“We have this kitten…” I knew from how it started that this was going to be bad. “The mail man found it, and told us to take a look at it to see if it was all right.” As the story went on, I could tell right off that it sounded rather grim. A very young cat, eyes not opening all the way, found alone in the grass with no momma cat nearby. Looked like maybe it had been dropped or something. Mewing weakly. My wife asked if I could pick up some kitten milk and a kitten bottle from a pet-food store on the way home from work. I said I would, and I asked her if she knew its chances weren’t very good. She said she did.
When I got home with the milk, we tried to get it to drink some. It complained a little bit, mewed, pulled away. We persisted for a little bit. It looked like it may have gotten a few swallows of the kitten milk formula down. We didn’t really know what to do for the kitten… so we kept it bundled up in an old shirt, and placed it in a shoe box.
It was such a little bitty thing. Not even a handful for me. It rested easily in my palm, with room to spare. It wouldn’t open its eyes, and seemed very content to lay up against you and get warm, and try to sleep.
After a quick Google search I learned that the cat must be under about 3 or 4 days old, as the umbilicus was still attached. I learned that we should keep it warm… between 85 and 90F. I learned that it may not want to drink its formula, but that we should persist. I learned that it wouldn’t go to the bathroom on its own, but that it had to be stimulated. I learned that if it was laying still, and not crying very much, that it must be getting weaker…
We set up a bigger box, with a heating pad under several layers of blanket to keep it warm. I set up a neat little temperature alert thermometer that would tell us if the box got too warm, or too cold (yes, I’m a geek). We got it to go to the bathroom, just like the friendly websites told us. We tried to get it to eat… but that part wasn’t going so well. I was worried that it was getting dehydrated. It had already missed several meals… as they need to eat every couple of hours at that age… and we didn’t know how long it had been separated from its mother. I persisted for some time, trying to get it to eat, but it just didn’t want to take the formula. I would talk to it while I tried, I would coax it, and ended up dubbing it “Baby Cat” for lack of a more original name.
After trying for more than an hour to get it to take some formula (after cleaning it, and getting it to eliminate), the poor thing just looked so exhausted, so we bundled it up warm in its box, and set it next to us in the room as we finished our normal nightly routines.
About an hour later my wife looked at it in its box and asked… “Did it… did it die?”
It’s odd, really. We only knew Baby Cat for about 5 hours or so. We knew right off the bat that the odds were against the little kitten. But we’re still sad now that the little critter is gone. It hardly seems fair… but I don’t know if that’s for Baby Cat, or for us.