When the average person sees an adorable photo of kittens on social media, they swoon and say “awww”. These baby felines are just about one of the cutest things on the planet; agreed. Announcements with silly names like Apple and Blackberry, for example…only make them cuter.
But there is usually an unexpected story that accompanies the little faces too. For animal rescuers, seeing the potato shaped, fluffy kittens or piles of neonatal babies, brings with it a gut punch. And it’s every one of their transformations and inspirational spirits that keep those dedicated humans searching their media feeds.
So Apple and Blackberry decided to be as utterly adorable as possible while sharing their tragic, AND completely avoidable tale.
Those streets are carefully monitored by one woman who will likely never stop scrolling social media feeds to save kittens. Carmen Morales Weinberg, founder of Animal Friends Project, Inc in Delray Beach. She came upon a Facebook post late on the evening of August 25th and her heart dropped.
It’s not clear where the mother cat was when the kittens were discovered, but she likely got spooked and ran. Unaltered felines can begin reproducing at as young as 4-5 months of age. Babies having babies is about the scariest thing I can imagine them experiencing.
The homeowners took Apple, Blackberry and their siblings inside and posted the plea for help online.
Here’s the first thing many people don’t know. If you find a litter of newborn kittens, DO NOT REMOVE THEM IMMEDIATELY. Unless there is an obvious sign of injury, stressors that require medical attention or they are in a dangerous location.
Ideally, the mother was startled hearing humans and ran off. She may have taken a kitten or kittens with her as well already, separating the family. Many times she will return and move the remaining kittens when the coast is clear.
But this time, there was no wait time. And that was one of the first suggestions people had. Carmen noticed something more though.
The feral mom was outside. People on Facebook kept telling the homeowners to just put the kittens outside so the mom could come and get them and take care of them. It was very late, around 11 pm. When I saw the photo of the kitten with the injured foot, I told them to not put that kitten outside. That I would go and get him because he needed urgent medical attention.
That night, Carmen received no reply from the posters and eventually fell into a restless sleep, worried about the young lives.
As soon as she got up the next morning, she tried again to get a hold of the original poster. All was silent until about 12:30 pm when they finally replied. But what care the babies were receiving didn’t bring with it any peace of mind.
I got there around 1:30pm and saw that they were feeding kittens cows milk! I explained that kittens needed mom or to be fed KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer). The kitten with the injured leg was struggling and I needed to take him to the vet.
Luckily, after Carmen informed them about their nutritional requirements, the couple agreed it was best to alter the plan. The injured kitten was definitely going to require medical attention and would go with the rescue.
As for the others, they needed to be back with mom ideally and then the entire family could be addressed. Knowing this may take time, Carmen fed the babies their formula before attempting anything. Newborns are required to eat every 2-3 hours!
Thankfully, as soon as they placed the first two kittens on their porch, mama returned for her offspring. They were then also able to see where her nest was that hid the family. Carmen took the other kitten with her and rushed to the veterinarian.
She had no clue that this would NOT be the last time she saw Apple and Blackberry though!
At the vet, Carmen and the little girl she named Andie, prayed for good news.
She gave kitten a Convenia shot and showed me how to care for her injured foot. She said there was a small chance kitten would make it, but that she was willing to try if I would care for it. I agreed. She asked me to check on the other kittens if possible to see if any other had any injuries.
So Carmen returned to the house only to find that the homeowners still had 2 of the kittens with them inside. There was nothing visibly wrong with the two, but she returned to the vet with them just to be sure.
She said one had an infection on his umbilical cord. She also treated him and told me to care for them. By then, the mom had moved the other kittens so I ended up with the three siblings. I named the other two Apple and Blackberry. I treated Blackberry for the infection and he seems well now.
Sadly, after only 2 days, baby Andie lost her battle and crossed the rainbow bridge. Devastated, Carmen found peace knowing that at least she didn’t die on the streets or in pain.
Now, the big bellies of darling girl Apple and sweet Blackberry fill Carmen’s social media feeds while she fosters them.
It’s only been a few weeks but you can already see the amazing rate of growth kittens experience. Right around the two week mark, their little blue peepers opened up and they were able to see the world for the first time.
The siblings are always snuggled up together, which makes for the purrfect photo shoot. And no lie, I’ve watched this video about a dozen times and the paw in the mouth gets me every time! Like “What the?!”
Every day is precious and every minute is detrimental to their survival. With the love that they are getting from Carmen and her supportive followers of the rescue, they are sure to find the perfect home. She will continue to follow up with the owners to attempt to find the rest of the family. Ideally, they are reunited and ALL find homes off the streets. At the very least, she vows to have their feral mama fixed!
Photos and Video courtesy of Carmen Morales Weinberg and Animal Friends Project, Inc.