One night I was walking home past a gas station when I saw some teenage boys chunking rocks into the bushes. I got closer, and realized that hiding under the bushes was a terrified little tiger kitty. I do not have words to describe how angry I was. I ran the boys off, coaxed the kitty out, and carried her up to my not-pet-friendly apartment. Since I didn’t know anything about her, and since my apartment was just one big room, I had to put her in the bathroom to keep her separate from Ernie until I could have her checked out. In the bright lights of the bathroom, I could see she was as many weeks pregnant as a kitty would be a week before having babies.
My boyfriend was not thrilled. He had been around animals much more than I had and knew that a litter of kittens was more than we could handle. And by “we”, I mean “I”, because his job kept him traveling three weeks out of every month. We called the new kitty Bert and set about trying to find her owner. We were unsuccessful. The vet told us to put out rags, a large box, old towels, etc, and Bert would make a nest for the kittens. We did, but she didn’t. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but I figured she’s do it when she was ready. Bert went into labor a week later. I sat up with her most of the night, waiting for kitties. I think I made her uncomfortable, because she kept moving to new spots around the apartment. Finally, I went to bed so Bert could have some privacy. In the morning, it took me a long time to find Bert. She was still pregnant, and she wasn’t acting normal. I called the vet. It took some doing to convince the vet that, yes, I know I’ve never seen a cat in labor before but this one was in labor, yes I am sure, and will you PLEASE just let me bring her in? Finally the vet agreed to see us. Ten minutes later, we were at the clinic. Yes, Bert was in labor, but the vet could not get any signs of fetal movement on her fancy machines. She told me the kittens had likely died. Bert was much too small to be pregnant. The vet was very kind, but I still felt like I had done something wrong. I knew in my head it wasn’t my fault but my heart about broke. The vet gently explained that the dead kittens needed to come out or Bert would get an infection that would likely kill her. I don’t remember what I asked her, but her answer was, “They do not come out intact.” Well, that was more than I could handle. I told the vet she had to do a “little kitty c-section” unless she was absolutely, 100% sure those kittens had died. The vet thought I was nuts, but I think because I was so upset she agreed. I went to work, and Bert went to surgery.
Two hours later, the vet called: two boys and a girl. Alive.
The first kitty Bert tried to deliver naturally was the biggest, and he got stuck. The vet warned me that being stuck like that had likely caused him some damage, and that he might not survive. She also told me that Bert woke up from surgery and didn’t seem to understand that these kitties nursing on her were hers. She kept trying to nudge them away from her. The vet told me they wanted to sedate Bert, so the kitties would be able to nurse. She thought that after a good sleep Bert would feel better and be able to mother her kittens. She gave me a can of kitten formula and a syringe, just in case, then she gave Bert the sedation. Sadly, it was all too much for little Bert. She died in the car on the way home. I wonder if Bert knew, somehow, that she was dying. If she had not pushed the babies away, I would not have had the formula to feed them. She saved them by not taking care of them.
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the babies ~