Maya, our lovely little Lancashire Lass had such a traumatic arrival here that we weren’t surprised she hid away at first and didn’t want to eat. However, when she’d been here a few days and still hadn’t eaten we started to get really rather concerned and despite not wanting to put her through the distress of going back in a carrier and off to the vet, it clearly had to happen. Conveniently Sooty had a review appointment booked with Dr Tim for Monday afternoon and said that if Maya was feeling poorly he’d be happy to let her have his slot.
Sooty isn’t always the most amenable patient, but Maya topped any challenge Sooty could present. Although a mixture of her feeling poorly and my determination to get her to the vet had got her into the carrier, that didn’t mean she was willing to be examined once we arrived. One option with a terrified cat who can’t be examined is to give a sedative, but this could pose a risk to her unborn kits. However, she was clearly unwell and doing nothing wasn’t an option. At the end of the day Maya had to take priority over any unborn kits (there was even a possibility that her swollen tummy wasn’t due to pregnancy) but just maybe we could save them all. She had an anti biotic injection and a follow up appointment in two days for if she was feeling no better.
We came home hopeful, but Maya resolutely turned away from the offer of any food. We’d been through the full repertoire: tuna, roast chicken, fresh cooked fish, scrambled egg, sardines, cheese, boiled ham, all manner of treats ….. and returned to the vets on Wednesday evening, at which point they admitted her. She had some sedation, a scan which showed two kitten heartbeats inside her, a mouth with just one remaining tooth, tests which showed an infection and not surprisingly serious dehydration. She was put on a drip and anti biotics and thankfully started to improve. Despite the lack of teeth she began to eat to olympic standard and was clearly feeling much better.
We collected her from the vet about 6pm Friday evening – delighted that she came home and started eating, and had her anti biotic wrapped in some sardine. I went off to feed and cuddle Jack for a while and when I returned she’d given birth. I could just see one tiny dark kitten head near her, squawking for attention. It was immediately clear that things weren’t quite right though … there’s normally one heck of a lot of purring going on at this stage ……. but there was nothing, other than the odd squeak from a kitten who wasn’t getting the attention he needed. So then another dilemma ….. I want to make sure the kitten is ok but Maya is afraid of people and maybe by my staying around its making it worse and less likely that she’ll take care of the little one. I keep popping in to see how things are going, no sign of other kittens …… the vet said he saw at least 2 kitten heart beats …… where is the other kitten? stuck inside her? stopping her from being able to care for the little one who is already born? Nearly 1am and I’m on the phone to another rescue friend with a lot more experience and decide watchful waiting is perhaps best option. Maya is curled up near the kitten, asleep with her head on the placenta and completely ignoring him. About 3am I make up some kitten formula, sterilize the bottles and go into her room with the intention of ‘snatching’ the kitten and starting to feed him. He’s snuggled in the curl of her tail however and at least warm and safe near mum. If I take him and then he smells of me, and she rejects him, he’s going to have a real uphill struggle. I sit and watch them for a long while, neither appear in great distress and I decide to leave them be.
I crawl to bed and sleep the troubled sleep of a foster mum out of her depth. I dream I take them somewhere and whilst I’m explaining to someone about the second kitten heartbeat and wondering where kit 2 is, Maya produces another 26 kittens in a wide variety of shapes and sizes …. one is bright blue, very fluffy and the size of Jango, another is green and gummy and resembles Ganesh, they become mixed up with the kittens in the home we visit and it turns into typical anxiety dream of trying to collect them all together into the carrier to leave. It’s now 5am.
At 7am I go back into Maya’s room to find she’s vacated the kitten box and is in another little bed. The little kitten I’d seen the previous night, and another kit lie still and cold in the box. Neither have been detached from their placenta. I’m exhausted and so so sad. I put food out for Maya, and crawl downstairs for coffee before I can face burying the babies. After tears and coffee I throw away the formula I’d made up in the night and start packing away the bottles, return to Maya, sorting out crushing her tablet and wrapping it in sardine. I’m exhausted, the tablet shatters on the floor, I kneel down to look for it and I hear a kitten cry.