Siege Diaries 5/23/2020

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Today wasn’t a good day.  Everything just piled on top of everything else, and I felt lonely and lacking in hope, and ended up getting back in bed and sleeping for five hours.

Two of the cats spent that time on the bed with me.

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Pets are really a lifeline during isolation.  My cats are the only other beings other than my husband I am allowed to touch.  I often awaken in the morning to a tag-team rotation of Spitfire and Victoria climbing onto my chest, and Furiosa often accompanies me down into the office.  I’ll see them all throughout the day, usually for at least one session of purring and affection.

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I’m not surprised to hear that animal shelters and rescues are experiencing heightened adoption volumes right now, even though in-person visits are in many cases difficult.  But it definitely seems to be a thing, especially for people living alone; at least one friend has adopted a cat.  And it’s spring.  Spring means kittens—humans may be in isolation but cats are out there doing what cats do.  I’ve been a fan of BC-based rescue TinyKittens for a couple of years now.  They manage several feral colonies with a Trap-Neuter-Return program, but this time of year they often bring in expecting mother cats, who they care for through the birth of their kittens and then spay.  The kittens are eventually adopted out, as are the mother cats if they successfully “turn in their feral card.”  They also usually run one or more live feeds focusing on cats in their care.

The stories are not always happy.  I started following TinyKittens when Evolene, a lovely ginger girl, gave birth and lost every single one of her kittens–a not uncommon occurrence for feral cats.  A feral cat in the wild can give birth to up to three litters a year, and so their lives are often short, particularly when food is scarce and their health is not good.

This spring, the first cat to give birth was Grace, a gorgeous black kitty who went into labour overnight and gave birth to four little healthy “panthers.”   Feral cats often raise their kittens with the help with other cats in their colony, so Mercy, a “teenaged” cat recovering from being hit by a car and suffering a broken jaw, was introduced into the nest and quickly joined in the cuddle pile.  And then, a couple of days after that, a batch of three 3-day-old kittens was found in a shed at the same colony where Grace comes from.  Those kittens and Frieda, their mother, were added to the pile.  As I’m watching right now, Mercy is “babysitting” the two batches of kittens.

And then there is “feral catemelon” Stella, a gorgeous patched tabby who has a skin condition causing some baldness on her belly and back legs, making her look enormous.  She began bleeding, a sign of labour, but there were no contractions. An emergency c-section was performed to deliver five kittens, two of which were stillborn; two of the remaining three had to be revived.  Sometimes that’s a bad sign and the kittens quickly fade, but the two male gingers and one female patched tabby all seem to be doing well.  Stella’s bald patches are starting to get fuzzy again.  And just two days ago, another expectant mother, a tortie named Sahara, joined Stella.

Here’s a link to Stella’s livestream, at least for now:

Meanwhile, closer to home, my friend Cait is a foster for a local rescue, Hearts to Homes Feline Rescue and Sanctuary.  She’s currently fostering a bonded pair of tuxedo girls, Frankie and Grace, who like her TinyKittens namesake, was expecting.  Yesterday she gave birth to eight patched black, grey, and tabby kittens in the space of just a couple of hours.  I just spent a Zoom call watching mom deal with her huge family, and suddenly, there was something absolutely right with the world.

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