Last week, a staff member had separated the Mom cat from her babies. The kittens were about 5 weeks old and the cage was too small for a Mom & 4 kittens. There were no maternity cages left - just small ones. The Mom had been calling out for her babies last time I was there. It was heart breaking.
I held up one of the kittens to the little Tortie Mom, and she started immediately grooming it and purring. She had remembered them. I felt goosebumps go up my arms as she lovingly licked her baby, maybe even chastising him for not cleaning his own ears in her absence.
We put the little family temporarily back in their cages while I gave Erin a "nickel tour" of the shelter. We stopped suddenly at a cage in the "new arrival" area with a litter of 5 kittens - they were 4 weeks old and had arrived today. They were beautiful. Blue eyes, and desperately trying to nurse on something...anything. They didn't have a Mom and would be euthanized on Wednesday. That was certain.
Too Young + No Mom = Death .. There was no hope for these kittens.
I watched Erin's kind face turn into something that I had seen far too often. It was one of agony, disbelief and a choice she didn't want to make. I knew "the look". The bargaining with yourself, "Could I take the family AND these kittens?" The bargaining is the worst. I had to save her from herself. She had to choose. We had to choose.
It was not certain that the Mom and kittens wouldbe euthanized on Wednesday. They had a chance. The 5 kittens had no chance on Wednesday.
They would surely die alone - no Mommy to comfort them.
When I walked Erin out to her car with the 5 kittens in her carrier, I knew she would probably cry on her way home. I wanted to cry with her. Watching that Mom licking her kitten, only to separate them again was brutal.
I want to save that sweet Mom and her little family so badly. I want to do it for Erin. I want to prove to myself that I haven't become a hardened rescuer.
"Please let them stay alive long enough for me to rescue them.