DESPERATE. 10 of 16 cats with Giardia - how the hell can I contain this?

moxiewild

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Hi everyone.

This is confusing, please bear with me. My entire house is at risk right now.

Some of you may have seen my recent post about an emaciated, sick-with-a-yet-to-be-identified-illness stray kitten that I picked up last week. In it, I also mentioned that we picked up another, much younger semi-feral kitten from a colony on a construction site the same day. A few days later, we also picked up one of his sisters.

A couple of months before, I also trapped a feral litter of 3. They were spayed/neutered today finally, and are (were) ready to go to their new homes in a few days.

Now... if you thought the kitten situation was confusing, brace yourself.

We also have 3 other adult foster cats, a 7 month old foster kitten, and 6 cats of our own - 5 of the 9 adult cats are medically special needs and seniors or geriatric.

For clarity, I will comment with an easier to follow “roster” right after I post. But basically, 5 of our cats “free roam” the living space together, the other 5 are separated in rooms, the sick female kitten is quarantined in a bathroom, and 5 kittens are in our “kitten room” with the newest little female still being quarantined in a covered crate within the kitten room.

We also have a dog and a foster dog, but were able to find pet-less people to take them in at the first sign of trouble until we can get control over this, and to hopefully prevent them from spreading giardia to our colony outside.

Anyway... because we had the sick kitten under very strict quarantine, we have been even more vigilant than normal as far as our sanitary and disinfectant habits go with her. So I am not sure if she is the one who brought in the giardia, or if it was the new male kitten, or they both just happened to have it.

But I am inclined to think that the new male kitten (his name is Ash) very likely had it to begin with.This is because my boyfriend couldn’t help himself and released him from quarantine a week early (we already knew he was FIV/FeLV negative at that point).

Meanwhile, our original October litter of kittens had been quarantined for nearly two months, and kept busting out of their room, so we finally formally introduced them to our cats to help with their socialization, as two are set to go into homes with 4-5 resident cats.

This meant that Ash ended up being let out with them.

All kittens used the 5 “free roaming”/“core” cats’ litterboxes while out.

I won’t go into too many details here. I called our vet at the first sign of one of our core 5 kitties (Titan) showing symptoms, but she thought it was more likely to be the stress of the new food we had been (slowly) introducing the core 5 to + the introduction of the kittens.

Within a day or so of that conversation, I noticed more cats (particularly the core 5) showing symptoms and at that point I was fairly confident we had something parasitic in the house. I then promptly moved the still asymptotic dogs in with a generous friend.

On Friday I managed to scoop up 3 fecal samples from Titan, Ash, and the sick kitten (Elvira).

Over the long weekend of waiting for those results, things became even more clear, and much worse.

The October litter developed identical diarrhea, and I was able to confirm that Ash also had it as well.

But I am most concerned about our two most susceptible cats, Hazel and Oliver, part of the core 5, and both geriatric, with CKD and other issues. Both became anorexic, especially Hazel. Oliver developed identical diarrhea to Titan and the kittens, and Hazel has been vomiting (not sure if diarrhea yet).

Obviously, we got the results for the stool samples today, and all three tested positive for Giarda. We assume any symptomatic cats have it too, and all others have been exposed. Practically our entire household was prescribed metronidazole.

I have no idea what to do. We have no way to separate all of them.

To make matters worse, the other room cats have also been directly exposed. Toby (part of the core five, and mostly asymptotic as of yet/as far as we know) gets along with 3 out of 5 room cats, so he has daily visitations and play time with each. And part of how we ensure the room cats have enough interaction is by having a rotational “sleep over” schedule, where we rotate who we bring in to sleep with us at night. So the two room cats who would have been drastically less exposed to Giardia, now have been basically as much as the others due to this rotation and sharing litterboxes.

I am sick over this. I cannot quarantine this many cats, so I have no idea what to do.
I am devestated and feel hopeless because I don’t know how i will ever get control over this without the ability to quarantine every single cat.

I can probably quarantine some. I have a few crates and I know today is the last day Tractor Supply is having a 25% off sale on crates, but I’d be struggling to even afford a couple of those right now, let alone one for every cat, since I am going to have to save every penny for medical expenses right now.

What do I do here?

What are my options if I can’t quarantine? Cardboard litterboxes? New litter scoops for everyone?

And how do i disinfect carpeting and fabric? I usually quarantine in easy to disinfect bathrooms and crates, and only use easy to disinfect toys and pet blankets I don’t care about bleaching, so I’ve always been able to contain giardia and other things until now, and have never had a contagion basically reach every square inch of the house, and on mattresses, carpets, couches, etc - how do I clean these things without destroying them???

The cherry on top of all of this is that I, myself, am immunocompromised, and have been experiencing severe GI upset (very unusual for me) for the better part of a week now that has been resistant to dietary changes. So the subtype these guys have may very well be the human one, and I might also be infected now.

I just want to cry at this point. I feel like I’ve failed these guys.
 
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moxiewild

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Kittens:

Wednesday-

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- ~8 weeks old

- Newest foster

- Ash’s sister

- Currently under quarantine in a crate in the kitten room

- No symptoms noticed yet but she’s using potting soil as litter right now, which makes it difficult to tell - will send in a fecal sample as soon as I can get one; possible mild inappetence

Ash -

FD9705BD-3428-4ECA-A873-9C69B27451D2.jpeg


- ~8 weeks

- Brother of Wednesday

- Has had contact with the core 5 and the October kittens

- Observed symptoms: Diarrhea, possible mild inappetence

Oreo LoveBoss, Salem, and Binx (October kittens) -

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- Almost 4 months old

- Direct contact with the Core 5 and Ash

- Neutered today

- Observed symptoms: diarrhea, possible slight inappetence, Salem vocalizing while pooping

Elvira (sick kitty) -

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- ~6 months

- Under strict quarantine in the bathroom

- Observed symptoms: many, not sure how many are to to giardia, though. Diarrhea (different from everyone else’s most of the time, and had it upon arrival), fur loss, skin sores, itching, possible inappetence, low activity but not necessarily lethargic, vaginal and rectal bleeding

- High white blood cell count, all other tests so far negative or normal

- On antibiotics (Clavimox) for high WBC

The Core 5:

Toby -

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- 4 or 5 years old

- Healthy

- Has had direct contact with the other Core cats, the kittens (Oreo, Salem, Binx, and Ash), Socks, Immy, and Toki

- Observed symptoms: possible mild loss of appetite

Titan -

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- 9 years old

- F2 Savannah

- Has has contact with the other Core cats and kittens (Oreo, Salem, Binx and Ash)

- Severe GI disease currently under investigation, heart disease

- Observed symptoms: unusual diarrhea, severe anorexia that has since greatly improved

Trixie -

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- 9 years old

- Has had contact with the Core cats and kittens (same as above)

- Medical Issues: GI and mouth/dental/jaw issues currently under investigation, hypertension, heart disease

- Observed symptoms: possible mild inappetence

Hazel/Bun/Bunny/Bun Bun -

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- 13 years old

- Has has contact with the Core 5 and kittens

- Medical Issues: recently underwent I-131 for hyperT - currently controlled; CKD, hypertension, heart disease/possible congestive heart failure, possible cystitis or FLUTD

- Observed symptoms: severe anorexia (recently improved), vomiting

Oliver -

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- ~20+ years old

- Has had contact with the Core 5 and kittens

- Medical issues: CKD, hypertension, blind, deaf, arthritis, possible dementia

- Observed symptoms: diarrhea, loss of appetite (since improved)

The Room Cats:

Socks and Imperator Purriosa (Immy) -

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- Mother and daughter who share a room

- Fosters (Immy was returned to us by an adopter a couple of months ago)

- Have had contact with Toby of the Core 5

Socks:

- 1 years old
- No observed symptoms

Immy:

- 7 months old
- Vomited multiple times late last week; since then, no observed symptoms so we’re not sure if it’s related

Lord Bakerham von Sammich (Baker) -

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- 1-2 years old

- Foster

- Has not had direct contact with anyone

- Medical Issues: FIV+

- No observed symptoms

Toki Wartooth -

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- 2 years old

- Has has contact with Toby

- No observed symptoms

DC -

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- 15 years old

- Has not had direct contact with anyone

- Medical Issues: suspected food allergies, urinary issues, anxiety

- Observed symptoms: Loss of appetite last week - however, we had just finished a food trial and switched his food, so it’s possible he didn’t like it (though he likes everything and is food obsessed). We switched to his old food and he improved, so we’re not sure if it was giardia or just a coincidence yet.
 

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First off, knowing that Giardia has a 14 day incubation will let you know which exposed cats to keep an eye on. If they were exposed, say 20 days ago, and have not yet shown symptoms, they should be fine. Giardia only affects those with a compromised immune system. This may help your panic a little.
Personally, I would quarantine the worst cases. Maybe put the 2 or 3 little ones in the bathroom.
Dump, clean (with hot soapy water) and refill litter boxes daily. You may want to change to a clay litter for this.
You can either steam clean or spray furniture or carpet. I would also do this daily. If you spray, use a 10% ammonia solution. Just make sure to vent the room and don't let the cats in the room until it's dry and aired out.
Also wash any of the bedding in HOT soapy water. You will need to do this daily if you want to get a handle on it.
I don't know how you will quarantine all of them, but you may start with isolating the healthy ones (if any).
 
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moxiewild

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The problem is, I mostly take in special needs cats (although a couple are only behaviorally and/or physically special needs).

The initial/ongoing post I made about Elvira (sick kitten) last week was questioning whether I should take her in given the compromised immune systems of my cats and the kittens.

I also can’t really isolate anyone who isn’t already isolated.

So right now the room cats are already isolated, although Socks and Immy are isolated together. And then the kittens are isolated - Oreo, Salem, and Binx had their neuters today so were already going in separate crates. Instead of going to their new homes in a few days, they’ll just have to stay crated with us and likely lose those families...

Wednesday is still under her initial quarantine in a crate too, and Ash now has the rest of the room to himself. And of course, Elvira is quarantined in the bathroom. So all kittens in the house but Immy (who seems asymptotic so far), are isolated.

But I have no real way to isolate the Core 5, or separate Immy and Socks. Obviously, Toby will not be visiting Toki or Immy and Socks in their rooms, and we will not rotate the room cats anymore until we have this under control.

But aside from that, there’s not much more I can do to isolate the Core 5...

I am unsure about housing the asymptotic cats. For instance, Toby has had the most exposure to this, the kittens adore him. He has no symptoms, but couldn’t he still be a carrier?

I could maybe put Toby in with Socks and Immy, or with Toki, but Immy is only 7 months old, so I question if exposure would still be dangerous for her given her age. And I think Toby and Toki might fight if locked in with one another long term (although Toki is otherwise young and healthy like Toby is).

Because there’s no room, I obviously can’t spray anything. I can’t keep any cats out of any given area. I’ve never steam cleaned before but I guess I’ll have to figure it out.

I have to honest, there’s no way we can clean and sanitize the whole house thoroughly and daily. It’s too big (we used to have renters in all the rooms). It takes literally all day and technically more to do that. It’s impossible. All we can do right now is target important areas as best as we possibly can right now.

If that doesn’t work, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it...
 
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moxiewild

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Some unexpected, potentially good news!

I completely forgot we had purchased an outdoor enclosure for our back porch for the cats for Christmas.

My boyfriend came home and saw they had been delivered today!!!

We bought two of these with the intention to combine them, but for now we think we’ll keep them as two units and build them inside and keep them in the living room somewhere -

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This means we can isolate two more cats!!!

The issue now will be figuring out who.

Between sick vs. healthy, cats who don’t get along, and cats we know containment would be detrimental for, we’re struggling to figure it out...
 

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Oh, wow, what a nightmare! I've dealt with multiple cases before, but only at the shelter, where it's possible to isolate cats, and we can easily use industrial-strength disinfectants. Dealing with litter boxes is the key with giardia.

A suggestion for litter boxes: Ask local supermarkets for shallow cardboard boxes. They should have plenty from vegetables or canned goods that you can use as litter boxes and throw away daily, litter and all. Large incontinence pads are often cheaper than puppy pads and can be placed under and around the cardboard boxes.Scoops should be washed and disinfected daily.

Wash any towels or pet blankets using a long hot washing cycle and hot rinse, with separate loads for each room/group.

If you can swing it, invest in a steam cleaner with attachments to use on floors, carpets and upholstered furniture (as often as possible).

Pick up some disposable gloves and booties for you and your boyfriend to use while dealing with infected cats.
 
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moxiewild

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Oh, wow, what a nightmare! I've dealt with multiple cases before, but only at the shelter, where it's possible to isolate cats, and we can easily use industrial-strength disinfectants. Dealing with litter boxes is the key with giardia.

A suggestion for litter boxes: Ask local supermarkets for shallow cardboard boxes. They should have plenty from vegetables or canned goods that you can use as litter boxes and throw away daily, litter and all. Large incontinence pads are often cheaper than puppy pads and can be placed under and around the cardboard boxes.Scoops should be washed and disinfected daily.

Wash any towels or pet blankets using a long hot washing cycle and hot rinse, with separate loads for each room/group.

If you can swing it, invest in a steam cleaner with attachments to use on floors, carpets and upholstered furniture (as often as possible).

Pick up some disposable gloves and booties for you and your boyfriend to use while dealing with infected cats.
I’ve dealt with it with multiple cats too, but they’re usually crated, which makes it way easier to disinfect and keep exposure to a minimum :(

I really should have put my foot down with my boyfriend letting Ash out early, but he was not doing well in confinement and he and his sister are exceptionally cat friendly/affectionate (the ONLY time they perk up and stop acting feral is when they see the other cats or kittens).

It could have come from Elvira, but we’ve been so careful with her since we don’t know what she has yet. Plus, with how quickly it infected our core cats and the October kittens, it just seems like sharing the litterbox with Ash would make him the more likely suspect.

I’ve already been searching for a way to source a :censored: ton of shallow cardboard boxes, that’s a great idea, thanks!

Can I ask why separate loads for cats/groups is necessary? Isn’t everything killed in the wash?

I ask because it would be very difficult to wash a single cats bedding at a time, along with expensive and time consuming with how many we have. Also, is bleach not necessary? I’ve always used it while washing giardia bedding in the past, but kasmir64 only mentioned hot water too.

We’re definitely going to look into steam cleaner options tomorrow, and we already ordered some booties and always use gloves anyway! Although I guess now we should change our gloves for each cat or group? That’s what we’ve been doing for Wednesday and Elvira since they’re in quarantine still.
 
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moxiewild

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Anyone know the best way to disinfect hardwood floors without damaging them? And what about when you can’t keep cats out of the area..?
 

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First, I wanted to say you are amazing, taking care of that many. You deserve a medal and the mother of all hugs just for that.

Sadly, I'm not much help in this issue... other than asking, isn't there a friend or other pet lover/ shelter/ ANY place that can help you with the load by taking a few of the cats for quarantine?

For the hardwoods, I hear apple cider vinegar is great for almost everything wood-related. And it has the plus of being something natural instead of an artificial abrasive product (which I have come to fear for their cancerigenous effects...)
 
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moxiewild

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First, I wanted to say you are amazing, taking care of that many. You deserve a medal and the mother of all hugs just for that.

Sadly, I'm not much help in this issue... other than asking, isn't there a friend or other pet lover/ shelter/ ANY place that can help you with the load by taking a few of the cats for quarantine?

For the hardwoods, I hear apple cider vinegar is great for almost everything wood-related. And it has the plus of being something natural instead of an artificial abrasive product (which I have come to fear for their cancerigenous effects...)
Any of our friends who like animals are dog people (which is why we were able to get someone to take our dogs so quickly). Shelters and rescues are mostly useless for this sort of thing, to be honest. They have too many animals they’d risk exposing and just too many animals in general.

It’s like pulling teeth trying to get absolutely anyone to take in an animal with something contagious like this. Most people willing to have their own pets, and as much as they might like to help, they (understandably) do not want to place their pets at risk.

Unfortunately, ACV is not a disinfectant :( I’d love if I could just use that or white vinegar everywhere.
 

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Unfortunately, the only thing that I personally know of that kills Giardia is ammonia. I don't know if that will ruin a hardwood floor or not though.
If you can't clean or spray the furniture everyday, then at least deal with the litter boxes.
Could you put sheets or something similar over your furniture? That way you could just throw everything in the wash. This will help to control it. I don't know of any reason why you can't wash everything together. However, there could be a reason I'm just not aware of.
jcat jcat , why wash loads separately? My 3 were contained together, but since they were only 14 days old it was pretty easy.
 

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This has some info related to floors;

and cleaning;
 
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moxiewild

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Unfortunately, the only thing that I personally know of that kills Giardia is ammonia. I don't know if that will ruin a hardwood floor or not though.
If you can't clean or spray the furniture everyday, then at least deal with the litter boxes.
Could you put sheets or something similar over your furniture? That way you could just throw everything in the wash. This will help to control it. I don't know of any reason why you can't wash everything together. However, there could be a reason I'm just not aware of.
jcat jcat , why wash loads separately? My 3 were contained together, but since they were only 14 days old it was pretty easy.
Yeah, I’ve read just about every source specifically saying both ammonia and bleach will destroy hardwood. Not that I can use it around my cats without being able to remove them from the area anyway.

We were just discussing picking up some plastic or Barbie furniture covers! We’re trying to find something affordable, though. Ideally we’d have two pairs so that the couches are covered at all times.

So yours were a little younger than my older batch of kittens. You didn’t isolate them separately?

The kittens are absolutely MISERABLE being crated and separated from one another. And I feel like I don’t even know how to go about trying to play with them, either at this point? Wouldn’t letting them out expose them? It’s not like it’s practical to steam clean the carpet between playing with 5 different kittens.

I’m just wondering how necessary crating them separately is at this point.
 
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moxiewild

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Thank you!

Hardwood is such a PITA. I’ve read ammonia and bleach are an absolute no, vinegar or water and soap seem to be okay but won’t actually kill giardia, and things seem to lean heavily against steam cleaning for wood floors.

Since guardia thrives in moist environments, I wonder how steam cleaning might impact that. How long does it take for couches and carpets to fully dry?

I know the initial steaming will kill what’s there, my concern is my inability to keep any cats out of an area until carpet/furniture is totally dry. So if there’s still moisture and they come into contact with it, won’t the cysts then thrive?

This is all so confusing and frustrating!
 
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moxiewild

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We did manage to set up the enclosure in our dining room today, although my boyfriend forgot we aren’t combining them right now, but that’s an easy fix if necessary.

We tried to see how some of the cats would take to it.

Titan (infected, part of the Core 5) by far did the best. We threw some treats in there to encourage him to explore, and he seemed very comfortable -



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So Titan is a definite candidate, but we’re wondering whether there is benefit to this or not?

Of the Core 5, 3 are infected. So is there a benefit to only confining one of the infected?

We can’t cofine the two healthy ones together (Toby and Trixie), because Trixie hates everyone but Titan and literally shits herself when stressed.

And we can’t confine all the unhealthy ones in there, either.

Oliver is far too old, blind, and demented, and Hazel is extremely sensitive and doesn't like other cats and will be stressed if trapped with others.

So is there a benefit at that point to JUST confining Titan, while Hazel and Oliver are still walking about freely while infected?

The other thing we considered was placing the infected kittens in there (except for Elvira, the sick quarantined kitten). I think they’d have a blast in there.

But by bringing them out closer to the living area where Titan, Hazel, and Oliver are, are we placing those three at more risk?

Putting the kittens in the enclosure would free up the kitten room. I could try isolating at least Hazel and Oliver in there together and see how they’d do.

It’s big enough that I think Hazel could be okay with another cat in there. Oliver would be pretty stressed at first, but I think once he got everything mapped out in his mind he’d be okay. Although... it’s honestly hard to tell since I’m not sure how coherent he is anymore :/

Ugh, this is getting so confusing. I have no idea how to prioritize who to isolate, or if there’s any benefit with how complicated it all is.
 

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moxiewild moxiewild Sorry, I should have explained why we wash separately. It's not just a matter of energy conservation, i.e., not having to wash everything at a minimum of 60° C /140°F to kill off giardia, but just particular loads. Anything that could also come into indirect contact with textiles that might have been smeared with feces, like laundry baskets and the rim or door of the washer, should be disinfected after each load. Washing separately cuts down on the amount of work involved. We have people at the shelter who tend to overload the washers, too, despite constant reminders, so there's no guarantee that all the wash is completely clean, though that shouldn't happen in a private household.

I don't think there's any benefit to isolating just one cat from a group that's been exposed. Ideally, the entire group should be isolated from cats that haven't been exposed, but that's just not always feasible in a home setting. Perhaps the best you can do is separate those most endangered by (re-)infection, i.e., the elderly, the very young, the immune-compromised, from the others.

The main thing you have to worry about is contamination through feces. The CDC has some tips on cleaning and disinfecting, which also include steam cleaning : Giardia & Pets | Giardia | Parasites | CDC

One thing we also do is clip long-haired cats' backsides and wipe all the cats' rectal areas with disposable wipes every day to try to prevent smearing.
 

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So yours were a little younger than my older batch of kittens. You didn’t isolate them separately?
I kept them together. I figured if they all had it, they might as well be miserable together. Besides, they were only 14-15 days old and couldn't poop by themselves anyway. By the time they were using the box, I already had the cleaning down and just left them together for comfort.
I had them in a large dog crate to start, then moved them to a playpen.
Personally, the only isolation I would do would be the sick from the healthy. However, if one is particularly worse than the others, you may want to isolate that one. If for no other reason than so you can monitor the fluid and feed intake.
 
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moxiewild

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I did talk to the clinic at the appointment, and then called a few others, contacted some vet techs I know with connections, etc.

No one offered or knew of any clinic, kennel, shelter, or rescue that offered isolation boarding. I’m actually still looking whenever I need to take a break from all of this, because I find this option more plausible than finding a rescue or foster willing to take this on.

Our current plan (that is constantly changing right now, obviously) is to figure out which one of our room cats can handle being in the enclosure.

We’ve concluded we’re going to try with DC.

Unfortunately, DC is an escape artist and it’s well established that he will beat himself into a bloody pulp trying to escape a trap, carrier, or crate. However, he does fine in a bedroom - so the question is whether the enclosure is big enough for him to feel comfortable with confinement.

Our other room cat options are mostly unviable for the enclosure, so I really hope DC can handle it.

However, the back up plan is to allow Socks and Immy (the uninfected kitten) out into the house with Trixie and Toby once we have it all initially disinfected.

The primary goal right now is to make the master bedroom available and move Hazel, Titan, and Oliver in there. This would officially separate the infected from the uninfected.

We’re hoping against hope that the 3 of them can find a way to coexist peacefully enough in a bedroom together, adjust to being confined in general, and that Oliver won’t struggle too much to get his bearings.

If we can pull it off, this would effectively narrow the areas we need to disinfect daily down to the kitten room, our bedroom, and the bathroom Elvira is in. Then just clean the rest of the house normally every other day, and disinfect it 1-2x a week.

So that’s where we’re at right now.
 
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