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Lizzie, a pregnant feral cat in a colony threatened with poisoning, was brought to Holly’s Place because she needed a safe home to have her kittens. She gave birth to four healthy babies just as we learned of four orphaned kittens in need of a nursing mother. We gave these four to Lizzie, and although we supplemented with milk replacer, eight kittens needed more than Lizzie’s system could deliver. So, we continued to search for another lactating female. Little did we know that help was already at Holly’s Place.

Tess had come to Holly’s Place that same month. She was a very young victim of a fast car who was facing euthanasia at a shelter. Tess had multiple pelvic fractures, but with much loving care, was soon able to walk again. Once her injuries were healed, we scheduled her to be spayed. The very night before surgery, Tess began to give birth to her own kittens. No one knew that she had been pregnant all along.

Because of her many injuries, Tess gave birth to a still-born kitten. She was confused, but as we consoled her, it occurred to us that she needed a living kitten, or better yet, four living kittens. When we brought the orphans to her, she became excited, as if she thought they were her own, and immediately gave them all a bath before settling in for nursing duty.

Tess blissfully nursed all four orphan kittens, but seven hours later she went into labor again. Sadly, this kitten was also still-born. She frantically licked her little kitten as we wept for her and the lost ones. At that moment, the four orphans began crying for their “mama.” Tess looked at them, then at her own dead kitten, back at them, and finally walked over to the orphans and began to nurse them.

Great good came out of a sad day for Tess (and for us). Lizzie now has a much easier time nursing her four kittens. The orphans have a happy mama. And little broken-bodied Tess has four healthy babies. Indeed, mother knows best.

Victoria M. King & Stan Petrey

Update: Tess went to a home where some of our other cats were adopted. However, many of the kittens Tess and Lizzie nursed are still here as adults. They have grown up here and still need homes. Still available from this group are: Quinton, Gill Rosco, Brownie, Michie, Goatee. They are all over a year old now.