As of Friday, it's been a terribly difficult few days. Gloria, my pregnant stray cat that I took in two days shy of two weeks ago today, gave birth to two premature kittens on Friday afternoon. I came home to find two cold kittens in the nesting box and Gloria not paying much attention to them. The fact that they were cold and Gloria wasn't being motherly sent me into an immediate frenzy. I tore out of the house and sped to the pet store to buy a bottle and a heating pad. I texted Jessica (the lovely, young woman who runs the dog rescue I foster through) to let her know what was going on. She's fostered abandoned kittens a lot before in the past, so she knew what she was doing. She came over to take a look... and didn't seem terribly optimistic. Gloria wasn't even producing milk anymore, and the kittens were small. Like... premature small. Jessica hung out for hours to see if Gloria was planning on giving birth to another. But... 3 1/2 hours later, nothing. It was a restless night... checking on them every few hours... then waking up early to help with the K9 Justice League yard sale. I went home to check on them... and was actually feeling a little optimistic when I saw them nursing, active, and even mewing. Gloria was producing milk, and they seemed to be okay. They were having trouble maintaining heat, so I was periodically heating a sock of rice up to place with them in the nesting box. The heating pad just wasn't enough. By Sunday, they were dehydrated and weak. They made an attempt at nursing... but I guess it wasn't enough. The black and white kitten, Nemo, passed away at some point that night. I found him this morning... already gone. Gloria still didn't seem phased. Marcel, the black kitten, was still hanging around... but he was so weak and couldn't even nurse. Bottle feeding was out of the question since he didn't even have enough energy. I left the house for a few hours, and he was gone by the time I returned. I actually started bawling on the way to the barn when I saw a dead cat on the side of the road. I just lost it over the fact that Nemo was gone... and Marcel wasn't far behind. Marcel was gone by the time I got home.
A whirlwind of emotions hit me like a brick. Let me not forget to mention the "What if..." questions that ran through my head. What if I had gone ahead and bottle fed them from the start? What if they had been born a week later? Then I try so hard to remind myself that what's done is done. Gloria came to me a week and a half previously and aside from the large tummy, was actually really thin. I could easily feel her hips and spine. I assume Gloria has been lost from wherever she came from for a long time. She didn't get the proper nutrition a pregnant cat needs... not to mention the fact that she's hardly 6-months-old. She's inexperienced and wasn't in a suitable state to give birth and take care of babies.
I'm sad for the loss of these kittens. Who knew I could become so in love with these tiny, alien-like kittens in such a short amount of time? I suppose I should have expected that. I was hoping for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy birth. I had already imagined adorable kittens romping around. I'm devastated that I'll never see them romping.
As well was being sad, I'm angry. I'm angry that people don't spay/neuter their animals. I'm pissed that I now have to suffer this sadness of losing them... on top of the sadness that I feel daily for all of the other animals that lose their lives... because someone was irresponsible and couldn't fork up >$50 to have their pet spayed/neutered. Gloria clearly had a family at some point. She's a good cat. Good with other cats, dogs, etc. I can't imagine that she wasn't someone's pet. Who knows what her story is? Was she dumped? Was she lost? Somebody had to have loved her at one point. But why was she hanging out at the 7-11 dumpster? If I can find any positive out of this situation, at least Gloria is safe with me. Now, with me, she has no chance of being hit by a car or hurt by another animal. She's a happy and healthy cat that will eventually find a new home with someone responsible and loving and deserving. For now, Gloria will remain with me until I can get her spayed and vaccinated, and she'll be spoiled just as one of my own.
So... rest in peace... Marcel and Nemo. I'm sorry that I couldn't do more for you, but perhaps you are the lucky ones in never having to find out in the future how cruel the human race really can be.