My Walnetta was born to a rescued feral Mom who was starved and must have been pretty sick during her pregnancy. Mom was still recovering from starvation and a respiratory infection when we took her and her newborn four day old litter from the shelter to help foster and raise her five kittens. |
She did not have enough milk to nurse them properly and one after another 3 died, the runt died first right in my hands. I rushed a second kitten late at night to an all night Vet ER and there had to euthanize a desperately ill suffering kitten. Pneumonia was suspected as well as malnutrition. Found the third one dead the very next day. And while I cried no small amount over all three, it was nothing like how Walnetta's death affected me.
Walnetta had been the biggest and strongest of the litter, I hoped that the antibiotics prescribed by the shelter vet might save her and her sister but then birth defects began to show around their fourth week. Both were underdeveloped and had trouble walking and controlling their movements. They should have been ravenously going for the wet food and water but were not. They would eat but only if hand fed. Walnetta, who could walk and stand, if a bit unsteadily, seemed better off than her sister who we named Topsy as she continually toppled over. The vet at the shelter said it was Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH).
Ater some extensive research, I knew I would have no problems taking on a disabled CH kitten because Walnetta was adapting to her movement issues and was happiest curled safely in my lap. But I was still worried about the lingering chest congestion and the shelter vet had put her on another antibiotic.
Because of her CH she was hand-fed and got water from a eye dropper. She also had her bottom washed a lot as Mom sensing that her kittens were not quite right (she rejected the runt outright) was not a very good mother, especially when it came to cleaning them. She nursed them as best she could once there were only two. We thought they might just survive even if they fell down a lot.
But one Monday things took a turn for the worse with Walnetta's breathing and I rushed her to MY vet, cost be damned. He did a complete workup in a heroic attempt to save her life. As she lay in an oxygen bubble gasping for air on the table he showed me her X-ray which revealed damage in the heart and lungs, He said CH and malnutrition in-utero were probably the cause of a myriad of internal birth defects. He thought her cardio-pulmonary problems were the source of her breathing issue and was surprised she had made it to six weeks.
We didn't even have to euthanize her. With a roomful of the vet's sympathetic staff, she had a sedative and once relaxed went right to God where I pray she is at peace, happy, healthy and playing with all the other kittens who left this world too young.
In those all too brief six weeks Walnetta showed me a lifetime of love and trust. Holding her was pure bliss. We had many evenings together with Walnetta asleep on my chest, her tiny head tucked under my chin or purring in my hands as I stroked her little soft body and traced the lovely markings on her face with my fingers. She loved soft ear pulls, under the cheek and chin strokes and belly rubs. She used to lie on her back in my lap playing with my fingers with her white tipped paddy paws. Even the bottom washings which weren't a whole lot of fun for either of us bonded us together.
It seems unbelievable how quickly and completely this tiny black kitten with the pretty white markings stole my heart which has made her loss that much more devastating. I've had cats all my life, and even in the best case scenarios it never ends well. But this time I feel like my heart has been ripped to pieces. I know that time heals all wounded hearts but I sense it will be quite some time before I can move on. Even with my two adult cats at home to attend to I feel bereft and empty. Walnetta was supposed to come home around the holidays (not my favorite season) and was to be my little CH holiday lap cat. I feel beyond consolation. All my friends have rallied round but when I am alone all I can do is look at her pictures and cry.
But my friend and advisor "Dear Tabbi" pointed out that had the Mom not been rescued and brought to the shelter, Walnetta still would have died but cold, starved, nameless and miserable under a bush or in an alley somewhere. So at least her short life was full of love and affection.
So now we will just have to try to move on, tears and time, more tears and more time. Prayers help. So I will finish this tribute to my precious Walnetta, a tiny, little black kitten who completely stole my heart away and was called to God all too soon, with part of a quote that helps keep me going.
"Let us lift our heads in hope and summon our strength for duty. We dwell in the shelter of the Almighty for He is our refuge and our Fortress."
Bless you Walnetta for the love you brought to me that I will hold close forever, I will never forget you tiny one.
For My Darling Tiny Walnetta,
It has been exactly two years since you left me and my heart still grieves for you. But I think I now know why you went to God. You left so that your sister Topsy could have a wonderful life.
Once Walnetta was gone I decided to adopt Topsy even though EVERYONE (except my Darling Tabbi) told me she needed to be put down as she was very much affected by Cerebellar Hypoplasia. She couldn't walk or eat or use her box by herself and fell down whenever she tried to stand. But I just couldn't abandon her and against ALL advice took her in and with time and patience helped her to learn everything she needed to survive. She had a full body scan which revealed no other birth defects except the CH, thus I was determined to give her a good life.
So using vigorous play therapy I strengthened her legs and she learned how to stand and then to walk. She taught herself how to eat by lying on her side like a Roman Aristocrat from the days of yore. It took a while but she learned how to drink without the dropper even though she often dunked her whole nose in the water dish. And she mastered the art of the "Fossberry Flop", the technique currently used by Olympic high jumpers to flip backwards out of her box without getting covered in poop.
When she was a year old she got a baby brother to play with and she loved to wrestle and tussle with him even when he outgrew her. She totters around the house with splayed steps and falls down ALL the time but just picks herself up and keeps right on going. She still loves to be bundled up in a warm shirt and snuggles on my chest just like Walnetta did, plus she has THE cutest greeting habit in the world.
Whenever anyone comes in the house, she staggers over and literally falls at their (or my) feet. She lies on your instep and you can't help but bend over to greet and pet her. When she is lying upright with her paws curled under and I walk by, she keels over on her side, arches her back stretching out to catch my attention or my feet.
She is as brave as any cat can be and having mastered a splat landing on her belly, will try to pounce on my other kitties in play. She is not afraid to leap off the bed if she wants to get down; she is a real "under the covers" cat and loves nothing better than to nap with me on the weekends.
She has absolutely no sense of being disabled even though she looks like a cat who has had one too many cocktails and she is as happy and healthy as can be. She is a little cross eyed and has a funny looking face but also possesses the sweetest personality although she can defend herself if the other cats get too frisky. She has determination and does not let the CH keep her from enjoying all that life has to offer her.
Like every "special needs" parent I am SO proud of my Topsy Doodles and her ability to persevere; she is my inspiration and if she won't quit trying then neither can I. Had my tiny precious Walnetta not died, Topsy might have been put down as no one thought she could or would survive.
But Topsy DID survive and now thrives, as happy and loving a cat as I have ever known. So while my heart will always long for my tiny Walnetta, and the pain of her leaving still lingers sharply, I understand why she had to go. She made the ultimate sacrifice so her sister could live and Topsy is as much of a blessing as my precious Walnetta once was.
I know Walnetta is happy in her home at Paradise field where her good friend Pressy lives and she helps Pressy greet the new kitties who arrive from their earthly life helping them to adapt. She comes to visit often on her angel wings and Topsy and I can always feel her presence when we snuggle together bundled up in something warm and cozy.
And because of Walnetta, I now have many wonderful friends who reached out to me in sympathy and love to help ease my pain. I am continually blessed by these friendships and will be grateful all the days of my life to those who cared enough to offer their condolences and kindness to a stranger and a precious tiny kitten who left this world so very young.
Walnetta made the ultimate sacrifice for her sister Topsy; May God Bless Them Always.
And May He Bless All The Humans Who Mourn The Loss Of A Precious One And All The Angels Who Wait For Their Beloved By The Rainbow Bridge. Amen.