When rescuers learned that five newborn kittens, just two days old, had ended up in a remote shelter in North Carolina, they knew they had to assist. The unfortunate kittens were confined in a tiny, cold cage, and because kittens that young can’t make their own heat, they needed to get out as soon as possible.
Susan Spaulding, a foster parent and cofounder of the National Kitten Coalition, agreed to foster all five kittens. Spaulding has 25 years of experience dealing with kittens and was unfazed by the infants’ requirement for bottle-feeding and round-the-clock care.
The kittens were in really bad health when they arrived at their foster home, and sadly, one of them did not survive and passed away the next day. Even though it was disheartening, Spaulding knew she couldn’t abandon the four remaining kittens.
“I honestly didn’t know what the future held for Bijou and her siblings, but I was going to give them plenty of love and hope for the best,” Spaulding told The Dodo.
Bijou, the only girl in the litter, was always considerably smaller than her brothers. Bijou just did not develop with her siblings as time passed.
“The remaining three kittens, all males,” Rebecca Jewell, executive director of the National Kitten Coalition, told The Dodo, “progressed regularly and moved on to rescue for adoption right on time.” “Bijou grew considerably more slowly, and at around 4 ounces, she appeared to stop developing. She’d gain a few grams, then lose a few.”
Bijou’s health deteriorated dramatically one night, and she nearly passed, but she survived. Bijou seemed to grow stronger as the struggle progressed, and she soon crossed the 5-ounce threshold.
“I was going to fight right beside Bijou as long as she was fighting and comfortable,” Spaulding added.
Bijou gradually began to develop, although she would always be considerably smaller than a typical cat. She weighed only 8.2 ounces when she was 9 weeks born and 1.6 pounds when she was 4 months old. That’s half the size of a typical kitten of the same age.
It’s unknown why Bijou is so tiny. Spaulding has reared more “micro” kittens like Bijou, and veterinarians’ primary hypotheses include a lack of particular enzymes or hormones, as well as congenital cardiac abnormalities. Regardless, Bijou is the happiest little kitten and appears to be unaware of her uniqueness.
“The happiness she emits to everyone around her is contagious,” said Spaulding.
Bijou has reached the age of 8 and a half months and weighs 3.3 pounds. Despite her little stature, Bijou is in good health and is in foster care with Spaulding in Charlotte, North Carolina. Spaulding is glad to care for Bijou for as long as she need, and everyone enjoys watching her develop – even if it is a little slower than others.
“Every life counts to me,” Spaulding added. “Once I’ve made a commitment, I don’t give up simply because the path is difficult – as long as the baby’s quality of life is good.”