Hot Off The Collar Blog

The Kitten That Came In From The Cold

Hot Off the Collar | Volume 23

At the end of January, Graham and Paula Christie noticed a kitten hanging around their backyard. They live in the country and this didn’t seem unusual but when Environment Canada issued a severe cold weather alert, they kept an eye out for the wee one. As the evening air turned frigid, Graham put out a box with some cloth and rags in case the cat returned and needed a place to stay warm. The next morning, the cat was below their bird feeder but not moving. Graham brought it inside and knew immediately that something was wrong. In fact for a moment, he thought the cat was dead but as if it sensed the need to show a sign of life, it whined a bit. Graham understood the need to act quickly. He called his daughter Jessica who then called the KHS office and ten minutes later, they were on the way to drop off this poor, frozen kitten.

After a long day in surgery, Dr. Heather was just wrapping things up when she got word that someone was bringing in a cat that needed immediate attention.
Graham arrived and gave the cat to Adele from our Customer Care team and Adele rushed the cat, blanket and all, into surgery. By this time, the poor little thing was unresponsive and so cold that the thermometer would not register a temperature. After nervously checking for and finding a heartbeat, as well as getting positive neurological responses, the team went into action.

The kitten was wrapped in a heated blanket and placed onto a warming pad. In cases of hypothermia, it’s critical to check blood glucose prior to proceeding. If you warm the animal too quickly and their glucose is unbalanced, it can cause more problems. In this case, the kitten’s blood glucose was quite low so Dr. Heather calculated the right amount to administer. The next obstacle was getting a needle into its tiny vein. With expert care from veterinary technician Tina Jackson, they managed to access a vein and infuse a dextrose solution. The response was almost immediate. The frozen little kitten opened his eyes. They wrapped him in more blankets, surrounded him with heating pads and checked his temperature frequently. After an hour or so, they offered him some food. He was starving; a good sign.

After another hour, his blood glucose was normalized and his body temperature was returning to an acceptable level. It was time to name this tiny miracle. Dr. Heather decided on “Sid”, a character from “Ice Age”, one her favourite movies as a child.

Sid spent the night at an after-hours clinic for monitoring and by the next morning he was fully recovered. When I met Sid on the Monday following his nail-biting arrival, I was amazed. Just 48 hours earlier he had been a frozen bundle showing minimal signs of life and yet here he was, wide-eyed and energetic; purring and head-butting as if nothing had ever happened. It reminded me once again of the resilience we witness almost every day. As this area’s largest animal welfare organization, it can be overwhelming to see the damage done by neglect, abandonment or abuse. That damage is often aggravated by the extremes of our local weather. Despite all of that, the spirit and strength inherent in every cat, dog, rabbit and rat is renewed almost immediately thanks to the expert care, and compassion they receive from our staff. You might think that after experiencing these situations time and again, our staff would become desensitized to miraculous recoveries and veterinary triumphs. They don’t. In fact, the response to Sid’s revival was as emotional as every other big save; many of us were in tears and all of us were marveling at another veterinary miracle. Armani, Houdini, Crane, Flower, Petey; these are just a few animals from a very long list that have been treated, saved and rehomed thanks to our incredible team. Each one means the world to us and that’s why I never tire of telling the stories of the animals and why I’ll never stop praising the commitment of our staff.

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