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The Sad Tale of Nova and Her Weather Kittens

Life as a community cat or in a feral colony, even a lovingly managed one like the Happy Forest, can be harsh and often short. There are so many dangers, including:

  • parasites – ear mites, ticks, fleas, intestinal worms, etc.
  • diseases – viruses, infections, etc.
  • predators – raccoons, coyotes, birds of prey, bobcats, etc.
  • fights with other creatures and between cats, especially during mating season or when jockeying for position within the hierarchy
  • Mother Nature – floods, weather, forest fires, droughts, etc.
  • starvation/dehydration – You can lead a cat to food and water, but you can’t make him eat or drink. Even in a managed colony, cats and kittens may not end up with a large share of the food or water brought in. (And in a colony like the Happy Forest, with all of its nearby sub-colonies, cats regularly go missing for days, weeks, or months at a time, and you wouldn’t know if they are eating well.) And diseases and parasites can bring on diarrhea and vomiting that can quickly lead to dehydration.
  • accidents – falls, run-ins with cars, etc.
  • childbirth – Assuming kittens and mom make it through the actual delivery, life is fragile. Tiny bodies aren’t mature enough to fend off parasites and diseases and all the rest.

The TinyKittens team that looks after the Happy Forest colony does its best to identify and bring in cats or kittens who appear to need medical help. But it isn’t always easy to accomplish, and sometimes the need isn’t known until it is already too late.

Nova’s four kittens were first noticed at the Happy Forest colony feeding station in mid-October 2015. Kim T. had seen a tabby, two gingers (a light one and dark one), and a tuxie. Foster Mom Jules saw the little tabby on October 17, 2015, but was unable to trap her.

It took several days (and attempts) for Kim T. to catch three of the four kittens, who were usually seen in the company of their mama, Nova.

They all seemed pretty healthy on first look, but all were soon found to be suffering from heavy parasite loads, dehydration, viruses, and other issues.

Per Shelly:

“The medical consensus is that their little bodies were overwhelmed by a variety of parasites and viral agents, and were too depleted to recover by the time we rescued them.”

Rain ❤️

  • Rain, a tabby girl, was trapped by Kim T on October 18, 2015, on a cold and rainy evening.
  • LAPS wasn’t able to take her that night so she had a sleepover at TinyKittens HQ. She did really poorly overnight and Shelly took her in to Mountain View on October 19, 2015, where she unfortunately declined quickly and passed away.

(Excerpt from my October 19, 2015, recap page)

Rain had a rough night last night, vomiting roundworms (which means she has an incredibly heavy parasite load). By 06:00, her gums were pale even after Shelly gave her fluids at midnight. Shelly took her to Mountain View this morning and they admitted her. She’s on IV fluids and antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. Her temperature has been dropping all morning. She’s not doing great. Everything is being done for her that can be done, but they have no idea what’s going on. Shelly reviewed every step of what they did on Rain’s intake with Dr. Henderson and confirmed that nothing was missed. It just happens sometimes, where they appear fine on intake but then go downhill. [Added after 16:30 — Shelly came on chat and informed everyone that Rain had continued to decline and unfortunately passed away.]

Jill Pickford wrote a sweet short story titled “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” featuring Cassidy, Toothless, Tadpole, Pollywog, Quark, and Rain after Rain passed away.

Haze ❤️

  • Haze, a black and white tuxie boy, was trapped at the colony by Kim T. on October 20, 2015.

  • On October 22, 2015, LAPS staffer Kayla had a couple of Periscope sessions featuring Haze. He was going to be spending the night with (then LAPS staffer, now TinyKittens’ kitten whisperer) Gwen to get some TLC, but in the end he went home with Kayla instead.

  • Kayla looked after Haze in her home for several days, syringe feeding him and giving him fluids to try to stabilize him. He had an incredibly heavy roundworm parasite load, which caused a lot of vomiting and diarrhea, and he continued to have little interest in eating on his own. (He did, however, enjoy cuddling with Kayla’s dog Jasper and her cats.)
  • On October 27, 2015, Kayla brought him in to Mountain View as he was continuing to do poorly. They made the difficult decision at that time to humanely euthanize him to relieve his suffering.

Sunny ❤️

    • Sunny, one of the gingers, was trapped by Kim T. at the colony on October 21, 2015.
  • As with Haze, she brought him to Mountain View right away. Unlike Haze (who was only a little dehydrated), Sunny was dehydrated and his blood sugar was low so they put him on IV fluids and meds. He’d been responding well to treatment and went into temporary foster care (with his brother Haze) overnight with Kim T before going hopefully going to their long term foster home with Linda B the next day.
  • He ended up back at Mountain View for care and support for his anemia, hypoglycemia, and dehydration by October 22, 2015, rather than going into long-term foster care.
  • He just didn’t thrive at all even with round-the-clock medical care, and Dr. Ferguson made the very difficult decision to humanely euthanize him late on October 23, 2015.

Storm ❤️

  • Nova’s fourth kitten, Storm (the other ginger), was seen with Nova and his/her siblings but was never trapped. He/she was not seen again after the other three were trapped, and it is presumed he/she passed away around the same time that the others did.

Mama Nova ❤️

  • Nova was the first cat catalogued at the Happy Forest feral colony.
  • She was secretly brought in to TKHQ on November 11, 2015. (This was a couple of weeks after her kittens passed away.)
  • It was thought she might be pregnant again but happily that was not case. She was spayed on November 17, 2015, and kept at TKHQ for several days to see if she might be up for living with humans. She wasn’t — she was shut down and very stressed out, and so she returned to the colony on November 25, 2015.
  • She was a regular visitor at the feeding station after that, where she enjoyed the company of humans and cats alike on her own terms. (Like many cats at the colony, she wholeheartedly subscribed to the TinyKittens “pudge plan” and grew very round and happy.)
  • Sadly, Nova was struck by a car at the end of January 2019 — the last picture of her I’ve seen posted is from January 27, 2019, so presumably the accident was shortly after that date.

[Page updated April 4, 2019]

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Italian Man March 14, 2019, 4:05 pm

    That’s really a sad story…
    I want to tell you that the FB post from “People for Happier Cats” in Sunny’s space talks actually about Haze. Beside that, I read here (www.tinykittens.com/cats/1) that Nova is now “at Peace”. 🙁

    • Kitty March 14, 2019, 5:07 pm

      It’s one of the saddest stories of the Happy Forest, isn’t it. You’re right about the video — I’ve moved it up under Haze. And thank you for the heads up about Nova’s status. I hadn’t noticed that, and I don’t think it was officially announced by anyone affiliated with TinyKittens.

      • Cat Mom Wanda April 4, 2019, 7:26 pm

        Shelly mentioned Nova during Q&A today. I hadn’t seen Nova and didn’t know about her precious kittens. I did a search and found this great site and this sad story. Such a beautiful family. Heartbreaking. Mother Nature is often very cruel to the most vulnerable and innocent.

        • Kitty April 4, 2019, 10:13 pm

          I was happy that Shelly officially confirmed that Nova had died and how it happened. I know she doesn’t like to dwell on the sad things that happen, but we loved Nova, too.

          It really is a sad story. I think of Nova and her kittens whenever someone says that all cats would be better off without humans. This is the reality for cats who live without health care. Short, painful lives. Nova got to have a better life once she was spayed than before, but I wonder how many litters she (and the other females) had and lost to disease, accidents, predators, and parasites. It’s a harsh life out there.

          • Cat Mom Wanda April 5, 2019, 6:05 pm

            Yes. I had a feral boy who lived on my porch for about 10 years. He was so fierce. He considered it his and sometimes I had to distract him with food to get in my house.

            I worked and worked with him and he finally became a purring lap cat. He spent his last years safely inside. It took him a long time. I wish he could have done it sooner.

            I brought in a mom and her 4 kittens who came to my house. I will never know how many other kittens she had before, or even how many were in that litter. They stayed so bonded as a family. She didn’t have to worry about having any more kittens and is safe and happy 11 years later.

            There is so much suffering. I wish things could have worked out differently for Nova and her babies. Such a beautiful family.

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