Mya: from happiness to sadness, to happiness again

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Lintu47's avatar

    Some of you might have seen on my Instagram a picture of a British Shorthair with a shaved and operated belly that had a tiny kitten firmly attached to her breast :) If you're interested in finding out what happened and how important it is to take care of your pets, please read. Emotional story ahead.

    This is the picture I'm talking about:

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    Mya and her tiny 4 days old fighter

    You might already know Mya from my pictures I posted here and on Instagram as well. This is her when she was 10 weeks old (she's not mine, by the way!):

Mya by Lintu47
Schizomeowid by Lintu47

    She's now 1 year and 11 months old and she's a big kitty. At the beginning of May her owner (and my best friend) found her a Romeo so she can have kittens once before she got spayed. All nice and well until the 1st of July when I visited her place right before we were going to leave for a common friend's birthday party. Mya looked like a melon with legs! I was positive she was going to give birth that weekend or at the most, this week, but I didn't think for a second it all can go so wrong in such a short amount of time.

    At about 6PM, just a few hours before the party, she lost the mucus plug. I looked at my friend and told her "Congrats, you're going to be a cat-grandma tonight!". We were all so excited. We prepared a cozy and big box for her and watched over her as she grew more and more restless. Around 7PM her membranes ruptured and soon she started having irregular contractions. All was going smoothly, but the time came when we had to go - around 10PM, and Mya was breathing very fast and shallow and there was still no sign of a kitten. Being her first pregnancy and me having some experience assisting birthing cats before, I decided to stay behind and watch over her rather than go to the party with my friends. Why me? Because my friend is very panicky, with no experience and her boyfriend didn't have a clue on what to do either. I felt bad I didn't go, but looking back I know I made the right call.
    Time went by in slow motion. It was hard seeing her struggle, but I was positive it was going to be ok. Many cats have longer labors the first time so I wasn't too worried about it, but it got to 2AM and nothing happened yet! After this much time, she was still having contractions, still pushing from time to time, but that was about it. She was exhausted and restless at the same time and she was breathing like a dog, with her tongue out. I knew she was greatly stressed and scared and I comforted her as best I could. I didn't hug her or anything like that, because it stresses them out more, but I spoke calmly and softly to her and occasionally lightly pet her on her head. It was on moments like these when she looked up at me and meowed like she was saying "Please help! I can't do it anymore! Get them out!".

    At 2:14AM she started circling in the box and pushing regularly and at 2:19AM she had her first kitten, after 8 hours of labor. I was so relieved and happy for her but that didn't last long because the kitten was not very active and Mya was not showing great interest in taking care of her either, but being her first time I was convinced it was because a lack of experience and once the labor will end and she'll have some rest, everything will be fine. I continued watching over them and repeatedly tried to make the kitten latch and feed herself (as it is extremely important for this to happen in the first minutes or at least hours after birth) but I couldn't manage it and slowly the kitten grew more and more lethargic. By the time I went to bed (after falling asleep a few times on the hallway next to their box), around 5:30AM, when my friend got back home, I was convinced the little one would not make it, but there was nothing more I could do. It's extremely hard for the vets to work wonders with such young animals as well, especially if the mom isn't a role model either. She was still having irregular contractions and I knew there were more in her belly because I could see and feel them move, and she still looked pretty much like a melon. I went to bed and left my friend's boyfriend to watch over them.

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The firstborn kitten, a few minutes old

    I got up 2 hours later because I was so worried that I couldn't sleep anymore. The first thing I did was to check up on her, and with great sadness, I found the little one cold and still next to her and no other kittens around. I expected the kitten wouldn't make it, but that didn't make it any less heart wrenching. After making sure she's really gone, I wrapped her up and took her away so my friend wouldn't see her like that. I immediately contacted via Whatsapp my ex future-brother-in-law, who is a great vet, and anxiously waited for his instructions. Half an hour later, after he confirmed that Mya needs an ultrasound asap and possibly a C-section, I got my friend up and rushed to the vet together. She was very tired and didn't grasp at first what it really meant and how high the stakes were. If you didn't know, in the eventuality that the cat doesn't give birth to another kitten in the next 4 hours after the last one, you should take her to the vet asap.

    Mya didn't have contractions anymore and I couldn't feel the kittens moving. I was sad and scared as if she was my own. We both sat next to her and calmed her down at the vet who confirmed she had more inside and saw at least one cardiac activity. I also saw one that didn't have a heartbeat anymore but I kept it to myself - I didn't want to worry my friend more, who, by this time, wasn't half asleep anymore and realized how bad it was and was close to crying. We both stood close to Mya while the tranquilizer took effect, but she went out when the vet set up Mya's IV line because she couldn't watch it. I perfectly understood her because I remembered how sick I felt when I had to watch my lady cat go through preparations before her interventions (I even passed out on two different occasions, but that's a story for another time, if you'd like to know more about it perhaps I could write it down sometime in the future).

    A few minutes afterwards, Mya was taken into a separate room and the vet told us to come back in 2 hours. He explained what was going to happen and what the worst outcome might be and sent us home because there was no point in us waiting there. We went back to my place, which was closer to the vet, and my friend went back to sleep so she could properly function later in the day. I wasn't feeling sleepy or tired, although I had as much sleep as she had, but I think that was because I was extremely worried. By that point I knew at least one kitten is gone and who knew if the others will make it. You can say I'm sometimes cold and short tempered with people and I wouldn't argue with you on that, but when it comes to animals I have so much patience and dedication that sometimes even I am surprised by it.

    Two hours later we were back there: Mya was recovering after her anesthesia, but was fine otherwise, one kitten was gone (the one I saw on the ultrasound), one was under CPR for about 30 minutes or more and two were still alive - one was breathing vigorously, the other not so much. I remember comparing their breathing rates and not feeling very optimistic. They were placed on a towel and underneath was a bottle of hot water to keep them warm as they would be if they were next to their mommy, who was at that particular moment wobbling her head, trying to get out of her cage. My friend and her boyfriend were happy Mya was ok and I was too, but I was more focused on the kittens. I don't know if medicine made me see things clearer or if my knowledge and interest in animals held my enthusiasm back, but I was still pretty worried because I knew the danger wasn't gone yet. Maybe it was a combination of both. By the time we got Mya into her carrier (which is in fact mine) the third kitten was declared dead. I witnessed myself how much they tried but they couldn't do anything anymore. Sure, two kittens out of five is still better than none at all, but why did this happen in the first place? Why couldn't she give birth to the rest on her own and why did the little ones didn't make it? I'm still very emotional while writing this, by the way.

    My friend got the carrier, I got the bottle and towel which held the two kittens, those tiny precious treasures. We got home and I made it my goal to look after all of them. Mya was peeing every 15 minutes and didn't find her place, she was trying to walk but was still under heavy anesthesia, so putting the kittens to suckle was out of the question. I was so frustrated. A few hours went by and we managed to make Mya stay in her box long enough so the little ones can eat (and by stay I mean don't let her leave the box and occasionally even hold her down so she wouldn't wobble over the kittens). The smallest one was loud and active, he was looking for mommy's breast and was sure to let us know how upset he was when she would change positions. From that point on I didn't worry about him anymore, I knew he would make it. His brother, on the other hand, had me even more worried than I was before. He didn't latch. I lost count how many times I tried to make him do it. He didn't cry. He was almost limp. His breaths were rare and irregular and when he breathed I could hear a click.

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This is how we kept him warm, with a bottle of hot water and a
towel right next to mommy's box

    In the end, I called my ex brother-in-law, who told me to give the little one 1-2 ml of Glucose before he would come to see them. I did, but it was very difficult to make him open his mouth or even lick the substance after I put a drop in his mouth. I realized he didn't have the suckling instinct, which is extremely rare and has very low survival rates. I knew if this kitten is going to live he had to be fed by us, the humans. I don't know how much you know about taking care of newborn kittens with no suckling instinct but as soon as I realized that it hit me hard that however much we tried, there was little that we could do. I tried to make him latch, keep him warm and give him drops of Glucose until my friend bought a special milk formula. She spent a lot of money that day but all that mattered was to see them all well. The vet performed some maneuvers that in the end made him breathe better, but still not normal. We tried to feed him but how much can you feed a kitten that doesn't latch and barely swallows? I was willing to take time off work to take care of him but we were told not to get our hopes up.

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You can see little Spartacus (this is my temporary name for him) suckling while his brother
just sat there half limp (placed by me after trying to convince him to latch as well)

    My friend and I took turns trying to feed the kitten every 30-60 minutes. I went to sleep late after I managed to make the little one swallow a few drops of formula but I was feeling really down. When I woke up, not many hours later, I was surprised to see him still alive. It gave me hope. I tried to make him latch again, with no success. I took the bottle and tried to feed him this way and surprisingly, even if he didn't latch, he swallowed better. His breaths were rarer than it was normal, but they were regular. He pooed twice, once while I was feeding him and once while I was gently massaging his belly, in the area his mother would lick him to stimulate peeing and pooing. Mya was slowly starting to figure out how a mom should act and she progressively started to take care of the screaming kitten, but didn't pay as much attention to the lazy one. I didn't blame her, I was glad I didn't have to worry about the other one as well.

    All in all, I began hoping again. I fed him a couple more times before my friend and her boyfriend left for their vacation which they had planned long before. They were optimistic that he would slowly start to feed on his own and when they will come back they would find both of them happy and alert. But as fate has it, this wasn't meant to be. Only a few hours after they left I went in the kitchen to keep company to a friend while she ate. It couldn't have been more than half an hour until I got back to the little family and saw the kitten was suspiciously still. He wasn't breathing and was completely limp when I picked him up. I began  performing CPR and occasionally shook him like I saw the vet do to clean his air ways.

    To my great disappointment, I saw his little nose filled with secretions. The more I kept going, the pinker the secretions got. I knew his lungs were filled with them and he is gone, but he was still warm and I didn't stop the CPR. I cleaned him with toilet paper and went on for about 30 minutes until the vet arrived and took over. I was calm and I even talked to that friend that was present, but the whole thing was like it was happening from someone else's pov. The vet tried for 10 more minutes and said there was nothing he can do. I took him back and continued in a mechanic manner to try and bring him back for maybe another 10-15 minutes, time in which the vet declared he was happy with how Mya and the other little one were doing. In the end, I broke down while I kissed him goodbye and handed him over to the vet to dispose of him. I was mentally exhausted and didn't want to do that myself again for the second time in the last 24 hours. Even as I'm writing this I'm tearing up. I had to tell the owners the bad news shortly after and even if they were sad about it, they thanked me over and over again for doing everything I could, but that didn't stop me from wondering if maybe somewhere along the way I did something wrong that caused all of this.

    This is the last picture I have of him after I fed him for the last time. You can see Mya sitting next to us, acting worried. It turns out she is quite a loving mommy as long as she isn't in labor or under anesthesia.

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I miss you, tiny life!

    So... this is the story behind that Instagram photo. I'm sorry I didn't focus more on the positive side, I'm aware it's still there. I'm happy Mya and little Spartacus are doing well, but my heart is still aching for the other ones.

    Today I visited them again and I took some fresh photos with my phone and my camera - I'm not promising anything, but I think I'll upload at least a couple of them over the next few weeks.

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Mya and little Spartacus, 7 days old

    EDIT 23.09.2016: Spartacus, now named Toto, found his new home today. The couple that took him seemed lovely!

    If you have pets give them every single bit of love you are capable of and seek medical attention for them when they need it. Treasure them as you would your own children and take care of them until the very end. You are their whole world and their lives depend on YOU. :heart:
    If you want a pet, please ADOPT, don't shop! There are so many beautiful lives that need a forever home. Also, neuter/spay your animals, there are way too many without a home that end up in killing shelters :(

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Actlikenaturedoes's avatar
Really beautiful and a very sad story:( (Sad) ...I'm sorry you had to go through this but if it wasn't for you, little Spartacus wouldn't be with his mommyLove . I assisted during labor of my cat 8 years ago, but fortunately all of 4 kittens made it...unfortunately:( (Sad) , only one is alive today, a big boy counting 8 yearsHeart .
All of my cats are spayed and neutered now, as we find new abandoned kittens at least a couple of times a year and foster some from the shelter.
Veterinary care is a "must have" in baby kittens but a lot of people don't see it that way...what's even worse, they try to dispose of them, and then, if they survive helpless as they are(people don't understand that a 1-2 month old baby can't hunt or find food on it's own) they are usually ill so extra care is needed for them to stay alive.
So I would add to your last sentence if I may-please, spay/neuter your pets, if you choose to have litters, please take care of the mother and the babies and find them a good home, consider adopting instead of buying-and last but not least-if you see an abandoned animal, help it, feed it, foster it, try to find a new home for him/herHeart