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How we doubled our household cat count in a single day.

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
It was a seemingly innocent voicemail from a coordinator at the shelter I volunteer for. When I returned her call, she asked in a tiny little voice, "Could you possibly foster some bottle babies for us?" I asked how many, and in an even teenier voice, she asked... "Fooouuuuur?"

Well, gosh. With Dylan not feeling well, Mom and I will have to stick close to home for awhile anyway... so we talked it over, hopped in the car, and went to pick up the babies. On the way, I called to confirm that we would take them, and the coordinator said, "Oh, by the way, I was confused -- there are five."

Okay. Five.

So we arrive at the shelter, and she leads us over to a tiny carrier sitting on a heating pad. When we look inside... one, two, three... four... five...


The coordinator called across the room to one of the vet techs, "Did you know there are SIX in here?"

"SIX? Are you sure?"

Yup. Six. I raised an eyebrow, turned to my mom, and said, "I think we've been had!"

We all laughed and gathered up the kittens and some bottles and some KMR to get started, and Mom and I headed home to somehow tell my father we now had TWELVE cats in the house. Not to mention Dorothy in the back yard!

But Dorothy is part of the deal: we took these little fosters, so they're taking Dorothy into the shelter tomorrow! Now she'll be safe, and she'll have a chance at a really good home... I'm so glad! We'll miss her, though... she's a lovely, gentle little soul.

These kittens are unbelievably tiny -- about two weeks old, but very small for their age. Their eyes are barely open, and three of them have some kind of gunk going on with their eyes, so we have eyedrops for them, too.

And that brings up my first question for those of you with more experience than I have: if the eye is completely closed, how should the eyedrops be applied? They just roll right off as it is... should I maybe dab very gently with a cotton ball?

Pictures will be forthcoming after their next feeding, which is due -- uhoh --right now!
post #2 of 31
OOOO! I hope Dorothy gets a good home real quick! DH is headed to Texas next week but no luck convincing him! And good luck with all the babies! Can't wait to see pics!!!
post #3 of 31
Congrats on getting duped...I mean err...had...no wait...6 more babies to foster!

That's really good of you
post #4 of 31
If the eyes are matted shut, then use a warm wet cloth to wipe the gunk away until you can open the eye. Now, if they're eyes haven't opened yet, I have no clue. Seems they wouldn't need the eye drops until their eye have opened?
post #5 of 31
You are such a sucker - just like the rest of us! You'll have so much fun with the little guys, can't wait to see pics!
post #6 of 31
I'm glad you found a place for Dorothy. Hopefully she will be saying "there's no place like home" soon.

Good luck on the multiplying kittens. Sending you lots of get big and healthy vibes.
post #7 of 31
Six, eh? The most I ever did was 4 at a time and they were quite the handful!! I hope your mom is helping you feed them!! DH and I had a system where we would give the most aggressive one a little bit of KMR to calm him down then rotate thru the rest of them. I hope you don't have one like our Jake!

2 weeks old, eh? So that means feeding every 2 hours or so? You are making me sleepy just thinking about it!

Sending you tons of bottle fed orphan vibes your way!!

You might want to PM Kumbula (or is is Kumbulu?) about the eyes - she is the queen of orphaned kitties on the site.
post #8 of 31
Oh man...six. You've taken on quite a job.

What happened to mama?

I'm awake every couple hours anyway...I'll be sending you vibes...

I was able to get my little ones eyes open enough to put the medication in by washing them gently with a warm, wet cloth. It just takes time.
post #9 of 31
Originally Posted by CarolYup. Six. :lol3: I raised an eyebrow, turned to my mom, and said, "I think we've been had!"

Hehe, yep! Sounds like you were...but in a good way! :heart3:

But Dorothy is part of the deal: we took these little fosters, so they're taking Dorothy into the shelter tomorrow! Now she'll be safe, and she'll have a chance at a really good home... I'm so glad! We'll miss her, though... she's a lovely, gentle little soul.
I'm so glad that they are taking Dorothy! It's the least they can do considering they gave you 6 kittens to care for. I hope Dorothy finds a wonderful forever home. I had been asking around to see if anyone I knew in the area would help, but the only "yes" answers I got were from those who said that they would if the still lived in Texas.

She's a beautiful kitty and shouldn't have any problems getting a home now that she is there.

Good luck with the new babies. That's going to be some task....6 of them...Wow!
post #10 of 31
Thread Starter 
Okay... did the warm wet washcloth thing to the little black one with the very bad eye, and it did help, thank you! The eye is still partly stuck shut, but the drops did find their way in. I think maybe another effort in the morning will do the trick.

They have all opened their eyes at least a little, but I think probably no more than a day or so ago -- they mostly keep their eyes closed, and they seem completely unaware of visuals.

You're so right about six at a time! I truly don't know how I'll keep up, but I have to. With six of them, it takes a good 90 minutes just to help them poop, clean and dry them, give them their eyedrops, feed them, snuggle-and-burp them, and clean up the table. Thirty minutes later, the first one is hungry again!

I can't get over how tiny they are... just impossibly fragile, weightless, miraculous. It's humbling to be entrusted with such tiny little lives.

It's so hard to get good photos of such squirmy little creatures! Here's the best I've managed so far:

post #11 of 31
I had 6 kittens that were 4 weeks old & that was tough! I cannot imagine 6 that young! I am NOT the least bit jealous.

You will get it down to a science, do not worry. Not to mention, they're always getting older & easier to feed. Just wait until they are old enough to start pottying on their own, but not quite old enough to use the litterpan!
post #12 of 31
Thread Starter 
In that last photo, notice the little white-and-blue one at center right, curled on his side facing left. In a family of amazingly tiny babies, he's clearly the tiniest -- I'm really worried about him. Do you think I should make him some of the "homemade pedialyte" formula they describe in one of the TCS kitten care stickies? He's just so awful little!
post #13 of 31
Oh my gosh!!! They're so little!

They need a warm stuffed animal in there to cuddle with.

I forgot to ask....but can you keep us updated on Dorothy's progress and let us know when she gets a forever home?
post #14 of 31
Definately spring for the home-made pedialyte. Do you know how to check for de-hydration? I see you've got a heating pad in there. When I had just one, Jade.....she would still get kinda cold. So, I put rice in a sock & kept it warm. Same with the 6 I had short term. The runt, Ephram, always slept on that rice bag in addition to the heating pad to stay warm.

I'd feed the runt first & last. Give him/her extra feedings. You can also PM starryeyedtiger....Nikki was great at answering all my questions!
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much! That's all good advice -- I'll make the pedialyte right now, before they start their squeaky little chorus again! Yes, to check for dehydration, you gently pinch up a bit of skin and see how long it takes to go back -- right? Or is it different for kittens, as opposed to humans? And yes, a rice sock is a great idea... maybe they'd snuggle up to that instead of sacking out on top of each other! I worry somebody might not be able to breathe.

And yes ma'am, you bet I'll keep up with Dorothy. She's not at the shelter yet, because it was so late today when we got the call about the babies -- had to get over there before they closed, and we didn't want to rush Dorothy off. Tomorrow morning, we'll give her a nice breakfast and lots of snuggles -- and then we'll wash and change clothes, so nothing she might have will reach the kittens -- and we'll take her to the shelter. Oh, it hurts to say that! I know Operation Kindness is the best possible place for her, but... y'know, it's not every cat in the world who just walks up and gives you unconditional love like Dorothy did for my mom and me. In my whole life, I've never met a gentler, more loving kitty.

Dylan's doing great, by the way -- he's set up in my mom's room so he won't walk around too much, and with the calmative he's taking, he's mostly been lounging on the bed and sleeping. So far, the bandage remains intact!

So okay, it's a Kittycat Hospital around here now -- Adult Trauma Ward in my mom's room, Pediatric Ward in mine. Thank you all so much for your moral support!
post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 
P.S. -- Don't be alarmed by the fan in that first picture -- even as my mom shot that one, I was saying, "Oh my gosh, we have to turn that fan off!"
post #17 of 31
That is how you check for dehydration. It'll be sad to see Dorothy go, but you wouldn't let her go to anyplace but the best. Will you be able to go visit her?
post #18 of 31
Thread Starter 
If anyone is awake out there... oh, please send up a healing thought for that smallest one. When I made the pedialyte and went to give her some, she could hardly lift her head... she just seemed suddenly even smaller and weaker than before. And I guess her fur was flattened from being in the pile with the others, and suddenly I could see that there was no flesh on her at all, just nothing to her. So I woke my mom and asked her to feed the others, and I held this little one up against my heart with a towel all the way to the emergency vet clinic. I was so afraid she wouldn't even make it there, but now and then I could feel her move a little or she'd make the faintest little meow, and every time she did, it was the greatest joy in the world.

The people at the clinic took one look at her and sort of stood back, as if to say it was useless... but then they said okay, we'll do what we can. They put her in an incubator and tested her blood, and they thought she'd need glucose, but she didn't, because the pedialyte had helped some. But then... dear god this is horrible, i'm sorry to have to say it... but they found a tiny sore under her tail, just a tiny scrape, and there were maggots in it, burrowing. So the doctor flushed that all out and gave her some antibiotic. They had to keep her there, so they let me say goodbye to her... she was just this tiny face wrapped in a big blue towel on a warming pad... I kissed her goodbye and I don't know how in eight or ten hours you fall so in love with a little life like that, but I have, and oh I want her to live! She deserves to live. Please please use any power you can to give her strength tonight.
post #19 of 31
Had to reply-been there. I raised 6 kittens from day one(they were thrown in a bush behind a high school before 6 am and not retrieved tilkl 3(first meal was finished at 5 pm) sadly i lost 3 of them but the remaining 3 had thier 4th bday not to long ago! hang in there and no matter what you are heloping them SO GREATLY by at least giving them a chance to THRIVE!!!!
post #20 of 31
Wow, I am so sorry about the little one. I really hope she survives. She has obviously been through so much. I'm hoping the best for her.

They are all so beautiful. That was so great of you to take them in like that.

Be sure to let us know what happens with the little one.
post #21 of 31
Good luck to you, the kits and to Dorothy!

I will pray for the itty bitty little one at the vet!
post #22 of 31
Oh dear!!!!!! MEGA vibes coming the little girls way! {{{ }}}

Please keep us updated on her!
And bless you for helping these little ones You are an angel
post #23 of 31
Poor itty bitty baby! Lots of healthy and grow strong vibes to her, and all of the babies.

Any word from the emergency vet about the little one?
post #24 of 31
That is the worst part about bottle babies, being so helpless. I do hope & pray that little one can make it.
post #25 of 31
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to report... it's been a very hard and sleepless couple of days.

They called me from the emergency vet at 5:00 this morning to tell me the little girl had passed away. The only good thing I can find in it is that, for those last few hours, at least she was warm and well-fed... I don't know how much difference it can possibly have made for a baby in such misery, but... I dearly hope she felt some relief.

When I told the vet techs at the shelter what had happened, they had me take the rest of the kittens to a vet they work with, so I drove over there first thing. In the car, I had the carrier beside me, and the kittens were all under a towel, to try to keep the warmth in... but as I was driving, one of them crawled out from under the towel, put her tiny little paws through the wires of the door, and mewed at me. I looked down at her, and it was the first time there was real eye contact -- I could tell she was seeing me, trying to tell me something, bless her heart!

They put us in a room, and while we waited for the vet, I was watching the babies and realized that some of them were suckling on the little mostly-white one, so I took her out and wrapped her in a towel and started to feed her. She was very weak, though not nearly so bad as the little one who had died, thank heaven. She kept trying to climb right into the bottle, so finally I wrapped the edge of the towel around her face and held it together under her chin like a scarf, so she couldn't climb forward and lose her grip on the bottle. She was so cute, this tiny little babushka baby... it was like the happy version of that heartbreaking image of the night before, that other tiny little face lost in the vastness of a blue handtowel.

When she had eaten all she could hold, I held her up to my throat to keep her warm... and bless her heart, she started to purr. It was the tiniest little sound... I just treasure that moment with her.

Eventually, the vet came and checked the five remaining kittens... and they all had the same problem, these godawful maggots in their intestinal tracts and in any raw areas of their skin. Aside from that, he said, they were all strong enough to have a chance at survival -- except that this infestation means that they've been living outdoors under terrible conditions, they've been ingesting feces (!), and it's a safe bet that their mother was not vaccinated... so they very likely also have the herpes virus, as well. If so, they won't make it.

But he proceeded on the assumption that they don't. He gave them Strongid, which he said is not really intended for what's wrong with them, but it may do the job -- and anything that would do the job for sure would be too dangerous for such little kittens. He said to feed them as much KMR as they'll take as often as they'll take it, not to wait two hours if they'll take it sooner... and also to massage them and encourage pooping as often as possible, to help flush out these damned maggots.

So I went to the shelter to give them the vet's paperwork and to get some more eyedrops for the kittens, and I sat down and talked with some of the staff there, including a couple of vet techs... and we talked about the level of 'round-the-clock care the kittens need, and about the situation in our house, with my father needing so much daily care and my mom being 82... and I'm ashamed to say, also my own physical limitations... and the vet techs felt it made more sense to split the kittens up among two or three foster homes, so each one could get the level of attention he needed. And they also said they have some much more experienced foster families who have done this dozens of times and are set up to handle it better, and who don't have so many other responsibilities.

They were trying to let me off the hook gently, but I felt so worthless -- I really thought I could do this! I wanted so much to take care of these little ones... and I could have continued it for another couple of days, I think, but then I would have broken down. Because my mom really has all she can handle with my father and our own six cats, so it would all be on me, and I'm not a strong person at all. I couldn't possibly keep it up, especially since the babies are so awfully sick.

So they found other, better fosters, and split the babies up into three homes. One of the shelter ladies told me, "It's okay, everybody has limitations, and now you know where yours are, and that's all right." But for these little kittens, I wanted to be Superwoman, y'know? I wanted to give them so much... I just hate myself for not being able to do it.

You were all so kind to lend your moral support for my effort... I'm so sorry to fail those little ones, and to disappoint you.
post #26 of 31
Originally Posted by CarolPetunia View Post
and I'm not a strong person at all.

You were all so kind to lend your moral support for my effort... I'm so sorry to fail those little ones, and to disappoint you.
I understand you are feeling down right now. I do have to disagree with you - you are strong. It takes a lot of courage to admit any limitation. I don't see this as a limitation though. Only someone with no other distractions could take care them.
They had to split the babies up between other foster homes which means no one else could be expected to handle them all either.

You drove them to the vet, took the RB baby to the emergency vet, fed and cared for them all.
Bless you for being there for them. They have a long road ahead and they love and compassion the received from you and your mom was a beautiful thing.
post #27 of 31

You didn't fail these little ones at all! You and your mother took them in when they needed it. You took them to the vet. You loved them and did everything you could for them.

They are special cases in how bad off they are already, poor little things. Like Bonnie said - they were separated into 3 homes of experienced fosterers so even the most experienced wasn't expected to do what you were expecting from yourself.

You'll get there - with more experience you will get to be one of the foster homes they call in an emergency and with the difficult cases. But you can't possibly expect yourself to inherently know everything there is to know, or be able to do it all.

You had a huge hand in making sure that these babies have the best possible chance at survival. Don't discount what you have done for them.
post #28 of 31
You did the opposite of failing them. You were brave enough and big enough to realize that they needed more care. You are their angel - because of you they have a fighting chance to survive!
post #29 of 31
Please feel good about what you did. You gave them emergency care until they could be placed with those other foster homes. You were there when they needed it most.
post #30 of 31
Thread Starter 
You guys are so nice. And I hope you're right, and I hope I can become a better foster someday.

The arrangement had been that if I fostered these kittens, the shelter would find room for Dorothy... but since I wasn't able to hold up my end of the bargain, I didn't expect them to, either. I wanted so much for her to get into the shelter today so she would be seen by all the people who come in on the weekend... but I didn't feel right trying to hold them to their part of the deal, y'know?

So I just called Sheila, the intake coordinator, as I normally would. She was off today, so I asked the lady who answered the phone, Mary, if someone else was handling intake. She said yes, I should talk to Dakota. But Dakota was out to lunch, so Mary said quietly, "Y'know, the best thing to do is just bring the kitty here -- she probably won't turn her away."

"Well," I said, "I tried that three weeks ago, with Sheila, and she made me take her home."


"Sheila's tough!" I said, and she laughed.

Then she covered the phone and said, "Maybe you should try it again. While Dakota's here."

"You think?"

"Mmhmm, I do. Come on down!"

So I went out in the back yard and there was Dorothy, faithful little friend that she is, so pleased to see me. I gathered her up and carried her to the car and just got in, letting her investigate for a few minutes. I let my mom drive us so I could hold Dorothy, and she was such a good kitty -- a little nervous, but she stayed right in my arms and watched out the windows the whole time. Only when we got to the shelter did I put her into a carrier, and then only for two minutes.

Everyone at the shelter fell instantly in love with Dorothy -- she's such a beauty, and she just loves to be petted, no fear of strangers at all! There were puppies in little fenced enclosures in the lobby, and Dorothy kept a wary eye on them, but didn't panic. Mary smoothed the way for me with Dakota, and Dakota got us in line to have Dorothy tested for FIV. They drew her blood and gave her back to me to hold, and I waited in the intake room. There were a dozen cages full of critters in there, and some of the dogs were barking wildly, so I hummed a tune for them and danced with Dorothy to it. And they calmed right down!

Soon, the word came down: Dorothy is FIV-NEGATIVE! Thank heaven!

So then Dakota found her a cage right there in the lobby, where nobody who walks into the building can possibly miss her, and we set her up with a pretty pink blanket and a comfy bed and some toys and food and water... and Mom and I snuggled her goodbye... and Mary promised she would go over and give Dorothy lots of love every chance she got. Mary's the greatest!

And then we went and picked up some more antibiotic for Dylan, and a prescription for my father, and then we got home and I said, "Okay, I'm gonna go feed Dor--"

And we both got all teary-eyed. We're really going to miss her.

One last thing to report: while I was at the shelter, one of the vet techs said, "Oh, come here, you should see this," so I followed her into the breakroom. "They were found at a construction site," she said, "and they're just the cutest little things..."

And I saw that she was leading me over to the same burgundy-colored carrier I'd had the five little kittens in. I stopped in my tracks and covered my eyes and said, "Oh please, are there still five of them?"

She looked inside and counted. "Yes, five." Yes, yes, yes!

I explained that they were the ones I hadn't been able to care for, and she said, "Oh, I didn't know! But that's okay, it's a big job. We're taking turns while they're here during the day, and then we'll rotate who takes them at night."

I asked her what had happened to the idea of splitting them among three fosters, and she said that really wouldn't work, because it's a 24-hour-a-day job, so they made this arrangement instead, and it was working fine. She'd had them the night before, and she'd taken half the night and her husband had taken the other half.

So I went over to see them. They were all asleep in a tumble, and they looked better than before -- the Strongid must have done some good, and they'd also had flea baths, she said. They have a room at the shelter where they can give the bath under a heat lamp, so it's safer. They looked so much plumper and healthier, even the little white babushka baby! What a relief!

So tomorrow, I'm going to go over and spend most of the day at the shelter, so I can visit Dorothy and take care of the kittens, too, so the staff won't have that to do. Saturdays are a madhouse over there.

I don't know what I'll do if any more of those babies die... but maybe I can still be part of the effort to keep that from happening. Your good thoughts for the babies, and for a wonderful furever home for Dorothy, are so very appreciated.
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