When life hands you kittens . . .

babies 1Tiny:  Hey, Mum, here we are on Day Four, and you know, when you crawled over all those hay bales and climbed down the barn wall to get to us, I figured we were goners – ’cause, you know, our real mom sort of left us. But there you were, and you bundled us up and then climbed all the way back out again and here we are!

Maximus:  First, let me say THANK YOU for finally figuring out my True Name. I mean, the nickname you had for me those first couple of days was cute, but let’s get real here:  my name is Maximus Imperius, not “Dr. Phil.” I yowl because I NEED THINGS NOW.

Tiny:  Ignore him, Mum. He really does know that you saved us. And the way you get up every two hours to feed us – even though we know you’re tired. I mean, our eyes aren’t open yet and we really can’t hear anything, but we know you’re tired. We don’t mean to be problems when we can’t find the eyedropper – that’s just not what it’s supposed to be, you know? But the new formula you crawled out of your death bed and went to the vet to get? That stuff is YUMMY!

I started this blog post seven weeks ago, when these two, Maximus Imperius and Tiny, arrived. (Maximus has the white; Tiny is the solid gray tabby.)

They were premature; a feral momma cat had four babies in the barn, and abandoned them. I found them hours later, nearly frozen to death. Maximus and Tiny survived, although they are still behind on certain things – their eyes opened late, they started crawling and running around a bit late, they’re just now able to sleep through the night without a 2am feeding, and although Maximus is eating canned food like the world will run out in a week, Tiny just discovered how yummy it can be yesterday. THANK GOODNESS. 🙂

It’s been a huge struggle to raise these two. I was already sick, exhausted, and depressed whbabies 2en they arrived. Going four weeks without any quality sleep only added to that. I started a full-time job in August that I am not used to yet and frankly, I don’t feel I belong there, which only adds to the stress. But I could not leave them there to die. And once I’d taken them in, I was in it for the long haul.

For the first two and a half weeks, they were so little that they ate with an eyedropper. And OMG, that was so hard. Lay them in your lap. Hold them just so. Get the eyedropper in their mouth and squeeze, just a teensy bit at a time. Repeat. I’ve raised many kittens, but never from Day 1, and never premature kittens. At nearly three weeks, they finally graduated to the bottle. I almost cried that day!

Today, they are healthy, thriving little things. Maximus has discovered, the last few days, that he loves to sit on my shoulder and survey his domain – my bathroom – while Tiny prefers to curl up in my lap and stare up at me with those huge blue eyes, so trusting and so loving. Though they are seven weeks old, they are really about two weeks behind in development in some areas, as I said, but they are incredibly smart. For instance, I left them out one night to run around while I did a few things and fed the other animals, and when I came back, the bathroom was empty. Just – no kittens! Small panic attack – and then I heard purring. They’d gotten back in their crate, curled up, and gone back to sleep. 🙂 It may take them longer to learn to eat on their own, and they may always be the teeniest, tiniest cats around, but it doesn’t matter.

I really don’t know what the future holds for me at this point. I’m pretty sure I didn’t need two more cats, but sometimes, the universe gives us the things we need rather than the things we want. Our job is just to trust that it’ll sort itself out in the end, I guess. And trust is not my strong suit. But I’m at a point where I look at my life – I look at the things I used to want, and I look at the plans I had, and the things I wanted to do – and I don’t even recognize any of them anymore. I don’t feel remotely connected to anything in my life. I no longer know what I want.

But for the past seven weeks, what I’ve wanted is for these two to survive. So far, so good.

 

 

Photo Challenge: Extraordinary

I am extraordinarily exhausted.

For the past two weeks, I haven’t slept through the night. Instead, I’ve been getting up every two hours. For these two extraordinary little things:

babies 1I’ve raised many kittens in my time, but most of them have been at least 2-3 weeks old when I get them. But this time, a feral mama cat had a litter in my barn. When I found them, they were only a few hours old, scattered across the barn, freezing cold and weak from hunger. There were four, but I lost two the first weekend.

But these two have hung in there. Today, they are 16 days old. Meet Maximus Imperius (with the white) and Tiny.

Extraordinarily cute? Yes. Extraordinarily loud? YES.

Their eyes are finally starting to open. Before long, they’ll begin crawling with more purpose. Sleeping less. Of course, I won’t have to feed them quite so often, either! And I can sleep a bit more.

But there is something about those 4am feedings, when you pull them out of the box and they fight and struggle and finally latch on to the bottle and heave this tiny little kitten sigh of relief that one more time, they are being fed and cared for 12112280_644282879046646_2480474890822181157_n. . . you realize you’re the only thing standing between them and death. Literally. They are virtually blind and deaf, even at two weeks, though that will start to change over the next week. You hold them in your hand, watch those tiny front paws working furiously against the air as they nurse, watch those tiny ears working back and forth, their little eyes close in bliss . . .

It’s extraordinary.

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