I would like to state that Morgaine and I had a very special relationship. While Fiona regularly lunged at me when I cleaned her cage daily, Morgaine never even once hissed at me, and would let me get very close to her without getting upset. I had full intentions of rehabilitating her and turning her into a barn cat or trying to get her adopted. So I decided that she should have the run of a stall in our barn in order to have her kittens, and made a bed of hay for her in a corner to give birth on.
My friend Maggie and I went to the lumber store and got chicken wire, came back to the barn and made a cat-proof stall. After several hours we had covered all the bars in the stall with chicken wire, staples, and zip ties. At first I didn’t even notice our one weak point, but when I stepped back to admire our work, Maggie was pointing to the ceiling. At the very top of the stall there was at most a four inch opening that led into our hay stall. It would be a long shot for a feral cat to escape through, but I agreed to stuff it with old shavings bags.
I let Morgaine loose in the stall and the very next day when I came in to check on her, she was giving birth to kittens! Morgaine gave birth to four healthy kittens in our cat proof stall, and doted over them completely. Hah.
Unfortunately the themes in my life are not quite so simple. I checked on Morgaine throughout the day and when I brought her wet food at noon since I knew she would be very hungry, I noticed that she was on the other side of the stall, away from her four newborn kittens who were crying for her. I left a little upset, hoping that she was just taking a break. But when I came back an hour later she was sitting alone in her cage. I scolded her for being a naughty mother and left more food for her and hoped that she was just taking another break. I had to go away for the rest of the day, and when I came back at seven to check on her and the kittens, Morgaine was nowhere to be found and her kittens were crying in the corner.
I was confused, how could Morgaine have escaped? Did someone accidentally let her out? I called the woman who brought the horses in, and she told me that at six she had seen Morgaine sitting in the carrier, away from her kittens. I grabbed a flashlight, combed the stall and to my horror found that one of the shavings wrappers that blocked the top hole had been knocked down.
I felt betrayed. Why would Morgaine have left a clean stall and bedding with all the food and water she could want? But it was true. Morgaine had abandoned her kittens in order to return to the outdoors. One of the worst parts is that I was unable to spay Morgaine, so my month of caring for her was for nothing.
As the kittens cries turned more desperate and it was apparent Morgaine was not going to return, my cousin Curt turned to me and in one of my proudest moments told me that we had to rescue the kittens and take them home to feed them or they would die.
We ran the kittens home, and Curt wrapped them in warm towels while I prepared the formula. With two in each of our laps we alternated feeding and cleaning them for an hour, until they fell asleep. The smallest orange kitten was actually still wet from the embryonic fluid. The next few days were, to say the least, not the best. Having seven bottle-baby kittens is a nightmare. Fiona’s litter just had started sleeping through the night when I was thrust back into waking every hour to feed again.
Unfortunately, the smallest orange kitten did not make it and died one the second day. The rest of the kittens were doing very well though, and I hoped they would all make it through.