The Most Disgusting Thing Ever

This is Ollie:

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)

Ollie is a stray kitten that hangs out on our deck.

Last Wednesday morning, Ollie stumbled up the stairs of the deck. He could barely walk. His neck was really swollen. He was lethargic. He didn’t want to eat or drink. Lisa brought him inside, thinking that he was going to die. Poor Lisa couldn’t bear for him to die alone – and he was in really bad shape. But Lisa held the little guy all day long, wrapped in a towel, stroking his head and baby-talking to him. Slowly but surely, he seemed to get better. Later that evening, Ollie got up and ate something, and showed other signs of life.

Over the next couple of days, Ollie seemed to get better and better. The swelling in his neck went down, but Lisa found what looked like a puncture wound, as if a fang or really sharp pencil had been stuck into poor Ollie’s neck. We started cleaning the wound with peroxide, and for the next couple of days it started to look better. But by Sunday, things started going downhill. The wound hadn’t even started to heal, and was slowly starting to look (and smell) much worse. We debated over taking him to an emergency vet on Sunday, then decided to take him to the regular vet on Monday. Well, that fell through as one of the Jeeps was in the shop Monday morning. But in the meantime, Lisa and I had been cleaning Ollie’s wounds more frequently with the peroxide. In fact, it was during one of those cleanings that I noticed it.

I had just finished cleaning the wound when I noticed that part of the wound was moving. A small part of it even stuck itself out of the wound as some bizarre form of greeting. It was then that my heart sank: this kitty had some kind of botfly infestation.

Botflies dig into the skin of mammals and grow from egg to larvae… inside the body of a human or animal. They dig a perfectly round hole out of the body, and, when nearly full-grown, will even stick their heads out of the host’s body to get air and look around. It’s truly disgusting. I can’t stress that enough, people. It’s vile. If you want to lose your breakfast, click here to go to YouTube’s search results for “botfly” (I’m warning you – it’s foul). By the way, the proper term for the types of botflies that infect cows, horses, dogs and cats in the US is warble. So if you ever have to call a vet about one, you know what to ask about now…

Anyway, I read up on botflies and watched some of those hideous videos at YouTube. I thought I could do it. It didn’t seem difficult, really: squeeze it like the giant zit it is, and wait for the fly to stick his head out. Then grab as far down on the larva as you can with tweezers, and pull firmly, but gently. The important thing is to not let the larva break or come out incomplete; this can cause a nasty infection or allergic reaction.

So I stood outside the powder room where we were keeping the kitty. I took a long, deep breath – the kind of deep breath you take just before you walk into a body piercing shop or tattoo parlor – and I walked in and did it:

The hideous maggot!
The hideous maggot!

It was easier than it looked in the videos – I just waited until he came out, then grabbed the thing right out. But God – was it disgusting! It was like something out of Alien right in my own bathroom! By the way, in the photo above, that plastic thing is the cap to an old-school 35mm film canister I filled with alcohol (to save the maggot, ‘cos you know I was gonna take pictures!)

So this is poor Ollie now:

Poor Ollie!
Poor Ollie!

He’s getting better, though. It’s starting to heal, and I’m sure the little guy will be back to 100% in a few days. But man, I’ve just gotta tell you: that was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to do!

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