Teeny kittens are cute. They play and purr and cuddle and are full of brand new energy and curiosity in a little furry package. When I am watching them bounce around it is easy to forget how fragile they are.
I created a rescue for the two pound and under group because of their fragility. Shelters can’t care for them without them fading away which is why they are often euthanized. Neonatal kittens NEED mothers. Even with the right care, kittens often don’t live to become cats.
This morning I woke to two tiny playful kittens and one sluggish, straining kitten. Ghengis, a 1/2 pound male siamese mix, was constipated. In adult cats, this is a difficult problem. In neonatal kittens, it is an emergency. Treating an animal that has only been in the world for four weeks is always a challenge. Most medications are dangerous for their young organ systems. The tools commonly used are far too large. Creativity, innovation, patience and luck are the keys to kitten medicine.
Ghengis and his siblings were found abandoned under a bush in Oakland. Dehydration from mild starvation most likely lead to dry, hard stools in little Ghengis. If stools don’t move regularly through a neonate, they can become large and stretch the colon leading to permanent lifelong issues. If the problem is not resolved promptly, other problems like toxin buildup or simply starvation from being too full to eat can be fatal. Luckily, little Ghengis is in a rescue and I could provide care right away.
My first task this morning was to make a non-toxic enema for a tiny kitten, surgical lubricant and warm water. Then I had to fashion an enema tube out of a nasogastric feeding tube and hope that my my mixture was thin enough to go through the tiny tube but concentrated enough to get things moving. When the mixture is too thick, the tube pops of the syringe and sprays lube everywhere but in the kitten. Not one of my more glamorous moments. This is followed by a kitten colon massage and a small oral dose of lactulose. Then a full day of watching, waiting and gentle manual expression. I also perfect my kitten bathing and drying skills on these occasions.
Luckily, by 9pm tonight, things are moving very nicely for little Ghengis and he is eating and starting to play again. Unless he has a problem that I am not aware of, he is most likely in the clear now. He also smells much better.
Neonatal kitten rescue is rewarding and full of adorable, cuddly, playful, giggly moments. It’s also a constant balancing act between life and loss. Teeny tiny furry purring reminders that every moment is to be cherished and every effort is worth it.
From fragile fluffs to forever homes, Saving Grace Rescue.