Wednesday, September 24, 2008

All we need is a little Hope

Lesson #1 in TNR: When a new cat shows up, catch her now...not tomorrow.

Remember this cat? The new cat I saw at the Fast Food Feral feeding station in August?

Well, tonight I went to feed the FFF cats because Kat is out of town at a conference. It was dark by the time I got there, because I had to feed the south hill cats as well, and I also stopped by the library.

After I put food in the feeding station, I waited as I normally do to see if anyone would come out. I've seen Vannie lately, but I haven't seen the new cat since that day in August. Of course, I also haven't trapped, because I've been traveling (excuses, excuses -- I could have made time).

Well tonight there were all sorts of night sounds. The parking lot across the creek at Garcia's was jumping, and as usual they had music playing outside. There were all sorts of interesting bug noises, and a periodic sharp bird cry. No cats came out so I started to walk away.

Sharp bird cry? At night? Was it a bug of some sort? It sounded just like a newborn kitten. But it was coming from across the creek by Garcia's dumpsters, well away from any place a cat would choose to give birth to kittens. And if it were a kitten, it was the sound of a newborn, not a 4-week kitten that might have wandered away from the nest and was yelping for mom.

I drove the truck out and around to Garcia's and went inside to introduce myself. It always amazes me that we feed these cats every single day for years, and people never notice us only 20 feet away. The staff were amazed that there were cats at all, let alone a crazy bunch of people who took care of them. I asked for permission to poke around and they said OK.

I went out to the dumpster, shined my flashlight into the bushes, and there she was. The black tuxedo cat, only two feet off the parking lot, curled up protectively around something.

I talked to her and she didn't run away. I put a handful of food down, and went back to my truck for my crate. She was still there when I came back. I hoped she'd be friendly, but she wasn't. She slunk a little bit away and there was her single kitten, still with placenta attached, but dry. I slowly reached for the kitten and Mom showed me what a good Mom she was. She was going to take my hand off, thankyouverymuch. I slowly moved the flashlight toward her nose. She smacked it, but backed away. I scooped the kitten and afterbirth out of the gravel and leaves. There was no nest. Maybe she had been giving birth somewhere better and had been flushed out by another cat, and had to give birth here. I don't know. But the kitten was very cold to the touch and was dry. She knew enough to be protective, but not enough to bite the afterbirth off and eat it. There were fresh adult cat feces right nearby, as if she had had a bowel movement while giving birth. Or perhaps, again, she was being threatened by another cat (cats when facing down will sometimes have a bowel movement).

Of course, I did not have a trap with me (sigh). I left a pile of food near where the kitten had been. Mom was now glaring at me from about 15 feet away by the shed.

The staff came out and I showed them the kitten and the mom cat. I covered the afterbirth with the towel so they only saw the cute little face and not the dirt covered disgustingness attached to it. To someone who understands it, its no big deal, but it was pretty nasty looking. I told them I would be back in the morning with a trap for mom, and to look and listen for more kittens. I gave the my card and told them NOT to touch the call, just CALL if they needed help.

I have to take Lily into the Ithaca vet tomorrow to be spayed, so the timing is good, at least.

I had planned on going out for soup and salad, but headed home instead, feeling bad that I didn't have anything to warm the kitten up with.

Then I realized I was on a fast food strip.

So here's a new lesson. If you need fast food to use for temporary heating pads, a cheeseburger is NOT hot enough. However, two large fries are. Just keep them in their containers and tuck them under the towel on either side of the kitten, and put a small towel over all three.

There you go. Finally, a really good use for McDonalds fries.

So here he/she is. The spitting image of Mom.

She's very upset right now, because I won't feed her until she's thoroughly warm.

When rescuing tiny kittens, 1) Warm them up 2)Hydrate them, then 3) Feed them. Hopefully she got a little milk from mom, because there are important antibodies in mom's milk. If I can catch mom fast, maybe she'll take this kitten back.

I pinched the umbilical cord with a forceps, and sliced off the afterbirth with a scalpel blade. I took the forceps off after about 20 minutes. She's snuggled up in a towel on a heating pad. She's been there about an hour and a half, so I'm thinking it's time for some water with a tiny bit of KMR in it, and I even have a tube of Bene-bac. I am now going to cruise the kitten care pages on the web to make sure there isn't anything I've forgotten.

Her name is Hope.


Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

OMG! You must have super human hearing. I used to foster kittens who were either rejected by their moms or were found without mom. I was always angry about people who would find a nest and not wait to see if mom came back and just grab the kittens...poor mom, comes back and...hey, where are my babies! I'm to old and tired to bottle feed babies now so if they don't come with mom they go to my daughter. Sure hope you can grab mom and any other babes that may have come after.

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Oh oh, that was me, Donna in Wisconsin. I sent you some eye ointment a long time ago. I've been reading but not commenting for awhile because, well, I'm lazy...hahahaha

georg said...

Good luck!!! I hope Hope makes it!

50kittens said...

Oh my gosh--what a story! I got teary reading it. It's so tough to raise a newborn, much less a singleton. That said, our smallest foster ever (<4 oz) just found a home. Good, good luck trapping mom and finding any other kits, if she has any.

ancodia said...

You are my hero! I am honestly in awe of how much you know about cats. I am sending all kinds of good luck wishes Hope's way (and yours)!

Zuleme said...

We'll hope for Hope. Please let us know how she is doing.

themythicalmagazine said...

fries? warming up baby kittens? who would've known!? i hope the kitten is doing well... what happened to the mother?