Raising new born kittens could be the most challenging and time consuming task I have ever attempted. It is also one of the most intensely rewarding and most heartbreaking experiences of my life.
If you do not have the time or the emotional stamina to deal with the possibility of losing a kitten you have given your heart to, I would recommend leaving this task to people trained and experienced in this field. Even for the experts, keeping a new born kitten thriving is quite a feat; there are so many things to think of and so many things that can go wrong very quickly.
Nutrition in the first days of life is critical to the survival of a kitten, as well as warmth, keeping the kitten clean, and helping the kitten to eliminate.
People often ask me, “how can you give them up after raising them?” Well, it’s never easy, that’s for sure, but it makes me very happy that they are going to their forever homes and joining their new families. I also love getting updates and hearing how “my” babies are doing in their new homes. And, during kitten season, I usually just get one off to their new home and another little orphan comes in needing me to be “mommy”.
I’ve been raising newborn kittens for about 7 years now, and each one is precious to me. It usually takes me about 2 seconds from meeting them to be totally and completely in love. It’s strange, but even though I fall in love immediately, I’ve found a deep bond takes a day or two. Sometime in that first day or two with my new baby there is always one moment where the bond between us hits me; I look at the new baby and feel a love so deep that it moves my world and makes me know true and pure love.
I remember that moment with McKinley, my current baby. I was sittingon the couch at home with her on my lap; she had finished her feeding and was squirming around. She raised her little head up towards me, with her eyes still tightly shut, but she seemed to be looking right at me, and she curled her little paw around my finger. I loved her so much at that point I thought I’d burst!
McKinley was part of the “mountain kids” litter. She came to us with her two brothers, Rainier and Everest. Unfortunately, Rainier and Everest had been attacked by something before they came to us and had bite wounds all over their backs and legs. They were all covered in diarrhea and very cold. For the first 24 hours I bathed them, fed them, treated their wounds, and made sure they were warm. At that time I was tube feeding them because they were too weak to eat. The next day my little Rainier was done fighting and went to the Rainbow Bridge. Everest had pneumonia and gave up his fight two days after Rainier.
I was heartbroken that I’d lost my boys, but I still had McKinley, who needed me desperately. I told her she had the huge responsibility of living on for herself and her brothers, a job which she took very seriously. She flourished and became a strong and healthy girl.
She just turned 5 weeks old and she continues to thrive. She started eating on her own about a week ago, and she started using her litterbox everytime on her own. She started playing in the last few days AND two days ago she started to run!! Oh what a proud mommy I am!!
McKinley is already on hold to be adopted by a wonderful family who comes to visit her often. In the next couple of weeks she’ll leave me and go on to her forever home. That thought brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. I’ll miss my baby soooooooo much, but I know I’ve given her everything she needed to start her off on the right path, including all the love in my heart.