Your life was too short, but we did what we could. You were a little fighter and we really thought you were going to make it. You had made such good progress! But this world must have been too hard for you and you left us tonight.
Rest in peace sweetheart; I will always think of you when I pick my May flowers xxx
The little smallie of the new-borns left us on Tuesday evening. It happened without a warning. He suddenly became all lethargic and his mouth turned white in a few minutes. Maggie tried everything she could, but without success. We knew that it could happen, but it always comes as a shock. We actually didn’t think he would survive his first night, but he did and he had grown stronger. Even though he passed away so young, I still think of him as a little fighter.
I asked Maggie if we could bury him under the Lily of the Valley in my garden. It is one of my favourite flowers, a flower that blossom in May. I brought it back from France and it has grown stronger in the past few years, so I think that in a way this little smallie will keep fighting.
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.
In last episode… Brian rescued Polo from his car engine. Mom and her other kitten then moved in his garden. Although Mom was trapped quite easily to be spayed, it took more efforts to trap Marco…
Brian tried to set a routine for Mom and Marco to come to eat. They eventually ventured in the kitchen, but that didn’t mean that Marco could be caught. Brian borrowed a trap and after much effort, victory was his and Marco walked into the trap.
He was brought to The Cat Hospital for neutering and for his first shot. Brian gave himself three weeks, when Marco would be due his second vaccination, to try to socialise Marco. Every morning and night he sat with Marco in the bathroom. There were some ups and downs. At times Marco would seem to be making progress, but then he would go into hiding mode again. However, Brian did not give up.
Although Marco seemed to relax at times, he would still not let Brian go near him (except with food). At times, he would even cry when he was aware of Mom’s presence outside. Brian then decided to introduce him to Polo, thinking that if Marco saw Polo going near Brian, he would do the same. In fact, Marco was still nervous and Polo’s excitement would even make him hide away.
When the three weeks were up, Brian considered releasing Marco again, but he was afraid that Marco and Mom would not recognise each other. Brian adopted a different strategy and left Marco free run of the house, thinking that the contact with Polo might help to socialise Marco. This strategy caused Brian a few frights like the time when Marco went to hide behind the boiler and stayed there for quite a while.
Although Marco and Polo began to become great friends, it was another story with Brian. Marco would still be shy. He would sometimes forget about it while playing, but then remember that he is supposed to be a feral. He certainly enjoys the comfort of the house, but is still uncertain about his human.
Sometimes, he takes a lot of time to socialise a feral kitten, and they may never become the pet you hope them to be. Brian, though, certainly has the patience and tolerance it requires…