Friday, August 19, 2011
X-treme Crazy Cat Lady
(Do NOT try this at home! I'm a PROFESSIONAL.)
Two weeks ago tomorrow I got a call from my parents' neighbors. The mama cat that Laura and I had seen a few days before had left a baby on their doorstep. A short time later, they found another one wandering around in their shed. The neighbor was just getting over an illness and didn't feel up to feeding them. Would I help?
A whole raft of people headed over there to check out the situation. We found a grey and white kitten and a very light and sick tabby (the one the mother had brought for help). I went to search the shed to see if I could find any more. Oh, just four more. That's all. And all of them, but one, emaciated and clearly not getting enough milk. The one that wasn't emaciated had a terrible eye infection and mild cold and would need medication.
The mama-cat is a wild cat that gives them her kittens every year, but this year she had two litters, and this litter was twice as big as she normally has. Clearly, she wasn't going to be able to keep these guys fed, but they couldn't be left with her and have their food supplemented because she would hide them from us. I assumed care for five, but one we gave back to the mom, figuring if she'd kept 6 from dying, she could keep one alive.
I took them home for their first proper feeding (they'd had a snack at the neighbors'). They were soooooooo hungry! One of them, the small, cream one, was so weak from starvation he could barely eat. But it was the orange tabby that had me worried. Full of pep when Laura and I had seen him a few days before, he now had a raging lung infection and could barely breathe, though all the time he kept staring around with his big eyes.
My two sickies
Since then, they have traveled pretty much everywhere with me. They went down to Glendive on the mini-mission trip, and were very popular, especially with the kids. One of the babies died down there, but not one of the sick ones. I think he inhaled some milk and got pneumonia, because he went from healthy to dying, with no sick in between. The Siamese, the only girl, was given to a lady who really wanted her for her girls and had raised kittens before. So I came back with only three.
Soon, the cream starvation kitten gained back enough strength to eat like a pig. No longer worried about starvation, I started worrying about things like stomachs bursting and such. The orange baby was almost well in one week, and once he could breathe enough to eat, boy did he eat. He still is frantic at mealtimes and chases after the bottle with wild snuffling noises as if he were a truffle-sniffing pig. Take off the truffle-sniffing and you just about have it!
But he has the heart of a lion. He hasn't figured out that he's small yet, one of the ittiest, bittiest little lumps of sweetness you could ever find. Sweetness with teeth, though! He loves to explore, play with the big kittens, try to jump out of his box, and climb after his bottle. This from a kitten that couldn't even hold his head up 1-1/2 weeks ago.
Exploring under my bed. He's not scared by any dustbunnies!
Then, there's Potto. He may get a more refined name later, but right now he is named for his extreme resemblance to the animal by the same name. He was one of the healthiest, most well developed of the kittens, but had a terrible eye infection. His eyes weren't even open yet, and when they did open, they looked like globs of pus, all white and no eyeball. I was pretty sure he'd be blind. But, no, his eyes are fine now, and even though he was always healthy besides that, he continues to eat as though he'd been starved his whole life. After a feeding, his belly brushes the ground; he needs to get busy and grow longer legs!
The Starved Cream Puff doesn't have a name yet, and not too much of a personality besides hungry. He does have a permanently aggrieved expression due to his still-in-recovery eye infection. He seems to be a little shy, but is coming out of his shell more each day.
Just this Tuesday, we got another call from the neighbors. The mama cat had brought her other baby to the porch. Obviously, she didn't have enough milk for him, either, and he was nearly dead. I was at work, so the initial triage was done by my mom, Noni, and Damon. Through diligent efforts they managed to warm him and revive him, until by the time I got home, he was trying to get out of his box to go find more food. My mom named him Lazarus. I added the Boopsie for cuteness.
He continues to make great strides in his recovery. Soon I expect him to look a lot like his big brother, Potto. He wanders around, plays with stuff, and then naps soundly. After he eats, of course. In fact, today I tried all of them on some thickened milk from a saucer. Did not go so well. They needed an emergency visit from Big Brother Theo, their self-appointed cleaning crew. Check him out at work in the back of this photo.....
And that, my children, is how I officially reached status of X-treme Crazy Cat Lady. Today Laura was telling someone we had TEN CATS. I guffawed. Laura is much given to exaggeration and I am frequently correcting her.
"Not so, we only have (counts busily on fingers).....nine......cats." Smugness evaporates. But I'm not keeping all of them! I'm not! Really!