It feels like a minute to minute affair:
16;20 I receive an anxious message about a 10 day old kitten who is struggling with feeding, though his sister is doing fine.
17:30 I visit the kittens, who I’m now told are 14 days old ….. but only look the size of 5 day olds or less. Manage to get the struggling kitten to start to feed. Offer rescue space for both of them but the owner happy to keep trying with them
18:38 A post on a uk wide cat rescue site flags up a poor pregnant cat desperately needing rescue space I agree to take her and fix a time to collect her tomorrow as she’s held safe overnight but can’t stay where she is.
19:00 I start frantically shifting things around to make a space we don’t really have for pregnant girl.
20:29 Another anxious email ….. this time with worries that the little girl kitten isn’t feeding. I’ve already opened a beer …. so the kittens arrive shortly after in a taxi
21;15 Despite fears that they had died on the journey they arrive alive and agree to a feed. I settle them down to sleep
21:45 I touch them … just to check they’re breathing still
22:15 I touch them again …. just in case
22:45 Ditto ……. and repeat at random intervals
23:15 I check again before getting the next feed ready and then set to trying to sort out how we’re going to manage the pregnant puss on top of everything else.
23:59 They’re both fed, toileted and in bed again ….. ready for next feed. Hoping and praying all ok and that we’ll cope with feeds through the night.
The night passes …. a blur of two hourly alarms, kitten formula and kettle boiling. The kittens experience the life of a long haul flight passenger as they’re woken at regular intervals to be served breakfast yet again.
The day begins to take shape around what I can fit in between which feed. The other cat and kittens don’t stop needing care just because these tinies are taking up a huge chunk of time. As it begins to look more like they’ll still be with us when I go back to work I start to try to figure out how best to manage it.
It always seems a bit sad and mercenary to check that the kits are alive before preparing their next feed – but its what I do. I think more than anything its about managing emotions. I’m sure I’m not alone in this pain. That putting everything you have day and night into a tiny being, trying to keep it alive but knowing that the huge effort could hit a wall any moment …… leaving only a quiet burial, then throwing away remaining kitten formula and putting away the masses of bedding ready for the next time. It hasn’t happened yet but its the spectre that lurks behind every alarm call. Somehow looking it in the face by checking on the kits first saves me from the horror of it jumping out at me when I bring them their bottles.
They’re desperately small for their age. We were told 2 weeks old yesterday … but they look less than a week in size to me. A kind of average newborn kitten size would be about 100g. In that first week they usually just sleep and eat and if all goes well will double their weight in a week. So by one week old they’re probably around 200g give or take. These two are 2 weeks old and around 125g. Their eyes are pretty much open so the age sounds about right …
They’ve been quite lively today though ….. ginge has been on an adventure across his cot and quite noisy when its coming up to feed times.
Please send love and prayers / positive thoughts to these little ones as they make their way through the crucial next few weeks.