What I Learned from A Tiny Kitten


Kitten PavelFirst, 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.

Mia and Percy--Tabby kitty and Corgi MixFor 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.

KITTEN TEA PARTYWe 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.

Tiny Mite 1

14 responses to “What I Learned from A Tiny Kitten

  1. Perhaps the reason mama rejected them is because she knew something was wrong. I’m grateful you made the effort. I think sometimes these precious creatures reveal far more about us than they say about themselves. Bless you. I do believe Tiny Mite will be waiting for you and Elise at the Rainbow Bridge. God bless.

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  2. Beth, I feel for you. I’ve paced like a mama hen over kittens, bunnies, and some 3-day old ‘darling’ starlings. Some are success stories; some are not. We also have rescue dogs and cats.

    BTW, I love that name, “Tiny Mite.” So precious.

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  3. Thanks for sharing such a moving and lovely story. You gave Tiny Mite precious hours of life she would not have had otherwise, and she passed in warmth, surrounded by love rather than alone and cold in a rhubarb patch. Perhaps that was your gift to her, and why God brought her into your life. Beautiful blog post, Beth.

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  4. Ah, I think we all grew to love Tiny Mite. We shared her struggle as well as yours. I can only imagine how much of a sense of safety you and Elise gave her. It is incredibly sad. Your love of animals is one of the reasons I love you. It’s all about compassion. Like you I love animals but especially horses and cats. I’ll do all I can to save kittens, puppies, foals, calves, or any other baby animals I can. Living in town it’s usually puppies and kittens. A couple of times it’s been a bunny or a squirrel. Anyway, thank you for trying so very hard. Few people have your compassion and your intrinsic love for all creatures great and small.

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  5. Beth this brings tears. I know this kitty knew you loved her/him. It is so hard to lose someone you loved even if for a small amount of time. I know you did the best you could do for this sweet kitty. Big hugs for you.
    Sue B

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  6. What a touching story. I love animals, too, and have had my share of rescues. It’s heartbreaking when we can’t save them all, in spite of our best efforts. Some souls are meant to be with us only for a little while. But your other animals certainly have flourished. I love your pictures!

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  7. Beth, I am in tears, as I was when you let us know that Tiny Mite was gone. I too believe the mother abandoned her baby because she knew it was somehow flawed. It’s so very sad. But I believe that we are defined by how we treat animals, and not just cute baby kittens, but all God’s creatures. And your actions define you. You make the world a better, more loving place. God Bless you and God Bless Tiny Mite. Love you.

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