A year has passed since that crazy day in May with Rosie and her babies. I often think about her and her kittens and wonder how they are all doing. What homes were they adopted into, how do the kittens look now, and who got lucky enough to adopt Rosie?
Having already fostered a pregnant mother, we felt fairly confident in fostering another one and eagerly perused the foster list for a suitable candidate. We picked up Rosie, who was all fluffy and friendly and heavily rounded, when she arrived in our foster room. She was a sweet little feline who seemed just barely more than a kitten herself.
Our first mother cat had had her babies while we were sleeping, which meant we missed the whole event (it was over in 5 hours with almost no mess and 5 lovely little kittens), so I selfishly hoped that I would get to see at least some of this delivery! (A foster mother can hope, can’t she?) Little did I realize that I would most definitely see part of Rosie’s delivery and it would end up being a rather desperate event.
But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me rewind a bit.
Having fostered only one pregnant mama cat before this, we were obviously experts, (obviously) and thus unprepared for Rosie’s difficult delivery. We didn’t know what we were about to experience, or the importance, as foster parents, that we were about to play.
Her delivery started late in the evening as we headed into the May long weekend. Things, for Rosie, went smoothly at first. Three wee kitties arrived (all bordering on rather large), over the course of the night as she struggled… and struggled… and struggled to push them out. Then things seemed to reach an impasse. As morning dawned, Rosie seemed to be still pushing, contracting, struggling, but less so, with the end result being that no more little furry creatures arrived.
So I waited, somewhat impatiently I have to admit, for something more to happen; for Rosie to stop with her struggling or for more babies to come out, or both. I tried to comfort her and I agonized for her. I tried to sympathize while still giving her space and I did a fairly good job of not bothering the three already delivered babies.
After a while I started to become concerned. This was taking too long, wasn’t it? Rosie appeared to be exhausted, and I was getting the sense that maybe she was in distress. There appeared to be no more babies coming, but she continued to push and struggle and be uncomfortable. Was something stuck? I wanted to be level headed. I didn’t want to be a ninny, panicking at the first sign of discomfort, but I soon realized I needed to get her medical attention.
I called the Fish Creek Emergency Vet Clinic and explained to them the situation. Of course, what else were they going to say other than “bring her in and we’ll check her”, so off I went, whisking all four of them (Rosie and her three babies) off to the clinic in a bleary eyed, worried state of decisiveness.
It was still relatively quiet and not-yet-lively at Fish Creek, and they took Rosie right into the back to check her out and take an x-ray of her.
As Mark, the Dr. on-call (and a seeming super hero of furry animals), glided about the waiting room wearing a cape of confidence inspiring assurance, he mentioned, as he zoomed by, that there probably wasn’t anything to worry about. (Translation: crazy cat lady, you’re a panic monster.) He told me that cat delivery was notorious for causing worry and uncertainty. (Translation: he saw this all the time and I was probably no different than every other over protective cat owner. Things were going to be ok). Finally he promised that he would check her out and make sure that everything was going to be fine with my Rosie.
As he disappeared into the back again, and more people with their furry creatures arrived to be saved from certain doom, I did doubt myself and wondered if I had panicked unnecessarily. Had I rushed here for no good reason? But it didn’t feel like that to me. Something about Rosie, something about her mental and physical state, was telling me that I was in the right place, that this was more than just a hard wrought delivery; that she was in trouble. So I trusted in my intuition, which had brought me here, and tried to settle down my worries while I tried to patiently wait for news.
It didn’t take too long for Dr. Mark to orbit back to me and offered to show me the x-ray they had taken of Rosie.
Once we were in front of the x-ray, he explained that there were another two babies trying to get out of Rosie and that there was also a pocket of gas being displayed on the film that shouldn’t be there (hmmm). He said that he wanted to do an emergency C-section on her; that he didn’t feel that we should wait until the CHS was open to do the surgery. It was an EMERGENCY!!!
Turns out that the problem, for Rosie, was that the two remaining kittens were just too big for her to have ever been able to squeeze through her birth canal, not being all that big herself. Plus, one of the poor little creatures had died and the longer the dead kitten remained in her, the more dire Rosie’s situation became.
The good Dr. pulled both kittens out and his team of wonderful staff was able to get the last kitten (a grey tabby) breathing, warmed up, and thriving. Yay!
Dr. Mark finished up Rosie’s C-section with a quick spay surgery (sure, why not, while we were in there) and sowed the young momma cat back up, declaring with satisfaction, that if she had remained in the wild, and had not been rescued by CHS and ultimately arrived on his surgery table, she would have most definitely died. Five lives were saved that day and it wouldn’t have been possible if Rosie hadn’t arrived at Calgary Humane Society and on Dr. Mark’s operating table when she did!
Eventually Rosie and her four kittens were able to come home where the rest of Rosie’s baby raising was blissfully uneventful, and happily so.
In the end it was a crazy, wonderful, scary, overwhelming, epic experience and I feel ever so lucky to have been a part of it.
To be a foster parent sometimes requires the ability to go with the unexpected, to take on the sudden rush to an emergency clinic to get them medical care at some unruly hour, or to give up all that sleep while you keep checking on your mama cat who is struggling all night through a difficult delivery. Sometimes it requires just a welcoming lap, fingers to scratch under their chins, a willingness to take them for walks, or dedication to make them sit EVERY time for their favourite treat. Sometimes it requires endless hours of loving and laughing and kitten/puppy antics and mixing up KMR and washing half of it off of their fur afterwards. And all of this, the quite loving moments, the snuggling tranquility, the tears and laughter, and the chaotic, hair-on-fire panicked moments, is what makes being a foster parent a wild and wonderful, amazing and enriching experience. And I’m hooked. It is the closest thing to being a super hero that I am ever going to be! My powers are love and kindness and a willingness to put my heart out there knowing it might get broken but doing it anyways. So sign me up for another foster animal, and let this new adventure be the next awesome flash bulb moment I get to keep with me forever!
Mom and all four kittens were happily adopted!
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent please visit our website HERE.