Friday, September 9, 2011

Lesson Learned.

DISCLAIMER:  This post was written a few days ago, but I'm just now posting it.  

I learned a hard lesson today, and it all started last night at about 7pm.  I was getting a late dinner ready; our friends were coming over to join us for dinner and dessert.  I was busy trying to take care of a very tired Hayden (who was refusing to go to bed) while doing some last minute tidy-ing.  I kept wondering, Where is Paul?  I need him to put Hayden to bed.  Paul finally came in the house with an announcement:  There are baby kittens living under our shed!

Lately, the neighbors' cats had been delivering their babies.  A few weeks ago, one delivered 5 babies in the wheat field across the street from our house.  I could hear her just moaning in pain the whole time.  Some how, she was able to deliver her babies and take care of them right away.  Amazing.  Then, of course, she and the kittens decided to live under our porch.  If I lived in the suburbs, I might care.  But I don't, so I didn't.  

It didn't surprise me too much that another cat was having babies, but then Paul told me about the shape they were in.  There were four: one was a few weeks old (and dead), and the three newborns were alive.  One's umbilical cord had fallen off and started to heal like normal.  One's cord was still long and fully attached.  The last was still attached to the sac she had lived in.  He also told me that they babies were very tiny.  

I HAD to see these babies, so reluctantly, Paul took me over to the shed.  Momma cat had dug under the shed and laid her babies in there.  Sure enough, there were three of them.  Paul didn't point out the deceased kitten (which was probably a good move on his part).  He picked up one of the babies and I saw just how tiny they really were.  They didn't look like kittens.  They looked like baby moles with very long tails.  They were whining and whining.  With their mama no where in sight, and being so small, I told Paul that we couldn't leave them there.  I couldn't help but think What kind of a mom (animal or  not) would just leave her helpless babies?  Paul (again....reluctantly but understanding) agreed.  He picked up the babies and brought them to the porch where he cut the rest of the kittens cords and sacs.  I know...kind of gross, but it had to be done.  I'm sure Paul's Uncle Zeph (the veterinarian)  would have preferred to do that, but you do what you've got to do when it needs to be done.  We brought the kittens inside and placed them in a cardboard box lined with a fleece blanket.  Under it we placed a hot pad heater to try and keep them warm.  They were so cold!  One had not an ounce of fat on it with lots of extra skin.  

This weak baby died by the time Paul left for work the next morning at 5:30am.  I had woken up with the babies every three hours to feed them and make sure that they were warm.  I did my best, but with nothing better to offer than some of Hayden's formula and a fleece blanket and heater, I couldn't prevent this death.  As I was feeding this tiny baby, I had to keep massaging her back and belly to keep her conscious enough to eat.  I knew that she wouldn't live.  Paul woke me up in the morning to tell me she had indeed died and he would take care of her.  

I got up an hour later to feed the other two.  They were more plump than the first baby, but still too small.  So far I had only gotten one of the two to actually suck on a medicine dropper of formula.  The baby that hadn't learned how to suck, baby number 2, had died in that short hour between Paul leaving and me waking up.  I texted Paul to let him know, and threw all of my energy into baby number 3.  

I held number 3's small body studying her to see if I could figure out how best to help her.  She was the only baby that had learned to suck, and was the most plump (that's not saying much though).  Her limbs were long and skinny.  Her head was still flat on top like an early fetus.  I realized that this baby was born too early to be able to live outside the womb for long.  If this baby was even 30 weeks, I would be surprised.  I went on the internet to try to research ways to help the baby.  I found a doctor on the internet that said that newborn kittens should look EXACTLY like a regular cat except smaller.  Anything that didn't had an incredibly small chance to live.  I looked at the kitten in the box.  It's head was flat, and I wasn't sure it was a cat when I first saw it.  
Baby number three.  You can still see her umbilical cord attached.  I had just fed her so she had fallen asleep.

At 9:30am, baby number 3 died in my hands while I was trying to nurse her.  I heard gurgling noises, and every time that I pushed the stopper down in the medicine dropper to deliver formula, air bubbles came up.  Soon baby was bleeding from her mouth.  I put her down and let her sleep in her warm fleece.  I brought Hayden over so that he could see her one more time (he loved the kitties).  She was motionless.  I kept trying to massage her.  Every once in a while she would gasp and even meow---but no heart beat.  

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do anything.  I had to learn that nature will take it's course.  Nature doesn't just go it's takes it.  I should have known (and maybe I did) from the beginning that those babies had zero chance of surviving, and that what was going to happen was going to happen.  Maybe that's why mama cat had left them.  She understood and accepted their fate; she had to move on to survive herself.    Maybe she wasn't such a bad mom like I thought she had been in the beginning.  


  1. Oh Allie this breaks my heart for you! You're so sweet to help them and at least let them go peacefully, warm and loved. You and Paul are brave and mature to take care of the cords/sacs, that's not easy. My mom and I had a similar experience when our dog delivered puppies early and only one survived... I think it's a good life experience for us girls though.
    I hope you're doing ok!

  2. I am so impressed that you were able to help as much as you did. What a lesson. Hugs to you and your family.

  3. This just broke my heart! I wouldn't have done anything different. And like you said, I bet Momma kitty knew they had no chance...mother's instinct.