The most dreaded part of my being a vet is the deluge of unwanted, homeless tiny felines. It begins in early March and continues through October. Even as September descends upon us the kittens still bloom. This last week we had 8, (oddly all black or black and white), kittens arrive without a person to love them. Apparently the admission of having a soft spot in your heart for cats and the helping of those in need of a halfway house leads to the flood gates being flung wide open. The idea that everyone doesn't admire and adore cats of all sizes, shapes, and colors is almost impossible for me to comprehend. At the beginning, middle, and end of every disastrous day is a purring mass of fur and my encompassing arms. I take therapeutic kitten breaks daily. It is the single best part of my job, my workplace, and the life blood of my soul.
Every day there seems to be yet another kitten, from yet another person, that appears to have either manifested "out of thin air," was "dropped off by some transparent being," or came from the "cat-cornucopia-farm across the road that never spays or neuters their barn cats."
Every request is the same, "I can't keep it," or, "I'm not a cat person," (what the hell does that mean?), "but I heard you guys like cats." All delivered with a tone of expectation and a demeanor of self-assured justified shirking of responsibility.
How do I respond to this? "Umm,,,, Yes, of course I like cats. I'm a vet. But, no, I can't take every cat from every person who asks me to." (Although secretly I do wish I could).
|After school visit with the kittens.|
Our daily ritual with my nephew.
We say that a cat has 9 lives because they are impressively hardy, smart, cunning, calculating, and savvy, all characteristics of a survivor. Every single one of us has much to learn from the cat.
When it comes to providing for a kitten there is a short list of needs that must be met.
Kittens are like a house of cards. It takes a few cards to be stacked, a shaky foundation and the whole structure can collapse. Should you ever find a kitten of your own they must be provided the following;
- Warmth. Every newborn needs to be kept warm. Whether it comes from a cuddling mom, a warming blanket, a heating pad, a heat lamp, or just being kept close to your heart.
- Keeping them clean and dry in an enclosed place out of the elements.
- Food. Babies burn calories at an alarming rate. Keep them eating. For a kitten this is about every two hours of an age appropriate food. We have calorie dense wet foods to help, think the kitten version of Ensure.
- Fleas. The blood sucking, life depleting parasite that is the demise of many a small soul. Remove them with a flea comb and soapy water, nothing else. Those adult flea preventative topicals can kill a weak, compromised baby, avoid them. Be patient and comb.
- Parasites. The invisible intestinal parasites can, and do, grow to such numbers that they can steal the life from a kitten from the inside out. (Reminder, you will likely NOT see evidence of intestinal parasites in the feces, they are microscopic).
|The kitten whole stole my heart,,again, Lucky.|
Within 30 minutes of warming him, removing his fleas, and feeding him he was lifting his head and purring. After 4 hours he was up and cuddling.
He is a miracle of gratitude and the best answer to a long day of not feeling like my life has a deeper meaning. He is the reason veterinarians do what we do.
Lucky was adopted yesterday.
We still have six kittens and four adults looking for a home to fill with a sense of purpose and completion.
Should you find yourself in need of a hug, a warm nose to snuggle, a purr to keep the night from lasting too long, or just the unconditional love of a pet please come by and visit Jarrettsville Vet to see and meet our babies.
Or, ask me a question FREE about how to care for your kids at Pawbly.com, or like us on Facebook at Jarrettsville Vet, or Pawbly. You can also follow me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.