Me and four friends were hanging out just playing Settlers of Catan, when, just as I was about to slam down the winning dice, the heavily pregnant cat of the house, Ash, poked her head out of her box and jumped out.
We joked that there would be a baby squeezed out of her like a toothpaste tube if she keeps jumping around, but we turned out to be more accurate than we were prepared for; half a baby was sticking out from her, back feet first.
Suddenly things became chaos. Ash is a runt, tiny thing and given that she wouldn’t be expected to survive in the wild, it would be even more unlikely for her to survive giving birth, so we were all pretty concerned when she appeared to be struggling a lot.
She started by walking around, as if trying to escape the pain. she then couldn’t find a way to sit, having no idea what exactly to do. The baby wasn’t moving, the cat wasn’t pushing, she appeared to give up for a few minutes.
If we had any clue what we were doing, we might have thought this was pretty normal, but we didn’t, so we got increasingly worried. Our first screw up was to try and pull the baby very softly, help her get it out, but after hearing a crack of a leg, we decided we’d leave the torture until a little more body is out.
When we felt she was struggling again, we attempted, with a clean towel as to not get our scent on it, to pull from the body. Again, softly. She complained about this so we left her to it. She took to her feet again after a few minutes and started walking around, swinging the half-baby left and right, sitting on it, seemingly bending the whole thing a full 90 degrees at times. She even ran at a point and we had to pin her down at risk of crushing the poor thing. We had additional concerns that it was coming feet first rather than head first, but it turns out that’s just a human thing and otherwise pretty normal in cats.
Eventually, it just popped out, and after a lick and a collective breath of dread, meowed. Part one of ? complete.
More worry came as she decided to abandon the kitten. It was very weak, unable to move in any way. We read that it would be stumbling around to look for the milk, but it made no effort other than meows to move even a slight muscle twitch. Ash had happily abandoned it to concentrate on the next one, leaving it on the cold tile flooring. Eventually we got some carpet available and she picked the baby up, dumped it on there and left it.
This was a going theme for the night. We ended up getting formula ourselves and feeding it the best we could, watching its breathing get slower and slower while ash continued to not give a damn.
The second kitten came out like it was routine by now, and it was stronger, able to walk and more healthy looking on the whole. It was immediately taken to the milk and covered with warmth by Ash. The second kitten, still left alone.
We put the first kitten with her after some feeding to encourage her, but she ended up just sitting on it, perhaps a way to kill it given our suspicion that it was a defected model in the eyes of a cat mum.
We had a choice of either taking care of the kitten ourselves, having 2 hour shifts for 24 hours, 2 weeks or so of feeding and sleeping it, and have it die or be killed by Ash regardless, or leave them to do whatever is natural and if it gets killed, at least the other 1+ may survive.
The placenta of the first kitten was still attached and only half eaten, whilst the other was fully eaten, so there was no reason to believe Ash was interested in the first one whatsoever.
We left Ash to do her face sitting.
The third and final kitten came while we all slept. This one was also fine. By the time the decision came to trash the first one, the attention of Ash was given to it and by the next day, all three were looking clean, healthy and cute.
Today, the third one died. We aren’t sure how but its possibly due to a lack of milk or heat. Our goal now is to do whatever we can to keep the others alive while Ash continues to be absolutely useless at mothering.
We will name the first one Enya and the second one Smash, based on the music that was playing at the time of birth.
I am looking after the other adult, Heisenberg, aware of the risk that he may attempt to kill the other two. At some point I will, at least temporarily, take one of them.