Yesterday the cats we trapped at Bendemeer Blk 45 car park on Wednesday were returned back to their territory.

But not all 8 of them returned.

This cat, that we thought was male because it was big in size, is actually female.

Ticked tabby

And was pregnant. We didn’t have a clue, she wasn’t showing very much.

Before her neutering surgery, she gave birth in the carrier to 3 kittens.

Born on the move! Naturally, she was very angry at all of us humans because it was a very scary experience for her, and her mama instincts came to the fore. Despite this, she was willing to nurse her kittens inside the carrier, which was a good sign.

The problem next then was that we had to find a way to foster her and her 3 babes. The only pen we had available, the ICU, is for orphan baby kittens, but it simply had to do for this mother cat – whom we have named Mary Lou (can’t help that her giving-birth on the move conjures Bruce Springsteen imagery). The other pens we have are not suitable for a nursing feral mother cat either – too exposed and not elevated enough to create a sense of security. Besides, they were occupied.

We had to ensure that Mary Lou and her kittens were not separated as we didn’t want to create orphans. Returning her to the street was not an option because she may abandon her kittens. Also, she might never be able to be trapped again for neutering when she stops nursing her kittens, having already been trapped once. There was no way else but for her to come to our foster home to live for the next 2 months.

It was a bit of a logistics nightmare. The litter pan we have in the ICU is meant for kittens, not adult cats. Frantically we went looking for a right-sized tray to buy but none were 12×9 inches, the only size big enough that would fit. The only option we had was to take a plastic storage box that happened to be the right size, and turn it into a makeshift litter box till we can find a suitable one. Before she arrived, I sprinkled some soil onto her litter so she would realise that was her toilet – stray cats are used to doing their business on grass.

Mary Lou is one feral and catty young mom. Moving her from the carrier to the pen was not easy. She wouldn’t let anyone near her or her kittens. After some challenging acrobatic moves we managed to get her into the pen without mishap and place her kittens in there too. We then covered her pen with blankets and turned on the heating pad at the base of the pen under the blankets which has been sprayed with catnip. We put food and water inside for her (again, not an easy thing to do with fierce mama Mary Lou ever-ready to swat at us), added rescue remedy to her water. We then left her be and hoped she would continue to nurse her babes.

Mary Lou in the ICU, scared and wary

It also so happened that our foster lounge’s Feliway diffuser needed a refill, and it has been out of stock everywhere; the supplier says it won’t be available till March. Desperate to calm Mary Lou down so that she would nurse, our aromatherapy diffuser went full force – diffusing lavender, rose, neroli, marjoram and chamomile – all essential oils great for calming cats down in a new environment. I then got an amazingly timely call from Pet Lovers Centre Bedok Point that they managed to get one bottle of Feliway refill – possibly the last one they have islandwide – and I immediately made a mad rush in the rain to go pick it up and plug it in immediately.

Mary Lou decided that she felt safe enough to nurse her kittens, and she did. We haven’t sexed the kittens yet – we didn’t want Mary Lou to reject her kittens by smelling humans on them. There is a tabby one, a black one and a black and white one.

Baby Black

Baby Tabby

Baby Tux

So far, Mary Lou has started eating and drinking, but she hasn’t used the litter box yet. Considering she was put on a fast from Wednesday night till Thursday afternoon (because the original intention was to neuter her), we hope she just needs some time before she would go. If she shows signs of withholding her pee and poo because of stress, will give her some vitamin C and olive oil to prevent urinary tract infection and constipation respectively. If it is because she doesn’t like the litter box, we will change it to another one.

Meanwhile, we really hope Mary Lou gets used to us humans, so we can care for her better and that her stress level will go down.

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