Abandoned and starving, three new-born kittens cried out from under a parked car.
It was late April when a friend, KJ, called FAN volunteer, MK, and asked for help with a mama cat and three kittens she had seen in her neighborhood. The new-born, tabby kittens were heard crying from under a car in a Portsmouth neighborhood. When the mama cat hadn’t been seen for 8 hours, the decision was made to attempt to retrieve the kittens. It appeared that the mama had abandoned her litter. Perhaps she was a young, first time mother, or was frightened away by other feral cats.
It’s always best to leave young kittens with their mother to promote the best nutrition and immune system support, unless they’re in a dangerous setting or the mother isn’t caring for them. In this case, they couldn’t be left any longer.
Crawling under the car to reach the babies, the rescuers found that one kitten appeared to be dead already, and the other two still had the placenta attached. Once inside, MK (who is a retired US Navy nurse) and KJ worked together to clear the kittens’ airways of the leaves and dirt they had ingested, likely suckling, trying to nurse. They weighed each kitten, quickly bathed them with Dawn to remove fleas and debris and cut the dried up umbilical cords, which the mother cat hadn’t removed. They estimated the kittens to be about 48 hours old. Simon weighed only 3 ounces!
FAN’s intake protocol calls for detailed record keeping. Simon, identified with a black ribbon, weighed only 90 grams (3.17 oz) at intake. The second number shows his temperature at 93 degrees. Several days later, eyes still shut, he had gained to a whopping 161 grams (5.68 oz).
The two living kittens were wrapped and placed on a warmer. They accepted small amounts of water, so the rescuers had high hopes they might survive. MK then went to bury the dead kitten, only to find her moving! She was alive! She was cleaned up in the same manner, and MK started making calls to find a nursing mama cat or a skilled bottle feeder. FAN foster mom, Cheri, had a nursing mother, the sweet, gray Cheyenne, who readily accepted the three newborns. She allowed them to nurse immediately, adding to her own two babies and making a litter of five. KJ named the kittens Otis, Simon and Billie (Holliday) after some of her favorite musicians.
Rescue work is grievous at times, and sadly, despite all of our efforts over two days, Otis and Billie didn’t survive. The tiny but mighty Simon thrived.
Fast forward to the end of July, and Simon is now a hefty two pounds! Before he goes to his forever home, he needs to gain a little weight, after which, he will be neutered and finish his vaccine series. Cheri, who continued to foster Simon, just received word of a potential adopter! Given Simon’s inspiring story of survival, we are thrilled, but not surprised. This is the happy ending we work so hard for.
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FAN would like to thank KJ for spotting these kittens and alerting FAN. We also want to acknowledge the tireless work of our phenomenal volunteers, Cheri and MK. Their value cannot be over-stated. They do it for the cats, but FAN is far better for their compassion and enthusiastic service.