I called in to see how well she is doing and take a few photos. She is simply gorgeous! A whole 465 grams of cuteness! Camilla and Alan really did a good job and she loves her mummy!
The other good news is that there may be a potential home waiting for her! I know someone who will be crying, but this is what fostering means: you eventually have to let them go to help other kittens in need…
It was pure chance that I was sitting in front of my computer when I saw the appeal for a nursing queen on Facebook. I rang Tracy to get more information. Her neighbour’s spayed cat had brought three tiny kittens to her home. Apparently, she is in the habit of “robbing” kittens, although she had never brought back such young kittens before. Tracy and the neighbour tried to locate the mother, but could not find her anywhere. She thought that the kittens were one week old and they had been on their own since that morning; it was around 4.30pm.
I offered to help to try to find a nursing mum and started texting everyone I could think of. The clock was ticking and I knew the kittens wouldn’t make it if they weren’t fed soon, so I grabbed my bag with the kitten fomula and kitten bottle and jumped into my car, thinking that something could be sorted out later.
When I arrived there, I found three tiny kittens, not even a day old – they still had their umbilical cords attached. They looked really poorly in their pet carrier, so I tried to feed them immediately, but one barely ate anything. The only time I had fed a new born kitten was when we rescued Spica and I didn’t really feel like facing this task on my own, so I headed to Maggie and Jim’s.
Bottle-feeding kittens is tiring, physically and nervously. You need to make sure that they eat enough, that they are in an environment at the right temperature – since they cannot control their body heat themselves, you need to make them go to the toilet by stimulating them, etc. Basically, you need to do everything a queen would do, knowing that you are not a cat and cannot provide the same comfort as a mother and that a kitten might die very quickly for no apparent reason. But what else can you do? These little lives are there, needing help and you certainly cannot let them die without even giving them a chance. All you can do is your best…
While at Maggie’s, we got a fright as the smallest one nearly stopped breathing, but Maggie helped him and he regained a bit of energy. After a couple of feeds, I felt more comfortable going home with the kittens. We had also been in touch with Sara, who told us that she was in the process of trapping a nursing mum and her kittens and we had planned to try to introduce the kittens to her if Sara was successful. Should that fail, we had arranged to do shifts, so that I would have the kittens during the week and Maggie at the weekends, in order to make things easier on everyone.
How difficult were those first night feeds! Yet, what pleasure did I get from hearing the little one giving his first screetch! I must admit that I was exhausted after two nights. Feeding three new-borns on your own is exhausting, but it was also a satisfying feeling to see them eat and “making it!”.
Some will say that only experienced people can bottle-feed new-borns. Experience will help, but we all need to start somewhere, and sometimes, you just don’t have the choice… It takes dedication, patience, time, common-sense and a lot of love. As with a human baby, the little ones become your priority; you must give up on nearly everything else and give them all your attention.
Nowadays, we also have the help of the internet, and I would recommend to visit the following websites should you ever find yourself in the same situation: FAB Cats has a very good and detailed page on hand-rearing kittens; The Cat Practice in Michigan has a dowloadable guide covering all the major aspects of hand-rearing kittens; Feral Cat Coalition also has a page that is worth viewing and kitten rescue offers a simplified feeding guide with some good tips.
Spica holds a special place as s/he is the very first kitten officially rescued by Community Cats Network. Spica came into our care as a new born kitten and her/his umbilical cord was still attached. S/he was born in a garden in Ballincollig, but the mum got a fright as the lady of the house opened the coal bunker, where she was hiding with her kittens. She moved them to another location, but seemed to have forgotten one behind. The lady waited, but as the mum didn’t come back, she took the last kitten in.
As usual, these things happen at night and during the weekend. Thankfully, we had some kitten formula in stock and drove over to Ballincollig to feed this tiny kitten. As the lady’s lifestyle wouldn’t have enabled her to keep feeding the kitten, we took her/him with us.
As we were driving back, we were trying to think of a name for this little one. We wanted a name that would evoke a new beginning, a new life, and would be suitable for both a male or a female, but nothing nice could come to mind. The Easter moon was full and Maggie was admiring Jupiter and the bright star next to it. The bright star in question is called Spica and it became the name of Community Cats’ first kitten.
We had only bottle-fed few-week old kittens, but sometimes you have no other choice but to learn and the internet now provides a great source of information. However, neither Maggie nor I would have the time to look after such a young kitten for more than a couple of days and we had to find a fosterer. Thus, the following day, we placed Spica in the care of Camilla, who had offered to help us whenever we’d need. As she had looked after a three-week old kitten before, she was already familiar with a few things and Maggie explained the rest to her, giving her some instuctions and a chart, where the feeding times and the weight could be recorded.
A kitten was born, a life was saved and a new group was born.
Spica is doing really well. S/he is putting on weight and behaving normally. I went to visit her last week as s/he turned two weeks old and had the pleasure to feed her/him. She is adorable. So far, so good and we hope that Spica will grow up into a strong and healthy kitten thanks to the good care of Camilla and Alan, who are doing a fantastic job!
And here are a couple of videos for your enjoyment!