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Smockity Children Bottle Feed Baby Kittens {RIP Mama Cat}

The day started out with excitement (the good kind) as the children discovered that 2 of the week old kittens had opened their eyes.

Everyone passed them around, and we commented on how proud the mama cat, Priscilla, seemed.

Then our neighbor came over to ask if he could borrow our son for some fence repair. While the men worked, I chatted with the neighbor about whether he might want a kitten when they are weaned, and he remarked that his German Shepherd had killed every cat they had ever tried to keep.

That’s when there was more excitement (the bad kind).

It turns out that his German Shepherd had followed him to our house and found our mama cat. Priscilla had evidently refused to leave her kittens and run to safety, so the dog did what he had done in the past to all the other cats he had caught.

We must have found her mere moments later because she was still breathing and trying desperately to get to her kittens.

My husband and I quickly ushered the children away from the gruesome scene and discussed whether we should put her down or let nature take its course. By the time we had decided what to do, she was already dead.

It is interesting how the different witnesses reacted to this sad tragedy.

The neighbors were so sorry and offered to try to compensate us for the loss. Of course, we didn’t hold them responsible.

My 10 year old, the midwife to the mama cat, was hysterical. She blamed herself. “If only I had been there. I should have been there. It’s all my fault! WHY wasn’t I there?!” she wailed over and over again.

I wanted to fix everything. “It’s okay. Everything will be okay,” I lied.

One child blamed the dog and wished harm upon it. He even expressed an interest in bringing about that harm himself.

One child blamed me because everyone knows that mamas are supposed to protect their children from bad things, and this was a Very Bad Thing.

Daddy and Brother dug a grave. Again.

Mama and Midwife went to buy some tiny bottles and kitten formula.

And now we have a box of baby kittens inside, where I never intended them to be

…and some sad children who are determined to care for them.

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Comments

  1. SO sad. Hugs to you and the kids…so hard as a mom to see your kids hurting.

  2. Oh, Connie, what a horrible story on all accounts. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. It has been my experience that often times stories that start out as a tragedy end with many lessons learned and memories made. I’ll pray that this is one of those stories.

  3. Oh no! I am so sorry to hear about your loss.
    This is just heart breaking.
    In case you don’t know, be sure to keep them warm, as they are not yet old enough to keep their own body warmth. Fleece blankets work well for this. Also be sure to feed them all every 2-3 hours for the next couple of weeks.
    We found and raised a small kitten from 3 weeks old. He is now a big and healthy 4 year old.
    Praying for comfort for all you and health for the little kitties.

  4. I am so very sorry! **HUGS** to your whole family!

  5. Gerald Huston Jr says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your posts. They are warm and comforting ….. and so obviously FULL OF LOVE !!!! …… shalom..shalom..shalom…. ~Gerald~ <3

  6. A husky killed one of our sweetest cats when I was a young teen. I saw it happen and was so sad. This story reminds me of what happened to Cali but she didn’t have kittens she was protecting. I remember thinking “Why didn’t she run under the porch? Why didn’t I run outside and beat the dog off or stop it before it happened instead of just standing in the window screaming?” That was many years ago and I was able to get past it. I am cautious of big dogs if I see them roaming around. We have a 4 years old son and a cat so I try to make sure I keep a close eye out for that. I hope you kids are able to get past this soon.

  7. Such a tough thing! Thank goodness you have such a good crew to step up and take charge.

  8. I’m so sorry to hear your sad news. Our 10 month old bunny died suddenly last night, and his 14 year old “dad” was just distraught, as was our 11 year old boy. These things are so hard for the children. I was crying for my son, and the loss he felt. My husband prayed over the family and that helped to heal some broken hearts.

  9. Oh Connie I am so so sorry for the loss of your mama cat. I am a furr kid kinda gal and have a few at my home. Way to go kiddos for stepping up! But oh boy do you have your hands full they eat every few hours! Good luck with these precious babies. :)

  10. Ok, Susan and Connie, you two are making me cry! I’ve been there many times, too, as an adult and child. Maybe the kids can do some pretty art things for the grave? Writing, talking……

    I hope the kittens are strong and I know you will all be the best mother cat possible.

  11. oh Connie- i am so sorry. my heart goes out to you and your children. what a beautiful example your mama cat was , protecting her babies to the end.

  12. Very sad. Hopefully your children will enjoy getting to be “mama” to these little kittens.

  13. I have a mama cat with four week old kittens. If you want to see if she will adopt your kittens email me privately. Might be worth a try.

  14. Sorry to hear about your loss. We had some kittens a few years back that we had to take care of ourselves.

    Be forewarned that apparently it is important to make sure that the little rumps are cleaned of any waste (with a warm paper towel) after the kittens “go”, at least in the very beginning. A vet told us that this is something usually taken care of by the mama. Apparently there can be health issues if this doesn’t happen. Check with your vet for more details.

  15. I am so sorry. What a terrible thing to happen. Nature is so brutal sometimes, especially when you witness it first hand. I still have nightmares about the day Blue was attacked by the next door neighbors dog. It had a huge impact on all of us, guilt, blame, anger etc. I’m sending lots of hugs and praying for those little kittens. I know they will get the best care. And your sweet Momma cat is such an inspiration in courage and a momma’s love:)

  16. That is just heartbreaking! I am so sorry that your sweeties and kittens have to go through this. Sending (((hugs))).

  17. Cathyharrell says:

    The vet told my daughter to clean their bottoms with a warm damp cloth. I thought it was to get them to use the bathroom.

  18. Michaeleen says:

    Oh.my.word. What a tragedy! Life on a farm is just like that isn’t it? Extreme joy and amazement followed by sadness and the brutal awareness of animals’ “natural” behavior the next. Just two weeks ago we had 5 lambs born – three are lively and full of life, two we “midwifed” for 24 hours each from their birth until their death…we did all we could and left the rest in the hands of God. As hard as it can be some days, what a blessing to live on a farm! God’s peace to all the Smockities during this hard time.

  19. We raised three babies that the mama cat abandoned several years ago….we massaged their tummies after feeding (stimulates their insides and makes them poop). Then, as others have said, once they go you clean their bums with a warm cloth or paper towel. It was a LOT of work raising those three babies but well worth it. I still have wonderful memories of teaching them to use the litter box, their first hissing, falling asleep after eating/pooping in a warm towel in our arms. So sorry for the violent loss of the mama cat. What a testament to the power of a mother’s love (animal or human!).

  20. I am SO sorry! :-( That is just a sad, sad situation.

  21. Very sad! We had the same thing happen about a week ago. But, we are unsure what happened to our mommy cat. She kind of just disappeared leaving behind four very new kittens. Luckily my mother in law’s cat had kittens the week prior and took on our four orphaned kittens just as they were her own.

  22. My wife showed me this sad entry. I think the neighbor should offer to give the dog to someone else so it is not near your home. That would eliminate any of the kids fears that this could happen again and also they wouldn’t have to see the dog and relive the sadness. That would seem the right thing for the neighbor to do.

  23. Oh, that makes me so sad. I’m so sorry. I can only imagine how heartbroken my kiddos would be. Keep us updated on the kittens. (((Hugs)))

  24. Your children have such tender hearts. How wonderful that you give them opportunities (like caring for animals) to nurture those qualities.

  25. Laura in AZ says:

    Hi Connie,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mama cat. When I was 10 years old, our family had an almost identical experience, so I can definitely identify with the range of reactions coming from your kids.
    Although it was painful, and I never could have articulated it at the time,it was an experience that taught me a thing or two about grief and forgiveness.
    Your kids will no doubt learn and grow from this sad incident, too. Most importantly, they’ll learn how love is triumphant, always.

  26. Oh, I am sorry. What a sad thing to happen. We raised 7 baby kittens three summers ago, and only lost the runt. He was very weak when we found him and the other kittens treated him harshly. It was a lot of work, but a very good experience for us.

  27. Connie – I am so sorry for the loss of your Mama cat! What an amazing opportunity God has orchestrated for you and your husband to exemplify a Christ-like response to sorrowful circumstances. In the days to come you will teach your children how to handle grief and loss, and to understand the sweet sacrifice of forgiveness. I pray that the wee kittens will thrive with your loving care – I know from experience it isn’t easy to raise orphaned animals, but it is a blessing!

  28. Oh my gosh, this is so sad! I’m sure the kittens will get really good care from the kids, though. Maybe you could let them keep one as a replacement?

  29. I empathize and sympathize with you. We have our own dog destroying a cat(s) story. At least the dog in your story was known to be a cat eater. We have a sweet big black lab who our mama cat snuggled up with (literally) throughout her whole pregnancy. After the kittens were born we had them in a big Rubbermaid type of box. When the kittens were a couple weeks old and had started wiggling around a good bit, one day we were all outside and we saw one of the kittens lying dead in the grass. How in the world did this happen????????? We had no idea, but questioned our 4 year old son who doesn’t exactly have the gentle gene. But, the kitten also looked wet. Hhhmmmm…. Two days later we walked outside and caught our sweet, big black lab with the KITTEN IN HIS MOUTH!!!!! What was he thinking??? Our best guess was that the lab saw the kittens moving around and thought they were dog toys. He seemed to drop them as soon as they quite moving (ie- were dead). So…much sympathy from here too. Life lessons are sometimes hard.

  30. Oh goodness… you’ve made me all upset! Pregnancy hormones <_< I'm all angry and sad and super protective now.

    Here in Australia the dog could be put down for that because it shows violent tendancies, and we have such a problem here of dogs mauling children. My husband was attacked twice by dogs as a child, once by a German Shepherd, so he would have had a much stronger reaction I believe. I hope the neighbours at least punished the dog, dogs can be trained not to do that, if he has a history of eating cats it should have been trained out of him if nothing else, how many neighbourhood cats has he eaten that they don't know about? How many other kids pets that found themselves in the dogs path?

    I'm sorry, I feel very strongly about people keeping pets who still have a hunting nature and don't train them properly. The first time ok, they didn't know, the second time maybe, but after that if the dog can't learn it shouldn't be kept as a pet. If the owners can't be bothered training it they shouldn't have a dog that has a hunting nature, go get a tracking dog or a traditional house dog. Some friends of ours were recently pet sitting, and the dog they were caring for ripped apart one of their other dogs, almost killing it. It was after that they decided, with their young children, they would not have any hunting dogs or strongly territorial dogs.

    We actually had two german shepherds growing up, and the elder of the two was very smart. They learnt not to eat cats or birds very quickly, did not bother the canary that hung in the same yard as them or the cats in the house when they came inside on winter nights and during dust storms. They also learnt not to touch my sisters guinnea pigs, and never harmed them. But all of that took training. They were also smart enough to learn snakes were a threat to us, they stood between a snake and my 4 year old sister once so my sister could run behind them and out of the yard. They regularly brought rats and snakes up to the back door. Fiercly protective of their family they were. They were great dogs. But that took training. We had a third one that showed violent tendencies that we couldn't seem to train out of it, one night it smashed a window out trying to get to a stray cat. That dog went, I think in that case they took it back to the breeder within a month of purchase with a warning that it needed to be sold as a working dog (we had purchased from this breeder before, so they knew us well enough, if we hadn't known them we probably would have approached some of the farms, it would have done a great job protecting a flock of sheep if they could teach it to protect and not eat them lol)

    I'm sorry I'm rambling, and I hope I haven't offended anyone too badly, but having lived in a rural area my whole life there's a big difference between a pet and a working dog. A pet cannot be allowed to eat cats without training, and a working dog cannot be allowed in a position where it can wander over to the neighbours house, especially when the neighbour has young children.

  31. If you want to make your own formula, here is a recipe I’ve used for kittens with good success a couple of times. 1 c. boiled whole milk, 2 t corn syrup, 1 egg yolk, pinch salt. Mix, store in fridge, heat to body temperature to feed the kittens. My, does this post bring back memories! I tried to raise a litter of kittens whose mother died when they were three days old, when I was about 10 or 11; one lived. Several years later, we found a kitten about that age whose mother abandoned it, and I successfully raised it, too. Lots of work, but fun when they live.

  32. One of the best things to feed baby kittens is … goat milk :-)

  33. Jeri @ Texas Piglets says:

    Oh, Connie. I’m so sorry! Priscilla sounds like she was a very good mama. We lost our kittens to an Alaskan Huskie when I was 9…the dog broke into our garage to get to them. Such a sad thing. I pray y’all are able to nurse the babies to long life.

  34. Oh, I am so sorry!

  35. That is a horrible, very upsetting story.

  36. Canoehead says:

    You are much nicer than I would have been. I know we need to have good relations with our neighbors, and he didn’t have any intention of causing harm, but jeepers… I guess I would have had to say to him “Go home and I’ll call you later, can’t talk right now.”
    Dog can’t be trusted, and stays home from now on, the jerk. Poor little Momma. I’ve fostered kittens for the SPCA and found they were well weaned onto wet food and formula by 3 weeks, so it’s not forever. Lots of cuddles and a warm spot they can curl up in.

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