Wednesday, September 03, 2008


A few weeks ago one of my cats gave birth to a litter of four kittens. After about a week she seemed to just give up on them and since then I've been hand rearing them. Three of the kittens have grown well and are sturdy balls of fluff now. The last one though was always the smallest. Hence, he became known as Titch. He had a few close calls- I came home once and found him sleeping on the tiled floor a distance from bed, nearly dead from hypothermia. He spent an afternoon and evening in front of the fire and then that night wrapped up well in a box beside my bed. I had to lie with one hand hanging over the edge of the bed into the box to get him to sleep.

The past week I noticed that he was almost half the size of the other kittens in the litter. They were coming on in leaps and bounds and he just didn't seem to be getting any bigger at all. I had a real soft spot for him and he was usually bottle fed first and then I'd spent a little time with him making sure that he gave himself a bit of a lick to clean up. An adorable black and white cat, he had a kind of exaggerated Siamese look to his face, partly I suppose because of his low weight. I used to set him up on the bench and then I'd stick my tongue out and lick. He'd watch for a moment or two and then begin to lick himself clean.

Last night as I fed the litter, the other three having just begun to eat solids and lap their milk from a dish, Titch refused his feed. He tried to each some of the cat food but he wouldn't take any milk. Same story this morning- he just wouldn't accept anything. And he didn't even get up out of bed when I came into the room.

As the day went on Titch went down-hill fast. I tried to feed him but he wouldn't take it- not even accepting water. I held him close for about an hour to make sure he was warm but his body temperature seemed to be fine- he managed a few weak purs and that was it. His eyes looked a little unfocused and he just wanted to sleep. Come the afternoon, he tried to stand and his back legs just gave way.

I brought him into the living room and set him up near the fire to keep him warm. I lay down on the floor next to him and he struggled over to rest his head on my hand as he went to sleep. A while later I tried again to feed him. He looked to be in a pretty bad way- not just sleeping but sprawled on the floor. He took a few drops of milk, swallowing okay, and then suddenly it was all over. He just seemed to stop breathing. I lifted him up to listen for a heartbeat and he gave a faint little chirruping sound and then passed away. He was only four and a half weeks old.

I'm going to miss him.

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