I appreciate your advice but unfortunately it came too late. I awoke this morning and headed into Charity's room to check on her and the brood. She was out of the box and all of the kittens were snuggled together sleeping peacefully. I decided to wake the runt up to see how he was and he only made a few weak meows before going back to sleep on the palm of my hand. As I've come to realize young kittens generally don't enjoy being taken away from the warmth of their litter and held by something that has no fur, so I tried gently shaking him to see if I could wake him enough to get the normal crying response. He would not even move to nurse so I knew he was in trouble. I called my vet but apparently they had closed 9 minutes before so my boyfriend and I hurried into Austin to a low cost wellness clinic I had found online.
When we got there we were informed that they were not a full service vet. The woman at the desk must have seen the panic in my eyes because she gave us directions to a local vet that was open until 3 pm. We hurried over there and got right in. As soon as they removed the sick kitten from the carrier I could tell the news wasn't good. The tech weighed him and laid him on a heating pad until the vet came in to talk with us. Apparently Charity had some sort of "cold" that she transmitted to the kittens and that left them congested. The little guy seemed pretty stuffed up and they assumed that it was affecting how much he was eating. The vet told us they could "go to heroic measures" but that she still couldn't guarantee that he would make it. So she decided to send me home with some KMR and a bottle and instead turned her attention to Charity.
During the half an hour that I sat in the exam room stroking the little kitten, the vet staff looked after Charity and her other kittens. $240 later they had tested her and vaccinated her for just about everything under the sun. I was beyond floored because that wasn't something I can really afford right now. $240 is a plane ticket home to visit my mother who just had a heart attack, not money invested into a stray cat that I won't even be able to keep. I don't think I would be as upset if they had actually tried doing something/anything to help the kitten but it's as if they gave up and just turned to Charity because there was money to be made. They even talked me into buying a $16 bottle of flea spray that they said was safe to use on the kittens but after reading the label I've come to find it's not safe on kittens under 12 weeks of age and mine are not yet a week old. I was less than pleased when they sent us home with a big bill and no real help for my sick baby.
The drive from the vet to our house took only 30 minutes and I was planning in my head where to buy a heating pad and reading the directions on the milk replacement the entire way home. I brought the carrier inside and started unloading the kittens back into their box when I noticed the runt laying motionless inside. I quickly reached for him and as I placed him in my hand I could tell he wasn't moving. I laid him down on the floor so I could see if his chest was moving, but I could see from the look on his face that he was no longer with us. I ran to get Nate in the hopes it wouldn't be true when I returned to the kitten's side, but Nate confirmed my fears.
Charity wouldn't leave the carrier so I had Nate put the kitten back inside with her while he went to dig a hole. I stroked her head as she tried licking his little body back to life. When Nate returned he was kind enough to place the baby in a small box since I couldn't bear to do it myself, and we took him outside and laid him to rest near the beautiful green trees and lush wild plants that he never got the chance to see.
It was such a horrible feeling watching that tiny box being covered over with dirt and I wished a million times that I could have a second chance. Maybe if I had taken the kittens to the vet earlier he wouldn't have gotten sick. Maybe if I had held him on the way home from the vet he wouldn't have stopped breathing. Maybe if I had done even one thing differently he'd be in that room right now with his family where he belongs. But I didn't. I can't change the outcome. It's something that I'm going to be dealing with for quite some time. I just hope that during his 6 short days in this world he could feel the love that we all had for him, and that he's in a far better place now.
Rest in peace sweet and gentle baby.