By Wenda Grabau
Some losses in this world become another’s gain. One such thing happened on the farm several years ago. On a summer day a new cat showed up in our yard. While not full grown, she was not just a kitten. She had the gray tabby-look but with some alterations. Her feet and legs were white. In honor of the white leggings she displayed, we named her “Pippy” similar to the children’s story, Pippi Longstocking.
Pippy could have been left in the vicinity of the farm by owners, or she just walked off from her home to land here on the farm. Regardless, this became her new home. She was not a wild cat; she was friendly and eager for food and friendship. Pippy, having been cared for by someone before, adjusted to the farm well. She became a great hunter. So we welcomed her.
Eventually, we lost Pippy, but not until she had several litters of kittens.
One of her kittens is still living here. Like her mother, she hunts. She also is a gray tabby, but without the long-stocking look. We call her Gabby.
Gabby is the most outspoken cat on the farm. She is loud and can be annoying when she wails begging for food or attention. We have not known Gabby to be a cuddlesome cat. She is all business, that is, hunt, eat, and sleep. We have not expected Gabby to be endearing in any way.
When we left for our Fourth of July break, we had one mother cat, Ebony, and her four one-month old kittens on the farm. We also had a very pregnant Gabby. When we came back from our holiday we were greeted by the four starving kittens. We have not seen their mother. Something must have happened to her. Ebony is gone.
With great concern for the kittens, I made up some Orphan Puppy and Kitten Formula. We started feeding them with a medicine dropper. They made it through the night.
The next day, I fed them six times. I tried to get them to lap up the formula from a saucer by putting raw hamburger in it. That really worked well for three of the kittens. Later, the fourth kitten got the idea, too. By the end of the day, after getting my attention and the formula/hamburger, they seemed like they would live to get older.
With the kittens’ food on a saucer, here came Gabby always hungry. She hissed at the kittens. They hissed back. I refused to give any of the kittens’ food to her. I noticed that Gabby had lost weight. Apparently, somewhere she was caring for a litter of her own.
She lingered around me and the kittens for a while. One of them approached her, and she accepted him. He started to root so as to get milk from her. The other kittens began to play around her and then settled in to nurse from Gabby. She accepted them.
I relented and offered the rest of the kitten formula to Gabby as a treat. She kept close to the kittens. Later we found that she had moved one of them to nearby shed where her litter slept. We brought the other three to the shed for her. We found she has four newborns of her own.
We had not expected Gabby to be so maternal to another’s litter. She is now caring for her four and the orphaned kittens. All eight are doing well.
We lost the kittens’ mother, Ebony. But we gained an amazing cat, Gabby. She is not the annoying cat any longer, she is our feline heroine. She stepped in and showed a willingness to meet the kittens’ needs. That is a side of her that we did not expect to see. She has relieved me of having to care for the kittens. We can thank God for you.
We got this recipe from our friends at Spring Valley Veterinary Clinic many years ago. It has helped our animals numerous times.
Orphan Puppy & Kitten Formula
1st 2 weeks
1 cup evaporated milk
¼ cup water
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. honey or corn syrup
2-3 drops corn oil
Warm to body temperature. Feed in small amounts often.
At 2 weeks of age start on solids: cottage cheese, cooked cereals, raw hamburger, and liver.
At 4 weeks, feed moistened Puppy or Kitten Chow.