Susan - aka Susan G Komen, and her kittens
It was summer, kitten season was in full force, and we received a request to help rescue some sick and starving kittens. Upon arriving to the neighborhood, the finders had already had the kittens contained in a box for us. Their eyes were infected, faces covered in crust, dehydrated, and very emaciated. We asked about the mom cat and the property owners said that she was still around, but clearly unable to care for her kittens. We did not want to kidnap kittens and leave the mom behind to produce more sick babies, so we set up a trap for her.
After about an hour with no luck trapping, we asked a neighbor if they had seen any cats and sure enough, she informed us that momma cat was in her backyard, and that she was friendly! She secured mom for us, and we headed back to get everyone stabilized. We worked very hard to give all the kittens a fighting chance. We combed off hundreds of fleas, gave life saving medical care, wiped their faces and eyes clean, and eventually they were able to take their first meal that they've had in days- possibly longer. With all kittens fed, we got their crate assembled and reunited them with mom. Then we noticed something very wrong.
Upon reuniting the kittens with their mom, it was clear she was in pain. After further investigation, we learned the very gruesome reason why the kittens were in such poor shape. Momma cat, later named Susan, had a ruptured mammary gland. Community cats are very prone to developing mastitis, since they are in constant contact with dirt and bacteria. Left untreated, mastitis can be extremely painful and even spread to the rest of mom's body and become life threatening. Susan was producing zero milk, and her kittens were quite literally attempting to nurse 'inside' of her large open wound.
Susan was transferred to an amazing rescue with more resources so that she could receive the help she needed. Even though we couldn't personally see her through recovery, we still like to share her story as a testament to never forget about the mom cats. If we would have walked away with just the kittens, never considering mom, she would have suffered and passed away very soon after. Susan made an amazing recovery and was placed for adoption, her kittens went into foster care and then found loving homes as well.