(Spoiler alert: Happy ending!)
I owe my rescue friend Jules Beer a bit of an apology. Last Saturday, I got emotional about two 3 or 4-day-old kittens rescued for a warehouse. She was hauling them around in the car with her while involved in a 27 dog rescue.
Make no mistake: Hauling neonatal kittens around with you should be avoided at almost all costs. It is difficult in a moving car to keep the kittens at the 90-100° temperature they’d enjoy next to mom.
Heating formula to that same temperature is also a chore while mobile, as is helping them poop and urinate.
With their temperature requirements, the need for a human to help them potty, and a mandatory every-two-hours feeding schedule, saving the lives of neonatal anything requires both skill and commitment. And is pretty hard to accomplish in a car.
Kitten Rescue Isn’t New to Us
Elionora and I had to do this once. I think it was a run from Fresno to Sonoma County for a weeks-old litter with a respiratory illness. The feeding and pooping stops added nearly 4 hours to the trip.
Thankfully, it was a warm day and we had several SnuggleSafe Microwave Heat Pads with us. I just wrote a product review of the device to go with this essay. If you don’t have at least one SnuggleSafe you really should.
While I was at home and available Saturday, I missed a 6 AM text for Jules about the kittens and didn’t hear from her again until noon, saying the kittens would arrive about 5 PM.
That torqued me because I focused not on saving the 27 rescue dogs, but on the kittens. Not on how the kittens would have certainly died in a cold warehouse if they hadn’t been rescued by Jules. Not on how our missed connection left Jules and her co-rescuer — her usual bottle baby foster — with no quick option for the kittens except to drive around with them.
Everyone in rescue knows this is not a perfect world. I didn’t want perfection, only better for these kittens. I focused on doing better so much that it made me angry.
I should have focused on what was possible in this circumstance. Jules unexpectedly found herself with two very young kittens and a major dog rescue on her calendar. She had a heating pad, a DC power inverter for it, and a SnuggleSafe. This kept the kittens “warm enough” while in her cart.
Her options were almost zero since the dog rescue was going into the evening. A pregnant dog was not safe to fly to a rescue group and had to be driven, for instance.
Elionora and I fostered the kittens overnight. They were much improved when we returned them to Jules the next morning.
I felt so guilty about the melodrama that I did the 2 AM, 4 AM, and 6 AM bottle feedings myself. Elionora added a heating pad to their carrier and a hiding spot where the kittens could escape the heat.
When they arrived at my house, they were hungry, a bit chilled, and dehydrated from their stay in the warehouse. When they left us the kittens were warm, alert, had clear (not yellow) urine, and full bellies. And 27 dogs went to rescue. Including the mom.
This was not a perfect rescue day, but it was a very successful one. Last I heard these kittens were taking their bottles wonderfully and doing well.
Sometimes it is best to focus on not allowing the perfect to become the enemy of good enough and just getting the job done.
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