You may have followed our stories of Mathilde and Mollie over the last few months. Mathilde arrived here age about 2 weeks, having been taken away from her mother (complicated and annoying story that we’ll never get to the bottom of). She needed hand rearing of course at that age.
Bottle feeding baby animals is often romanticized. It’s certainly very rewarding. It’s also damned hard work. Very young kittens need feeding every 2-3 hours, bottles etc need to be sterilised, formula made up. They need toileting and cleaning ideally before and and after feeds. As with bringing up any species … as one challenge is met and moved on from, another is faced. When we hand reared our last kitten, Rufus, a couple of years ago, we’d never have managed without his aunty Jenny and uncle Rog to share the care.
Thankfully they agreed to share the care of Mathilde too. There was the additional bonus of Uncle Oliver, adopted since Rufus was a baby. Uncle Oliver has a serious interest in dirty bottoms. We’re hugely grateful to all of them as we wouldn’t have managed all this and work too, without them.
When little Mollie arrived a few weeks later, also tiny but about the same age as Mathilde, she was just scooped up into the same routine.
I’m very grateful to our resident cats for accommodating them. I know they weren’t pleased at first, but they’ve got on board with it and Henderson particularly has been wonderful. He’s taken it upon himself to be their “go to” mentor. I love him so much for doing this. (I love him stupid amounts anyway.) Despite being our oldest resident and not very well himself with thyroid issues and arthritis, he’s been so kind to them. He gives them what I can’t possibly give, by being a furry purry feline body to snuggle up to.
Last weekend I did a homecheck for them. I’d struggled to imagine who on earth I’d be able to trust them to after all this. I’d been unable to let go of Rufus (our previous hand rear) but very aware that we can’t hold on to any more cats and still function as a rescue. More or less the moment their potential adoptive mum opened the door at the homecheck I knew it would be ok.
When I say I knew it would be OK, I don’t mean I thought it would be easy. I’m confident she’ll be an awesome cat mummy who will do all she can to make them healthy happy kitties. Nevertheless we’ve had a week of anticipating letting go.
Henderson particularly has found it hard. They’re his kittens and much as he grumbles about them sometimes, he clearly adores them. Honey helped by combing their hair and getting them ready this morning.
The time came and I took them to their new home. Mollie chased around excitedly exploring everything. Mathilde climbed the biggest cat tree she’d ever imagined and fell asleep at the top of it. I know they’ll have a lovely life. I kissed them bye bye, hugged their mum, and I hope managed to get far enough from the house before I started crying.