When I got to the shelter on Tuesday morning, one of the first things I did was check messages. It was the third message on the voicemail that clenched my heart. Someone had found a kitty taped shut in a box near their mailbox. There was also a newborn kitten in the box, and the mama kitty was clearly still pregnant. The woman who found them wanted to know what she should do....
I called her (Terri) back immediately and asked some questions. It sounded as though the mama kitty was not doing well. She had probably been abandoned sometime during the night because Terri's husband had seen the box when he had left early for work. (Not realizing there was a kitty in it.) The cat was not found until lunchtime when the woman went to check her mail and her dogs went crazy over the box. She then heard meowing and realized what was in it. This means that this poor pregnant kitty sat there all morning, throughout the heat, without having access to water, food, or a safe place to have her babies.
I asked Terri to bring the mom and baby to me right away so we could evaluate them and get medical care. When she arrived, both mom and kitten were terribly dehydrated. On top of that, the mom kitty was very scared.
We immediately gave mom kitty fluids under the skin, and called Dr.Petersen at South Mesa Veterinary Hospital. She counciled me over the phone, telling me to place an IV catheter, start IV fluids, and give mom a quiet, dark place where she could try and continue labor. I did all of these things and then waited.
During the next few hours I would check on mama kitty every 15-30 minutes. As I talked to her and stroked her, she would purr and knead the blankets with her feet. She was so sweet and seemed so thankful to be in a safe place. The one kitten that had already been born got some good nursing in too.
By 3:30 p.m. with still no signs of more kittens, I began to worry. She was clearly still pregnant with at least one more kitten. I called Dr.Petersen again (who is so wonderful and answers all of my questions!) and asked what I should do next. She said to start her on antibiotics because most likely any kittens that were left inside of her were dead due to the physiological stress the mom was put through from being taped shut in a box. We certainly didn't want her to get an infection. Because mom was just resting quietly it should be okay to let her go through the night and see if she expelled any of the kittens by morning.
When I got to the shelter this morning, mom had birthed one kitten overnight which was unfortunately dead. She clearly did not feel good, and was now running a fever. Our spay/neuter surgeon, Dr. Welsh, just happened to call and I told him what was going on. He said that we should do surgery at this point and remove any dead kittens. We would go ahead and spay the mom at that time as well.
Around 2 p.m. the surgery was done. Sure enough, there was still a dead kitten inside, and to complicate matters, it was stuck in the birth canal. The kitten was removed along with mama kitty's ovaries and uterus.
Mama kitty and baby are not out of the woods yet, but things are definitely looking better for them. We will be giving them lots of love and supportive care over the next few days with hopes of a flawless recovery. If all goes well they will be looking for forever homes in about 9 weeks with people that will take care of them and value them.
I don't understand how anyone can be so sick as to do what they did to this poor kitty. I am just thankful that Terri found her when she did, and that we were able to give her the medical care she needed.
6-29-07 *Update on Cat in the Box* The kitty that this story was written about has been named "Dream". Unfortunately the kitten that was born alive didn't make it through it's 3rd day. Although we are sad for the kitten, we are very happy that mama is still with us. She still has a lot of recovering to do, but we are all hopeful.