June 5, 2023 | Animal Stories

Rescued just in time

Rescued just in time

Tiny Raisin was less than half the size of her siblings, and had the kitten not been born in Together for Animals member Blue Cross’ care, she probably wouldn’t have made it.

Her story could have so easily been tragically different. Mum Marzipan arrived at the Burford rehoming centre in Oxfordshire in November last year, having been straying in a nearby area for some time.

A vet check soon revealed that she was pregnant and, just over a month later, she gave birth to five kittens – Raisin, Sultana, Terry, Tony and Toby.

But while her sister and brothers were a healthy weight, little Raisin was just 67 grams – nearly a third of the size of the largest kitten Terry, who was 180 grams.

Black cat feeding kittens

And Raisin was also born with an unusual, smoky-grey coat. It’s the result of a rare phenomenon in which the development of a kitten’s fur pigmentation is stunted by the mum being poorly or stressed when pregnant.

Elisha, Animal Welfare Assistant at Burford, explains: “Raisin has what’s known as a ‘stress’ or ‘fever’ coat and it is caused by the mum being stressed, ill or having a fever during pregnancy.

“We don’t know for sure, but our suspicion is that she was the runt of the litter, so the last to develop, which could have coincided with Marzipan experiencing stress or illness.”

As she was so small, the team needed to step in to supplement feed Raisin – three times a day – to give her a chance of survival. She also needed careful monitoring.

Elisha says: “There was a risk that because we were handling Raisin, Marzipan might then reject her. So, we made sure we rubbed our gloves on Marzipan’s bedding before touching the kittens, so that we had her scent on us. And she handled it well.”

Marzipan, despite her sad past, learned to trust those caring for her, while Raisin went from strength-to-strength thanks to the expert care of the team.

Elisha says: “Raisin started putting on weight every day and was soon strong, bright, and active. It’s also likely that she’ll turn completely black in time, as the pigment of her coat develops.”

Once they were old enough, all the kittens found loving homes – with Raisin and Sultana going to a new family together, and Tony and Terry also rehomed as a pair. Marzipan has also been reserved to a new home where she’ll always be loved and cared for.

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