Considering these two have been in my house for two weeks now, and get turned in for surgery and potential adoption in another two weeks, it’s about time for me to actually introduce them, yeah?
Meet Dexter and Dee Dee! They came home with us the same day we dropped off Austin, Abby, and Rillo. They also had calicivirus, which is why we could bring them home right away. Thankfully, they’d already been on almost a week’s worth of meds at that point, and were actually doing quite well. Perhaps the virus was milder on them, or it was caught early enough. They never stopped eating due to tongue/mouth ulcers, never started dropping weight, never grew really sick or lethargic.
Instead, Dexter and Dee Dee had a few other things going on. First and most important, Dexter’s left eye was severely infected by calici. The virus can cause a lot of secondary infections, and both of his eyes were swollen shut when he arrived at the shelter. By the time he came to us, his right eye was fine and his left eye just needed a few more days of meds for the external infection to clear up. However, rather than looking like an eye, Dexter has a glazed over, solid-colored ulcer covering his left eye, with little vision in it. It doesn’t seem to hurt him or give him any problems, but we’re still treating it with a range of drops (including one made from dog’s blood serum, which is…bizarre?) in the hope of saving it. There’s a possibility he’ll need to get it removed though, making him a little pirate-kitty. Fingers crossed that we can prevent that!
Both siblings also have mild cerebellar hypoplasia (CH), also colloquially known as wobbly syndrome. Cats with CH range in symptoms from barely noticeable to so wobbly that they don’t function like cats normally function. However, the condition is a neurological one that they’re born with, and isn’t painful. It’s also not contagious or progressive – it won’t get better, it won’t get worse, and the cats with it have never known anything else, so it doesn’t bother them. In Dexter and Dee Dee’s case, it’s very mild. They have a wider A-like stance and gait, and are slightly clumsier when they’re running around. Sometimes they’ll stretch and their back legs will slide out under them. Sometimes when they’re standing still and look up at you, they’ll have a brief wobble of the head out of nowhere. When they’re stressed or afraid or startled, they have a tendency toward more wobbly movements. But it’s mild enough that the shelter never noticed it when the kittens were in a crate waiting for foster. (We have let them know, because any neuro condition means extra precautions when undergoing anesthesia.)
Lastly, these two siblings are very strongly bonded to each other. TBH, this is the only thing that concerns me about them, because the shelter we foster for doesn’t require bonded pairs to be adopted together. They’re a no-kill non-profit trying to save as many animal lives as possible, so they don’t have the luxury of waiting for an adopter to want two kittens. Dexter and Dee Dee are brown tabbies, the most common kind of kitten around and the ones mostly overlooked unless they have special features that endear them to folks. Having (potentially) one eye and mild wobbly syndrome isn’t exactly something most people will take on, even though the wobbly part is so mild that it doesn’t require any accommodation at all. Taking on two brown tabbies with wobbly syndrome and possibly one with a single eye? It’s unlikely to happen. So these two, who literally won’t use the litter or drink water or eat without each other, are 99% likely to be separated, and that breaks my heart.
But that’s a future problem. For now, Jason and I continue to show these babies all the love and fun and happiness that we can, while also trying to get that eye to heal! These guys are super active and playful, though Dee Dee is definitely the more energetic of the two, while Dexter is the cuddlier. I hope we can get them both all healed up and as cute/sweet as can be so they won’t be completely ignored on the adoption floor for being brown tabbies. If only people knew how sweet and laid back and talkative and loyal brown tabbies are! They have some of the best personalities in the cat world! And just look how cute they are cuddled up with each other!!