Part 5: Thinking the Unthinkable -
Down to Ten, then Back to Eleven
At that stage, everything seemed perfect with our little 'furry family' and we couldn't imagine being without any of them. Unfortunately, however, the unimaginable happened. In the late summer of 2010, we discovered that one of the incoming cats had introduced an infection called Tritrichomonas foetus (Tritrich/TF), which is a nightmarish parasite that is spread between cats when they are sharing litter trays. We had to work through a lengthy isolation, treatment and testing process to clear the infection from our home but were advised by our vets to re-home some of the cats after treatment, in order to minimise the risk of re-infection whilst we finished clearing the others. You can read the full story of how we cleared our household of this horrendous infection on the 'Clearing Tritrichomonas foetus' page. Monty and the Devons had to move on to new homes, since these were the first cats to be cleared.
We discovered the infection after DÓrna was pregnant with her first litter, so we then had to try and keep her kittens clear of Tritrich in spite of their mother being infected. To do this, we had to take special precautions with the litter trays that she and the kittens used, and then remove her from the kittens when they were just five weeks old. Thankfully, our efforts were successful and the kittens all tested negative for the parasite. That litter contained some very promising kittens and we fell in love with one girl in particular, Fiona, and have kept her as our first home-bred queen. Some of our Ocicat-breeder friends, Anita and Robert Bryce (Anizz Ocicats and Tiffanies), had also become interested in working with Tiffanies and they took one of Fi's sisters as their foundation queen.
During treatment the cats had to be kept in individual isolation, and Breckin absolutely hated that. She had always been very nervous and skittish, but once isolated she began to behave in a very aggressive manner. One lunchtime she went completely crazy on us and we decided to have her spayed, rather than risk the possibility that she could pass on that temperament to her kittens. Thankfully, as the hormone levels dropped away she became calmer, and even started jumping up onto the couch to ask us to stroke her, which she had never done before. Spaying her was definitely the right decision!