I’m Kenny Gordon, Lucinda (The Kennel and Cattery Manager)’s partner and I live onsite, helping wherever I can. This is my account of an evening spent in the cattery with a 10 month old kitten heavily pregnant with Hollyhedge staff on standby within a few feet of Sia due to the risk of her having complications giving birth.
This was written the following day in my own words trying to recall the emotional and tense event I had witnessed. Good morning folks, what an eventful 26hrs that was… well from 5pm to 10pm anyway!
I have to warn you this a long statement and graphic at times but if you have nothing else to do today and are interested in what goes on at that little animal sanctuary you may or may not know where it’s at then please read and more importantly please donate anything you can, you’ll understand why this organisation is so important to our furry friends by the end of this.
So Lucinda stayed in the pen with Sia all day as her 2.6 Challenge which you can read about by clicking here, I even fed her food & drink in cat bowls (cleaned and sanitized obviously) we thought it would be a step too far to tell her to use a litter tray instead of a toilet!Anyway around 5pm Sia started her labour and for the next 5hrs she gave birth to 6 beautiful healthy fighting kittens.
I have to add that without the quick reactions of Lucinda, Charlie & Sarah none of the kittens would have survived and sadly mummy would have died also. The whole event was captured and filmed live (by me) and posted on a Holly Hedge live streaming where it racked up more than 130 viewers at one time all watching live this remarkable and sometimes never before seen act of Mother Nature doing what she does best and giving life to this world, when there is so much sadness and uncertainty out there it truly was a spectacle to see.
At around 5:20pm Sia started severe contractions, it was evident from her sweet innocent little face that she was unsure what to do or what indeed was happening to her and after an acrobatic labour she successfully gave birth unaided, to her first kitten and proved she was going to be a super mum by following her instincts to clean and make her first born safe and within minutes the kitten was trying to latch on.
Approx 20mins later she started showing signs that she had another waiting in the midst and she repeated the successful birth once again albeit without the dramatic acrobatics this time, again she knew what to do to nurture her babies and it seemed a healthy noisy litter so far.
Kitten No3 was ready to make an appearance but signs were there that the baby was coming out tail first (breech) and poses a huge risk to them being born this way! Lucinda acted quickly and professionally and assisted the birth of the kitten by helping ease the kitten out slightly, with her assistance the third was out and being cleaned and helped by mummy and once again with our hearts in our mouths we saw all 3 kittens squealing and squirming around! Phew!! Poor Sia was completely exhausted, she laid on her side but then started contracting again! kitten No4 was on the go!
Lucinda who was carefully at a safe distance away could see the birth sack was still intact, mummy needed to burst the sack and free the little one so it could start breathing from the outside air but she seemed too interested in the other already born kittens, seeing the danger this posed for the little one Lucinda had to intervene and burst the sack to allow the kitten to breathe, she quickly cleared the fluid from around the kittens mouth and then guided mum in the direction of the kitten and mum started to realise her duties and began to clean up the kitten successfully. We now have 4 healthy noisy kittens in with mum and everyone is relieved but an emotional roller coaster that was about to unfold.
After another 20mins Sia showed signs yet another baby was ready to make an appearance (a first time mum cat has on average 2-4 kittens but with Sia being a kitten herself and being such a small framed cat we prayed that 4 was all she was going to have to spare her poor young body) after a short time she started contracting again with piercing screams and a terrifying 20mins of labour she managed to push the little head out and burst the birth sack, now the kitten was stuck in the birth canal with just its little tongue gasping for air whilst mummy tried in vain to push but didn’t have the energy, we thought the worst as the kitten has a limited time where it needed to be born as while in the birth canal there is a risk it can be sucked back into mum and with the birth sack already burst and the kitten gasping for air it would’ve inevitably suffocated and died!
At this point we stopped the live feed as this was too emotional and we didn’t want to allow viewers to see this sad event unfolding in front of us, we called the Sanctuary’s associated vets to get advice but as you can imagine there’s not much that can be done at times like this. What happened next showed pure determination from mum and also the experience and knowledge of Lucinda. Lucinda had to intervene and help mum cat during this traumatic time for both parties, they both did what had to be done and with time ticking it was a race against time to save the little one, the baby was trapped for approx 15mins and in most cases and certainly if Sia had been alone this kitten inevitably would’ve died and therefore mum possibly would’ve died also due to a blood infection and all her beautiful litter already out would not have survived without mum. Luckily Lucinda and mum managed between them to deliver the baby but it clearly had fluid in its lungs and was at risk of not surviving, it’s breathing was rasping and was showing little life in itself, luckily we had in the birthing team an amazing staff member and friend called Charlie who ironically left Holly hedge last year to train to become a midwife, she returned to us amidst the Covid issues to support the sanctuary and luckily put some of her training into action, she single handed carried out procedures she was trained to do on human babies in the same scenario and for 15 crucial minutes she revived the little one and cleared the blockage! We could start to hear the little squeak and soon kitten No5 was showing good vital signs, now during all this commotion Sia popped another one out, thankfully kitten No6 ‘fell out’!!
Now with all 6 kittens healthy and noisy and mum absolutely exhausted she cleaned them all up and within minutes all 6 kittens were latched on and feeding. What an eventful night!
It was around 10pm when we all decided to have a drink ourselves and ‘wet’ the babies heads and thank god that all kittens and mum were healthy and safe. (apart from Lucinda as she still had to be on call in case the litter or mummy needed to be rushed to the vets).
It was an amazing experience to witness and it goes to show there can be happiness and joy in these sad & uncertain times.
Love or loathe animals this was truly an amazing thing witnessed and evidently highlights the amazing work the staff do here at the sanctuary to help and protect animals in their care. Please help and support by donating anything you can to ensure that all animals in their care get the love and care and the promise of a brighter future.
This is also a stark reminder of the importance of being a responsible pet owner and getting animals neutered to protect them against this trauma of birthing at such a young age. Some of the live feed for those who would like to see this amazing event can view it on Holly hedge site under ‘virtual kitten shower’ and there are updates being filmed daily about Sia and her litter and also other animals in the sanctuary.
Thanks to Lucinda, Charlie, Sarah and the rest of the Holly hedge team for their efforts for that night, every day and every night. Kitten season has now officially started with a bang!!