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.


  1. So sorry you have been having a difficult kitten week! I have been so absorbed in my own kitty woes to follow what is going on. You have my support as you continue to give them so much love and care. I love you, and all the compassionate work you do for the babykitties of the world.

  2. Jeez, that's a lot. You should pat yourself on the back, breathe, and relax. With a cat on your lap, of course.

  3. @Becky & @Bridget: <3
    @Bridget: Dammit I meant to plug your gofundme. Poopy.