Fur-babies

  1. 8

    There is no experience like being owned by an animal. :) Most of our cats have come into our lives one at a time. One day, however, our household grew by four kittens at once, and we have never regretted adopting them! As the saying goes, cats do not have masters. They have staff. Ours are no exception.

    Fur-babies

    We love our fur-babies, our cats. They are truly our babies.

    We picked up four newborn kittens from a box in a friend's garage. A feral mama cat had her kittens in a tall box full of boat cushions. Unable to reach them after they slid to the bottom of the box, and fearful of my friends coming in and out of the garage, the mama cat hadn't fed them. My friend heard their weak cries and when we stopped by she was just discovering them at the bottom of the box. My kids (then 11 and 13) and I carted them home in a smaller cardboard box.

    In the car, we debated how to break the news to my husband (their dad). We already had two cats; what would he say to having FOUR more??? We finally decided to display solidarity and enter the house together.

    We all walked in, our oldest son carrying the box.
    Dad looked up. "What's that?" he asked.
    Son never missed a beat. "We brought home the kittens."
    Dad's eyebrows shot up. "Kittens?? What kittens?"
    Son: "The four we found in the garage."

    And that was all it took.

    Dad entered into this new experience with gusto.

    We purchased cat milk formula and small bottles from the pet store. We researched how to care for such tiny kittens (one still had an umbilical cord attached!). We found out they should be fed what amount they would take, every three hours. That's every three hours 'round the clock (and we thought we were long done with night feedings!).

    After each feeding they were to be stroked with a wet washcloth, much as a mama cat would groom them. This stroking cleans them, teaches them about grooming themselves and serves to stimulate the bowels properly. The bottles had to be held fairly upright so the kittens would lift their heads to drink, and not be on their backs, like one would feed a baby.

    It appears we did an excellent job with the wet washcloth and stroking, for their little box lined with old rags soon stank to high heaven!

    Every day we changed cloths under them and even though the websites warned against giving them baths, we HAD to, once or twice when they stank so badly! We rinsed and dried them well so they wouldn't get chilled.

    As they were all four red tabbies without distinctive markings, we had trouble telling them apart. We worried that one would miss out on a feeding because we couldn't tell who we'd fed and who we hadn't. So we decided to take a Sharpie marker and Dad chose to mark and name them:

    Mark on the head = Head.
    Mark on the shoulders = Shoulder.
    Mark on the bottom = Bottom.
    Mark on the tail = Tail.
    (we ARE brilliant!!)

    Sadly, Tail died after one week.

    However, Head, Shoulder and Bottom flourished. As the days went by their eyes opened and they eagerly grabbed for their bottles of formula, hanging on with little needle claws to our fingers, gulping happily. Feedings stretched into every four hours, then every six hours and finally night feedings were abandoned.

    We introduced solid food to them, and gave them their milk in a bowl rather than from a bottle. They grew fat and scampered around the house playing kitten games, to the dismay of our two established, older cats.

    After they were about six months old we decided it was time to change their names. We could no longer keep a straight face calling out, "Here Head!! Shoulder!! Where's that Bottom??"

    So we re-named them:

    Head became Fred.
    Shoulder became Sheldon.
    Bottom became Bobby.

    There was no question we would keep all three. We had not the heart to separate them, either from each other or from us.

    They are now over 11 years old and still remain as much our babies as when they first entered the house in that cardboard box.

    We lost Bobby two years ago, to lung cancer.

    Dad was particularly close to Bobby and they had many little rituals together. They loved to enjoy a fruit popsicle (pineapple and lime were their favorites). Bobby followed Dad around the house and slept with him at night. It was hard for him to lose Bobby so suddenly; a part of him still mourns.

    Fred has diabetes and receives insulin twice a day. He enjoys sleeping curled up in one of the bathroom sinks. When I enter in the mornings to begin getting ready for work, he will yawn and reach for me, to snag part of my clothes so I will stay and pet him. Of course, I comply and I am always rewarded with a very rumbly and loud purr.

    Sheldon has one functioning, polycystic kidney and has also developed diabetes with an accompanying neuropathy of his hindquarters. He still gets around, even though he looks very wobbly when he walks. Sheldon frequently climbs onto Dad's lap and wants to be held while Dad is at the computer. He'll reach a paw up and softly place it on Dad's cheek, gazing at his face. He often sleeps on Dad's chest at night.

    Our fur-babies enrich our lives and help make our house a home. We love our fur-babies.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 4, '12
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    dianah has '42' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Cath Lab/Radiology'. From 'at my home desk or at work'; 62 Years Old; Joined Apr '02; Posts: 29,371; Likes: 17,977.

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    6 Comments

  3. by   Spidey's mom
    That was good Dianah.

    I'm just wondering about the genetics of that cat family as they all had/have some disease process.

    Love the names and the name changes.

    This was a great experience for your children - teaching compassion and hard work to keep the kittens alive.

  4. by   dianah
    I have wondered about that too (genetics, that is).
  5. by   Purple_Scrubs
    We found my big calico cat (now about 11 years old too, and remarkably healthy thank God) near a pile of sandbags after Tropical Storm Allison dropped a ton of rain on South Louisiana. She had obviously somehow been separated from her mom, the vets estimated her at about 3 weeks old. We did the formula in a bowl and mushy soft kitten food with her, and fought off the inevitable URI that followed her rescue. She is forever my lap cat and I truly think she has a radar that tells her the exact second my butt hits the recliner, because she will come from all ends of the house to find my lap as soon as I sit down!

    They are definitely a blessing, aren't they?
  6. by   tewdles
    the best pets are rescued pets...

    at least in my humble opinion.

    the rottie I rescued was the best dog I ever had. the rottie I paid big bucks for at the breeders is a nice dog, but he is so entitled!
  7. by   dianah
    I wholeheartedly agree with you tewdles!!
  8. by   sweet~revenge
    Awww, what a sweet article. I love my 2 adopted mutts.

    The funny thing is I used to hate cats, I thought they were aloof, mean, sprayed everything, and couldn't care less about their humans. I couldn't understand why people had cats.

    Then my sister took in 2 little stray kittens and my whole outlook on them changed. Those cats are now 2 years old and they follow my sister everywhere! They obviously love her to pieces and vice versa. At night they sleep with her and make this really loud purring sound, it's so cute. They can be trained too! I even considered getting a cat after I saw how loving they could be, but since I have 2 dogs I don't think I would have the extra time and money to take on a cat too. It wouldn't be fair to the cat.

    Thanks for the cute read! I think I'll send it to my sister.

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