"The Northern Nevada Rednecks"
The Third Save of Christmas
As I look around the house, I still expect to hear the six “rednecks” galloping down the hall to greet me when I arrive home at the end of the day. It truly was a blessing and a miracle they all survived. Actually, let me correct that. They didn’t just survive; they turned into beautiful young kittens with some fantastic loving, and oftentimes quirky personalities.
So where did these six little “rednecks” come from? Well, take a small ranch town in Northern Nevada, throw in some unwanted feral cats that are not fixed, and you have a perfect—kitten–storm. The town where these kittens were born does not have any kind of program for feral cats, or for cats in general, but this year my son was able to rescue 6 of 9 kittens that were born up there. (As our name implies Purebreds Plus usually cares for Purebred cats, but there are exceptions.) It took my son and his neighbor a while to be able to earn enough trust to get close to the kittens. He finally grabbed them when they were about 6 -7 weeks old.
When they arrived at my home, the six of them were in terrible shape. All had severe upper respiratory infections, with high fevers, and the eyes on four of them were caked shut. They were severely malnourished; although people had put out food for them, they probably had to compete for food with adult cats—and those of you who have cats will agree that they are not uniformly generous. We did not know, at first, whether we would be able to save them all, but we were going to give these little souls our best shot.
The first day was long, but we made progress getting them comfortable. First thing was to get the eyes opened and do a preliminary exam on each of them. My son and I spent about 4 hours cleaning them up, holding warm compresses on the eyes, and doing a thorough once over. Despite all of the poking, prodding, and holding, they did not fight us. I am not sure if they had just given up hope, or if they realized they were being given a chance to survive. We ended the day by giving them some fresh water, some kitten food mixed with formula, and some dry baby cat kibble. They each ate a little bit—an encouraging sign–and then collapsed in a pile on a fluffy plush blanket.
There is a deep sleep that comes on the first night when a kitten or cat is rescued and safe. These settled in and seemed to give a great big collective sigh, as if a huge weight had been lifted off their tiny shoulders and they felt it. I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I watched them and realized how close they had come to not getting this chance. Now at least they were safe, and we could begin the journey of saving their lives. Three of the six (Orville aka Rocky, Virgil and Cooter) were in extremely poor condition. I knew there was going to be a long battle to bring them back.
So their saga began…
At first they were isolated in our laundry room. For a week we gave them fluids, fresh water, and some wet food mixed with formula. Then we started them on antibiotics and a bacterial eye ointment. Orville took to sitting on my shoulder whenever I was in the room and Virgil would curl up on my and get as close as possible. Neither of them were eating well, so we syringe fed them and even bottle fed the smallest, Virgil. They all had terrible diarrhea, so we had a fecal check done. And what were the results? Pick a parasite, any parasite! These guys had pretty much everything they could have, even Giardia which is a real pain to get rid of. So the treatment for parasites started.
What became apparent very soon is that whereas each of them had a distinct personality, they all needed to learn some basic manners! They would lie in their food dish to eat, stand in the water bowel to drink, and throw litter all over the room because they played and wrestled in the litter box. Initially two of them were missing the litter box too, not for lack of effort but because they were a wee bit “unclear on the concept”: they would have their front legs in the box and their butts outside it. We cleaned their room continuously, and thankfully, they caught on quickly! It’s amazing what a little love and attention can do.
For four weeks we had our daily ritual. In the morning we would give them their meds, wipe their eyes, clean their butts, and feed them by syringe, in addition to offering a bottle and a plate of food. Of course, we also cuddled them, talked to them, and made sure they felt loved. At noon they were fed again and yes, cuddled, talked to, played with and loved. We would end the day with a longer visit, repeating the morning ritual and adding more play time. We treated them repeatedly for Giardia before we finally got a clean bill of health from the fecal! YEAH!
(In the meantime, my son had called us with we some sad news. Originally there had been 9 kittens in his area: the 6 he was able to catch, and 3 others he had been unable to approach despite repeated efforts. On the morning of his call, he had found two of those three. They had not survived. Without medical attention, they did not have a chance. He has never seen the third one, but we assume that it, too, did not survive.)
After six weeks, the ones we had saved were socialized enough, and mannerly enough, to be integrated fully into our home, after a stint in a larger room. Before long they were sleeping on our bed at night– all 6 of them. They all purred and cuddled; it was heaven for me after a long day at work. It was heaven for them to know they were safe, warm and very loved. They became my little shadows, following me everywhere.
Finally they were ready for adoption, and because we knew them so well, we were able to match each one with the ideal family.
Virgil and Cooter. Virgil and Cooter were the first ones to be adopted. Cooter was Mr. Social and Virgil’s protector, while Virgil had latched onto me as his Mom. Virgil trusted me implicitly from day one. He had a face and a look that could melt the hardest of hearts. We adored that little guy and came close to keeping him ourselves. We remain in contact with his adoptive family. In fact, we were able to see Virgil and Cooter obviously thriving in their new home. Virgil has a new Mom that he spends time with now.
Pooh Bear and Rocky. Pooh Bear (previously Abner) and Rocky (previously Orville) went to their forever home at the end of October. Pooh was the sweetest and most loving kitten you would ever want to meet. He was very laid back and so easy going about everything: New kittens, new people, everything. When strangers would come to meet our kittens, he was quick to walk over, sniff their feet, and throw himself on their shoes to roll over and get petted. Rocky was the opposite, intense and crazily playful; he, too, became a Momma’s boy after Virgil left. He followed me everywhere; nothing and nowhere was sacred. He was less outgoing than Pooh, but they went home together and, after an initial adjustment period, are now following their adopters around the house, just as they did me.
Sunshine and Pearl. Sunshine (previously Dixie) and Pearl (previously Bobby Jo) went home in the middle of November. Sunshine was a very social little tomboy who really wanted to rule the roost. Pearl was the opposite, a girly girl I spent a lot of time with to get her to trust human beings. She blossomed into a very sweet, loving girl, who can still be shy at first but warms up quickly. My son adopted these two, because Sunshine had made a lasting impression on him from the very beginning. These two sweet, intelligent girls have settled in, loving the attention and quickly adapting to their new forever home.
We never know where our kittens will come from, and it’s a sobering thought that for every one we manage to save, there are others who do not survive because there is no one to care for them. Our home is much quieter without our six little rednecks romping around, but we are thankful to have been able to get the six of them safe, healthy, and into loving forever homes!