the reply that “you probably didn’t know you had to wash your hands first” as an explanation. Sheri also advised that all weak kittens should simply be allowed to die.
Mom has raised neonates before, she was not amused at this reply. Things continued to deteriorate. Mom kept taking kittens to the vet, and Sheri (and now Mindy too) kept being condescending. Mom first asked, then some weeks later, demanded records on the mom’s with their kittening histories. The records never surfaced, even tho Sheri insisted she had complete records and knew where they were.
Mom began to realize that many of the replies she received to assorted questions contradicted each other or were inconsistent with earlier information. Now Mom was really ticked.
PART 5: THE FIGHT FOR THE KITTENS:
Sheri decided that Mom could not have the Colony and said she was taking the cats and the kittens. Sheri was particularly upset at a vet bill for one of the queens. The queen had been apathetic and listless, blood work showed an infection which was treated. Apparently this was “uneccessary” in Sheri’s (and later Mindy’s) eyes.
Mom would NOT let her have the kittens. Mom knew that Sheri would not take care of the kittens and Mom was NOT going to let these kittens fall into Sheri’s hands. Mindy was in the middle and became increasingly hostile to Mom. But Mom wasn’t giving up those kittens, even if she had to hand raise every one. Finally it was decided that the Colony and kittens would go to Mindy’s place. Mom kept the one (Six Toes) that she was hand raising with her.PART 6: THE LONG, PAINFUL, DECLINE:
It would take pages to describe, kitten by kitten, what happened. Essentially litters were born with horrible defects and very low survival rate. The pregnant queens were kept outside in a pen. When one had kittens, she was moved with her kittens to a small, cluttered room inside. All the queens and kittens were kept in the same room resulting in fights and in fleas.
Mom weighed the kittens every few days, supplied quality food, water, vacuumed and changed the litter boxes. Mindy insisted the kittens were fine inspite of their failure to gain weight and sometimes loosing weight. She also insisted that ALL kittens got runny eyes and there was nothing to be done about it and it wasn’t a problem. Mom insisted on treating them anyway.
Mindy agreed to let Mom take litters when they were weaned.(One queen ended up at mom’s house again, don’t remember the exact agreement, its written down somewhere.) Bendy (me!) was born at Mindy’s but went to Mom’s at 2 weeks when she found an infected wound in his chest. Mindy wasn't certain when little me and another litter had been born. It was either Sept 14 or 15, apparently they didn't check the outside pen everyday.PART 7: DEATH BY FLEAS, MOM’S VET HELPS OUT
Several kittens at Mindy’s died, the others continued to do poorly. Hermes was taken home and to the vet the next day. He had a massive flea and ear mite infestation. Mom had taken some of the kittens to see Mindy’s vet. Mom asked that vet what to do for the fleas around the tiny kittens. The vet replied that Mom could move the kittens, spray the area, wait for the spray to dry, then replace the kittens. This is what Mom did (and what Mindy later blamed many things on). Mindy insisted the only thing to be done was to comb the kittens. She used diatamacious earth at one point. The fleas persisted.
Mom went to her vet with the next kitten to come home, Hermes. Mom’s vet was extremely concerned and urged Mom to get the others as soon as possible, and if she could to get and spay the queens. Mom knew THAT would be impossible.
One kitten had an infected umbilicus mom named her “Alien” because of the lump in her belly button. Alien responded to the clavamox but was not gaining weight and was weak. Mom decided she would take Alien when she returned home from work. Upon returning there was a message, Alien had died. To Mom, Alien symbolized the whole long, sad, story. Alien is pictured at the top of this page.
Mom lost all composure she had, which wasn’t much at this point. She called Mindy and said she wanted all the kittens NOW. Mindy said ok. Mom called her vet, it was almost time for them to close, they said she could bring the kittens over asap. Mom drove (very fast) to Mindy’s place, with a carrier ready. Mom was so mad she couldn’t speak, she didn’t even say hello. She stomped in, grabbed the kittens, and stomped out. Mindy said a few things which Mom ignored.
Our vet looked at the kittens and said “these kittens have more fleas than fur!" Everyone agreed they were in very bad shape. In addition to the fleas, they all had ear mites. One kitten had even scratched holes along its ear margins which were infected. They weren’t very active at all and were very undersized. The vet gave them Advantage, which has been used in England for kittens just over a few days old. She said to watch closely for ANY kind of reaction.
Mom had Pet-Tinic (an iron supplement), VitaCal, and feline multi-vitamins at home. She gave those kittens supplements twice a day and they nursed on the queen. Mom also fed them KMR (kitten milk replacer) fortified with the supplements. The kittens began to look better and better. They became interactive and playful and steadily gained weight, as healthy kittens should.
Mom’s vet was VERY upset by all that had happened and wanted to report Mindy & co for animal neglect/abuse. Mom certainly understood her vet’s feelings, and was glad her vet wanted to speak out about this. Mom advised that the vet call Mindy’s vet instead and describe what she had seen and her thoughts. Mindy’s vet (who is a good vet, but does not get out to Mindy’s often) had seen some of the kittens, and had heard of some of the kitten deaths. Mom felt that another vet could better explain what was going on. The two vets did talk.PART 8: THE AFTERMATH:
Mom sold the healthy kittens to try and make back some of the cost of raising so many sick little kittens. She screened the buyers (they needed to agree to neuter and NOT to declaw and discuss care of other pets they had/have had). She had the kittens vaccinated and wormed before they went on their way. In addition to complete health records, Mom also sent food, toys, baby pictures, and topical flea treatment with each kitten. It was hard to see them go, but Mom knew that she could not keep sixteen kittens.
She did not trust anyone to take proper care of the kittens who had had such a hard time. One person finally convinced her that she would take good care of the kitten Mom called Two-Toes, "the original rotting kitten”. This person and Mom have become friends.
The conversation between the two vets had some fallout, of course. Mom refused to speak to Mindy because she was still so angry with all that had happened she knew she would not think clearly on the phone. So they e-mailed instead. Mom received several extremely nasty e-mails, saying how Mom “over reacted” about everything and how dragging Mindy’s vet into this had hurt her organization.
Mom did not reply. There were a few items of Mom’s at Mindy’s and visa versa, and the queen was still at mom’s. Arrangements were made to pick them up/drop them off with minimal interaction.
Just writing this has made Mom very angry again. She could understand if it had been at the hands of someone who knew nothing about animals, but these were experienced people! Mom started looking into feline genetics, starting with the pixie-bob. The “colony” was nothing close to a pixie-bob. The exact mix, aside from being an amazing assortment of recessive and detrimental traits, is unknown. Mom continues to talk with breeders at shows and e-mail people to learn more.
Please, if you are going to breed, do your research and take proper care of your animals!