On March 22nd 2018, two preemie kittens were found frozen and nearly lifeless underneath an oil painting. The siblings were abandoned by their mother, a local community cat who is practically a kitten herself, immediately after their birth.
The woman who owns the studio and regularly feeds the community cats, noticed that the small cat was being very vocal that morning. A recent blizzard had hit the area and the feline had sought shelter indoors. She was such a small cat that you couldn’t even tell she was pregnant!
When the artist saw the cat flee the building, she discovered the two newborns under a painting and contacted Hannah Shaw, the Kitten Lady. Luckily she lives only a few blocks away and dropped everything to rush to the kittens aid.
Upon arriving, Hannah cradled the 4 hour old preemies in her lap desperately working on warming their bodies up. It took over an hour just to do this, you cannot attempt to feed newborn kittens until their body temperatures are stable and these two were ice-cold and barely alive.
Their mother hadn’t even cleaned them after the birth and Hannah delicately wiped them with a warm, damp cloth and soft toothbrush. She even took to breathing warm air on the fragile kittens. This simulates the mothers tongue and cleaning movements.
The infant kittens had been abandoned so quickly by the frightened mom that they never even had a single drop of her milk! Kittens are born with no gag reflex so you have to be VERY careful when attempting to feed them so they do not choke.
Once the pair had warmed up enough, Hannah gently offered a diluted formula mix, one drop at a time. It’s not good to feed kittens full strength formula as their stomachs cannot process it. Kitten Lady uses a diluted formula mixed with Pedialyte and added Bene-Bac, which helps with their digestion. The goal is to get them to eat 1 cc of formula per meal to keep their blood sugar levels steady and keep them hydrated while the stomach adjusts to food.
Back at Hannah’s home, they were given names and weighed. Badger, the male weighed in at 91 grams and the female, Mink, topped the scales at a minuscule 71 grams.
The neonates spent their first night in a warm ICU incubator. This miraculous machine controls the temperature and humidity vital for newborns. The duo snuggled in at a toasty 90 degrees with 40% humidity while Hannah watched over them throughout the night.
Unfortunately on the 2nd day of life, Mink’s battle came to an end and she crossed the rainbow bridge. Even with the best care possible, congenital defects would not allow this tiny soul to continue.
In Hannah’s line of work, this heartbreaking outcome happens more than we’d like to imagine. It is this that inspires Kitten Lady to take action and educate others, begging people to be part of the solution! “It’s not enough just to be a cat lover, be a cat advocate” she pleas.
Within 1 day of Hannah sharing this message with her followers, she received a flood of reports from people who had rescued cats and kittens in Mink’s honor. Many of these fortunate felines were also named Mink too! <3
As a bonus to this story, the mama cat has been trapped by a friend and sterilized too. “She was so small she wasn’t even lactating,” Hannah said.
It is estimated that 80% of new kittens that are born are from feral and community cats! This is why it is SO VERY important to spay/neuter not only our house-cat companions but these community cats as well. End the preventable suffering!
On April 1st, Badger turned 10 days old and Kitten Lady shared this update with her social media dedicated supporters.
“I’m completely enamored with this little dude. He’s doing great, but is definitely a late bloomer. He’s the weight and size of a 10 day old, but has the look of a kitten half his age! Umbilical cord is still hangin on (usually falls off at 5 days) and eyes are still totally closed (usually start opening at 8-9 days.) Slow and steady wins the race, so no rush here!”
You can watch the full video of Badger and Minks first hours of life and the reality of rescuing neonatal beauties here.
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