Let me introduce you to Charlie:
He was found on the highway next to his dead littermate. He has been here just over 30 days and he has given me a crash course in the damage that roundworms do to kittens and cats.
Like Ernie, Charlie was also rounded in the belly, had poor appetite, had to be given supportive fluids from home and so far has racked up quite an impressive vet bill!
It is possible that Ernie also has a URI because the worms can cause this, and block up sensitive tissues and wreck havoc inside and literally make the cat unwilling to eat.
Here is charlie during his bloated days
He was wormed repeatedly with different types of wormers, but finally after he grew healthy and began to gain some strength and body weight, I wormed him with Profender a brand new topical wormer with the assistance of my vet.
Here is Charlie today:
We have had scary moments, times when I was sure he wasn't going to make it, long prayer vigils, and many good wishes and assistance from the members on this board. He still wheezes, his breath still smells, but there is no more open-mouth breathing, his URI changed into the diagnosis of the feline herpesvirus after I took him to a feline specialist. He is clearly the most expensive kitten I have ever had the pleasure to know.
I do not have a full-time job. I rescue privately out of pocket and write articles for a living. I know how you are struggling to not spend money on Ernie, but don't give up.
Roundworms can do major damage to the heart, lungs and other tissue. They can become such an obstruction when they start to die off, that bowel movements are difficult, appetite goes way down and the cat just doesn't feel good.
Talk to your vet about profender. It is made by Bayer Health- but remember that this is a brand new wormer for cats- and being one that goes on the skin, there is controversy surrounding it, so read ALL the literature.
I went this route with Charlie because he was doing so poorly for so long. Now, his name has evolved from Hardluck Charlie to Hurricane Charlie and he is a fiesty in your face type of kitten.
I pray I have offered you hope and I wish you luck- You can PM if you like-