One day while all of us at Kitty Central were bunking at my friend’s house during our air con upgrade, the new mum of my foster kitties contacted me – let’s call her “Ray”. Lulu was sick, she had terrible diarrhoea and was leaving poop drops all over the apartment, and as Ray’s boyfriend was out of town, she didn’t have transport to get Lulu to the vet. Could I help? Could I collect her that evening and take her to the vet?
Lulu was very thin and her tail was scrawny when she finally came home
Jonna, the lady who found the kittens and who found Ray to take them, and I realised we should have screened her much more closely than we did, and maybe done a home inspection. We were so desperate to find a home for the babies that we didn’t do our due diligence. I had also been contacted by some Instagram followers concerned about how thin the kitties were looking, like they weren’t getting enough to eat, and how grubby they looked. It was all very upsetting.
The only timeslot Ray was free for me to collect Lulu was one when I was not available – I had a conference call booked that I couldn’t move. I asked Lyn if she could assist, knowing she would love to see Lulu again, and off Lyn went to collect Lulu with my driver, to take her to the vet, get some medicine and return her to her home.
A few hours later, I received some very distressing text messages from both Lyn and my driver. Lulu was filthy, covered in poop, pus in her ears and nose, her bottom was red-raw and she was all skin-and-bones. Lyn was in tears. The vet was equally horrified – she had cared for them when they were first found roadside when they were just one week old, and she knew how much love and care I had given the babies. Lulu could not be returned home that evening, she needed urgent attention. The vet’s assessment was that Lulu had been sick and untreated for some time.
Over the next few days, I spoke to the vet frequently. Lulu was famished all the time, eating huge amounts of food regularly, but her hunger was never sated. She had been cleaned up and given antibiotics, but the diarrhoea hadn’t stopped. She couldn’t go home until it did, but I was adamant that Lulu should not return to her home at all. I had several discussions with Ray who eventually agreed to surrender her. I would care for Lulu until she was well enough to go to a new, fully vetted home. Lulu spent two weeks at the vet, and didn’t gain any weight. Her diarrhoea did not improve and the vet was at a loss as to how to treat it.
The rest of us had eventually moved back to our own apartment as my friend had returned from overseas, but the “five day” air con upgrade would not be completed for another four weeks. Despite the mess, the disruption and the tradespeople traipsing through our home, the kitties were overjoyed to see their cat-condo again, and Pip went straight to his wheel and ran and ran!
About a week after we moved back, I collected Lulu. On the car ride on the way home, she kept biting my face, which I didn’t like much so I kept moving her away. Poor Lulu, it was later I read that this is a sign of affection, the little sweetheart must have been so happy to see me, and so happy to be leaving the vet where she had boarded for two weeks. Lulu remembered our apartment straight away, and Chico – her brother – warmed to her the fastest. There was a bit of hissing with the other kitties, but Lulu had a very clever technique for winning them over. She would sidle up to them and start grooming them. And sooner or later, they would groom her in return, and Lulu LOVES to be groomed. The big kitties seemed to sense that Lulu was fragile, they were gentle with her and washed her often. Meanwhile, we let her free-feed on dry biscuits and fed her wet food on demand. When she was hungry, she would find Lyn or me and cry, and we would feed her wet food. We did it whenever she wanted, which was hourly during the day and I would get up three times in the night to feed her. And we weighed her every day. Slowly, slowly, her meals got further apart, until she was having just two more meals than the big kitties, and then one day, she weighed in at the 1kg (2.2lb) mark – hoorah! But she was tiny at nearly 6 months old. Her brother Chico was nearly 3 times her size at almost 3kg (6.6lb). I was adding various supplements to her food; rice cereal, probiotics, slippery elm but nothing stopped her poop problem, which went on for several months. To this day she has occassional bouts of diarrhoea.
Her situation was so sad, I realised I could not rehome Lulu, she had been through too much. She was back where she needed to be, in her forever home with me. It saddens me also to think how much her sister Leyte must have missed her, and vice versa.
While we were caring for Lulu, I contacted Ray again to suggest the other two kitties, or at least one of them should also be returned to me. It was clear she wasn’t in a financial or personal position to care for five cats, and reducing by just one wasn’t going to be a lot easier. Surely she loved them enough to see that they needed more care than she was able to give? But she didn’t agree. Her Instagram account was closed, her phone number was changed, and while Jonna, my driver and I went to great lengths to track her down, I ultimately had to concede that Munro and Leyte, little sweethearts that I raised by hand, are lost to me.
Footnote: There are many, many people around the world who work with fosters kittens, disabled and senior cats in their homes and in shelters, rescues and sanctuaries. I have only fostered five kittens – Asha plus these four, and it was such a sad and difficult experience, it’s not something I will do again. I have the greatest admiration for kind and strong people who help hundreds of kitties – I don’t have the emotional fortitude that you do, and I know you have stories much more significant and tragic than mine. Thank you for all that you do.