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A rescued kitten named Catreena wasn’t old enough to have her own kittens. It’s a familiar story all across the country, and it never gets easier for rescuers in the aftermath.

Warning: Despite the best efforts of multiple heroic people, this story has a tragic ending for Catreena’s babies. All pictures are of live kittens.

It’s a story that most foster providers experience and needs to be told. It’s why so many people are giving their all to TNR (trap, neuter, and release) cats across the country. And, it’s why everyone must spay and neuter their pets. 

TNR is the most effective and humane way to break the vicious cycle for feral and stray cats that often ends in so much needless suffering and broken hearts. 

Incredibly, kittens can get pregnant at just four months old and give birth at six months old. One unspayed female and her offspring can produce over 2,000 cats in four years. 

Catreena the kitten gave birth to five kittens

Images via Instagram/cmdpierce

Catreena Gave Birth In a Shelter

Rescuer Christina was still on vacation in Hawaii when she started making plans to save Catreena. She fosters with Wrenn Rescues, based in Ventura County, California. We’ve shared many stories of their wonderful work with many other rescuers in the area.

Catreena kitten and kittens

Wrenn Rescues, San Bernardino-based Kitty Devore Rescue, and another person helped to rescue and deliver Catreena and her litter to Christina.

“Introducing sweet mama Catreena, who joined my family today,” Christina shared. “She gave birth to five ginger kittens at the Devore shelter on July 25.”

Kitten saved by Christina

Soon after giving birth in a cold shelter, Catreena and the kittens got sick. She wasn’t ready to be a mama and was malnourished and weak. You can see it when you look at the pictures. Unfortunately, this meant the outlook in a crowded shelter was already extremely bleak. Even with optimal care, the weak newborns faced little prospects for survival.

“Mama is super skinny. She’s filthy, probably on the streets for a while. Can’t wait to fatten her up so she can fatten the tiny babies. Names and sexes soon, but according to the shelter, it’s three girls and two boys.”

rescued kitten in California with litter of kittens

Catreena’s Babies Struggle

The next day, it was heartbreaking news: Catreena’s babies struggled to survive. Christina immediately got help from the most experienced neonatal foster provider, Ash, but they were beyond saving. 

“This is not the news I wanted to share, but it is the sad reality of not spaying and neutering,” she said. 

Catreena's kittens

Two kittens appeared to be doing ok, but the others were struggling with URI infections.

When Pets Aren’t Spayed or Neutered

Days later, Christina shared the sad news that none of the kittens would survive. Even in expert hands, three passed away, and the remaining two continued to decline and slowly suffered. Both fosterers had to do the right thing for them, coming together to humanely euthanize the remaining two at a clinic. It was an agonizing and necessary decision.

“Catreena is a perfect example of a cat that needed to be spayed, and kittens aborted the moment she came into the shelter. She was skin and bones, had a URI forming, has horrible ear mites and is very young and tiny herself. she should not have given birth,” she said.

two tiny ginger kittens

The cold reality of what happened to Catreena is hard to face, but it’s a very common and preventable story. 

“She didn’t cry happy tears as a doctor placed babies on her tummy. She didn’t experience the human feelings of euphoria and joy and love. She gave birth to five sickly kittens in a cold, metal kennel, in pain and feeling like crap all by herself. That is not beautiful or a gift from God. It is unnecessary and preventable,” she said.

tiny weak ginger kitten

The Humane Decision to End Suffering

Catreena was forced to give birth in the shelter as a kitten herself. As a result, it left the foster providers with a difficult but necessary decision to end the remaining two kitten’s suffering. The alternative, spaying and euthanizing kittens while a kitten is still pregnant, is an emotional issue. But in this case, it was humane when there was only suffering by forcing a malnourished kitten to give birth.

As another rescuer put it so well:

“This is the most agonizing part of being a foster. You are left to handle the aftermath. You are the one who hopes for the best and lives the roller-coaster of emotions. You are the one who loses precious sleep to give it your best efforts to save them. You are the one who cries over their passing. You are the one who makes the decisions to end suffering that should have been made by others who created this situation. Poor sweet souls didn’t deserve this, and neither did YOU.”

Tiny ginger kitten in towel beside banana

We thank these kind rescuers who pour their hearts out to save cats and kittens every day. We’re so sorry you had to face this heartbreaking experience. You can follow Christina on Instagram as well as Ash to offer support.

A Better Future for Catreena

Fortunately, Catreena survived the ordeal and is a happy kitten after being spayed. 

“She is the sweetest girl ever and rolls over for belly rubs whenever anyone walks in her room,” says Christina. 

Now, she wanted to give this kitten a chance for the wonderful life that she deserved.

“I think after giving birth in the loud, cold shelter and having all her babies pass away, she deserves the VERY BEST home. She just wants to be loved! ❤️❤️”

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