Adopted feral kitten with Eye discharge

MackerelTabbyStripes

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This summer I "foster failed" two ~3-4 month old feral kittens, who are now about six months old (and I've definitely adopted). They've made a lot of progress, but especially the boy doesn't do well with being restrained or picked up, and is really only trusting of me and my partner.

That brings us to now-- my older cat got conjunctivitis and went to the vet. She has a Tobramycin eyedrop prescription for twice daily for 7 days. The vet explained how contagious it was and that another cat might acquire it, and that it would be safe for me to use the same prescription on them. Unfortunately, the one who started showing symptoms is my most skittish and wary kitty, who is not taking well to getting eyedrops. He has only had 2 of the 14 doses so far, and already trusts me less and hisses when I try to dose him.

What should I do? I reached out to the vet in case there is an alternative prescription he could eat. I wish now that maybe I hadn't started the medication, but I also don't want it to spread to his other eye or my other former feral kitten. And now that I've started I don't want to stop the treatment early.

He has come so far and was letting me pick him up for short stretches (20 feet to the bed, where he'd purr and roll around), and play, but he's feeling pretty betrayed at the moment and I worry I'm making the future a lot harder on us both (I really would like him to calm down enough that I can pick up and handle him easily for safety, can go to the vet without issues, etc.) I can keep working with him and patience will eventually overcome even earned distrust, but any suggestions?
 

fionasmom

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Luna had the eye infection? And these are the two feral kittens?

I don't know if any eye medication can be compounded or if it would respond to an oral antibiotic that could be compounded into something tasty. When I searched Wedgewood, nothing came up except eye medication in drop form...not saying that I could not have missed it though.

How to give eye drops
I know that you know how to give eye drops, but there might be a hint in the above thread.

Did the vet call back about an edible prescription? Injection? Can you pill this cat with a treat or pill pocket? Are the symptoms clear enough so that you really think he is getting the infection?. This kind of thing can spread though, as the vet said. Another option is to take him into the vet and let them apply the eye drop....of course, will incur a small expense and he may resist being put in a carrier repeatedly.

Jamie was almost impossible to treat for an eye infection about a year ago. It took two of us to get the meds into his eye which resulted in a furious cat who was on guard for the duration of the treatment....so I know what you mean and this is not helping him to trust you. He will get over it once the eye drops are over though.
 
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MackerelTabbyStripes

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"A furious cat who was on guard" -- That sounds very familiar!! We also were working as a team, two people to dose one cat!

Yup, it's Luna who had the eye infection first (and who was a very good girl when visiting the vet, even though she was pretty scared!) And yep, these are the two feral siblings we brought in this summer. They're doing so well, but still definitely have some feral wariness remaining.

I heard back from the vet yesterday afternoon, they don't have any edible option that will treat conjunctivitis, so I'll need to keep going with drops.

I was really getting worried with Jasper (the boy kitten). By the second attempt it was basically a war zone of scratches on my hands, and he meowed pitifully afterward and then spent the next 5 hours hiding under the bed clearly feeling deeply betrayed (he is usually very curious and active, although he strongly resists being picked up or moved not on his own volition.)

However, the next two doses have gone infinitely better. I realized that what he hates is not the drops, it is being restrained, moved to and held on a lap, and watching the dropper tip approach closer and closer to his eye. He finds this terrifying and resists it, until the amount of force I have to apply just continues to increase. Instead, I decided to approach with deep patience and not worry if a dose was several hours early or late -- I would wait until he was in a cuddly snoozy mood and not a playful or energetic mood. I got him while snuggling up against one of the other kitties, and petted them both until they were both loudly purring and he was rolling on his back and closing his eyes, fully relaxed. It was tricky, but I managed to operate the dropper one handed while still petting, so I only had to restrain just his head, just for one second, while he was still in a position he felt comfortable and secure in. Afterward I could immediately release him to jump on the ground and shake his head. But even though he does move away right away because it feels weird to him, he clearly isn't remotely as traumatized by this method and he'll come right back up for more snuggles in a few moments.

We'll see how the rest of the dosage goes -- hopefully I can get the whole thing done this way without fighting with him.
 

fionasmom

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:yess: Miss Luna is probably so happy to be back in her wonderful home for winter that she has decided that a vet trip is not that bad.

It is odd that you mention the restraint, as that is what it is with Jamie as well. My husband holds him and I apply the eye drop, flea prep, etc. At the end of the "ordeal" he is much more furious with my husband and will turn around and hiss and spit at him, but not at me. In the feral world, being held down ( or picked up in some cases) only happens when you are going to be the prey and it is pretty hardwired in some of them. I am so glad that you and Jasper are making progress.
 
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MackerelTabbyStripes

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That makes so much sense! He does react like being picked up as terrifying -- as if he's about to be eaten by a large predator. That is definitely what bothers him, the eyedrops are just a little startling, but not so scary. Luna was the same way about being picked up when we got her, although she definitely allows us to carry her around now.

Jasper just got his third no-fuss dose. I'm very selective on when I even attempt it now -- I wait until he's had a snuggle with Charlie (Luna's brother), which seems to calm him down a lot. Then I pet him until he's rolling around with closed eyes, and get the dropper ready. Then I hold his eye open just for the moment necessary for the drop to fall in it. Works great so far!

He's actually easier than Luna is now! But I think that's my fault-- because Luna is inherently more handleable at this point, and I can pick her up and restrain her more, I haven't been as selective with her on when I approach and dose her, so she's starting to really fuss. I'm going to need to be very careful and patient with both of them -- but at least she is now halfway through the treatment, so it shouldn't be much longer.
 

fionasmom

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This is great news! You have really worked with Jasper and understand his view of the world, so now eye drops are not so scary for him.

On the other hand, the sister of my avatar more than likely saw three members of their family of origin killed by coyotes. Oddly enough, she loves to be held and cuddled, will even demand to be picked up. It is almost like she missed whatever lesson her mom gave her about not letting anything grab you.
 
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