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A Brief Visit From Three Kittens   by Forrest D. Poston


Jackie lives about 4 miles from town, so animals are fairly common, and since she's known to be a soft
touch where animals are concerned, more than one cat has been dropped off on her porch over the years.  No one was especially surprised when a light calico showed up with 3 kittens, but with her small, fixed income and failing health the three cats already in the house were more than enough for Jackie to deal with.  Of course, she put food out regularly and got the kittens used to her, while Calico Mama had clearly been a housecat somewhere, not merely friendly but refined.

Of course, Jackie was going to try to find them good homes since she really couldn't keep them.  She was going to, and she was going to, and going to.  Then came the winter of her missed intent, and the cold weather worried her.  There were outbuildings, and there were ways for them to get under the house, but it got so very cold.  She couldn't bring them in and couldn't leave them out, so on that first really cold night, she simply opened the door and let them know that if it were their desire, they could come in.  Mama didn't hesitate, and even the most hesitant of the kittens didn't delay long.  Of course, she was going to find good homes for all of them.  Well, she might keep just one or two.  In the meantime, she'd soon need to get the two male kittens neutered as soon as she could afford it.

She meant to, and she meant to, but there were more health problems and the usual financial problems.  About the time her health got a bit better, it appeared that Booger (the female kitten) and one of her brothers had been playing a little too closely, rather like a couple of kids who really didn't understand some of the physical changes that had happened so recently and suddenly.  Jackie woke up at 6:30 to find a fresh kitten (ver fresh), and Booger, beside her in bed.  She fixed up a box and moved them, and by 8 that morning, Boogie had introduced a total of three kittens to the family.  It was to be a brief addition.

Whether or not the inbreeding had caused any trouble, Booger simply wasn't ready to be a mama.  Calico Grandma tried to help with the washing and such, but there was probably trouble before we even knew it.  Not happy with the box, Booger moved her litter underneath a stand and then even farther back, to the point that the kittens could only be seen by lying prone on the floor.  They were getting bathed and nursed, but by the fifth night it became clear that something was wrong.

Shortly after Jackie went to bed, Booger began bringing the kittens out of isolation and back onto the bed.  In some sense, it was her last motherly act.  It wasn't simply that she wasn't producing enough milk; she wasn't producing any.  Just when that had happened or how much she had been producing, we'll never know, but after delivering her kittens to Jackie, Booger lost interest completely.  Perhaps something in her body had realized that the kittens weren't going to make it, but whatever hormones made her a mother-cat were gone.

Jackie tried to get her to nurse the kittens, but the kittens wouldn't even try to nurse.  We lost the first one quickly around 2AM.  I had arrived just that day to do some house repairs, but that would wait.  Jackie kept the remaining two going on regular milk through the night, and as soon as we could locate a source for replacement milk, I was off, and lets not mention how much I ignored the speed limit (but I haven't driven that road so fast since I was much, much younger and late for a date).

The kittens still wouldn't nurse, but with an eyedropper, we were able to get milk into them.  But the second one was weak, getting weaker.  By early afternoon, we were down to one little calico, and she seemed to be doing well.  She was moving around more and showing signs of trying to nurse on the eyedropper.  We had been using all the resources we had searching for help and getting great help from friends on the net.  Late the sixth day, things looked good enough that Jackie asked what we should name her.  All I could say was, "We should name her Lucky, if she makes it."  There's always an if.

Sometime during the night, she started fading, and I really don't think her immune and other systems had gotten a complete start in those first critical days.  Despite efforts by us and Calico Grandma to stimulate the proper area, there was never a bowel movement, just not a good sign.  By the seventh morning, she was in a coma, and we knew that now we were just waiting.  When she was one week and maybe two hours old, her name slipped away.

Calico Grandma seemed confused for a few days, knowing something was missing, but Booger didn't remember.  It's as well since there was also nothing she could have done more than she did, and on top of being too young for motherhood, she certainly didn't need to cope with a lost litter.  Something in her body knew that, and I'm glad that she'll have a clear future.  Jackie didn't need three more kittens either, but we don't get to forget the small box placed beside the others, a box containing the remains of three lives that never lived long enough to look at the world.

 

ginfor@earthlink.net

They call me Booger because of the spot under my nose, but I was really going more for a French 'artiste' look.T



Booger's brother "Big Boy"


Booger's brother "Little Buddy"


Calico Mama aka Calico Grandma