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The Kitten And The Warble

>25 July 2012
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A few months ago, a friend gave us a kitten.

Not that we needed one, but the sweet little thing couldn’t be friendlier, and had already proven to be a good mouser. She was a stray, and needed a home. So we took her.

About five weeks after we brought her home, we noticed her belly looked awfully swollen. We thought maybe she had worms, so we wormed her. But there was no difference in her appearance.

A week later, my friend who is a midwife came over. As she came to the back door she noticed my kitten. “Oh, your cat’s pregnant!” she exclaimed. Surprised and very doubtful I replied, “Oh no, she can’t be pregnant. She’s just a kitten. There’s no way!” But my friend knelt down and felt the cat’s stomach. “Yep. She’s pregnant all right. If I had my doppler we could hear the heartbeats.” She was positive my kitten was going to have kittens.

Could it be possible?

Two days later, sure enough, we discovered the cat having kittens in a cardboard box. Four were born, three survived.

Great. Like we needed more kittens.

Although, they were super cute. And the kids were thrilled to have them.

Well, several weeks passed and all was well. Until we noticed that something was wrong with the little gray kitten.

There was a hole in his chest. A good sized puncture, that looked to be oozing with white puss.

We couldn’t figure out how that could have happened. Had he fallen on something? I was sure it wasn’t there when he was born.

Other than the wound, he acted perfectly fine and played happily with his siblings. But I knew I couldn’t just leave it to fester.

I decided to pour peroxide on it. And although it bubbled a whole lot, it didn’t make any improvement. Almost a week went by, and it just seemed to get worse.

Then one day I got online and started searching for answers. And I came across some forums with some interesting discussions about kittens with unexplainable holes.

As I read, I came across a possible explanation:  a warble.

I’d never in my life heard of a warble before, but this forum poster suggested that it may be the problem, and since nothing else had answered my question I decided to look up warbles.

That’s when this picture appeared on my computer screen…

Okay, wait.

If you’re squeamish, don’t look.

Alright. There’s my fair warning.

 *UPDATE: Due to copyright laws, I’ve deleted the posted photo. But here’s the link if you’re brave enough to check it out!

Warble Photo

*Shivers*

I know. Nasty, right?

This totally freaked me out.

But after reading more about it, I was fairly confident that this was our problem. I called Jada into the office to take a look at the picture with me. She isn’t the least bit squeamish.

I looked at her and said, “I think this is what’s wrong with our kitten. If I’m going to do this, I’ll need your help.” She answered confidently, “I’ll do it.”

We both slipped on some rubber gloves, I grabbed a pair of long tweezers which I’d rubbed down with alcohol, and a bottle of Betadine, and we stepped onto the back porch where the kittens always play.

Jada’s job was to hold the kitten on its back, while I did the dirty work. She was so helpful, and kept the kitten still as I slowly reached into the wound with the open tweezers. When I felt an object at the end of my tweezers, I blindly pinched it and held my breath as I pulled it out of the hole.

There, at the end of my instrument, was a fat, nasty, white grub worm. A warble. Exactly like the photo had shown. At least an inch long. And I realized that it hadn’t been puss oozing from my kitty’s sore, it had been the worm.

Surprisingly, I was too shocked to be disgusted.

“Look at this thing!” I exclaimed to Jada, who still had the kitten in her lap. “Can you believe that was in our kitty?!”

She laughed and reassured me, “That wasn’t so bad after all!”

After I disposed of the warble, I poured Betadine into the now empty hole in the kitten and it was off to play again.

I have to admit, that felt pretty darn good. I’d been able to treat the kitten myself, and I knew I probably saved its life.

It has been about a week and a half since I removed the warble. The kitten’s wound is healing nicely, and he’s doing great! He has some goopy eye problems, but other than that he’s as spunky as can be. We’ll probably end up keeping him.

I was grateful to have Jada’s help. She was fascinated by the entire thing, truly. And it was a good lesson for both of us.

Sometimes, you just have to do what it takes, whether you like it or not.

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34 Comments »

  • Mich said:

    oo poor kitten, well done you for getting the larva out in one piece too.
    We get warble flys over here in the UK, tend to be a problem mainly on cattle tho I do remember my childhood pony having one on his back..ugh.
    Horrid things.

  • JulieG said:

    We have always had cats, have 4 now. They are my favorite pet. Never heard of warbles though, thank God. And I mean that. Our 2 outdoor cats catch anything that moves. Our 2 indoor cats run and hide at anything that moves. :)

  • Nikki R said:

    Oh you are soooo brave Kendra!! I could not have done that. I had never heard of such a thing. Sometimes a bit of Crisco rubbed on the kitties goopy eyes helps though I am not sure why. My Grandma told me that is what they did when she was growing up, I tried it and it did work.

  • Stephanie said:

    Wow! Never heard of that…will have to go research it for future reference.

  • Lisa Lynn said:

    I’ve heard of these before. The adult (a fly, I believe) lays it’s eggs on animals. The egg hatches and the larva eats its way into the flesh. A nasty critter. I’ve heard of humans getting a similar parasite in the tropics from mosquito bites…the mosquito is infected by a fly and when it bites an animal the egg is injected into the skin.

    Good for you for saving the kitten and doing the dirty work!

  • Sophie said:

    the kittens are so cute!!! It’s great to have kittens in a house to mouse!

    I hope you’ll find someplace to spay the mom, or you’ll have kittens all the time! There are associations who do it for a small fee usually (I know some places that do it for 35$ but you need to look around you for particular associations!).

  • Cranky Puppy said:

    Gak! That’s disgusting. I’d love to know how you get a warble, but not sure I can stomach doing the research. So glad your kitty is going to be OK!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Cranky Puppy,

    They are actually the larva of a fly. Yuck!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Sophie,

    Oh yes, we’re definitely gonna spay!

  • Mrs. D said:

    Yes, that is nasty. We had a kitten with one of those when I was a kid. My dad took it out and the kitten made a full recovery. I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but my dad must have had some experience with “Warbles”.

  • Winona said:

    Now that was disgusting. Yuck! I have heard of it, though. We had a kitten get a warble one time. I am embarrassed to say that I did not have the guts to do what you did. Our daughter was a vet tech. I had her do it. Yes, the kitten fully recovered, but it was so nasty that it took me a while to recover. LOL My daughter thought it probably got it while it was laying nursing on its mama. Glad you were able to help the sweet kitty. You are a brave woman and your daughter is brave as well.

  • Richard said:

    Wow Kendra, truly you are a woman of many talents. I’m not sure I would have ventured to do this.

    Congrats on now being able to add “vet” to the list of hats you wear.

  • Denise said:

    We had a stray dog that my dad brought home once that had one. We didnt know she had it until it broke open. Pus and blood everywhere yuck. Mom cleaned it out with peroxide and little Nugget made a full recovery. We had never heard of warbles either before this.

  • ann said:

    Boric acid water, the kind people used to use on babies eyes, will fix your kittens eyes, too. You can buy it at the drugstore, it isn’t expensive, and just put some on a cotton ball and rub across the kittens eyes.

    I am not sure if you know this, but a cat can get pregnant as young as 4 months of age. They can also get pregnant while nursing kittens. February through May are the prime “kitten months” when so many kittens are born. Check with any cat rescues in your area, they should be able to direct you to a low cost spay/neuter in your area. I would neuter any males also. It keeps down fighting, keeps them from getting sick and possibly dying from abcesses caused by the fighting, and makes them stay home a lot better.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hahaha, Richard ;) I just keep learning one thing after another, don’t I?! Just roll with the punches, I guess, lol.

  • Shaye @ The Elliott Homestead said:

    I’ve done some nasty stuff with cattle, but this really got me. Bah ha. So yucky! I’m going to blame my weak stomach on the pregnancy.

  • Melissa said:

    Mmm yum, Cuterebra larva (rodent bot flies)! They are pretty disgusting! I’m impressed you took it out yourself!!! Someone mentioned that they eat their way into the animal. They don’t actually pierce the skin. The eggs stick to the animal’s coat after the animal walks through an area where an adult has laid it’s eggs. For cats especially, they ingest the eggs while grooming. Or they can enter the host through an open wound. Once they’re inside the animal’s body, they migrate to where they want to go.

  • Autumn said:

    I work at a humane society and We get kittens in during the summer months (minnesota) that frequently have Cuterebra larva in them sometimes more than one It can be fatal. The trick is dronwning it out using peroxide. Also if you give it some time for the hole to get bigger (gross I know) that also helps. Kittens are fertile at 10 weeks of age. I would check with your local shelter we do low cost spay and neuters!!

  • Debbie Chamlee said:

    We had that happen to our dog one time. My husband had to go out of town & later that day I noticed the dog’s neck was swolen & a small hole on it. It kind of freaked me out! I had no idea what to do so the kids & I took her to the vet. It cost me an arm & a leg but they took care of it! I was really freaked out once I knew what it was! Yuck!

  • ashlee said:

    When I was a kid I had a rabbit that had one of those. We took it to the vet and I watched the vet pull it out. It was weird.

  • Lisa @ HappyinDoleValley said:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing…

    We also were blessed with a litter of kittens this spring and are enjoying them tremendously. Our queen birthed seven (yes, seven kittens); one died, and we’ve given away three to friends, but three remain to entertain us with their antics and to keep the local rodent population under control!

    I’m so curious how your kitten behaved during the “procedure.” Kudos to you for taking care of the situation at home. We’ve used the web to find at-home care tips for our animals and have had great success.

  • Meg said:

    We “acquired” a kitten (as we always seem to do: actually, they “acquire” us!) and it had a huge lump on it’s chest. The vet thought it was a warble, but couldnt find it. Instead, it appeared just to be an infection. That’s great that you were able to get it! We ended up paying a couple hundred dollars to treat our kitten of the infection! The cat was perfectly fine after a week, and then about a year after, she “acquired” someone else apparently, because we cannot seem to find her. Such is life.

  • Minka Kulenovic said:

    Thanks for posting the full story, as originally I thought that is a ‘wobbler syndrome’? Well, all is well that ends well…

  • JGIG said:

    Good job, kitty mama! Years ago I had a cat that got one of those grubs on the underside of its neck. The vet took care of that for me, thank goodness =o). They did have me put a bulb syringe’s worth of peroxide on it daily (squirt a few drops, bubble, wipe, repeat ’til syringe emptied) so that the wound would heal from the inside out.

    We had a little stray adopt us last summer who was about 10 minutes pregnant when she adopted us . . . we now have seven cats =o). All spayed/neutered now (we paid for mama’s spay, and the metro ‘spay/neuter and release’ program in our area did the kittens for free), and will be a year old on Saturday. We have seven children, so the kitties all get lots of good attention and are very sweet. We’re really enjoying them!

  • JGIG said:

    Oh! I forgot to mention – for goopy kitty eyes, you won’t believe it ’til you do it and see it work: use a Bragg’s apple cider vinegar soaked cotton ball and rub it on the BACK of the kitty’s neck, squeezing the vinegar into the fur. You will see improvement within HOURS in the kitty’s eyes. I also used the same cotton ball rinsed with warm water to just remove the crusties from kitty’s eyes. No kidding. I read about it online and thought, ‘What have I got to lose?’ and it worked beautifully. The ACV can also be a literal life-saver for a cat with a UTI or urinary blockage. You can google ACV and cats and get all kinds of info.

  • Morgan said:

    Okay, my kitten I found out in the woods had a wound on its neck… I cleaned it out to notice little worms. I looked it up and they look exactly like fungus gnat larve. I picked as many as I could out. He had them in his butt area as well.. Crawling in and out. The next day I looked at the wound to re wrap it and a warble was there. I pulled that sucker out with tweezers, and now there Is a big gapeing hole. With puss and stuff in it. I used peroxide, and disinfectant and got all the little gnats out that I saw. Thing is, everything I look up, it shows nothing about gnats being in cats… So I picked them all out, thinking I got them all. I woke up that morning to see none, as I hoped. But then I noticed his toe has been injured. I got my tweezers just incase, and found 1 gnat. I got it out. I have not seen anymore worms, but I don’t know what to do about the warble hole on its neck? It has a bunch of puss in it… And I’ve drained some out…. Advice? Other then taking him to the vet? We will. But for now I need advice. :) please keep spree in your prayers.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Morgan,

    I poured Betadine in my kitten’s wound. Don’t use any more peroxide. It should heal within a few days.

  • Morgan said:

    Kendra,

    I wasn’t planning on using any more. Only thing is he is so weak, and wobbly… I don’t know what to do? Other then take him to the vet of course.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    I’m sorry to hear about your poor kitten, Morgan :( I wish I knew exactly what to tell you would help. It sounds like the vet would be your best bet. I hope he gets better soon.

  • Morgan said:

    It’s okay darling, thanks for the replies! :) keep him in your prayers please.

  • Amy said:

    Someone just dropped this kitten off two days ago. Not even weaned. I just found a warble in it this morning. I removed it and hopefully it makes a full recovery. On top of bottle feeding it. Yes very gross. Gotta have a strong stomach.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Good for you, Amy! I hope the kitten does well.

  • corrine said:

    I have a 5wk old kitten w a warble. We r going 2 remove it but w all I’ve been reading it says the tissue is damaged from it….did your kitten make a full recovery???

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Corrine,

    Yes, he fully healed from the warble, just fine. :)

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