Friday, September 2, 2016

The Merlin Kitty

Friends, family, followers:

My friend Bridget has one of the very best kitties in the world. His name is Merlin.

I first met Merlin when my best friend was preparing to move in with Bridget and they were introducing their cats. Dash was a cantankerous, territorial, prima donna pain in the ass. He was hiding in his carrier and wouldn’t come out. I mostly expected there to be a cat fight, because pretty much every cat I’ve ever met is that way in the extreme. But Merlin just walked back and forth in front of the carrier, rubbing up against it affectionately, and peeking inside from time to time. Dash eventually ran out of growls, but Merlin never ran out of patience or love.

In all the years I’ve known him, Merlin has ben the paragon of catly excellence. He’s never a “butt” as so many cats tend to be. He doesn’t bite, claw, or scratch. In fact, he sorta seems like a cat that Catholics might want to give a sainthood to (don’t those things alone count as miracles?). He’s kind, caring, and attentive to his friend cat and his person.

But now, Merlin’s in trouble.

He has a diaphragmatic hernia. In layperson’s terms, it basically means that his liver is up near his heart (note: this is not where it belongs). Insurance will cover some of it, but Bridget is quickly approaching her cap on coverage, what with all the ER visits that it took to get this diagnosis.

Merlin will probably need an operation, and soon, if he hopes to live much longer. His quality of life has gone downhill recently, and he needs treatment ASAP.

Bridget is hoping to raise $5,000 for his veterinary care. Since she can only estimate the cost, she is offering a ballpark figure and promising this: if it ends up being more than they need, all extra funds will be donated to the Almost Home cat rescue in Denver, a cage-free no-kill shelter that provides a safe place with medical care for all cats, even the “unadoptable” and terminally ill. (They’re located right near me!)

If you enjoy my kitten blog, please consider donating to Bridget’s campaign. Every dollar helps. Bitty kitties turn into grown-up kitties, and my goal in fostering is to raise wave after wave of kitties who are as wonderful as Merlin. It’s easy to ignore the plights of big kitties because they’re “not as cute” as kittens (though I think Merlin is), but they’re the reason we foster parents go through all the trouble. The grown-ups are the ones who are our best friends and companions.

See? Told you he was cute.

So go now, and with kittens in your heart, give this week’s latte to Merlin. He could really use it.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hard week for kittens.

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as regularly as I should. The Wild World of Kittens started ramping up drastically, then, much like a roller coaster, took a sharp dive.

The Monsters were staying pleasingly undersized, and I was looking forward to keeping them for another couple of weeks before taking them back for surgery and adoption. I had a new litter of three bottle babies, and had just picked up one more five-day-old on the request of the Humane Society. There were two more bottle babies of a similar age, and I was considering taking them, too. That would have been nine foster kittens (plus three adult cats, total of twelve). Last Sunday, I brought in my Monsters for their second/final round of vaccines (at least while they’re in my care) and to get the litter of three looked at by a vet because they had developed alarming diarrhea, and I brought Sphinx by to show his friend vet how much better he was doing—and she noticed a particular crustiness about his nose.

Cultures, hairs, and UV lights and lo and behold, they have ringworm. I could have taken them home for treatment, but since I had four other foster kittens (all of them very young), I decided that the Monsters would get better care in the Humane Society’s ringworm ward. So, I left three kittens poorer than I had anticipated (and to think, I brought them into the clinic to brag on them! Boy is my face red), predictably crying and devastated, etc. The good news was that the three diarrhea-burdened babies were “fine,” as long as their diarrhea turned around within the next couple of days. (Other silver lining: the Monsters are going to be in the ringworm ward for six to nine weeks while they’re recovering, so I get to go visit them whenever I want. Which I did today.)

On Monday, freshly grieving and feeling as though I lived in a kitten desert (oh how my perspectives changed with three simultaneous litters), I went and picked up the two bottle babies who were of an age with the youngest I had. One of those two was doing really really well, yelling and screaming and eating like a tiny horse; but the other was tiny and frail and taking mere sips of food. At the final feeding of the night, I noticed that his right eye was extremely swollen compared to the left. I worried that he might not make it through the night, so I gave him some honey at the last feeding and again at the 3am feeding, and he did survive.

I rushed him into the clinic first thing, and the vet there… well, I’ll spare you the gory details, but long story short, he’s a one-eyed kitten now—but he’s feeling much, much better! I’m tube-feeding him just to make absolutely sure that he gets the right amount of food, but he’s energetic and hungry and squeaky and he snuggles with his brothers and purrs for no reason.

But… over the course of Tuesday, I noticed that one of the three older kittens (at that time freshly named Rumor) was acting a bit lethargic and not eating as well as I would like. I tube-fed him a couple of times, but he didn’t perk up. I took his temperature, and he was about 4° colder than he should be. I made him into a kitten/heating pad burrito and gave him some honey, expecting that he would rally like Sphinx and Goblin did… but he didn’t. He actually kept getting colder and colder. He died in my arms that night.

I tear up thinking about him and how unfair it is that kittens die, but I’m starting to internalize the fact that sometimes, there’s just something broken that isn’t obvious before a certain developmental milestone, something that can’t be fixed, and sometimes I didn’t do anything wrong, he simply had faulty hardware. Animals that have multiple-baby litters do so because they expect only one or two of them to live. Their baby-factories literally don’t put as much energy into making every iteration correct as animals (and humans) that only have one baby per litter. I wanted Rumor to live, but I did everything I could to get him there, and I know he knew he was loved—as much as a kitten can know such a thing. And while I know that it’s a fantasy, the idea of the kitten cloud gives me real actual comfort, so… here’s hoping I get you next time around, little Rumor.

So, I’m sorry I haven’t felt up to writing about this until now. There are definitely times and events in this line of “work” that make me want to stop doing it. Even the good news was bad, this week. Let’s pour one out for Rumor and the Monsters.

My beautiful little Rumor.

Owlbear, being ridiculous.

Sphinx, losing the battle against sleep.
More ridiculousness from Owlbear.

Live from Boulder Prison.

Kenku was all about them snuggles.
Also all about fighting with my hand.
Sphinx really wanted snuggles, for a while, before running off to play with his brothers.

Owlbear was happy to see me, too, but mostly
because it meant he could get out of his cage.
This was as much as I could get him to hold still for pictures.
This sweet guy was super jealous of the Monsters who got to go out and roam.

So, to this very moment I smell like rotten eggs because of the sulphur-lyme baths the Monsters have to take to treat the ringworm, but seeing them today gave me comfort beyond measure. I didn’t know that would happen, but I'm glad it did.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Brand new 4-day-old baby!
Sphinxy, hangin’ out with me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Good bottle baby pics!

Most-Orange was feeling needy, so Branden swaddled him up and gave him some lovin’ while watching TV.

They’re all contenders in the bottle-feeding Olympics.

Managed to get an okay picture
of Most-Orange from underneath.

Kenku, freshly groomed by
Gnar, showing off his bat-ears.

Kenku, tired after a long day of being adorable.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August 17

Kenku trolling for pets.

Sphinx knows what’s good for
him—he sleeps with one eye open.

No comment…

Kenku and Sphinx test the limit of Squish’s tolerance.

Daily bottle baby pic! They’re doing great!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The stork visited me

I must be crazy.

Once more, the humane society couldn’t find anyone willing to take a group of bottle babies. So… I took them, obviously.

They are 10 days old now, and they’re huge. They're all over 6 ounces. They are a little strange looking, in my opinion, like they might have a little wild cat in them somewhere. They spent the first few days of their lives with their mom, who is feral, and who is currently at the humane society. The foster department described her as “fractious, to be charitable,” and were concerned for the kittens’ safety in that situation. So, their largeness might be at least partly caused by having the diet they were meant to have for the early part of their lives.

I try not to name them until they’re three weeks old, though at this point that seems arbitrary, what with Goblin’s 6-week demise; but from the first moment I picked them up I was like, “okay, so that one’s named Creamsicle.”

The older ones are all doing well. Owlbear is big and fat and huge, but the other two are still very small, especially for their age. They will certainly have to stay with me until they’re a bit older than 8 weeks. (Boo hoo, sob, etc.)

Newbs, day 1, 8 days old.
Newbs, day 2.
Kenku, in his Mister Cutiepie 2016 competition submission.