Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kitten roller coaster aka the week that broke my heart

So April 12,  I took in a beautiful cat named Agnes, and her six adorable kittens...


...and by April 21, every kitten was dead... but not, thank God, Agnes.


This little fellow was the first to go.

Everything seemed okay when they arrived, although Agnes was a first-time mama (who came to me from Operation Spay + Neuter in Hawkesbury) who not had the best of care before arriving at OSN.


At first, her babies were feeding well. But the Monday after she arrived, one orange baby started fading. So we rushed off to the vet. Agnes had a bit of a temperature but seemed okay otherwise, so she got a shot of long-lasting antibiotic.

By Thursday, I had lost more orange babies and was back at the vet. Agnes' temperature was higher, so she had an x-ray (to check that nothing was going on in her uterus, like a retained kitten or placenta.) Apart from her temperature, she seemed reasonably well, so she was started on another antibiotic, and Peter the vet taught me how to tube-feed the three remaining babies, who had started losing weight the day I brought them in. I would also give them Clavamox via the tube.

Tube-feeding is now my super-power, lol.  I can do it when I am so tired I can barely put two words together And it is a tool I will now always have at my disposal if I ever have to help fading kittens again (which I probably will, since I intend to continue fostering!)

So from Thursday night to later Saturday, I tube-fed those babies every two to three hours, including through the night...



I learned that two nights of this kind of interrupted sleep is all I can handle. My concussion symptoms even started to recur! Althoguh I don't do well with sleep deprivation, I was determined to give it my best shot, so I hauled my ass out of bed, went to the granary, prepped the formula, and fed those babies. Sometimes around 3 am Saturday, I did not properly close the shaker bottle I was using to mix formula, and managed to spray Kitten Milk Replacer all over myself, including my hair. 

It was not my best moment, but I got those babies fed and went back to bed, figuring my own cats would lick the milk out of my hair. Plus I had to get up again in three hours, so no time to waste cleaning up splattered milk.

The little black kitten and the little calico had been hanging on through several feedings.

Then the black one started to fade.

And died.

Still,  I kept rooting for this girl...


She was the only female in the litter, a beautiful little calico.


I believed she had it in her to overcome what was happening (likely issues with Agnes' milk quality and supply, due to her infection.) 

I so wanted this little angel to make it...


...but she didn't. 

I can't even remember now exactly when she died, I was so exhausted after two nights of feedings. But when she did, I was just so sad. I really thought she'd survive. Well, I hoped she would.

And that wasn't all...

I also took in Jewel and her five babies, born April 13...


Beautiful Jewel

Jewel's littlest died right after I got her from Operation Spay + Neuter, then her grey boy died soon after that. I was (and am) so tired, I can't even remember the timeline. But in a short time these two foster cats lost eight kittens.


Agnes was a great mama but she is young, had no vet care before being take in by Operation Spay + Neuter. and of course, had an infection to boot.

Jewel is also young, but has managed to keep three of her babies going...


Touch wood, they are nice fat butterballs right now and turn two weeks old this Friday.

And then last Sunday, I took in these four premature kittens, and Jewel happily accepted them...



Crazy tiny!


Their mama was EIGHT MONTHS old and had zero interest in them after giving birth. Their birth scene was a bloody mess; one kitten was still in her placental sac, and two of the six kittens died right away. We decided to give it our best shot, but by this morning, I'd lost three of the four, and tonight the last one is very weak. I think they were just too premature to survive, but it was worth a try. I have read that any kitten under 90 grams is considered premature; these four weighed from 72 - 85 grams. Still, they were nursing off Jewel so I had some hope.

In the past week, I've dealt with 11 kitten deaths, and probably will have another in the morning, which not only makes me sad, it makes me angry. I am so pissed off at all the irresponsible, uncaring people out there who refuse to spay/neuter their cats, and treat them as disposable items... people who do not care about the suffering of animals, nor the suffering of the people who end up caring for them, only to lose them. Not only does the world not need more kittens, it does not need more kittens born to poorly-fed, unvaccinated mothers who have never been to a vet's office because the owner couldn't be bothered to take them there.

I am well aware of the fragility of kittens, but even so, 11 is a lot, and every death made me sad. By the time I got to bed Saturday night, after the little calico died, I was exhausted, angry and crying. It just felt really raw. For someone who cares about animals as much as I do, it was a bit much to see these kittens fading away one by one. I am so sick and tired of irresponsible people who don't care about their cats and don't spay/neuter. We have WAY too many cats in our area, and all of these needless suffering is utterly preventable.

But then, I still have these three...


Jewel's orange-and-white baby today


Jewel's dilute calico baby today


Jewel's tuxedo baby today

Please send good thoughts for these three. Like I said, they are doing well, but they are young yet. Their eyes have just opened and you can see they are getting ready to explore. I want them all the have long, happy lives with excellent families!!!

And another bright note, look at Grayson, aka Fake Grace...



He has been here for something like five weeks, and in that time I've had him neutered, microchipped and vaccinated. And in all that time, he never made a sound: not a hiss, or a purr or a meow. He didn't scratch or bite or even struggle. He was almost catatonic, if you'll forgive the pun. But on Sunday, he cracked.


Grayson pushed his face into my hand as I scratched him. THen he rolled on his side. Then... he PURRED!!!



And today he gave me bologna tongue...


So for all the sadness this past week, there is some happiness too! Such is life.

Please, spay/neuter your cats!

PS: I got another poem published, this time at Love's Executive Order!

14 comments:

  1. I'm so very sorry. I don't have words for you, no one does. Bless you for doing so much, even when it leaves you so completely heart-broken, angry, feeling hopeless and frustrated. You make a huge, huge difference, and all those who survive and thrive and find wonderful forever homes owe that to you. Hugs.

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  2. I am so sorry for your pain, and for the cats and kittens. And you take care of yourself, too. The rest will never change, so take care of yourself to face it.

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  3. Oh my gosh...I'm so sorry. My heart hurts just reading all this. I feel the same about people who refuse to spay/neuter their pets. When we adopted our calico in January, a young woman was dropping off two beautiful kittens and was planning to bring in one more later that day. Kittens from her unsprayed female! I got the feeling that this was not the first time she was doing this. And doing it so nonchalantly; not a care in the world. My blood was boiling as we signed our paper work for adoption. SO many cats were at the shelter waiting for homes. The last thing needed was more to be added to the list. This level of irresponsibility is beyond belief! Grrrrrr....

    Thank you for all you do. Sending positive thoughts for the kittens in hopes that they continue to thrive. Love the bologna tongue :)

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  4. If I were there, I would give you the biggest hug. I've been reading your updates with a broken heart. You and your friends and helpers are a wonder.

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  5. Oh dear God, I can give you a horror story of my own. Two autumns ago I adopted a mother cat and a young kitten from some mo-fo whom I despised (he was a flirt, among other things). He was getting married, he said, and the dame he was marrying would only allow him two cats, so he needed rid of two of them. He claimed that Callie wasn't pregnant and that the kitten accompanying her was just someone she'd adopted. Yeah...the lie detector determined that those statements were both lies. Callie was indeed pregnant, and long story short, she miscarried the whole litter. To make matters worse she retained a kitten and it caused a nasty infection. Callie was out at the vet's for a solid week recovering. She survived and is healthy, but it was heartbreaking to see those little kittens, so innocent and pretty, lying there in the floor cold and still. Poor Callie was still trying to revive one, even though it was obviously dead. So you have a small amount of understanding from me; I don't know what it's like to tube-feed an ailing kitten, but I've met jackwagons who neglected their animals and then dumped them when they got to be an inconvenience. You are to be commended for at least trying to help these wee ones, and for getting the mama kitties out of danger. Prayers and fingers crossed for your remaining little ones.

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  6. Oh my I am soo sorry for the loss of all those kittens , I pray the ones that are with you all do well . Our Harley is about the 5th generation of feral's here we took her in 10 years ago as a tiny kitten when she arrived on our doorstep alone . We have lots of feral cats here have done for over 10 years and people in the area feed them but wont take them to get spay or neutered which is one problem and the other problem here is we have lots of Mennonites in the area and they do not believe in spying or neutering any animal or having pets indoors so the viscous cycle began years ago as some would move and not bother to take their cats with them cause they couldn't catch them or just leave them behind cause the cats weren't about when they had left and this all pisses me off cause now it has started a feral cat epidemic here and there isn't to many places about that will take feral cats and they aren't easy to catch either I have tryed they are smart when it comes to live traps no matter how hungry they are and we cant afford to get them all fixed and so it continues I am sad to say . Thanks for all you do and that you are able to do for your kitties up there . Fingers crossed for the others .

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  7. I admire your strength so much! How you can watch so many little ones die is beyond me but you have such a strong heart. I am so angry that an 8 mo old cat gave birth to kittens. How people can not take care of their pets is beyond me. My Annie Belle was over 2 yrs old and not spade until the Animal Shelter took her in. She wasn't feral just dumped. Thank God for people like you who can foster and solider on under these conditions.

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  8. I just wish I could give you a hug, too, Natalie! It's hard ............ [i.e., sometimes incredibly hard, particularly for me!] ............ not to have a tsunami of anger at people who so irresponsibly and so cruelly fail to spay/neuter their pets or at people who abandon/dump their pets, although I think our anger is entirely justified, you know.

    In your latest poem, I loved your vivid/often heartbreaking descriptions and --[since I do a lot of environmental and animal advocacy]-- it really "spoke" to me. Thank you for all the good work you always do, trying to right some of the [way-too-many!] wretched wrongs in our world.

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  9. Kittens are so fragile. Sometimes you do everything possible and they still don't make it. I'm so sorry you went through this. I know it wasn't easy...and my heart breaks along with yours. ~Island Cat Mom

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  10. OH, you worked so hard as did those young mothers. I am soo sorry. We all need to go love on our pets right now. thanks, Natalie.

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  11. Oh gosh, I'm sorry you lost so many kittens. You did so amazingly well to give them the best chance at life you could. Fingers crossed for the rest! <3

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  12. Dear God in heaven! Bless you after such an unimaginably horrible week. It’s the fading , try as you might you can’t stop it. Soul crushing! But you will go on. You’ll get stronger, you’ll learn to function with less sleep when you develop a solid routine. But it never gets easier to accept the unnecessary loss of life. Never. You’ve done an amazing job.

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  13. oh your poor heart and soul (and head apparently, you need more sleep). Even when you know the chances are against you, it doesn't hurt any less when it happens. Thank you for taking on that challenge

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  14. I don't know how you do it.
    Please remember, there are a lot of good pet owners in the world. Your fans sure felt your pain, though, when you lost these little ones. I took in a hurt robin one year. He wasn't meant to live, but I have him a home for his short time here. That's all we can do. They were blessed being in your care for even a short time, when you showed them care and love.

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!