A few good days

The last two weeks are a long story, but I’m going to try to catch you up.

Marq waking upMolokai on the move

Tonga portraitSamoa playingpretty Palau

My lovely little Island family has gone back to the shelter. All but Palau had made weight, and more kittens came in that needed a home NOW, so I traded my big kittens in for smaller, younger models (like a man with a mid-life crisis). Palau was so close to being ready that the shelter decided to put him up for adoption anyway. The vet tech/foster coordinator who took the kittens in confirmed that Marquesas was indeed deaf, and they put a special note on his kennel card. All done.

So, I took home 4 new kittens. These kittens are of the tinier variety, still nursing on a surrogate mother. I have no idea what happened to the real mother, but the new mom seemed not to notice that these children did not belong to her. The new mom’s name is officially Melba, a name that I just don’t like for some reason. We had to rename her.

The morning after I brought the new kittens in, I weighed them to be sure that they were getting fed. In fact, the mother cat has been so good with those kittens. They are so incredibly clean. They kind of hated me, hissing whenever I reached my hand into the carrier. These little kittens felt no need to have human intervention.

A few hours later, I got a call from the shelter. The foster coordinator asked how my kittens were doing, and could I take 4 more of the same age? I missed bottle-feeding, so of course I said that I would be there as fast as I could. After my dentist appointment, anyway (I had 4 fillings, all between the teeth – ugh).

When I arrived at the shelter I was given a box full of kittens with the cutest names – Duck, Goose, Chicken, and Lamb. They were kind of scraggly looking, not at all like the kittens that came in with the surrogate mommy. I figured there was no way that the mom cat would take 4 extra little ones, so I prepared myself to bottle-feed. The kittens peeped and cried the minute they saw me, so I knew that they hadn’t been with a mommy in quite some time. My heart went out to them.

Upon our arrival to my house, I showed the mom cat the 4 new babies. I was prepared for her to reject them, so I offered them one-at-a-time, careful not to frighten the existing litter. Mom greeted each addition with a bath and a little help going to the bathroom, then allowed each one to nurse with the existing litter. All told, this mother cat has accepted 8 kittens who do not belong to her. Deciding that she must be a saint, we changed her name to Theresa (as in Mother Theresa).

A check 24 hours later revealed that Theresa just didn’t have enough milk to support 8 kittens. The new kittens looked as clean as could be, and Theresa was clearly keeping up with their bathroom needs as well. She just couldn’t produce food fast enough. I cheerfully broke out the baby bottles and started to supplement the kittens’ diet. Hey, mommy cat is doing the dirty work, and the least I can do is keep the babies fed. Deal.

surrogate mommy This is Theresa and 3 of the original 4 kittens.

We’ve renamed these kittens to fit (sort of) with the newer kittens. The siamese kitten in the front is Pegasus, the grey one one the left is Sylph, and the grey one on the right is Chimera. The missing kitten (I think he’s behind mom) is Griffin.

These are the other 4:

Chicken Chicken

Duck Duck

Goose Goose

Lamb and Lamb.

mom and 8 surrogates This poor mommy cat has a lot of work to do!

For about a week, everything was great with the kittens. They were all gaining weight, albeit slowly. Goose started eating a little wet food on her own. It was starting to look like it was going to be an uneventful litter.


Pegasus threw up an entire stomach-full of milk on Tuesday. I planned to give her some Pedialyte in a few hours, after her stomach had a chance to settle. When I went back to the kitten room to check on her, Peggy wasn’t getting up with the other kittens. I woke her up, and she was wobbly on her feet. It became apparent that she was going to crash soon. I called the shelter to warn them that I was bringing in a crashing kitten. I gave her fluids and rubbed a little Karo syrup in her mouth to bring her out of shock. Her gums were so white, I was sure that she was on her way out. Michael drove us the nearly half-hour to the shelter. I was so sure she wasn’t going to live.

The staff rushed Pegasus to the back. I waited nervously in the lobby for news. A doctor came out, and I prepared for the worst. “Can you come into this exam room, please?” The vet asked me. After she closed the door, the vet asked me to describe the events leading up to the crash. I told her the story, then offered the fecal sample that the kitten so generously left in Michael’s hand when I thought she was in the active stages of dying. The vet’s first guess was that the kittens has Panleukopoenia – Parvo for cats. That would be the worst diagnosis ever. I’ve had the disease in my house before I started keeping a blog. It’s usually lethal. Because the virus can live in the environment for a long time, the shelter would shut down my fostering operation.

But the fecal test came back negative. As a matter of fact, the doctor could find nothing wrong with the kitten, other than the obvious symptoms. She gave Pegasus a vitamin B shot, a little more fluids, and some more Karo syrup. They asked (as if I would say no) if I would be willing to take her home over night and care for her since they didn’t have the capability in the shelter. This meant that I would have to feed Pegasus Karo syrup every 2-4 hours all night long until her recheck in the morning. I agreed without hesitation.

Peggy slept all the way home. I watched her breathe, terrified that at any moment the gentle rise and fall of her chest would stop. As we pulled into the garage, the kitten snapped back to life! She hissed and growled at me, but she was alive and angry. I tried to keep her in a carrier with a heat disc in it, but it became clear that the kitten wanted food and feline company. I let her have a special nursing session alone, then laid her in a pile of warm, sleeping kittens. I kept checking on her, waking up every 2 hours that night without an alarm.

I brought Pegasus back to the shelter at 10:00 the next morning. “I have a surprise for you,” I told the vet. I then produced a completely normal kitten. I brought in a few others to keep her company as well. The doctor took Pegasus around the back rooms, marveling at how a kitten who was so close to death yesterday could be so normal today. Because of Peggy’s incident yesterday, and my description of Duck’s too mellow temperament and slight diarrhea, the vet treated him with a shot of vitamin B as well, just to be safe. So far, everyone is just fine and starting the conversion to food instead of milk. I will never understand kittens.

Meanwhile, a yarn craft drama began to unfold for me. On my way to pick up the second group of kittens, I heard a story on NPR. The idea of the story was that someone thinks it best to live as if every event in life was neutral rather than good or bad. Personally, I have a wide range of emotion and I cannot imagine being so neutral all the time, but to each his own. The story went like this:

A man has a ranch, and his horse runs away. “That’s too bad,” say the neighbors. “Maybe,” replies the rancher. The next day the horse returns with 7 new horses. “What good fortune,” say the neighbors. “Maybe,” replies the rancher. The next day the rancher’s son tries to ride one of the horses, but he falls off the horse and breaks a leg. “What bad luck,” say the neighbors. “Maybe,” replies the rancher. The next day the government comes by to draft the son for the war. Because of the broken leg, they reject the kid and he gets to avoid the war.

That day,  I had planned to meet a group of knitters I discovered on Ravelry. I only met them once before at a yarn shop, but they seemed nice enough, and quite frankly, I needed to get out there and meet some people. I hadn’t slept since the day before, but I knew I was getting over the hump and heading toward a daytime schedule (which I have kept for about 10 days now, most of them good days, but a few were bad and I had to sit on the sofa all day). I walked into the bookstore where they were supposed to meet, and searched for knitters. There was not a single person in the store holding yarn or any other knitting related paraphernalia.

Thinking that the knitters may have wandered over to the yarn shop in the same plaza, I left the book store and headed over. When I opened the door, there were no customers inside. The shop girl behind the desk asked if she could help me. I explained that I was supposed to meet some knitters, but it appeared that no one but me came. I wouldn’t recognize any of them without knitting in hand, so I was pretty sure I got stood up. “Well, you can knit with me,” the shop girl said.

We spoke for awhile, and the girl told me about the various knitting groups that came to socialize at the store. “We have Crochet Club on Thursdays,” she said. I then explained that I had just gotten my Crochet Master’s Certificate (if you can’t brag to the yarn shop, who can you brag to, after all?) and this stopped her cold. “Really?” she asked. “Would you be interested in teaching crochet?”

The next day, I went back to the store to hang out with my new found friend. Her manager arrived shortly after I did, and the shop girl excitedly told her about me. Not longer after that, a customer entered the store with a knitting problem. “Let’s see what you can do,” said the manager. After spending quite awhile reworking a pattern with the customer (her gauge was off just enough to make the pattern difficult), the manager seemed satisfied that I had the skills required to do the job.

The last few days have been filled with designing classes and making samples of the projects for those classes. What seemed like would be  a day of misfortune became the day that I got officially employed in the field of yarn craft. Maybe there is something to that story after all…


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