Kung Fu

Well, once again, I have returned from my big annual vacation to Costa Rica. Last year, I had the exciting opportunity to work with the local Costa Rican veterinarians and student vets that had come from Colorado State University at a spay/neuter clinic in a nearby town. I found out that this year there were 2 clinics in the exact town I was staying, but I decided not to work as a vet technician this time and just relax in the beautiful country, or at least that was my plan!

My husband and I have a good friend (Adam) from Boston that loves to surf! After traveling to surf the waves of Costa Rica for years, he decided to move there permanently. Shortly after getting settled in his new home, along came a pitiful, starving kitten wandering out of the jungle, obviously in need of a loving home. Adam immediately fell in love with the funny little kitten that loved to be held upside down over his arms like she was hanging from a tree. He decided to name her Monkey since she seemed to like to mimic the local jungle monkeys.

On a Saturday evening (of course when veterinarians were closed and no such thing as an Emergency Clinic exists in the area) Adam came to me frantic, carrying Monkey. She was shaking like she was having seizures. We had no idea what she may had gotten into. There are quite a few different exotic plants, insects, etc. that she could have come across. She felt warm to the touch, and I noticed some drooling. Having no medical equipment available for diagnosis or medicines to treat anything, I had to resort to "instincts". I immediately took her to the shower and began rinsing her in cold water and soap in case there was some sort of toxin on her skin. I also rinsed out her mouth. After several sessions of cold showers, the violent shaking became less, but she was still not fully recovered.

Adam began to suspect a poison frog may have been the culprit. I remembered from working at the spay/neuter clinic last year, hearing of a local home remedy, so I decided to rinse her mouth out with the what Costa Ricans consider a lemon. It is like a combination of an orange, lime and lemon and quite sour (called a Mandarina). The acidic nature of the fruit helps counteract the poison. It was worth a try. The only other thing I had to use was a digestive pill of my own. We often take acidophilus type supplements when in a different country, eating different foods, to help our stomachs adjust.

Well, it worked! I spoke with one of the veterinarians working at the spay/neuter clinic on Monday, and they said I had done all the right things that I could have done with what I had to work with. From the symptoms, they suspected that it was the native poisonous dart frog. It is very common since it is small and so tempting for a cat to play with. They typically don't eat them because they taste horrible with the first bite. If they did, it would definitely kill them!

Monkey made a full recovery in a couple of days. In the meantime, I also helped a horse with a sunburned nose, assisted in the delivery of 2 very large puppies, and helped local pet owners figure out the dosing of their flea and tick medications, which were different from our popular Frontline product. Although they do have Frontline, it seems this year, they had a real problem with ticks and had to resort to stronger treatments. It was some sort of inject able treatment that they were buying at feed stores. It was really for larger animals and had to be dosed properly for the size of their dogs and cats. Lucky for me (and their pets), I could compute the dosages. I could not even read the Spanish name of the product, but I see ml's and cc's are common language in medicine, thank heavens! Ha Ha

Some of the other highlights of this trip were seeing dozens of the white-faced Capuchin monkeys. I almost got one of them to take a banana right from me, however I did feed a huge iguana bright red Hibiscus flowers by hand. My husband (the bird lover) got to see Toucans and a nest of babies, as well as the beautiful Scarlet Macaws.

Hmmm... I wonder what adventures I will get into next year? What remains for me "The Cat Lady"? Seeing a large cat in the wild like the elusive Jaguar would be even sweeter than a box of chocolates.

Kim Hurley, Owner/Vet Tech

Cat's Meow Veterinary Hospital