After Shadow and Midnight had been with us six days, and had slowly began to trust us, the day for their lice dip arrived.
Cat lice, feline pediculosis, are specific to cats, meaning they could not be transferred to humans or dogs. This fact was important to me in deciding to bring these kitties home. As eager as I was to begin fostering animals, I was not interested in treating the family for lice! Cat lice function the same way as the lice we all dread; they are little parasites that feed off the skin of their host. The adults are tiny six legged insects and the nits look like miniscule balls attached to the hair shaft. Shadow and Midnight had been treated once at the shelter (which is maybe why they were so hesitant to approach us!), but the treatments must be repeated to ensure that any nits that hatch are also eliminated.
I got out the apron provided by the shelter but decided against wearing it. I draped a towel over my shirt to wrap up the wet and terrified kitten after the dip. I filled the provided container with warm water and the lice dip solution. The solution was a lyme sulfur concoction that was a tinge orange and smelled AWFUL (think rotten eggs).
I decided to start with Shadow to get some practice with the easier to handle, more trusting kitten first. I pinched the back of his neck gently to calm him and scooped him up with my other hand. I lowered him into the solution. He was remarkably calm. I had never bathed a cat before but there is the common knowledge that cats hate water! I used my fingers to spread the solution over his head being careful not to let any get into his eyes. I let him soak for about a minute, then lifted him out and snuggled him. The shelter had told me to make sure I dried the kittens all the way. Even though these babies were 10 weeks old, it was still important to make sure they didn’t get a chill. Shadow remained calm wrapped in the towel, but when I released him, he scampered off shaking as wet dogs do.
I took a deep sigh. Midnight. She didn’t want me to approach her. I didn’t blame her after what I had just done to her brother. I had to herd her into a corner and sneakily reach in and nab her. Guiltily, I pinched the back of her neck to calm her and dipped her into the lice treatment solution. Afterwards, she wanted nothing to do with cuddles and clawed her way free. She ran to the corner and, I could swear, cowered and glared at me. After all that patient work to earn her trust…
I knew that the lice treatment was the reason these babies were in foster. The sooner they were parasite free, the sooner they could get to their real home, where they could learn to really trust humans. But I hate being the bad guy! And I could tell we were back at square one (or actually zero!) with Midnight….