Today thousands of bloggers are posting about acts of kindness that they have performed and that's great! I heartily applaud the sentiment and although I've decided to join this event I'm not going to blog about my own act(s) of kindness as that would be totally cringe worthy for me. Instead I've opted to write about a wonderful act of kindness that I've witnessed at close quarters.
A few years ago my darling Russian Blue girl Pippa was pregnant for the first time and we were all very pleased about that. The pregnancy went well but unfortunately when the time came for the babies to be born things went rather down hill fast. Although Pippa had had contractions for hours, no babies came. In the end she had to have a Cesarean at the vet's.
I was there during the operation to assist the vet and noticed that he had a hard time anaesthetising Pippa and had to give her more and more before she finally went under. The op went smoothly and soon 2 Russian Blue babies were born, one boy, Delius, and one girl, Delia. After the op the vet gave Pippa something to revive her, the babies got a drop each too and home we went.
As soon as we got home I put the babies with their mum Pippa but they wanted to have nothing to do with her. Both Pippa and her babies felt cold to the touch so I made two hot water bottles and stoked up the central heating. I rubbed both babies vigorously with a towel to get their circulation going and did the same with Pippa. But all three of them still felt too cold and their reactions were sluggish which worried me a great deal. Especially Pippa had me worried as she seemed unable to shake off the effects of the anaesthetic. So I phoned the vet and he told me that I was doing the right thing in keeping her warm and rubbing her and that if things had not improved by the end of the afternoon I would have to take Pippa back to the vet's.
So there I was, getting very worried as I didn't want to lose my Pippa but I didn't want to lose the 2 babies either. I couldn't look after all of them at the same time and was starting to feel a bit desperate. What to do?
Three weeks earlier my Maine Coon Vita had given birth to a lovely litter of bouncing Maine Coon babies. The wonderful thing about my Vita is, that she is such an exceptionally good mother, she loves all kittens dearly. So I decided to put the newborn Ruskies with Vita even though her kittens were already 3 weeks old. Cat mums are very protective of their babies and anything out of the ordinary would be perceived as a threat by them. Many female cats, if (and that's a big if) they'll accept another kitten, will only accept kittens that are about the same age as their own, so I was a bit apprehensive when I put the 2 Ruskie babies with Vita; would she accept them?
As soon as Vita saw the babies she sniffed them and then she gave both of them a thorough wash which was what they needed. After the bath she encouraged them to drink with her, and after a few false starts, they succeeded in doing so. They had not wanted to drink with their mum Pippa, so I was very relieved to see them drinking with Vita at long last. Phewwy!!!
The 5 Maine Coon kiitens also accepted the 2 little grey intruders very kindly, which was wonderful to see.
Here you see some of the Maine Coon kittens drinking and the 2 Ruskies as well. Note the vast difference in size. The 2 babies were about 100 grams each at that time, whereas the Maine Coons were about 400 to 500 grams each. One little shove or push from a Coonie would have sent a little Ruskie flying. But no, they were very calmly accepted into the bosom of the family and it was very quickly and peacefully decided that they should all take their turn to drink at the milk bar. There were after all only 5 milk producing nipples but 7 kitty customers.
I was utterly amazed; usually kittens fight over who gets which nipple to drink from and they all want the best one. And believe me when I tell you that no prisoners are ever taken; it's a fight to the death, literally. Mother Nature can be very cruel.
I was so happy to see everything going so well with the 2 newborn kittens; Vita was looking after them properly and by doing so, gave me the opportunity to look after Pippa. In the end I decided to go to bed and take Pippa with me. She was still far too cold and very lethargic which worried me a great deal. But once we were under the covers her temperature started to rise and her responses became slowly more normal. After a few hours Pippa had fully regained consciousness, her body temperature had much improved and, after some encouragement from me, she had drank some lukewarm cat milk and was starting to feel better. I was so relieved, I can't tell you.
All in all it took Pippa 2 weeks to fully recover from the op and by that time it was much too late to introduce her to her babies and the other way round. So Pippa's babies remained with their foster mum Vita who took excellent care of them.
When the Coon babies were about 4 weeks old, they boldly went where no kitten had gone before and started to explore the world outside their nest box. Soon they discovered the couch and how the climb up it. Vita was keeping a watchful eye over her kittens as good mums do. But the two Ruskie babies were still in the nest box as they were only 1 week old and not ready yet to explore the world. But as soon as all 5 Maine Coon kittens were on the couch, Vita went back to the nest and gently took one of the Ruskie babies in her mouth and carried it to the couch. Then she went back for number two and she put that kitten also on the couch. After that she gently lay down and let the 2 babies drink while keeping an eye on her Coon babies' antics. I was utterly amazed by how intelligent Vita was in solving this problem
And mother nature was not lacking in intelligence either. Normally Russian Blue kittens start to explore the world when they're 3 weeks old as they are then able to walk properly. The 2 Ruskie babies managed to walk when they were a mere 2 weeks old, one week earlier than normal. To be together with kittens older than them, forced these two to develop more quickly than they would normally have done.
I was surprised from start to finish by the very gentle way the big Maine Coon kittens treated the little Ruskie babies. It was as if they realised that they had to treat the 2 babies much more gentle than they would treat their siblings.
And Vita continued to be an excellent mum for both her own kittens and the two adopted ones. I was amazed to see that she knew from the start that she had to treat the 2 younger kittens very differently from her own. Ordinarily as soon as the kittens are about 8 weeks old they have to initiate drinking, whereas before the mother cat would offer the opportunity to drink to her kittens. So when the Coon babies were 8 weeks old they had to ask for their milk but Vita would still freely offer it to both the Ruskie babies until they were 8 weeks old as well. My Vita is a very clever cat, no doubt about that.
The wonderful way in which Vita and her kittens adopted the 2 Russian Blue kittens was truly an act of kindness.
Little Delia and her brother Delius were pampered to the max, being surrounded by a loving foster mum and 4 gentle big sisters and one big, kind brother. It's no wonder that they both grew up to be very gentle and loving pets.
Little Delia stayed with me and she has a son herself now that also lives with me. His name is Merlijn (Merlin) and he and his mum are inseparable. Like his mum Delia, Merlin has a very loving disposition. Between you and me; he is a bit of a mummy's boy. ;-)
Vita and Delia are mother and daughter still in the way they behave towards each other. It's wonderful to see how Vita treats Delia as her baby girl from time to time. My dearest Vita, she is such a wonderful cat and she has clearly demonstrated that it's not only human beings that are capable of acts of kindness.
copyright 2007: Y.E.W. Heuzen
Hollies in the window
Home's where the wind blows
Can't walk for running
Christmas time's a comin'.
Emmylou Harris, Christmas Time's A-coming.