After days of battling panleukopenia, the last four of Maria's newborn kittens passed away early on Friday morning - the littlest ones first and the biggest, strongest ones last. Despite tube feeding, receiving fluids, and veterinary care, there was absolutely nothing we could have done. I wish there was a way for me to express how painful it was to see them go from thriving to suddenly fading fast, and then just gone, dying in our hands despite our best efforts. For the first few days afterwards, Maria walked around crying and searching for her kittens. I'm not sure how animal memory works, but she seems to be doing much better now and is even making friends with Osiris. She likes to sleep on my belly with her tongue out and enjoys sitting near the rats' cage staring at them like a silent villain. Her panleukopenia symptoms are gone and she likely is no longer contagious. All of the bedding from the kittens has been tossed out, and once everything has been sanitized again we will be able to foster other cats.
This disease is horrible and widespread, and will likely never be eradicated but it is somewhat preventable for adult cats. Sadly, kittens can't be vaccinated until a certain age and until then they are highly susceptible to infection. To keep panleuk from killing your cats, please make sure you vaccinate your pets, and if you are thinking about making your cat an outdoor cat out of "convenience" or just abandoning it please contact local rescues until you find someone willing to adequately and responsibly care for your feline friend.