A Fosters Story
When you sign up to be a foster, you think you agree to take a homeless cat into your home and give him or her love, care, and attention, either for a predetermined period of time or until the cat is adopted. If you are lucky this is sometimes what you get…..
Olivia and Molly came to me in foster when they were both found very pregnant at a colony site together. We were not sure if the two were friendly together, so I set up a cage for the smaller cat Molly because she seemed more timid. When I put her in the cage she cried to get out the whole time. I let her out and she checked out her new environment and found Olivia. I was worried they wouldn’t get along, but I was so wrong. The moment they saw each other they rubbed heads. They were immediately inseparable. They walked together, ate together, and slept together. Molly was malnourished and maybe a little younger than Olivia, so I was more concerned with her being so pregnant and not being able to handle it. I came home one day and could not find Molly. Olivia lay on the livingroom floor undisturbed, but Molly was nowhere to be found. I was so worried I somehow left a window or door open. I dug behind a basket of laundry in the corner of my living room and found her. I was sure she had not been feeling well and might be in labor. I gave her a pat on the head and then looked her body over and discovered a bulging bag. She was more than in labor, she was close to delivering. I monitored her and waited for strong contractions to push her first kitten out. The bag broke and I saw a tiny kitten nose. Molly wasn’t pushing yet but then we heard a kitten cry. The baby took its first breath before even emerging. As with many births, babies rock back and forth so the kitten’s mouth went back into its mother stopping it from crying and breathing. I was worried this would lessen the chances of survival for this first kitten so I sat with Molly and kept the kittens nose clear or fluid as best I could as it wiggled in position before emerging fully. Finally, Molly began to push big and got the kittens head out and it was breathing great. I sat back and watched Molly have the rest of her kittens with no issues following. Molly gave birth to 5 black kittens and 1 tuxedo. She stayed with them and started her nursing journey as a new mom with 6 babies. Everyone was doing great. Molly got up for her first meal and litter box visit the next day and greeted Olivia as a new cat. Olivia seemed like she was unphased. I have a feeling she knew exactly what had occurred with her friend Molly. She smelled of cat milk and was so very tired and much smaller. 6 days later Olivia was nesting and hiding in her spot under a chair in the corner. I checked her because I had a feeling, and she had a bulging bag. It was time again to prepare for a second litter birth. I stayed close by and watched Olivia as she labored. She got up and went to Molly’s nest when she heard a kitten cry, and she actually took one and brought it back to her nest as she labored. I took the baby and returned it to Molly. This was such a sweet and interesting moment that I would have never expected from the mothers. Molly was unphased by this. Olivia then began to push. She seemed like a seasoned pro compared to little Molly. She pushed each one out right after the other with no issues across a couple of hours. I watched as she had a 6th kitten, but by this time Olivia was noticeably tired and focused on the kittens bottom, the sack, and placenta before the baby was able to take its first breath. I had to help this baby as it was struggling to breathe and come to life. I rubbed it down and wiped fluids as they came out of its mouth. This went on for several minutes and I really wasn’t sure the outcome was going to be a good one as I watched it gasp for a breath and struggle with fluid in its lungs. Then, I heard a cry. A loud, clear, healthy kitten cry. The baby was okay and started to breathe regularly. I breathed a sigh of relief myself as I placed the kitten with the others to start nursing. Olivia stayed with her babies until the next day as she made her way to the food bowl and litter pan. Both girls greeted once again, both on the other side of their pregnancy and fully into motherhood with 6 babies each, 3 black, 2 tigers, and 1 tabby tiger. As the days went on, the girls got hungrier, which is a given with breastfeeding 6 babies each. But Molly is smaller, so she wasn’t producing as much milk and I noticed one of her babies was not thriving like the others. It seemed weak and small, so I got goats milk and began supplementing some in-between feeds with a syringe. I did this for about a week and the kitten began to catch up to its sibling’s size and strength. But Molly’s older litter was not growing as fast as Olivia’s. Molly was still so small and eating constantly. Her coat was thin and unkempt. Molly was not thriving as a new mother and I could tell.
After a few weeks, I put Molly and Olivia’s babies together as one unit. Olivia was able to help feed Molly’s babies and Molly started to turn around and gain weight. She was also starting to get a healthier coat and the babies were all doing so well together. Molly became the talker for the two, but Olivia is the bigger eater and the bigger feeder so it makes sense. Seeing these two cats work together as a new tiny colony is amazing. They help each other in many ways and it works. The babies have no preference of which mother they nurse from and the mothers love all 12 babies as their own. These cats are colony cats through and through, and they know nothing but community and support. We as humans should take something from this journey and learn from it. We need a community, and we need support. From all sides in all ways. No one is better than another person. We each have our own individual strengths and weaknesses. Finding these in others and complimenting the balance is essential to survival. Now as these kittens grow, they will need to all be separated and put into the system. This all could have been avoided by a responsible person stepping up and getting Molly and Olivia spayed. They could have lived their lives as cats without the need to mother 12 new cats. Molly wouldn’t have had to struggle to keep up with feeding her 6, Olivia wouldn’t have had to step in and help Molly. They could have been regular cats that had a carefree life, but instead, their colony instincts kicked in and they are now workers and tired. They are now raising 12 cats that will now be thrown into the system with undetermined outcomes. And Molly and Olivia will become just another number of statistics of colony cats reproducing.
How can you make a difference for the Mollys and Olivias in your neighborhood?