Sunday, April 29, 2018

Not My Usual Weekend

It began Friday afternoon. There is a colony of feral cats behind my work-place. Its members are fed and watered and most of them were neutered and spayed. Unfortunately, there was at least one who escaped the veterinary’s attentions, and she evidently became pregnant. She gave birth to kittens, probably on Friday. I was behind my work-place and saw this young cat lying on the pavement. I thought she was warming herself on the hard surface, as it was a sunny, almost hot day. Then, I saw a tiny kitten attached to her. Then, I saw another tiny kitten, black and white, and not attached to her, crying, about twenty feet away. I had heard the noise but thought it originated with a bird. A third kitten was found in a pile of wooden pallets.

I needed to bring the kittens that were far from mum to where she was but, predictably, any movement on my part caused the mother-cat agitation. She was lying in the only path to her other kittens. I found a way around her but, when she saw me behind her, she ran off. I and some co-workers gathered the tiny ones and put them in a box, lined with one of my sweatshirts, and placed it in a sheltered location, near enough to where mum had been lying for her to find them. The best thing for kittens is their mum, so we left them for their errant parent to return.

Saturday, I came to work several times to check on the kittens. I think mum had visited them at least once. The black and white one in particular screamed loudly when hungry, but the newcomers were quiet now, except when disturbed. By late afternoon, however, they were crying and I worried that they had been abandoned, or at least were not receiving enough attention to survive. In consultation with the rescue-group to which I belong, the Lethbridge PAW Society, I decided to feed the kittens. I bought some Kitten Milk Replacement, and came back to work.

Two of the kittens were on the pavement in the hot sun. I don’t know if they crawled there over time or mum had carried them so far and no farther. One, whom I later named Seraph, had already perished. A second, Jacob, was in a bad way, while his sibling, Esau, was outside the box in which he had been placed, but in the shade. He was screaming. Clearly, neither of the remaining kittens could be left for mum.

I and a colleague worked to feed the two survivors with a syringe, massaging their nether-regions to make them urinate, which Jacob did. He shook and convulsed often, and I feared he would be joining Seraph soon. I decided to take the siblings home – I walked, rather than risk the bouncy ride on my bicycle - but Jacob died on the way. At the apartment, Esau accepted food, but certainly not enough to survive.

There was, by coincidence, a means of salvation. PAW had received a call from someone whose cat had given birth to stillborn kittens. The mother-cat would benefit from having a baby or two to nurse. I and a fellow member of PAW took Esau to the mother-cat, and he survived the night, thanks to his new foster-mum. As of late Sunday afternoon, he is doing well and, though newborn kittens face a wide range of natural enemies, I have hopes for his future.

These events threw my weekend’s routine out the metaphoric window. No movie, no bath-time (sorry, Renn); instead, ten trips to and from my work-place by bicycle, constant attempts to feed Esau (which paid off during the car-ride to his foster-home, as he got the hang of drinking from a syringe) and trying to keep him warm, while helping him urinate. My beasts took the situation well, except for Parker, who seemed to have a sympathetic bond – though not necessarily a friendly one – with Esau: every time the kitten cried, Parker did; the louder the cry from Esau, the louder the cry from Parker. The orange boy wanted to touch the baby, but I wasn’t having that. I had my sturdy-boy keep his distance, which wasn’t easy.

Now, we are attempting to capture the kittens’ mother, who looks to be very young herself. She may have been too young to understand what she was supposed to do with her babies. This could be a lengthy adventure, but we don’t want her to become pregnant again.

This was not my usual weekend. I regret very much the passing of Seraph and Jacob, but perhaps Esau can live for his siblings, as well as for himself. When he is weaned, he will be ready for a permanent home. I will keep you apprised.

I wasn’t in a position to take pictures initially, and didn’t want images of the two after they had died. But here is Esau. It is rather difficult to photograph a one-day old kitten. They move jerkily, and this one in particular was restless, no doubt due to hunger. These three images were all I was able to salvage.

Godspeed, Seraph and Jacob. Long life to you, Esau.


  1. Aww bless you John for giving those wee babies some comfort in their short lives. We hope little kitten Esau gets to grow up big and strong and get a home full of love.

  2. Tears. But I can be and I am grateful that you were there...saw them, cared for them and Esau, you have a foster momma, thank heaven. Bless you John. That had to have been so difficult about Jacob and Seraph. They are all so well named and I am grateful for their names as well.

  3. Oh, precious, precious little ones. I'm so sorry the two didn't make it so very sad, but like you, I hope tiny Esau survives and thrives, and in due course finds an amazing forever home. Fingers crossed you're able to catch the mom, too, and have her spayed. What a weekend! Sending Esau, the foster mom, and everyone involved universal Light and Love. ♥

  4. God bless you for helping those kittens, John. Unfortunately, I've seen this happen many times during Kitten Season. In spite of your best efforts, you're going to lose kittens - they're just too small to survive. But that said, it still hurts when one is lost. That's why almost everyone who works with cats does not look forward to this time of year. Meanwhile, please keep us informed about how Esau and his mom are doing.

  5. What a sad way to spend a weekend. My best wishes to little Esau for a long and happy life, after this tragic beginning. I hope that poor mom can be trapped and fixed before she has any more babies.

  6. Thank you so much for trying to help those sweeties.

  7. Here's hoping that you catch mama cat soon, so no more of her kittens will be in danger. Godspeed Angels Seraph and Jacob. Esau, Here's hoping your new Mama helps you grow big and strong.

  8. guyz....we could cry but it willna help... N we will bee big catz ♥♥♥♥♥

    inn sted we say Godspeed two ewe Seraph and Jacob ♥♥♥

    God's blessings to yur dad parker, and everee one who cared and helped and helped and cared ♥♥♥

    and St Francis; blessings two ewe Esau and mom that he sees ewe both thru this♥♥♥♥♥

  9. What a weekend! Thank you for being there for those babies. You certainly did all you could. Never having seen a newborn kitten before, I was surprised how small Esau was. Hope the mother cat is caught soon.
    Strange how Parker reacted to the kitten's cry. I wonder what his thoughts were?!

  10. It is sad that two perished, but thanks to you Esau now has a chance of life. I hope the mother is not too hard to trap.

  11. Oh John, poor mom and kittens. Thank goodness you were there, even if two of the kittens couldn't be saved. I hope that Esau does well with his foster mom.