Fragile Fluffs

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.

Carl, Ghengis and MeiMei

Baby Amy’s babies

Baby Amy showed up at an adoption event in 2006.  My rescue partner had just scooped her up at animal control.  A yowling ball of tabby and white coarse hair, Baby Amy continuously emitted one long, insistent meow.  To shut her up, we put her in with a nursing mom.  Baby Amy latched on and nursed with all her might, and I mean ALL her strength, because mama cat wanted nothing to do with her and was anxiously trying to push the new little fuzzball OFF.  Baby Amy lasted through mama’s protests and continued to nurse for several hours.   Eventually, mama reluctantly added Baby Amy to her brood and she grew to be a strong, healthy kitten.  She gained a full belly and a warm, luxurious coat that had softened with the care of a momcat, but she never lost her love of yelling. Her long, monosyllable eeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooeeeeeeeooooooooowwwww is one of the favorite things to imitate in my house.  Baby Amy also has a distinctive smudge on her face and a rather large body that mocks her teeny tiny paws.  However, Baby Amy is about the sweetest kitty you will ever meet and she tolerates the teasing if you just pick her up cuddle her.

Finding a mama gave Baby Amy a new start in life and she passes this gift on in the Saving Grace Rescue resident role of temporary mama.  When the kittens are healthy and old enough, they join the resident population to finish their socialization and prepare for forever homes.  If a kitten cries, Baby Amy is there right away to calm it’s worries.  Baby Amy grooms, plays and cuddles with all the motherless tiny kitties that enter the Saving Grace Rescue.  The kittens bloom and flourish under her gentle nurturing.  If you frequent the SGR facebook website, you will see several photos and videos of Baby Amy and her temporary babies.  The most demanding kitten has grown up to be the most giving cat.

Baby Amy before her belly with big brother Noor

Auggie plays

One week ago, an emaciated, flea dirt covered kitten was rescued by a previous adopter and brought to Saving Grace Rescue. Dubbed Auggie by her finders, the little girl could barely lift her head due to the wasting of her muscles. Her body was at the end of it’s resources and she was picked up just in time. She was frightened for the first day and basically just a pair of eyes peeking from behind a pile of fuzzy baby blankets.
By the next day Auggie started to realize that those itchy fleas were gone for good, human hands were warm and comforting, and chicken baby food tastes really good.
A week has gone by and with a few jars of baby food, several bowls of Royal Canin babycat and several warm blankets and heat discs, Auggie finally looks, and feels, like an eight week old kitten. Today she ventured out of her safe corner, found a toy and began to play.
Everybody knows that kittens play but few people see kittens that rediscover that joy. Auggie tentatively reached towards a feathered toy, pushed it gingerly a few inches, and then exploded into a running, bunny kicking, fur covered, ball of joy.
Watching Auggie regain her kitten nature and learn to enjoy life all over again reminded me why I am in the business of rescue. Auggie’s joy is a reminder of how amazing life moments can be. These kittens rescue ME.

Auggie’s first day:

Video of Auggie:   Auggie plays