Many of us know the feeling of being the only one left behind. Maybe you were the last one of your friends to learn to ride a bike, or perhaps the last one to finally get married. For one tiny kitten that nearly died in foster care, it meant remaining incredibly small in size while her three brothers grew up—she was half the size of a normal cat, in fact.
“Kitten Mom” Susan Spaulding and the National Kitten Coalition learned that five newborn kittens had found their way to a local rural shelter in North Carolina. They knew that these baby cats were still too young to stay warm enough to survive alone in a cage.
So, Spaulding, a co-founder of NKC who has 25 years of experience caring for kittens in need, immediately volunteered to foster the five siblings. They were in rough shape when she first took them in.
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As a kitten-care expert, she was fully prepared to handle endless round-the-clock feedings and caregiving needed to ensure these kittens had the best shot possible at living and growing to become healthy cats.
Sadly, one of the kittens was too far gone and perished the very next day, but Spaulding was determined that the remaining four, three males and a tiny female named Bijou, should survive.
“I honestly didn’t know what the future held, but I was going to give Bijou and her brothers lots of love and hope for the best,” Spaulding had told The Dodo.
11 ounces and growing!
And thanks to their determination, the kittens grew healthier. But while the three males began to grow bigger, Bijou stayed small, left behind by her brothers as it were. At 4 ounces (approx. 113 g), she simply stopped growing.
“The remaining three kittens, all boys, progressed normally and moved on to rescue for adoption right on schedule,” said NKC executive director Rebecca Jewell, via The Dodo. “Bijou progressed much more slowly, and at about 4 ounces, seemed to stop growing. She would gain a few grams, lose a few grams.”
Bijou also took a little bit longer to recover her health, and one night, it almost seemed like she was going to kick the bucket. But the little girl kept on fighting—and her kitten mom fought with her every step of the way until she suddenly seemed to make a breakthrough.
Today at just over 1.5 pounds…petite, but full of personality.
Susan Spaulding. Co-founder and Director of Neonatal Programs- National Kitten Coalition. www.kittencoalition.org
Bijou finally started gaining weight; at nine weeks, she weighed 8.2 ounces (approx. 232 g); at 4 months, she weighed 1.6 pounds (approx. 726 g); she weighed 3.3 pounds (approx. 1.5 kg) after 8-and a half months—but she was always way behind her big brothers, and about half the size of a kitten her age.
Despite that, Bijou turned into quite a happy and healthy cat and seemed oblivious to the fact that she was any different.
“The joy she radiates to everyone around her is contagious,” said Spaulding, who added that she is willing and able to foster her “micro” kitten as long as need be.
I could get lost in her eyes…they tell her story more eloquently than I ever could.