Crystal Bisschops, 35, from Toronto, Canada, had a cat-astrophe when her new kitten fell ill...
Looking down at the adorable two-week old kittens, my heart melted.
The six orphaned siblings were cuddled up together in a local rescue centre where I volunteered, after being found in an abandoned shed.
And, being a cat lover, I just couldn’t resist looking after the little ones – all six of them!
I’d soon given them all names, and was so attached.
‘How adorable!’ I said to my husband Justin, 35, watching Wilbur and his brothers, Norman and Ralph, chase each other around the room.
But, just a few days later, all of them suddenly fell ill and had terrible diarrhoea.
They were all so lethargic, too – not their usual playful selves.
‘It must be some kind of bug,’ I said to Justin, worried.
Scooping them up, I took them to the vet’s straight away.
And, after blood tests, I was delivered the devastating news…
‘The kittens have panleukopenia,’ the vet explained to me.
A viral infection that if left untreated, kills 90 percent of all kittens affected by it.
‘Even with treatment it can be fatal,’ the vet went on. I was devastated. The vet then gave each kitten antibiotic shots and vaccinations.
Then he presented me with a huge needle…
‘You’ll have to inject them at home with this,’ he said.
I shuddered as he explained that I’d have to angle the needle under their skin on the back of their necks and into their veins… But I was determined to fight for the little ones.
A week of squirming and scratching followed as I routinely injected the kittens with their medication. But soon
At first he hated it
enough, they seemed to all be out of the woods. Relief! Afterwards, though, I noticed that Wilbur was wobbling a bit when he walked, swaying from side to side before finally losing his balance and collapsing on the floor.
Rushing him back to the vet’s, I was told that the virus had attacked the part of his brain that controlled balance and coordination.
‘Does he need more medication?’ I asked the vet.
‘I’m afraid there’s not much we can do,’ he said sadly.
Despite the virus, little Wilbur fought on.
But as his coordination became worse, he would drag himself along the floor to his bowl and litter tray, unable to keep his balance. It was so sad to watch. The vet suggested that we have him put down, as there was nothing he could do to treat him. But I’d fallen in love with Wilbur. ‘I want to adopt him,’ I told Justin. ‘It will be hard work,’ he said. But there was no going back now. ‘We can’t separate him from Norman,’ I said.
His big brother had really been looking after him, sticking by his side and cleaning him regularly.
Then, little Ralph was looking a bit lonely, so we decided to adopt him, too!
With our family now complete, we set about thinking up ways to help Wilbur.
Justin and I owned a construction company, so we were good at designing stuff.
First, we laid carpet on our wooden floors so Wilbur could get a better grip.
Then we made a little ramp for him so he could get up to the litter tray on his own.
We also bought him a water bottle made for rabbits so he could drink easily.
Then Justin fashioned a cat life jacket with a handle, so we could hold him up and make him feel like he was standing.
On sunny days, we’d carry him out to the garden so he could watch the birds.
We’d even take him out on country hikes!
He made do with these adjustments, but he was still struggling. He relied on us for everything, and I wanted him to be more independent.
‘What about getting him a special wheelchair?’ Justin suggested one day.
So, after doing some research online, we found a four-wheel pet chair that was perfect for Wilbur.
‘This is for you to zoom around in,’ I said to Wilbur when it arrived.
Strapping him in, he hated it at first, and refused to place his paws on the ground and move himself.
But he’s getting used to it now, and uses it for a few minutes everyday, zooming past his brothers who often look so surprised about the whole thing! Despite his condition, Wilbur is such a loving cat.
He’s always happy and purrs on my lap every evening.
We dote on him, and he and his brothers always have the prime spot on our bed at night!
So while Wilbur might wobble, our love for him never will.
I nursed him back to health Back on his feet
I spoil my special boy