Home » I Finally Captured The Last Kitten Born In My Jeep And It’s Clearly Had A Tough Life (It Has A Parasite In Its Blood)

I Finally Captured The Last Kitten Born In My Jeep And It’s Clearly Had A Tough Life (It Has A Parasite In Its Blood)

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The life of a feral animal is harsh. You’re born inside a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee sitting in a parking lot, baking in the 105 degree California sun. You’re occasionally fed by good samaritans, but it’s irregular. You’ve got fleas covering you all the time. You’re struggling with upper respiratory infections from all the the filth you live in. Eventually you hop out of that Jeep — possibly to escape an invading opossum — to live in a colony of cats, some of them injured, some of them friendly, some of them grumpy, but all of them hungry. Your mom helps you get your bearings, but life is just tough; cars are a constant threat, the parking lot is filled with hazardous heavy machinery that you have to navigate daily, and you know that if you hurt yourself you can forget about medical care. A rotting opossum carcass under a broken bus is a reminder of this reality. So when you see a steel cage with food inside, you ignore that strange plate hooked to some kind of linkage and run right in.

It took me a while to come to the conclusion that trapping a kitten, and thereby taking it away from its mother and ridding it of its freedom to live outside, is a humane thing to do. After all, I’d feel horrible if someone had taken me from my mother and locked me in a house for the rest of my life.

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But then, cats and humans aren’t the same. Felines normally ditch their parents early-on in life, and their primary focus is their next meal (and also finding a nice place to take a nap) — something feral cats can’t count on on any given day. What’s more, after the recent tropical storm Hillary, the harsh nature of feral life as a cat became as clear as day, with my friend receiving multiple emails about kitten-drownings. Here’s one:

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Here’s another:

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Furthermore, upon catching this latest kitten — the fourth and final of the litter that was born in my “Holy Grail” manual transmission Jeep Grand Cherokee, and one that I’ve named “Rusty” — it became clearer than ever that adopting a feral kitten is a good thing for everyone involved.

Seriously, look at this poor animal:

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It’s truly remarkable how these four kittens’ condition and behavior corresponds to how long they were out in the wild. Jaws, the kitten that never left the Jeep and who we therefore were able to capture early and rather easily, was actually in good shape when we snagged him. Sure, he bit my friend when she first picked him but, but his behavior quickly went from “scared” to “playful,” and now he requires almost no care from us other than the basic feeding/litter box changing you’d expect. He’s healthy, beautiful, and fun — a dream cat.

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Mango came next. She walked right into my cat-trap, and has been a sweetheart from day one. She’s never hissed at anyone since the first day we met her; veterinarians compliment her poise; and overall she appeared in decent shape. In reality, though, she actually has a fractured femur, as we found out in an X-ray after noticing a limp that hadn’t gone away for days. (There will be more on Mango in an update next week). She’s never had an issue with potty training [Edit: While writing this I was notified taht she peed in her cat-bed], and has a heart of gold.

Here she is when we first captured her; she looked great!

 

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Here she is resting in her bed, playing while laying down so as to allow her broken leg to heal:

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Next up was Nutmeg (originally named Jay), who was a little spicy on day one and definitely a little filthier than one might like:

 

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A post shared by David Tracy (@davidntracy)

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It didn’t help that Jaws welcomed her with a nasty hiss!:

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The vet suspected that Nutmeg had a bit of an upper respiratory infection, but she seems better now (see below). What’s more, despite all of her early meowing, she’s now quite well socialized, though I did have to pick her up from the scruff the other day while she was actively spewing diarrhea onto my friend’s white carpet and wood floor. I rushed her to the littler box, painting a nasty brown arc along the floor.

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Anyway, it does seem like the later we captured a kitten, the worse shape they were in; the last kitten, whom I’ve named Rusty, is struggling. We snagged him under the cover of darkness on Monday night. First, we fed who we think is the litter’s father:

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We then fed “big fluffy” whom you can see in the background of the image below. Then we set out a trap and watched Rusty literally run to the food, and walk right into the cage. It was clear that he was starving:

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Rusty looked really bad when we brought him home, and not just because he was frightened. Something seemed off. Still, we gave him a wash:

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And we fed him:

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And we cleaned out his eyes, which were full of gunk:

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We then took him to the vet and — after picking him up against his wishes (he was hissing quite a bit) — the vet said she suspected some kind of upper respiratory issue.

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She gave us meds, which we’ve been administering. The wash, the food, and the meds (which include something for his eyes and for the upper respiratory issue) have transformed Rusty. Here he was before:

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And here are more recent photos:

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Look at you, Rusty! You look amazing!

Sadly, things are still a bit rough for the fourth and final Jeep-Cat, as you’ll see in the video below:

Rusty is having a hard time socializing. He’s cowering in the bathroom trashcan, and hissing at us whenever we walk into the room. He will purr when we pick him up, and he will eat, too. Plus, he’s using the litterbox. But he’s still clearly uncomfortable, and he does seem to still be sick. We just got a call from the vet, who notified us that he tested positive for a disease called feline hemotrophic mycoplasmosis. Here’s what that is, per VCA Hospitals:

Feline hemotropic mycoplasmosis (FHM) is the name of a relatively uncommon infection of cats. In the past, this disease was called feline infectious anemia or hemobartonellosis. With this disease, the cat’s red blood cells are infected by a microscopic bacterial parasite. The subsequent destruction of the infected red blood cells results in anemia, which refers to a reduction in the number of red blood cells or in the quantity of the hemoglobin, which carries oxygen.

What causes FHM?

FHM is caused by a microscopic bacterial parasite that attaches itself to the surface of the cat’s red blood cells. This parasite was reclassified and named Mycoplasma haemofelis (it was previously called Hemobartonella felis). The infected blood cells may break down, or they may be treated as “foreign” by the cat’s immune system and be destroyed. Anemia occurs if enough red blood cells are infected and destroyed.

Between the fleas, the respiratory infections, malnutrition, poor hygiene, Mango’s broken leg, and Rusty’s literal bacterial parasites (!), my four Jeep-Cats have shown me just how hard life is for a cat on the streets. And after reading the post-tropical-storm emails my friend got, after I volunteered the other day and saw how many animals are in the shelter waiting on adoption, and after seeing how expensive a vet bill can be, it’s become clear: This is a flat-out crisis. And I don’t use that term lightly.

To everyone who has supported my friend and me in our quest to help these four Jeep Kittens and the others in this colony: Thank you. Please continue giving to local organizations such as Kitten Rescue. And if you have a lot of acreage and could use some (spayed and neutered) animals to keep the mice out of your barn, let me know: I know some cats living in a parking lot who could get the job done.

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Ricardo
Ricardo
10 months ago

JT – Fixing four by fours and felines….your wonders never cease.

Someone else has made the comment but I will add my agreement that the ‘feral’ personality traits are likely to drop away with a little care.

A cat we got from the pound as a kitten wanted to fight everything and everyone at first, but after a few months of having nothing to fight for kinda gave up his fighter persona and became like ‘Peppi Le Pew’. If you were sitting down he would throw himself at you and become a purring (and drooling) rag doll cat who could not get enough affection.

You know you have been accepted when they bring you something they have killed and leave it for you to eat.

Strangek
Strangek
10 months ago

You’re a kind soul, Mr. Tracy. Thanks for taking care of those kitties!

Methane generator
Methane generator
10 months ago

Housecats are gross. They spread the toxoplasmosis brain parasite which infects humans and prey animals making them unnaturally trusting of them. They are responsible for wildlife loss: many species of bird and beneficial small mammals are severely depleted because of irresponsible housecat owners. (Cats don’t kill rats because they’re shit-scared of them.)

I get it, they’re cute. That’s the brain parasite talking. Keep housecats indoors, where they belong. Spay and neuter them. Give to charities such as the Humane Society which run spay and neuter campaigns. Get your animals and your family treated for toxoplasmosis.

JTilla
JTilla
10 months ago

You mean feral cats are gross.

Bork Bork
Bork Bork
10 months ago

Most infections don’t require treatment.

Steve Balistreri
Steve Balistreri
10 months ago

More cat posting! Glad to see these kitties are getting the care they deserve.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
10 months ago

We rescued a feral dog (puppy) from an orchard in Eastern Washington. She’s a total sweetheart, but she does have a fair amount of anxiety (loud noises, strangers, odd things that she doesn’t recognize in known spaces) that makes socializing her outside of close friends and family risky. Not because she’d bite anyone, but more because she might panic and run off.

Good job, David. Glad you found homes for these kittehs. Too bad you can’t trap the parents and, at the very least, have them fixed.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

“I did have to pick her up from the scruff the other day while she was actively spewing diarrhea onto my friend’s white carpet and wood floor. I rushed her to the littler box, painting a nasty brown arc along the floor.”

Shhh. It happens…

George Millwood
George Millwood
10 months ago

I used to think you were on the spectrum with a rust obsession that bordered on the uncontrolable. To see you now caring for and snuggling up to stray kittens has transformed my opinion. You have now moved up to functioning human.

Xaaronx
Xaaronx
10 months ago

Pretty messed up statement about those “on the spectrum”.

George Millwood
George Millwood
10 months ago
Reply to  Xaaronx

Being on the spectrum’ is something I have intimate knowledge of in my extended family. It can range from minor obsessions to huge psychological problems. I apologise if you read it as a huge problem, I meant it as comparable to being a bit obsessive compulsive. As an Australian, I should remember that commenting in haste on American sites can result in being misinterpreted. I was trying to make light about how David has transformed since moving. Again I sincerely apologise if I have offended anyone. I will carefully edit in future.

Heck Farr
Heck Farr
10 months ago

You paint your toenails?

Kommkat
Kommkat
10 months ago
Reply to  Heck Farr

You don’t?

Hiram McDaniel
Hiram McDaniel
10 months ago
Reply to  Heck Farr

Mine are (no shit) British Racing Green, right now.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
10 months ago

Good on you for taking care of these four creamsicle kittens! I’ve had cats for my entire life and adopted my first ginger, a big guy named Bandit, about four years ago. He was about a year old at the time. Everything everybody says about Ginger cats is 100% true… within half an hour of bringing him home he was in a cat coma belly-up in my lap. I wouldn’t worry too much about Rusty once he’s feeling better. Cats pick up cues from each other really well and his litter mates will help socialize him. Can’t wait for your next post about Mango. I got a little lump in my throat when I read about her leg. She looks like she’s doing great! As for Nutmeg, well… I guess every family has to have the one sibling that does something unmentionable to a white carpet.

Casey LaCaze
Casey LaCaze
10 months ago

David, I’ve long suspected it, but this cements it in my mind: you’re good people.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
10 months ago
Reply to  Casey LaCaze

Indeed! He truly is. I’m much older than him, yet he inspires me.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
10 months ago
Reply to  Casey LaCaze

you’re good people”

David is more than one person?

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
10 months ago

I think it is the royal plural – a la “We are not amused at the amount of rust this jeep has.”

pliney the welder
pliney the welder
10 months ago

David, 9 years ago Mrs.The Welder and I had a mama and 5 kittens show up . We knew nothing about TNR ( Trap , Neuter and Release ) all 6 had the run of the yard all Summer . Then we hooked up with a pro and found out that almost no one wants young adult feral cats even though they were all spayed and neutered. Guess what ? We kept them . All of them . So we’re thrilled that you’ve joined the team !t seems you’ve learned quickly . AWESOME . I saw a comment that suggested you use your celebrity and help spread the word about this situation and we sincerely hope you do . BTW we are currently fostering 2 little light orange tabbies , Tonka and Mango.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
10 months ago

My brother bought a place out in the country. Shortly after, his neighbor moved out and left all his cats behind. They found my brother’s barn and started doing what cats do. Now he’s got 20 cats and kittens, all with shots, all spayed/neutered. I did what I could for him and took two of the kittens home (Jake and Elwood). Now he’s a cat rancher.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
10 months ago

“You traded the Cadillac for a meowcrophone?!”

“…yeah, I could see that.”

Dr Buford
Dr Buford
10 months ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

Good one ????

You Audi Know
You Audi Know
10 months ago

While I’m enjoying following the exploits with the kittens, I’m also enjoying the slow soft launch of David’s “friend.”

And I’m reminded of that old Mitch Hedberg bit: “I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do know a woman who’d be mad at me for saying that.”

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  You Audi Know

“Soft launch” is such a great phrase. I’ve also been following the increased but still-cagey presence of that “friend” in the stories. Who knew Grandruster Flash DT was such a softie.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

Ask the vet if you can get azythromycin. This antibiotic has a much longer biological half life than amoxicillin and I’ve had good luck with it clearing up stubborn secondary bacterial upper tract infections in cats.

JDE
JDE
10 months ago

Well, with the passing of Bob, I feel like David should take the mantle of celebrity spokesman for getting your pets spayed or Neutered….just saying.

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