Tiny Timmy is a kitty who has neurological damage from exposure to toxic over-the-counter flea and tick products. Timmy came into our lives in September of 2009, and we were not prepared for what came next. We rescued him, having been told he had a “muscle condition”. The truth was far more horrific.
Timmy’s coat felt dry and flaky to us. When we asked if he had fleas (we have other cats and had the flea issue under control) we were handed a bottle of Sergeant’s Flea and Tick Spray for Cats. “Only two bucks at WalMart” they bragged. Timmy could hardly keep his head up, let alone walk. They laughed, calling him a “drunken kitty” as they tried get him to run, pushing him on the concrete like a broken Tonka Truck.
We brought him home and tried to tend to him. It became apparent that more was going on than just a “muscle disorder”. We flea combed and bathed him, and despite having been treated by the toxic Sergeant’s product, we still pulled over 350 fleas off Timmy’s tiny body.
After bathing him, we rushed him to the vet. He was so weak, so disoriented and could not stand on his own. He felt warm all over. We brought the bottle of flea spray, just in case it was needed. The vet took one look at Timmy and asked about flea treatment. We handed over the bottle and she reviewed the ingredients – pyrethrin, and after a long chemical string of gobbly gook, permethrin. She said he showed classic symptoms of severe toxicosis from these ingredients.
She stated we could take him to the emergency vet, who would be able to watch him over the weekend, but she did not expect him to make it past 48 hours. She didn’t believe treating his tremors would really help him, and might cause more damage at this point. We asked, if we were to take him home, what we should watch for. He was having small focal seizures, tremors, could not stand without falling over and was generally simply miserable.
The vet told us to watch for major seizures and told us what those looked like as well as to keep him well hydrated. We looked at Timmy, his poor broken body, and we decided that considering what an abusive place we rescued him from, we could not bear the thought of him being dumped at an emergency vet, in a kennel and to die without knowing that not all humans were bad.
Slowly he started to improve as my partner and I kept vigil over him day and night for a week. He became more interested in the world around him. He was a very clean kitty and prided himself on that. The first day I saw him try to poo, it broke my heart. His whole body went stiff and the toppled over backwards. The grief of what had been done to Timmy was too great.
We ran to Home Depot and bought some insulation tubing for plumbing pipes. We put it around the hard edge of his litter box, converting it to a Bumper Box, so he wouldn’t hurt himself.
You never know what will send you on an Odyssey. For us, it was Timmy coming into our lives. It is now almost one year later. Timmy not only survived, but he thrives. He is happy, playful, well loved and now knows that not all cats are terrible (he lives with several) and that not all dogs will hurt him. Most of all, he knows that somehow, he is safe and never will be harmed again.
Timmy has accomplished so many things no one thought he would accomplish: He survived, the loves to climb his tall scratching post, he can run with control and turn on a dime, he can play and keep up with the other cats, his small muscle control is getting better. He even won his week, Week 8, in the Bissell Most Valuable Pet Contest. We entered him to gain awareness about his story, but he won because of his wonderful friends and supporters from Facebook.
Timmy is on a Healing Journey and shares his ups and downs, his triumphs and frustrations with his friends.
Currently, other than napping, eating and playing, Timmy spends his time as a Spokeskitty against these over-the-counter products, educates pet parents and advocates alternatives. Tiny Timmy is not so “Tiny” anymore.