First, for those of you who are unaware, I love kitties and am including images of cats we’ve rescued who live with us now, at about the age we took them in, and Tiny Mite at the end. Our cats are a Siamese Tabby Mix, Pavel, (1-year-old now) Percy, a Gray Tabby, middle-aged, and Minnie Mae, the oldest, rescued as a several days old kitten. The kitten tea party is Minnie Mae and Percy is singing and dancing with our rescue dog, Mia.
Back to my story. Saturday evening I discovered a newborn kitten in the garden by the rhubarb patch, its siblings dead or dying. Tiny Mite, as I called her, was squawking loudly, which is how I made the discovery. We finally located the barn cat mama, or think we did, but she wasn’t interested. I assumed an infant with such a powerful set of lungs had a fighting chance, even though she was so new and it was chilly out. Daughter Elise and I warmed the baby and prepared our homemade kitten formula, the simple recipe given to us by a country vet, and tried to feed her with a small syringe. Problem is, she didn’t have a good sucking reflex. This continued to be a struggle as we attempted to coax drops into her mouth. We were up every few hours trying to feed her and reheating the improvised water bottle and cloths for her box.
For a while, she seemed to rally, and on Monday morning we felt more hopeful. Then as the evening progressed, she grew less wriggly, feeding her was more difficult, and she was so sleepy. We thought maybe she was just worn out, but I feared the worst, which came to pass early Tuesday morning. I tried much of the night to save her, realized it was futile and held her until Elise got up, then she cupped Tiny Mite in her hand, stroking her, until she faded away. We also noticed she made a clicking sound that had grown steadily worse over night and assume she probably got pneumonia from aspirating formula, because she was too weak to suck properly. We even bought her the recommended brand on Sunday morning, but it made no difference. The mother of a friend who works for the local cat rescue organization said kittens that new are very difficult to save, and they probably couldn’t have saved her either. Although I realize some people have managed, and wish I could have been one of you..
We’ve done many kitten rescues over the years, most of them successful, but never one this newborn. The others all had at least a few vital days with their mama’s first.
We were very saddened by this loss, and touched by this tiny life. It amazed me just how much even the tiniest soul can move us in ways we never imagined. And I’ve often thought of the words to the beloved hymn: “All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures great and small, All Things wise and wonderful, the Lord God Made them All.” .
Every time we try to save a helpless creature, it may or may not survive, and we risk the pain of loss, but are also enriched in ways that cannot be described, if you haven’t ever cupped a minuscule kitten in your palms, pacing and praying, realizing it was going to die and you could only be of comfort. And that maybe, you’re not such a bad person; you must have a good heart to spend hours in the night doing this, to care so much. It was an epiphany.
We buried Tiny Mite beside the rhubarb patch where we found her.