The five little balls of fur were just three weeks old when the unthinkable happened. Mother kitty vanished. The little cries of hunger brought the plight of the babies to our attention. Their eyes were open and the batch of four brothers and one sister were stumbling about their box, calling to a mother who had vanished.
It was early Sunday morning and we were packing up to hit the road. A 200 mile commute was the worst part of any weekend. Now, we had a major problem. With no mother cat, the kittens would die. There was no one on the ranch to take care of them so we did the only thing we could. We packed them up, too.
Fortunately, we had a pet carrier. If you have animals, it is a great investment. You never know when you will need one and it can double as a kennel if you need one in a pinch. We also had powdered milk replacer for kittens that we keep on hand for emergencies and we had pouches of tender food that had gravy. The kittens were not old enough to chew the food, but they could lap up the gravy.
Thus we set out on the first of six weeks’ worth of traveling with very young kittens. The trip went well enough. The kittens had full tummies and slept most of the way. One little boy insisted that he did not want to ride in the carrier and cried most of the way. That had to have been one of the longest commutes we had made to date. My husband and I were very relieved to get to The Place on the other end. Now, it was a matter of scrambling to set up suitable quarters for them.
The garage was not set up for the unexpected visitors, so I scrambled to find something to corral them in. We had a small cattle drinking trough that had rusted through and that provided good temporary quarters for them. I set up water and fed them, leaving plenty of padding for them to curl up in and a small litter box and prayed for the best the first night.
The next morning, all of the food was gone, and the kittens were hungry. They were also a mess. I think they were actually wearing more than they ate, but they had survived the trip and the night. So, I fed them and it was time to lie in supplies. Wal-Mart had everything I needed including some small bowls that would not tip over. They also had special pads that were supposed to be used for housetraining dogs, but made excellent liners for the trough. I also found kitten shampoo.
Now cats avoid water, but the kittens were in bad enough shape on both ends they had to have a bath. I took one at a time into the kitchen sink and gently bathed them. I had the house has hot as possible and waited until the outdoor temperatures were at maximum before I started. I knew from experience that you never let water get into a kitten’s ear. This can make them deaf. So I carefully washed each kitten and used my hair dryer to dry them as quickly as possible.
The poor things sure shivered and I felt horrible. If there had been any other choice, I would have done it. It took nearly two hours to bathe all five kittens, and they looked like drowned rats out of the water. By the time I finished, it was time to feed them, and my husband, again. This time, I used a wet wipe to get the worst of the food off of them.
I enjoyed raising the kittens. The one kitten never did calm down when it was time to go in the carrier. He would often get his brothers and sisters upset as well. He was also the first one to find a home. Luckily, he does not have to travel anymore and loves being and indoor cat. The other boys also found good homes and we kept the little girl.
She has recently had a litter of kittens and has promised not to disappear like her mother did. She also loves to pose for pictures.