Day 83: Feed a Newborn Kitten

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My first for today was going to be watching the movie “Nebraska”, one of the nine Best Picture nominated movies. I rented the DVD yesterday, in preparation for watching it this evening.

A series of events began last night that changed my first for today. About midnight, the mama cat who brought her three offspring to me last fall, and who has since refused to come into the house, appeared at the front door. She was scratching and meowing. Surprised, I opened the door and she ran into the house, into the front bedroom and straight into a closet. She’s been chubby lately, when she’s shown up on the porch to eat. I never could catch her to get her to the spay and neuter clinic. I knew she was going to have another litter of kittens.

At 3:00 am I heard the mewling of newborn kittens and sighed. I have come to love the three kittens that charged through the door last fall. I feed mama cat and make sure she has fresh water. I don’t need more kittens. But what to do? Mama cat had seemed desperate and I couldn’t turn her away.

Today it’s been a challenge keeping mama cat contained in the bedroom and the three young cats away from her. Much hissing and snarling from mama cat has her three older babies nervous and confused. I had Continuing Education class all day today and did my best to separate mama from Angel, Rilynn and Shy Boy before I left the house. This evening, though, mama cat has been restless, following me around, attacking my legs if I walked away from her. Greg sat down and she climbed into his lap. This is not what I would consider normal behavior from her, this mostly wild cat that only a few days ago, refused to enter the house and barely tolerated being petted.

I tried to watch my movie, but something wasn’t right. Flashlight in hand, I followed mama cat into the bedroom and peeked into the closet. Mama cat jumped into a box and allowed me to shine the light into her hiding place. One tiny black kitten lay sleeping in the corner. That couldn’t be right! I knew at 3:00 am I had heard the cries of at least two kittens. I watched the baby nuzzle its mother and begin to nurse. Scanning the floor of the closet and around the box, I looked for another kitten. I was sure I was hearing a faint squeak.

Sadly, I found the second kitten on the floor, outside the closet. He was lying on his back, but moving faintly and occasionally cried weakly. To paraphrase Billy Crystal’s character from The Princess Bride, this small creature was mostly dead. Greg picked him up, saying he was cold, and handed him to me. I rubbed him briskly and cupped him in my hands. Incredibly, he moved and cried. He was so weak though. Greg brought a washcloth and a cup of lukewarm water. I feared the kitten was dehydrated. Amazingly, he sucked the water off my finger.

Encouraged, I tried lukewarm almond milk.  I wanted to strengthened him if I could. His little body warmed up and slowly he nursed on my finger, taking in some nourishment. Movie forgotten now, I continued to alternate between rubbing him briskly and wrapping him in the washcloth. When he seemed to grow tired of suckling my finger, I returned him to his mother, still lying in her box with the other kitten. He nuzzled against her, although he still seems too weak to nurse properly. She seemed calmer. I’m not sure why she didn’t pick him up off the floor and take care of him. Perhaps, with her crazy behavior, she was trying to get my attention and in her own way, was asking for help.

I don’t know if this little fighter will survive. It is amazing he was still clinging to life. I’ll check on him periodically overnight and feed him if he will take nourishment. He is at least warm and with his mother and sibling. And he’s with me. I’m watching over you, little baby. My first today was to feed a newborn kitten, with almond milk and the tip of my index finger. Tonight, real life won out over a movie. And the unexpected took precedent. I’m okay with that.

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