Image: @ 11 months
Carousel-Gardenia @ 11 months.

Carousel-Gardenia @ 3 months.

We tried to adopt a kitten from the rescue agencies in our area. Many of their kittens are in foster homes. It was impossible to get anyone to return our calls or e-mails. One or two did and said we would have to go to the Petsmart fairs to adopt. We would also have to submit applications and wait to see if we were selected as apparently they take more than one application for each rescue animal. We also tried Craig's list. No one returned our calls or e-mails. Finally my husband and I went to the DC Animal Shelter. It has regular staff as well as the Humane Society working to care for and adopt out the animals. We filled out an application and were taken to see the available kittens. One particular kitten picked us! She is a Domestic Short Hair (DSH), tabby. She is full of personality and has a purr motor that never stops running. She likes to rub, lick, give love bites (we are trying to teach her this is a no, no), chew everything in sight (she is teething), climb, go to the highest place, mark us with her rubs, jump in our laps (only for a few seconds), and generally play, play, play. We have set up an entire room for her to do her kitten stuff. Bill and I take turns going in to play with her. We have many toys, tunnels for her to run in, boxes for her to hide, a window seat so she can follow the sun and watch the birds, etc. I would say that our new kitten, Carousel-Gardenia is a very happy kitty.

Carousel was a stray. She had been found wandering in an apartment building. She did, however, have on a collar when found. The DC Animal Shelter keeps the animals for 5 days to see if anyone calls for a lost animal. After that time the animal can be adopted. Carousel (Cougar was her given shelter name) was thought to be around 3 months old but only weighed 2.9 lbs. She fit in our hand. The kitten did not look well but was feisty. She had lots of spirit. We selected her on a Monday. Although we wanted to wait until she was older and in better health to have her spayed, and offered to write a check for the spaying costs while we were at the shelter, we were told she must be spayed before leaving the shelter. Consequently, she was spayed on Tuesday. The shelter is closed on Wednesday. We picked her up on Thursday at noon. That same day, at 2:05 PM, we took her to Friendship Animal Hospital in Washington, DC to be checked out. They did a quick study and said she seemed fine. After looking at the medical information that the DC Animal Shelter provided, Friendship Animal Hospital then gave us a shot schedule and made an appointment for us to come back. They also commented that the kitten was going to be difficult to work with because she was very bold. That night Carousel seemed to be a bit off but was still eating and drinking small amounts. By morning she had started to sneeze, her eyes were watering and she was off her food and water. She was having trouble breathing. She had not used her box in the night--no urine or solid waste. Very little dry food had been eaten by the morning. In fact, although still purring with our touch, she was like an inert object--and curled up in a ball. We took her back to Friendship Animal Hospital--a 24 hour emergency vet, immediately. They checked her glucose levels, took her temperature, etc. The temperature was 106 degrees--really high for a kitten. They hydrated her, gave us antibiotics (azithromycin) to give her for 7 days, suggested we get lysine and sent us home. The kitten rallied some but refused to eat or drink. Bill and I syringe fed her with chicken broth, which I made. We also used a food processor to liquify the smelliest wet fish cat food we could find. That, too, we fed her with a syringe. Bill held her in his lap and spoke softly to her while I slipped the syringe in the side of her mouth. Carousel got so she would open her mouth when she saw the syringe coming. We did this every 3 hours for five days. Finally, she was out of the acute phase of this illness; however, it took 21 days for the sneezing to taper off. Friendship Animal Hospital told us she had an upper respiratory infection (URI), probably feline herpes. They also indicated that this is very common for kittens coming from rescue and animal shelters because of the close proximity to other infected animals. These URIs are highly contagious. It cost $157.00 just to walk through the door to Friendship Animal Hospital with this sick kitten. The lysine from the 24-hour emergency vet was $31.00 for a tube. I do not remember the cost of the antibiotics. I went on line to Valley Vet (I used them for our horse needs for many years) and ordered a year's supply of oral lysine paste. It was exactly the same kind that the vet sold us: Duralactin L-lysine. It cost me $7.98 per unit. Shipping was free and it came is 3 days. I got a year supply. The expiration date is in 2016. This type of packaging is easy to use. You dial it back like a horse's wormer paste. It is easy to give to the kitten. She loves it and purrs like crazy. She will even lick it off of my finger or the end of the tube; however, I put it in an unbreakable plate. The dose is 1.25 ml for kittens, two times a day. That is dialing back the syringe 1/2 notch each time. We give it in the morning and in the evening. The lysine is supposed to help stop the replication of the herpes virus and boost the kitten's immune system. I will write a separate article on lysine as well as feline herpes. Feline herpes is not zoonotic--humans cannot catch feline herpes. It is different from human herpes.

I would just like to say that the DC Animal Shelter does the best that they are able. They take in so many animals both lost and abandoned. Funding is always a problem. They do work with the Humane Society. The spaying problem that we had just comes under the heading of "it must be done before the animal leaves the shelter." I am not faulting the shelter for this. They have their rules and routines given the volume of animals taken there. The staff was lovely. They tried to do everything they could to help us during this adoption phase and even after when Carousel was sick. I contacted them to let them know what had happened with the kitten. They gave me suggestions as how to proceed with her care. Also, a dear friend, June, rescues animals. She, too, provided lots of help during Carousel's critical time. Both were really helpful.

We have had Carousel for a little over a month. She has received two more distemper shots and had another complete check up. We had her wormed, again, including a cross spectrum wormer that covered tapeworms. We also had a fecal sent to the lab. It came back that Carousel is free of parasites. Good news! While at the DC Animal Shelter she was given a flea treatment. There is no sign of fleas. We have been checking. We are now using Adams Morgan Animal Hospital as it is closer to where we live. She is going to have her rabies shot next week. I might add that she now has put on some weight and looks quite healthy. She now eighs 4.8 pounds. Bill and I have clipped her claws and put on the kitten caps. She immediately managed to get half of them off. We are just leaving her like that for the moment. We will re-cap the lost claw covers in a week or so. She was not terribly fond of the process to say the least. She even let out a growl! Bill and I worked together. We gently wrapped her in a towel; she sat in Bill's lap with her head out. We pulled out one leg at a time and applied the claw caps. Each time it should get easier and easier, we hope. I might add that Bill and I spent several weeks just lightly playing with her paws and worked at extending her claws by gently pressing on the pads.

Watching her grow and thrive is such a joy. It is our hope that she will live a happy and healthy life with us. She had a rocky beginning. Given the herpes she may have a compromised immune system. The Herpes virus never goes away. It just goes into remission. Flare ups may happen when she is stressed. It is hard to know how these virus react. Every case is, apparently, different. Carousel is strictly an indoor cat. She will not be going outside. This kitten has a wonderful spirit. She is interactive and shows an awareness unlike any cat we have had in the past. They say the kitten phase is over by one year. We will see. Bill said that she will turn into a lump and sit in the sun all day. Then he laughs.


Image: at 6 months.  Image: at 8 months.
Left image Carousel at 6 months. Right image Carousel at 8 months.

Image: at 10 months Carousel is wonderfully healthy and thriving. In fact, she has gotten to be quite large. She is now 10 months old and weighs 12 pounds. She has many of the characteristics of the Maine Coon Cat although she is a dsh, shorthair, tabby cat. Curiously, she is rectangular in shape, hard packed musclular, has a long body, lots of hair in her ears, really large paws (take a look in the pictures), is on a rake higher in the back and lower in the front, her hindquarters are really large, talks back when talked to, is a quick learner, has a long, ringed tail that explodes like a Halloween cat when she gets excited, is good tempered, loves to non-stop play and enjoys water! Although her hair is on the shorter side, unlike a Maine Coon Cat, she still displays many of the Maine Coon traits. Cara, as we call her, also likes to climb to the highest point in a room. She is really fast.

Image: 10 Months
Carousel at 10 months--large paws!

Carousel has had all her shots and all necessary medical attention according to the plan laid out by our vet. Happily, Cara has not shown any signs of the herpes virus. We still give her the lysine every day but will probably stop that when the year supply is finished as long as she shows no more signs or problems. That will be the end of April. It is our hope that she does not have any herpes, but rather had a generic URI. Our new vet does not think she had a herpes strain. I must say, at 12 pounds and not even a year old, she is a really large kitten! (Did I say kitten?) At this point she calls us; we do not call her!

Note: Carousel has not had any more signs of herpes. In fact, the head vet at Adams Morgan Animal Hospital said he does not think that she has herpes. We will finish out the lysine paste which we have through May 2015. I have cut down her dose by half, already. Also, we are not using the claw caps any more. They are virtually useless. We just clip her front nails once a month. I must say she does not like it. Also, as mentioned above, Friendship Animal Hospital made comments about Carousel being difficult to treat--we are not vets and have no problems with her care. She is bold and playful but there is no mean spirit in her. She plays hard and keeps her claws in! She is trained to a scratching post, her climbing tree and we also made a carpeted-run for her in her room for exercise and scratching. She uses those. Below you can see a small part of her "day" room. She likes to follow the sun and also lounges on her window seat as the sun shines through the glass! One of my friends commented, "It looks like a well-designed jungle gym for cats!"

Image: Carousel's daytime digs!/  Image: Carousel's daytime digs!/

Image: 10 Months
Carousel at 10 Months/On a rake!

Update: Just called the Adams Morgan Vet to find out when to bring Carousel back in for her check-up and shots. It will be the end of June 2016. Carousel, we believe, has reached her adult size and has grown to be a wonderful cat. Her purr motor never runs out of steam. She envites us to play with her by coming into the adjoining TV and recreation room outside of her space, shown above. She now has free access to the entire during the day. She is now trained to know it is time to go into her private space when we turn off the television or I just get up and call her name, Cara, and point to her room. She dashes off of her climbing tree and bolts into her "private" space. She has learned that when I say "wet, wet" it means a treat of some wet cat food. She dashes into her dining area ready to enjoy some wet food. I have her eating the dry food on an as wanted basis. She does not over eat and is just fine with that arrangement. She has also learned the word "cookie" which we use for reward training and given when we put her to bed for the night. I hold the cat treats in my cupped hand and she purrs and purrs and rubs on my hand. Then as she responds to commands both verbal and gestured, she is given a treat. We are now working on sit up and beg. She is starting to get it. Carousel-Gardenia is really a fun member of the family--so interactive---so responsive--but still a cat--independent! Most things are on her terms and that's fine with us.

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First posted: June 9, 2014
Last update: Jan 21, 2020