Losing Duchess

How do you call the foster coordinator to tell her you’ve lost the nursing Momma?

I imagined the conversation would go something like this: “Don’t worry, it happens, she probably had an infection, or a heart attack due to all the stress. No, we lost her.  I know. No, lost.  She’s not dead, we cannot find her.  You let her outside? No.  We let her loose in the house to stretch her paws and she’s been missing for 8 hours.  Do you live in Buckingham Palace? No, Fort Knox.  We have cameras everywhere and alarms on all doors and still cannot find a trace of her.  Not a shadow, not a sniff, not a meow.  She has never meowed once anyway.  She’s like a ghost.

That was yesterday.  We looked in every nook and cranny of our house.  Under beds, inside pantry and cabinets, behind bookcases and appliances.  Inside the armchairs and suitcases. Panic sets in.  We have to feed the kittens.  Oh no, we have to bottle-feed the kittens again.  Will they take to a bottle now that they’ve had Momma for so long?  Look, they like wet cat food!  So we slowly fed them wet food by hand.

Around 2 am, Kodi started pawing at the drapes, and there was Duchess.  Starving.  Not a hint of guilt or remorse!  We have no idea where she had been hiding all day.  She’d been cooped up in that playpen for 3 weeks now and she’s a very dedicated mom.  But she has to be going crazy so we decided to let her roam around.  I am not sure we’ll do that again!

And she’s getting a collar, of a fluorescent color, with a bell, and a Tile™ on it!

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A feeding tube

Duchess is a feeding tube.  Her entire life is about feeding her 5 kittens.  She eats, poops and nurses.  That’s it!

We have had her now for 11 days, and she has lived exclusively in the playpen since.  It has to be boring.  She hardly ever leaves her babies.  She does pee and poop away from them, but she gets no exercise, no entertainment, nothing.

I was starting to worry about her muscle tone, since she lays down about 98% of her time (and remember we have a camera in there to check on the family).  So tonight I took her into the bathroom, on her own, and let her roam around.  There was at first no roaming, no walking.  She snuggled next to me and let me comb her.  I lifted her next to the sink and she started exploring, knocking stuff down off of the counter.  That lasted a few minutes, and then she sat in front of the door and looked at me with a pathetic look on her face.  

I brought her back “home”, and she laid down next to her kittens again. 

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She’s the most beautiful momma cat ever. 

Our Duchess

Not much to say here.  All is good with Momma and her kittens.  I want to brag and show you the most precious 12 day-old kittens in the whole wide world.  

Momma cat has a new name, temporary since we are only fostering her.  She is Duchess, named after the protective mother cat in The Aristocats.  She is the sweetest, most devoted mother ever.   

She came to us so traumatized.  For days she would only eat if I fed her.  The camera confirmed that she didn’t get out of her cardboard box.  Now she sometimes sleeps away from the box, in the playpen, on a towel, sometimes even letting all the munchkins away from her.  

She likes me a lot!  She doesn’t know what a hug is, but she’s a lap cat.  I comb her everyday, to get the filth off of her and as a trust-building activity.  I now get kissed and headbutts from our Duchess.  

She has no problem letting us her handle her kittens.  Feeding is pretty much all she does all day.  She has to be bored!  She likes when she sees me walk into the room and climb into the playpen with her.  I keep promising that I will grab a book and spend time with her in there, but I haven’t been good at that.

The only unpleasant thing about her, is that she has to idea what a litter box is for.  I don’t know how to litter train an adult cat.  I followed the advice found on the internet (place poop in there, placing her in the box and showing her how to scratch) but she doesn’t understand.  

It can get smelly in there…

 

Saving Momma

It’s been a rough night.  Momma Cat doesn’t eat, doesn’t drink and doesn’t use her litter box.  She clings to her kittens with all her might.

We put a bowl of dry food, of wet food, and of tuna fish in her playpen.  And a camera for good measure, to track her whereabouts!  I tried to feed her by hand but she wouldn’t touch the food.  She’s the complete opposite of aggressive.  Last night before we went to bed, she looked so so sad it broke my heart.

We gave her privacy by not going into her room for about 12 hours, from midnight until noon.  I checked the camera feed several times, and she didn’t move an inch, except around 5 am when she came to sniff, not the food, but the camera!  But she didn’t even go close to the food bowls.

This morning we go into crisis mode.  We have to save her, make her eat or she’ll stop producing milk and then the kittens won’t make it either.

I went to Petco to buy high calorie food but you need a vet prescription.  The manager suggested kitten milk at a higher concentration. 

I tried to feed her with the kitten syringe and a kitten size nipple we have available.  And she drank the milk, without a fight.  Yipee!!!  But she ate the nipple too, chewed it up, and the last thing she needs is to have to poop little pieces of plastic!  We bought a much bigger syringe at Walgreens and tried to feed her again.

Here’s the progress.

Step one: feeding milk through a syringe.

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Step two: feeding wet food on a spoon.

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Step three: feeding her directly from the bowl.  You can see the whole set up of the playpen in the room, and the cardboard “home” where she stays with her babies.

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She still won’t walk to the bowl, but that’s immense progress.  We are thrilled.  She makes a mess on the towel but that is not a problem now.  As long as she eats, she can soil the towel, I don’t care! She even let me clean up her wound under her tail.  

She will surviiiiii-iiii-iiii-ve!

Up to 9

The foster coordinator from MCAS called me this morning.  “How are you? Exhausted of course!  I have a solution.  We found the Momma.  Can you take her?”.

We drove to the shelter with the 5 kittens in a carrier.  The staff brought in Momma and we watched all excited to see if she would take to them.  Bingo! Lots of Oooohs and Aaaahs and she curled up next to her kittens.

She’s a beautiful cat.  White and tan and so sweet.  One would think that she could be upset at humans after her kittens being kidnapped, but she’s so chill, so calm.  She got her basic shots, was checked by a vet (she has an infection due to birth), but is ok.

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We have had to rearrange quite a bit in the guest room.  I want her separated from our two big girls, since they already feel left out because of Kodi.  We set up the big playpen (60 inches wide) with food, water and a litter box, lowered the carrier with the full family in it and closed the door.  Three hours later (after a wonderful uninterrupted nap for me!), she hadn’t moved an inch.  I think she is afraid that if she steps even a foot away, she runs the risk of her kids being stolen again. We slowly took the kittens out one by one, and gently grabbed her out. (I had read last week a book by Jackson Galaxy about the blinking technique for establishing trust, and she blinked right back at me several times). We fed her her medicine which she took like a big girl. We placed her in the playpen, showed her the food bowl and let her take over. She curled up in the back of the box and the babies wiggled back next to her. All good.

So, we are now up to 9 cats in the house. 180 paws!

P.S.:. Obviously Momma wasn’t killed as I had thought. 1- I will not spread rumors anymore; 2- my previous statement about animal laws still stands.