Melissa Returns: Saving a Traumatized Kitten

 

Overcoming Trauma and Grief at 10 Weeks Old

by Nedda Wittels
Copyright © 2022

Crate with litter box, cave, and food.

Melissa’s safe space.

Melissa arrived at my house around 11 p.m. on Friday, December 10, 2021, after more than 12 hours of travel, most of which was on Amtrak.

She was in a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion and trauma.

She was grieving intensely for her mother, father, siblings, and extended family, who all lived together in a feline community at Indian Spring Cattery in Virginia.

The trip on Amtrak had been noise, jostling, and terrifying to Melissa.

She hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since that morning.  (Kittens typically don’t want to eat or drink when traveling, and to prevent travel sickness, they’re not usually offered food on a one-day trip.)

Melissa was also confused:  she wasn’t sure she had arrived where she was supposed to be!

It was dark in the car on the ride home from New Haven, so I couldn’t see how upset Melissa was.

I inadvertently added to her confusion by asking her what her name was. With her new body and beautiful clear energy, I had supposed that she might have chosen a new name.

I discovered days later that my questions about a name caused Melissa to decide that I didn’t recognize her and that she had had been given to the wrong person.

When she was finally able to talk to me about her name, it was clear that Melissa was the name she wanted, as it would prove to her that I knew who she was.

Cary Hanson, assistant to Dr. Doug Shar who owns Indian Spring Cattery, had brought Melissa to New Haven.  She was in Connecticut visiting family, and generously gave me her phone number in case there were problems.

I am very, very grateful to Cary for all her help that weekend.  We spoke several times, and her assistance was invaluable and critical to a successful turn around for Melissa.

First Things First:  Food, Water, and Electrolytes.

Melissa exploring inside the crate.

Melissa looking at a towel I used to keep the crate door from closing.

Every kitten at 10 weeks of age needs to eat at least 4 times a day and possibly more often that that.

Kittens grow very fast, but their tiny stomachs can’t hold enough food to keep up with their need for nutrition.

It’s best to have bowls of food available for free choice eating 24/7 so they can eat whenever they’re hungry.

Once at my house, I offered Melissa food and water, but she refused everything.

The canned food was exactly what the Indian Spring said they had been feeding the kittens, so it was familiar to her.

I also showed her the litter box, which had the same litter she was familiar with.  Fortunately, she immediately urinated in the litter box.

Then I noticed that Melissa was drooling.  This is a sign of severe distress.  It also meant fluid loss, which wasn’t a good thing since she wasn’t drinking.

Water and Electrolytes by Dropper

When she refused to eat or drink, I immediately started giving her both plain water and electrolytes by dropper.

Melissa clamped her mouth tightly shut and struggled to get out of my strong but gentle hold on her.

I had to force tiny drops of liquid into the side of her mouth – just 2 or 3 drops at a time so she wouldn’t choke on them.

The wet food was pate, and I added a bit of water and electrolytes and tried to get that into her as well, but had little success.  She kept spitting out whatever I managed to get into her mouth.

By Saturday afternoon I was very worried.

Important Products to Help Melissa Relax

I did the best I could to create a peaceful, loving space for her.

Rescue Remedy – I put some directly onto Melissa and misted it around the room.  This seemed to have little to no effect.

Grief Relief (FES brand) flower essence formula – I put some on her paws, face, and body, but it didn’t seem to help, either.

Homeopathic Ignatia 30 C – I gave her a dose of this remedy well known for assisting with trauma and grieving.  This, too, had no observable effect.

Feliway, the feline pheromone spray – On Saturday, I ran out and bought a spray bottle of it since the plugins I had ordered hadn’t arrived.  It’s  supposed to help cats and kittens calm down.  I sprayed some onto a soft, cuddly toy I had bought and put it into the cat cave, encouraging Melissa cuddle up with it.  She refused to have anything to do with it.

Peaceful Music – I began to chant a very peaceful Sanskrit chant that ‘s used in the ashram I go to at mealtimes.  It did seem to quiet her a bit, but she still drooled and refused food.

Gentle, Loving Handling

I cut up a very old, super-soft wash cloth into 4 pieces, using them to gently wash and dry her off.  She enjoyed being rubbed, but continued to drool.

In fact, if anything in the room moved, including me, her drooling would intensify, or if previously stopped for a moment, immediately start up again.

I had a soft brush I had bought that felt like a cat tongue, but Melissa didn’t seem to like it much.  I decided it was probably too harsh for her tender little body.

Melissa didn’t want me to pick her up, didn’t make eye contact, didn’t try to connect with me.  She just lay limply in my arms, and when she did move, would bite or scratch me and try to get away.

Did I think I had a kitten-proof room?

I was keeping Melissa in the crate at night, hoping that would help her feel safe.

During the day, I encouraged her to move around the room – to stretch, to use a scratching post, and to explore her space.  I even hoped she might become interested in a toy or two.

Despite all my careful plans for kitten-proofing the room, Melissa would look for and find places to hide.

I had to keep moving things around to make sure I could find her to try to get food and water into her, and that upset her, too.

Overwhelming Grief and Depression

Whenever I lifted Melissa out of her bed to hold her, feed her, and clean off the drool, I would talk to her.

I told her how happy I was that she had come back.

I told her how much I loved her, and that Starlight and I were very happy to see her in her new, beautiful body.

I told her that I knew I couldn’t replace her real mother – that I wouldn’t even try.  I knew her mother was very special, and that I loved her parents for giving her this new life.

I told her that I would take very good care of her and help her settle in to her new home.

I told her how important is was that she eat and drink on her own.

Melissa wasn’t saying much back to me except an occasional “I want to go home” in the saddest, most grief-stricken little telepathic voice imaginable.

Home was where her parents were, not here.

Melissa’s longing for home – her mother especially – was so intense, so plaintive that I felt like crying myself.

No matter what I did, she refused to be comforted.

I could feel Melissa’s intense grief and sadness.  Because I’m a strong empath, I could also feel Golda, her mother, was very worried about her.  Golda’s energy was all around Melissa trying desperately to comfort and support her.  I telepathically reassured Golda that I was doing all I could for her daughter.

While between incarnations, Melissa had told me she had found the perfect mother – someone who was very warm, loving, and nurturing.  Golda certainly fit the bill.

Melissa longed for the touch of her mother’s tongue, the smell of her mother’s body, and the warmth a kitten feels when piled up with siblings and family.

I felt like I had stolen someone’s child!  How is it we think it’s fine to take 8 or 9 or even 10 or 12-week old babies from healthy mothers just because they’re kittens or puppies and are eating from a bowl instead of a nipple?

How can we justify this?

I had never thought about the emotional impact of it, nor about the loss the parents of these babies must feel.

To see a photo and read a description of Golda, tap or click on this link
Indian Spring Cats: Meet the Parents
and scroll down the page a bit.
To see and read about Choco, Melissa’s father, scroll a bit further.

Starlight’s Experience Had Been Very Different

Starlight shortly after she arrived.

When Starlight came to me in 2012 at 9 weeks of age, she was ready to come – excited to come.

While she missed the large family she had had at Reprise Siamese Cattery, she was thrilled to be back with me.

Starlight was filled with joy and love when she arrived.  She recognized me immediately, ate well, and was playful.  She had never been a cat before, so she was figuring it all out.

Starlight is a very sensitive being, and she got all the attention a baby needed.

I thought I was prepared to take care of Melissa, but I quickly realized that Melissa needed me to be even more attentive and nurturing.

The Danger of Dehydration Had to Be Overcome.

Both dehydration and lack of food cause mental confusion and can lead to death. Dehydration also causes an animal to reject food.

While Melissa didn’t immediately need veterinary care, I was determined to do as much as I could to avoid taking Melissa to an emergency clinic for subcutaneous fluids.  That experience, while helpful physically, would add to her trauma.

Could I get her through this and avoid another car trip, avoid going into a strange place with people she didn’t know and smells and sounds that might frighten her even more?

Every hour or two, day and night, I did my best to get liquid and food into Melissa

I’m very familiar with the symptoms of dehydration in cats because my cat, Violet, had been in renal failure for the last 2 years of her life.  Violet had lived to be nearly 18 without needing subcutaneous fluids, taking several droppers full of electrolytes each day.

To succeed with Melissa, I had to get past her clamped jaw so she would swallow some liquid.

Would it be enough?

When cats become dehydrated, they exhibit some very clear symptoms.  The one I kept closest watch on was the Pinch Test.

  • Normally, when you pinch the skin at the back of a cat’s neck, it should immediately rebound.
  • If it moves slowly back, there is some dehydration.
  • If it doesn’t return to normal, dehydration is severe and this is a RED ALERT situation!  Subcutaneous fluids are needed immediately to avoid death.

The Danger of Not Eating Had to Be Defeated.

Adult cats cannot go without food for more than 3 days without their livers starting to collapse.  I don’t know what the timing is for kittens, but I was very aware of this deadline.  Melissa had eaten before leaving the cattery on Friday morning, and somehow I had to get her to eat on her own.

The cattery had provided specific information about what they had fed the kittens, and I had purchased the canned food, but not the dry food.

When I first spoke with Cary on Saturday, she told me Melissa really liked the dry food, so out I ran to Stop and Shop where they sold it.  Melissa only ate a few pieces.

On Sunday, I was still desperate to get Melissa to eat.  Cary suggested Greek Yogurt.  Back to Stop & Shop I went.  Melissa ate only 2 or 3 licks.

I was still giving electrolytes and water by dropper every hour or two, and I was still putting bits of canned food into her mouth which she was spitting out.

Two things happened on Monday morning that saved Melissa from a trip to a vet clinic.

1- I called the office of Dr. Charles Loops, an experienced homeopathic veterinarian in North Carolina where I was already a client.  I requested and received emergency assistance.

Dr. Loops said to use Ignatia at 1M potency – that the 30C was far too weak.

This had an immediate dramatic effect on Melissa.  It began shifting her out of her state of grief and trauma, and made her more interested in eating and drinking.

Regarding homeopathy:  It’s been my experience that when you give the correct homeopathic remedy, an animal or human will often sleep for a bit as the remedy begins to work.  Melissa went into a relaxed sleep with the very first dose.  When she woke up, she was better than I had seen her since she had arrived and showed actual interest in food and water.

Ignatia 1M became the remedy I used with Melissa over the coming weeks with enormous success.  She continued to improve with each dose.

2- Cary Hansen suggested I offer Melissa raw chicken breast.  I feed raw chicken to my cats anyway, so I plenty on hand.  I just warmed up and pureed some.

Melissa immediately ate some chicken with relish.  This was a big turning point.  I could now add electrolytes directly into the food until she no longer needed them.  Melissa was on the road to recovery at last!

The Miracle That Is Starlight

Starlight grooming.

My feline heroine!

Throughout the weekend and into the following weeks, Starlight was amazing.

I was able to count on her to be supportive and totally cooperative and helpful.

She never minded how much time I was spending with the kitten and how much less time she was having with me.

She never minded that I smelled from another cat, a stranger, who smelled very different from the Melissa she and I had previously known.

She never sat outside the door of Melissa’s room yowling or hissing or carrying on in any way, something some other cats would have done.

She never even tried to get into the room when I delivered bowls of water or anything else to Melissa.  She would be there with me out of feline curiosity, but respected that it wasn’t time for her to meet Melissa.

Starlight has always been a great blessing, a great friend, a terrific companion to me in many lifetimes.  No matter what physical form Starlight has chosen when she’s with me, I have always been able to count on her.  I am enormously grateful.

SUCCESS at last!

By the end of the first week, Melissa was eating and drinking on her own, playing a bit, and exploring her private space.

Melissa playing with a rag toy.

Infinite gratitude and appreciation to:

Karen Nowak and Leslie Russell,
dear friends who supported me through this critical time.

Dr. Doug Shar from Indian Spring Cats,
who provided such an excellent place where Melissa could return.

 Cary Hansen, Dr. Shar’s assistant,
who brought Melissa to me, and whose advice helped me get Melissa to eat and drink.

Golda and Choco, Melissa’s beautiful and loving parents.

Dr. Charles Loops and staff, who responded quickly to my call for help.

My beloved Starlight, who was a complete angel throughout.

Melissa, who bravely reincarnated to be with Starlight and me once again.

There’s more to the saga of Melissa.
Look for the next installment coming soon.