One of my kitties, Little Buddy, has been ready to pop for a couple of weeks now. She showed up at feeding time yesterday with a kitten half-way out of her vagina. The kitten was breech and the portion of its body outside its mama was already dry. Little Buddy acted as if she wasn’t even aware she was in labor. She just wanted her food. I extracted the kitten. Not surprisingly, it was dead. Little Buddy seemed so surprised to see the kitten. She started cleaning it off, even though it was dead. She picked it up and carried it to the communal cat bed, where she seemed to be progressing with her labor. I left for work, assuming there would be no further issues.
When I got to the barn this morning Little Buddy was MIA. This little guy was in the cat bed, chilled, with its dead litter-mate. There was also a small puddle of cloudy, greyish-pink amniotic fluid. I have a feeling something has gone badly wrong with Little Buddy. First things first, I put the kitten in my shirt pocket to warm it. Started looking for Little Buddy. I did not find her. I think she probably went somewhere to die.
I kept the kitten in my pocket while I did chores, hoping its mama would turn up. She did not. I have another mama cat, Trouble, with 6 week old kittens. Tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Trouble to adopt the newborn.
Many years ago I raised a batch of kittens whose mother was hit by a car. Fed them with an eye dropper, kept them in a box with a heating pad next to my bed, wiped their little butts with tissues so they could defecate and urinate. They were a week old when they were orphaned. Three of six of the litter survived to adulthood. And they were never healthy their whole lives. Kittens that young need their mothers.
I considered trying to raise this little guy. I thought about it long and hard. He just didn’t stand a chance. Less than 24 hours old, not even sure if her got any colostrum from his mama before she disappeared. Every time he moved inside my pocket, I could feel his little warmth against my breast, I thought I should at least try. Then I remembered the three kittens who didn’t make it. How long it took for their little lives to ebb away and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to help. I remembered the 3 who lived and how they were always sick with one thing after another.
He just wouldn’t make it. Hard as it is, there was just no chance for him. I could just put him back in the cat bed and “let nature take its course”, meaning let him die of starvation and hypothermia. I could try keeping him alive with milk replacer until he died a lingering death. Or the third option, which I chose. I filled a bucket with warm water and drowned him. He went quickly and peacefully. No lingering, no suffering. Like going back to the womb. Still, I cried while I did it. It was the best thing, the right thing, but still not an easy thing. I named him Morsel because he was such a tiny little morsel in my pocket all day.