Six weeks ago we lost a beloved cat who was originally named Billie Holiday until she survived a traumatic near-death experience. We renamed her Miracle.
When Miracle died suddenly I rushed to stuff meaning and hope into the place she had left with us. We adopted a gregarious shelter cat and began to foster a litter of kittens.
For a brief time things looked manageable. We grieved, but we also marveled. Then, one by one the kittens succumbed to something awful. After the first few died we surmised it was panleukopenia. It was an agonizing week of trying everything and then losing them. We lost, then lost again.
I kept thinking this must have been what the plague felt like (worse, of course).
Against cooler heads we adopted a second cat for my college-aged son. She is amazing and is going to be a great city girl.
We knew–no kittens, the panleukopenia is too strong, lingering like a vengeful ghost all around us in the house.
Then we got an email–momma cat, four week old kittens, needed a foster home. I told the coordinator our story. She said she would keep looking, hope for someone less contagious.
No one emailed back.
When we got to the shelter there was a hesitation, some consulting over Momma Cat’s listlessness. They sent her home with us, humans of last resort. It has been a rough season for cats, for shelters, for life or death decisions.
We took this little feline family home and sensed something was wrong. Mama seemed wan and apathetic.
I called the vet the next morning, emailed the shelter. Nothing materialized in terms of veterinary answers so I enlisted the help of a trusted medical professional whose patients are mostly human.
We dosed mama with “subq” liquids and antibiotics left over from the last bacterial thing. We knew this was a race against time. She needed to eat soon.
Last night at 12:30 she started eating. Miraculous.
She went from skinny, listless, glassy-eyed to an engaged and selfless mama cat.
Selfless because she has a moon-shaped laceration on her belly, right across the nursing plain.
I am not sure all the little ones will make it. I am not sure what we will do with our grief if we lose even one.
One thing is sure for me though, this little feline mother is a Wonder Cat to me.