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Nursing Mama Found, but Where are Her Babies?

Our intrepid foster mama, Maria got up early to hit the local tag sales. It was a hot Saturday just southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Maria was taking a break from a long work week. Tag sales were an enjoyable adventure since she could save some money and find something fun to bring home while she was at it.

This weekend Maria got far more than she could have expected when she saw a cat LAYING in the middle of the street. Maria stopped her car and got out; worried the cat would be hit by a car. The cat came over to her and rubbed on her leg. She cried to Maria and within a moment, it was obvious that this cat was very thin. Maria, of course, had cat food in her car and offered some to the cat. She gobbled it up right away.

©2011 Maria. S. A stray cat makes a new friend with Maria.

Maria took a closer look at the cat and saw that the cat's nipples were enlarged, a sure sign the cat was either nursing or pregnant. She sent me a text. It was not even 8AM. She wanted to talk to me, so I got out of bed and went into the foster room so I could talk to her without waking Sam up.

She didn't know what to do and I can't say I blamed her. She didn't know if this was someone's cat, but if it was they weren't taking care of her at all. If the cat had kittens, WHERE WERE THEY?

I encouraged Maria to ask anyone in the neighborhood if they knew the cat. She found one person to tell her he'd seen it before but didn't know where it belonged. I told Maria to get the cat to the Vet. If she did have owners, they didn't deserve this cat, who seemed to have no fear and who kept "talking" at Maria. Too bad she didn't speak cat.

Her tag sale plans disrupted, Maria went to her Vet. They weren't busy and offered to do an ultrasound of the cat FOR FREE. They didn't see anything unusual inside her so either she had already given birth or she was not far along enough for them to see anything. Maria spent her tag sale money to have a "snap test" done to determine if the cat had FIV or Feline Leukemia. She did not. She had some flea dirt on her, as well as two ticks. Her belly fur was bare, possibly from being itchy, they weren't sure. The cat only weighed FIVE POUNDS. They couldn't tell her if the cat had given birth.

Now what?

A few hours had passed since Maria took the cat to the vet. She noticed the cat's mammary glands were more enlarged. I told her to go back to where she got the cat and let her go. See if she would take Maria to where the kittens were located-if there were any. Surely she would need to feed her babies soon.

A severe thunderstorm hit just as Maria arrived at the drop off point. There wasn't much she could do, but wait. She was able to let the mama cat out of the car, but all she did was cry, then run into the street. Maria wasn't going to let this cat get hurt and it was clear the cat wasn't going to feed any kittens-if they even were alive. It was late. Reluctantly, Maria headed for home, the cat crying next to her in the car.

I quickly designed a flyer, hoping against all odds someone would step forward and help us find the kittens and I told Maria to just get the mama to her house and we'd sort it out the next day.

Flyer for Kittens.jpg

I don't know much about finding where a mama cat might hide her kittens. I asked all my rescue friends and most of them said that since the mother was only 8-10 months old herself, that odds were she had abandoned the litter and was not going to care for them-IF they were alive. It's hard not to give up hope, but we knew that between the 95°F temperatures, rain, predation and starvation, these kittens might have 24-48 hours left to live.

Maria skipped Father's Day with her stepdad and her day off and got back into her car with the cat she named, Amberly. Amberly had a good night's rest, drank a bowl of water and had some food. She was in much better shape than she was the day before.

Maria let Amberly out of the car and she strutted off into someone's yard. Maria followed and saw the cat go into a storm sewer. Her heart sank. If the kittens were inside it would be very tough to get them out. A moment later, Amerbly returned and decided to look around at another drain. A neighber saw Maria and she told him what was going on. He offered to help her look. Then, Amberly dashed out of sight.

Where kittens were found.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

The neighbor called out to Maria. “I see something!”

Find Mama copy.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

Maria ran to his side. In the base of a tree, they could barely see Amberly's eyes. Being black let her disappear easily. They walked up to the cat. She didn't move, but something else near her, did.

Mama Feeding the Babies.jpg
©2011 Maria. S. If you look closely, to the left are two kittens.

Maria could see a tiny kitten nursing on her mother, Amberly. It was a miracle. The kitten had been found. Maria let Amberly nurse as the neighbor, who admitted he didn't even like cats, went to get her some gloves so she could dig into the base of the tree to find every kitten that was there. I can't imagine how scared and excited I'd be if I was Maria. I'd be scared to find dead kittens, but excited that some might make it.

Maria Digging Kittens Out.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

Slowly and carefully, she lifted a tiny calico kitten into the sun. The kitten squinted her eyes and let out a small cry. She was alive, not near death, but alive.

Calico in gloves.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

Maria looked again and found a second kitten. This one a little gray guy wiht white paws. He wriggled around in her hands, but seems all right, too.

Gray and White in Gloves.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

Maria continued to remove kittens from their nest. Another gray and white kitten, then a tortie.

Gray Tabby in Glove.jpg

All said and done, there were FIVE kittens rescued. Each one was alive, but after barely being fed for 24 hours they needed a lot more nourishment.

Tortie in Gloves.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

First things, first-they needed to get to Maria's house, away from all the dangers they faced and into a safe, loving environment. From looking at them, we estimate they're barely 2 weeks old.

Grey Baby in Glove.jpg
©2011 Maria. S.

There's much to sort out. Names to be given-perhaps something from the Hobbit since they were found under a tree? We'll need to do an emergency fundraiser to provide for their care and get them over to the Vet for a checkup to make sure they're all right. We didn't plan on rescuing any families since funds are tight and foster homes are tough to find, but we'll make it work somehow.

We'll see how the babies do over the next 24 hours. Will Amberly feed them and give them the care they need or were the kittens left alone for too long and Amberly will reject them?

Yesterday we hoped we'd find these precious little ones and thankfully they were found. Maybe, just maybe, the worst of their troubles are over and now the fun can really begin for them all.

And to Maria, who missed going to the tag sales, I'm sorry about that and I know you got more than you bargained for this weekend. I can't express fully how completely over-the-moon-happy I am that you gave up your time and money and kicked ass and rescued those babies. My hat's off to you, Maria. Way to go, baby. Way to go!


What a wonderful story! I am so glad maria found the babies..great happy ending!
Something similar happened to the cat shelter when I volunteer. We found a cat walking in front of a grocery store, so we took her to the shelter. The next day it was noticed she was a nursing mama. We went back to the grocery store to look for the babies, and found 2 newborns where the carts are stored. The next day, a vet office called us to see if we could take in a newborn baby..we asked where he was found...behind the same grocery store! mama was in the process of moving her babies when we found her. So it was great she was united with her babies. sadly, two passed away. :( But she is a great mama and is now a "foster mom" to some other motherless babies.

So glad for a happy ending! Great job, Maria! So often young cats abandon their litter, or the kittens were stillborn or didn't survive their first few days, and sometimes you never find the kittens. They move them at two-week intervals, and this is often when the mother is separated from them because it's one of the few times she actually appears in public. Amberly also could have been suffering from her own hunger--nursing five kittens at her size--or a post-partum condition that food and a good night's rest helped to relieve. I almost hate to hear about new kittens, but once they're here they're just so darned cute! Good luck to all!

Wonderful! Wonderful! You go Maria. :D

Yeah, I'm so glad that Maria went the second and even third mile to find these precious babies. I sincerely hope that they and their mom will get strong and healthy and find loving long-term homes. What a wonderful Father's Day story, even if it's about a mom and her babies!

what a wonderful story - lots of good thought and prayers that all goes well.

Good job, Maria!

Great story!! Maria, thanks for all the help you're giving the sweet, sweet kittens & mommy.

So glad Maria was in the right place, at the right time! Clearly, Maria, you were not supposed to go to the sales - you were sent to help Amberley!
Robin, can we help with some funds, to pay Maria back for her vet bill and maybe contribute towards the care of Amberley and her babies? I could donate a few dollars... if you have a paypal account name? Perhaps you would tell us on Facebook, then I will contribute?
So yesterday may have been Father's Day, but it was also Mother's Day for Amberley and Maria!

Okay, so I didn't look before I leapt! I have just found the "Chip-In" box on your sidebar and made my contribution. Thanks for letting me help!

We just sent you a thank you note, too! Thanks very much!

The world is a better place because of folks like y'all .

wish there were more people like you in this world - my contribution will be small, since I have a house full of fosters - but hope that every little bit helps.

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