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Miracle babies!

Emergency C-section saved Dior and her five kittens

Dramatic moments involving one young member of the huge group of felines rescued from Calgary recently.

Dior is a young mother who has already been through a lot! One of 43 cats and kittens who came to RAPS from a massive rescue operation by a partner agency in Calgary, she arrived with what we thought were a litter of her own kittens.

Facing a situation like the one our friends in Alberta encountered, it can sometimes be hard to figure out who goes with whom. Soon after Dior (and the other 42) arrived, it was clear that Dior wasn’t feeling much like mothering the kittens she showed up with. Our mama and kitten fosterer extraordinaire, Kati DeGraaf, picked up the slack and bottle-fed the kittens. They are all healthy and preparing to be adopted.

But Dior’s story didn’t end there. Kati noticed that Dior’s belly was expanding and, sure enough, contractions began on a Wednesday. Dior began the familiar nesting routines and when, on Friday morning, Dior didn’t eat her breakfast, Kati knew that was the big day. But things did not go smoothly.

Contractions began but subsided. Dior was not in any distress, so Kati was patient. By dinnertime, Kati noticed a kitten crowning – but there were no contractions to finish the job.

It was almost 7 p.m. – closing time – when Kati called the RAPS Animal Hospital. The team stayed on while Kati raced Dior to the hospital.

An emergency C-section was performed and five kittens were safely delivered. But it was a very tense hour. Because the mother was put under for the surgery, the kittens were born, well, drowsy. The medical team – and Kati – went to work clearing their airways, stimulating them and rubbing their chests to encourage breathing.

“Their hearts were beating but it took us a long, long time, the three of us and the vet, to get them breathing,” Kati says. “They would take one or two breaths and that was it.”

One of the kittens was a particular worry, but within 45 minutes they were all breathing normally and were as healthy as could be!

Within three hours, Kati was taking Dior and her five new kittens – four orange and one silver tabby – home to settle in.

“I brought them home and Dior just kind of flopped on the cage floor,” she recalls. “I piled the babies up towards her so they’d be warm and she just kind of slept as they began nursing.”

Dior had to wear a cone for a couple of days, which prevented her from properly cleaning herself or the babies, but when it came off, she got right to work doing what mama cats do.

“We took off her cone and she went straight over and started washing her kittens,” says Kati.

Kati has a laugh recalling her first sight of the litter: Four orange babies and one that she says looked like one of schnauzer puppies she helped her sister’s dog deliver.

Having been rescued from a feral situation, Dior will probably not make her way to a family home. She’ll be moved to the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, where she will settle in and the team there will see how her personality evolves. The kittens, meanwhile, are all healthy and will be adopted when they reach the appropriate age.

Emergency C-sections are not terribly unusual, but they are not common either. Without intervention, Kati says, Dior and the kittens would almost certainly have died. Thanks to our Calgary partners – Canadian Animal Task Force Society – and the supporters who make our work possible, Dior and her family are all well and their future is bright!

This is just one story of hundreds that demonstrate the lifesaving work done by RAPS volunteers like Kati, the veterinary staff at RAPS Animal Hospital and the entire RAPS family, including all the folks who contribute to let us save and improve the lives of animals.

Thank you!