A kindly woman discovered three new-born kittens in a bush, cold and near death a little over a week ago. She immediately reached out to her neighbor, Nicky Martinez, an avid rescuer-foster. "Marti was out walking her dogs when one approached a bush. She followed the dog to the bush and saw three newborn kittens with their umbilical cords still attached," Nikki said.
Although Martinez was out of town at the time, she talked Marti through feeding and caring for the babies until she returned home the next day. She even took the kittens to work with her to take care of them until Martinez got back. "It was freezing that night and when she found them they were ice cold and stiff," Martinez remembers.
Hoping against hope, Martinez called on the help of a TNR (trap-neuter-return) group on the east side of Las Vegas. They set a trap for the mom, but she didn't return.
Only 24 hours old, the kittens' future was touch-and-go. "They have not had their mother's milk which has essential antibodies. They have a lot against them," Martinez said. And she should know. She is well-versed in taking care of infant kittens, and she went right to work, keeping them warm and well-fed. She decided to call them Pancake, Spud, and Bagel.
The tiniest one, Bagel, was struggling to survive. Although the other two kittens were eating and gaining strength, it seemed that Bagel was ready to give up. She quit eating. "She didn't want to eat that much at her 2 AM feeding and my heart had a sinking feeling," Martinez said.
Time is of the essence when you are dealing with kittens so young. They can dies in a matter of mere hours. It was crucial that Martinez got Bagel eating again. Fortunately, her husband, and ER nurse, was certified in newborn critical care (for humans), and a veterinarian had trained the couple in how to tube feed kittens. Just in the nick of time, they got her eating again.
"I had happy tears rolling down my cheeks (partially because I was deliriously tired). Bagel gained the weight she lost, and she was eating without a feeding tube," said the relieved Martinez. Bagel went from 3.2 ounces at three days old to 4.3 ounces a week later. She was thriving! "After seeing Bagel refuse eating for two days and having to be tube fed, listening to her gulp down her food is music to my ears," Nikki said.
The problem of un-neutered animals on the streets is a real one. "Las Vegas has an estimated 250,000 unaltered stray/unowned living outside. That's nothing compared to the estimated 3 million living in Los Angeles. The reality is that most of those cats will be having babies outside," Nikki said.
Perhaps you know of an area near you where animals roam the streets. If so, step up and help. Trap the cats, take them to a local shelter (where you can borrow traps) or neuter clinic. These precious kittens were the lucky ones. Not all of them are so lucky! Share Bagel's video with your friends.