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Update 8/23: I’d like to make it clear that I have no way of knowing for certain where Maggie’s ringworm came from. The ringworm could have come from any source. It’s possible we could have given it to Maggie or she could have picked it up in the four days after we got her.

Susie and I have a new little creature in our life.  Her name is Maggie, and she’s a super-cute, super-tiny little kitten.  She’s a bundle of energy, and has brought some wonderful excitement to our house. But it’s not all golden.

You see, while I’m really happy with the kitten, I’m very, very unhappy with the breeder, and I’m also a little upset with myself.  I’m also quite worried about our current cat, Aimee.

Maggie is an Abyssinian, about 16 weeks old.  We got her from Nightmist Abyssinians and Somalis in Sooke, BC. A friend in Calgary had previously gotten a kitten from this breeder, run by Susan and Graham Marshall, and had been very happy with her cat.

We were told by our friend that the breeder said Maggie had a head infection as a newborn kitten, and that some bacterial infection had damaged her left eye. This meant that she wasn’t “show quality” and so she was free if we could provider her with a good home.

But we were concerned that, having had this eye infection, she’d be bringing something into the house for Aimee to catch.  The breeder assured us before we went, and when we were there in person, that Maggie was over her disease and was not a risk.  When we picked Maggie up, we also saw her brother, who’d also had the infection, and they both looked like happy, healthy cats (though with a damage eye).

The breeder assured us that there was nothing that Maggie could give Aimee, that at the most they’d trade colds the way cats do whe they’re introduced. She never told us the name of the infection, either, and we did ask several times—she said it was just an infection that cats sometimes get.

We got her home and after a few days of separation (we kept Maggie in the bathroom while she adjusted to being in a new place), let Maggie out so the cats get to know each other.

Meanwhile, we were taking Maggie to our vet to make sure she was healthy, and the vet recommended we take her to a specialist for a closer look at her eye, and that’s when we got the bad news.

The specialist in New Westminster told us that Maggie had a classic, completely obvious case of cat herpes. Many cats get herpes, and like in humans, it’s permanent, non-treatable, and rarely fatal.  It can manifest over and over in times of stress, and can be really bad for kittens, causing them eye and respiratory problems. Which is what happened to Maggie when she was young, clearly, and so Maggie still had (and always will have) herpes.

Meanwhile, at home, Aimee was just then showing signs of a bad cold and other symptoms of—you guessed it—cat herpes.  So while the good news is that the kitten, Maggie, is probably going to be fine and her eye is going to remain semi-functional or better her whole life, meanwhile, we’ve just infected Aimee with a permanent disease that she has never had and might never have caught.

To be fair, it’s possible Aimee, who’s wheezing away and meowing like a frog these days,  caught something else, a normal cold perhaps, from Maggie—but even if that’s true, it’s also very likely that she’ll eventually catch herpes. There’s no reliable test, and no reliable vaccine, for feline herpes.

And it’s true the breeder might not of known this was herpes, but that could only be if a) she never took Maggie to the vet (a vet would have been able to diagnose this in moments) and b) if the breeder was so clueless as to be unable to identify cat herpes, which I doubt.

So it’s far more likely that the breeder knew that Maggie had feline herpes and did not divulge this to us.  I find this fairly reprehensible.

Secondly, and in some ways even worse, Susie and Maggie and Aimee and I all currently are sharing another disease: ringworm.  Ringworm is a fungus like athletes foot that can be spread from cat to cat and cat to human by contact and by spores in the air.  It’s stubborn, but treatable, and even preventable if you know you’re going to come into contact with it.

It’s gross, though—circular patches of red, scaly, itchy skin on your trunk and limbs.  Susie has it really bad—multiple spots everywhere, she’s like a personalized “Target” ad campaign.  I’m a little better, with about 6 spots I have identified and am treating.

It’s not that obvious that Maggie has ringworm, but now that we’re looking, we see signs.  And if one of this Nightmist breeder’s cats had ringworm, they probably all did.  And, if the breeder had TOLD us Maggie or any of her pets had ringworm, we would have treated Maggie immediately, and kept her separate from Aimee and from most of the house until she was cured.

We still would have adopted Maggie, we just would have taken the proper steps to keep ourselves, our cat and our house clean and uncontaminated.

But instead, we weren’t told, and we let Aimee get infected, and we let Maggie roam the house.  And now we need to launder the curtains, the couch cushions, the rugs, everything, and I’ve got to rub on cream twice daily and it’s just generally super awful and a TON of work.

And, my Mom was supposed to visit this weekend from Calgary, but we talked it over and I convinced her not to come, even though we were both looking forward to it, but who wants to have their mom go home with a fungus after a family visit.  Not me!

So there’s a cancelled ticket and my Mom missed the fireworks and a BBQ I had planned.

Again, to be fair, it’s possible the breeder didn’t know that Maggie was herself infected.  But it’s so very unlikely that Maggie was the only one of her cats to have this problem, and it’s something any decent, competent breeder ought to know about.  It’s much more likely we were just not told, and the less likely but still bad alternative is that Nightmist just didn’t pay attention or know what ringworm was.

Anyway, the reason I personally feel really, really bad is because I’ve been wanting an Abyssinian cat for a long time, and Susie has always been worried that a new cat will come in and upset Aimee.  And now this cat I wanted has turned out not just to have “upset” Aimee but even worse: to have given her a permanent viral infection and a temporary fungus too, and I’m the proximate cause.

Meanwhile, we’re having to treat Maggie and Aimee with shampooings and oral medication and it’s not a whole lot of fun to have to do that several times a day, let me tell you.

And in case my friend is reading this—I’m glad you had a good experience with your Abyssinian from Nightmist, and I’m happy with Maggie, but I would never, never recommend Nightmist Breeders to someone else after what happened to Maggie and us.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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