The kittens are six weeks old today. I can scarcely believe it. The time is flying and they've wrapped their little paws around my heart. Some people are anxious to "get rid of" kittens as soon as they reach this magical age, but not me. These kittens will be here for at least two more weeks and possibly three or four. My vet suggests kittens should never be taken from their mothers at six weeks of age and I concur. Yes, it might be a wee bit selfish on my part to want to keep them here longer, but in the end, it's for the good of the kittens.
I never think of any animal as something to get rid of, but rather, that each is a living being that needs a forever home and deserves one. Kittens are conceived and born through no fault of their own. Humans are in complete control of them and sometimes we fail to have our pets spayed or neutered. Animals do what is natural to them so ultimately, it's OUR responsibility to do all we can to decrease the unwanted animal population. I'm a fierce advocate for spaying and neutering and all of my own animals - strays at one time or another - have been altered.
A very pregnant Kelly was literally sitting on my doorstep one day and I sometimes wonder what led her here and what would have happened had she not found me. She'll be spayed and vaccinated as soon as she's weaned the kittens and then she'll be up for adoption too. I'm not going to pretend it will be easy to let them all go. I know better. I've been down this road before. I have a whole houseful of wonderful cats and I love each one dearly. I simply have to be realistic and draw the line. If I had a cat barn in my backyard, I would probably let in all the neighborhood strays (once they were spayed/neutered) and we'd have a grand old time, but that's not my reality.
There always seems to be another cat in need, waiting in the wings for my attention and thus it is now. My sweet little stray, Chester, was on my front porch last night crying and holding up his right paw. He looked and sounded so forlorn. He's the one who walks with me nightly as I make my feed-the-stray-cats rounds. Last night he tried to hobble along side me, but in the end, I picked him up and carried him back to the porch. I knew he was in pain.
I wanted to let him inside last night, but I couldn't, even though it was raining. He's not neutered and has never been checked for feline leukemia or other diseases and I have to protect the kittens and cats I already have. Mine have been vaccinated, but Kelly has not, as fas as I know. I came inside and gathered up flashlight, soft wipes, and antibiotic ointment and did the best I could to tend to his wound. As far as I could tell, it was a cat bite but there was no blood and no torn skin - just a space on his right leg where the fur was matted a bit. I slathered that area with the ointment and sat with him until he curled up and went to sleep. I hadn't heard any cat commotions last night and the night before, he seemed just fine.
What I'll do with little Chester, I don't know. The kittens are due for another vet check on Monday and I have an appointment for them. Chester may or may not be better by then, but vet bills are expensive and we're watching our funds, as most people are. I'll do some calling today and see if I can find a neuter/release program that might help us.
There will never be a time when I'm not duty bound to help a stray. I've finally resigned myself to the fact it's part of what I've been put on this earth to do. I no longer question it, I just do the best I can.