The “Tail” of Ben

It was a typical October Saturday afternoon at the cat adoption room in our Calaveras Humane Society Thrift Store in Arnold. Lead volunteer Linda Burns was tending to the available kittens and assisting potential adopters when a woman came in looking concerned. She produced a bedraggled kitten from her backpack. “She told me she’d found him behind a Stockton grocery store but couldn’t keep him,” Burns says. “She said if we didn’t take him, she was going to stand in front of the market next door to see if anyone wanted him. The kitten was crying and, even though that’s not how we typically do animal intake, I said we’d take care of him.”

Burns and another volunteer quickly acquired formula and a bottle, then helped make arrangements for an experienced CHS foster home to take in the kitten.

The three-week-old gray tabby male was handed off to volunteer Erica Kenmir, who has bottle-raised scores of neonatal kittens for the Calaveras Humane Society in recent years. Kenmir immediately noticed two alarming things about the kitten’s health. “He had ringworm, for sure,” she says. (Ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin that can affect animals and humans, is highly contagious, and usually manifests as hair loss and scaly, crusty lesions on the skin.)

“But I wasn’t as worried about the ringworm as I was about his leg,” Kenmir continues. “His back leg was just hanging there, and he wasn’t kicking it or anything.”

An appointment was made for the kitten (now called “Ben”) the next day at Arnold Pet Clinic, where veterinarian Cathy Gatlin confirmed Kenmir’s suspicion about ringworm. Gatlin also performed X-rays to see what was going on with Ben’s leg. The images revealed a severe break in the right femur.

“It’s great that he’s in a stable environment now,” Gatlin says. “He’s already being isolated (from other cats) because of his ringworm, and crate rest is exactly what he needs for his leg to heal.” Whether Ben requires surgery in the future will be decided once he’s a little older and larger.

Despite his fracture, Ben has proven to be a typically active, feisty foster kitten. “He’s using his leg now, and he’s a sassy guy!” says Kenmir. “He doesn’t like it when I give him his special baths for the ringworm, but he purrs when I cuddle him and loves to get his all-over massage.” Kenmir keeps Ben entertained with toys, treats and gentle interactive play in his crate and has already transitioned him to regular food (“He would just chew up the bottle when I’d try to feed him that way,” she says). Barring complications, look for Ben to be available for adoption around Thanksgiving.

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October 23, 2017

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