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Matthew Sisk: Conflicted over seeing new kitten
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It’s an odd position to be in, wanting to see a patient, yet wanting the patient to stay away from the hospital.

But such is the relationship between our now 2-week-old kitten, Leia, and me as her doctor.

You see, Leia is very young. So young in fact her immune system is not yet developed to the degree that a vaccine would give much protection. Thus, she hasn’t been vaccinated to give her protection against infectious diseases.

The flip side to her youth is she is still circulating some antibodies in her system that she received from her mom via their a shared bloodstream prior to birth. And a veterinary hospital is a likely place to run into germs that might affect a neonate kitten.

So why is it necessary for her to come in? One word: weight.

Since Leia is an orphan as far as felinity is concerned, she is receiving her care from another species — a human. And although her “mom” is attentive and works tirelessly to keep her fed and cared for, it’s a good idea to closely monitor her size to confirm she’s growing correctly.

Plus, treatment for intestinal parasites is a good idea at this age. She can get that at the veterinary hospital.

As it turns out, Leia is a beast. Born a little smaller than my ring finger and pinky combined, she’s now almost a palmful. That’s about 3 ounces to 9 ounces if you’re fixated on numbers.

Kitten replacement formula and warm cozy cuddling go along way for orphans. I give a dewormer medication and advise some worms may be passed in the feces over the next few days.

Overall, I’m very happy. Leia started with as much of a challenge as I’ve ever seen. Now, she’s thriving, thanks in no small part to her human family.

Still, she was delivered from a queen (mother cat) who was deceased on arrival. I have no means to determine if Leia’s little brain was deprived of oxygen. Currently, she just eats, sleeps, uses the bathroom, and sort of wiggles.

Her future development may tell.


Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at