For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted a cat. From the age of maybe five or six, they’ve been my favourite animal (closely followed by dogs, IMG_6465but not a big one as I’ve recently discovered that they scare the sh*t out of me..). My parents were never keen on the idea of getting a pet with much more responsibility than a goldfish, but we did have a number of rabbits. So it wasn’t until I moved out that I made an impulse decision to get a kitten. She was five weeks old. Black and white.

She is perfect. I introduce to you, my kitten, Nala ♥

Nala was five weeks old. I picked her up from a house close to Drumcondra station with my boyfriend at the time. A woman he worked with had mentioned that she had a friend looking to home kittens and of course I jumped at the idea. I hadn’t had an opportunity like this before and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let this one slide past me. I was set on having a female kitten. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know. Maybe I’m sexist or something.

When we arrived, there were only two little kittens left in the litter. They had already started trying their mother’s dry food and so the owner was insistent that they were ready to fly the coop. I was hesitant at first, having Googled it and kittens were best removed from their mother’s company at nine weeks, but the moment I held her I knew I wasn’t going to put her down. This was partly because she wouldn’t let me go but I didn’t want to let her go either!

Nala lived in a small box in my bedroom for a short period of time until I brought her out to Maynooth, collecting necessities on the way and in between my shifts in McDonald’s. Her little red collar drowned her. I was terrified of losing her. There were no problems when it came to training her. She was very good at using a litter tray, bar the few accidents that I can count on one hand that were generally caused by tummy upset or having no access to a litter tray.  She ate well and loved to play. Then her tail dropped. She simply couldn’t lift it anymore. As a new pet owner, my imagination was running away with me so we went to the vet.

First, I went to one in Dublin. I was told she seemed to have a dermatological infection and that she would fight it herself. I brought her home, feeling there was something more to the whole situation. Days later, she started pulling her fur out. She was in pain. She was oozing blood and puss from her left side. I rushed her to a vet in Maynooth.

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Nala the day she came home after surgery to remove damaged tissue

I couldn’t take her home that night. I was told she’d been badly burnt and that she might lose her tail. They would need to remove all the dead tissue and clear it up with antibiotics. She stayed there two nights. I barely slept with the worry. I had only had her a few weeks and already she was sick. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I even felt angry and blamed a guy who was staying in the house for the summer. Little did I know that the following year of college would result in the same guy being one of my best friends.

This poor little creature returned home, half naked and with a serious malice towards our current vet. After time the wounds healed, she got motion back into her tail and most of the fur grew back. You can still see scar tissue under her fur that is now white as a result. It’s still sensitive and she shows true trust when she lets me check it. I was so proud of her for getting through something so traumatic and felt so lucky to still have her in one piece!

Now, one problem with being a student and stubborn to ask for financial help from my parents was it meant getting Nala spayed was difficult. As a result, I didn’t get it done in time, she got out of the house while in heat and got pregnant. I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t too upset about it. I felt like it would be a shame to not let her have kittens before getting spayed. My housemates felt very differently though. It was difficult to be excited with it hanging over my head but we came to a compromise and then everyone moved out! Problem solved for all!

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Top: Nala and kittens            Left: Nala 7 weeks pregnant            Right: Nala five weeks old

The day Nala gave birth, I knew straight away. She refused to leave my side. I could barely go to the toilet without hearing her cry. She looked terrified! I was due to work that day and called them to say I wouldn’t be there. I couldn’t leave her like that. I stayed with her all day. She spent some time sitting on my lap as if to be sure I wouldn’t go anywhere. I originally thought she would give birth to two or three kittens but it was six! They were all so small but she herself is very small so I could barely believe my eye, how could they possibly have all fit in there!?

Nala was a natural. She slipped into the role of mother with such ease. She changed after that. If she wasn’t being mammy, she was exhausted.  She didn’t leave them alone for weeks and got upset when she couldn’t see them. All the same, she was great at letting people hold them and letting the vet check her after the birth. She didn’t seem to have time for me anymore. She didn’t sleep at the end of the bed. She didn’t give me cuddles or want to play. It was clear where her priorities lay. After time, it seemed like the novelty wore off and she became increasingly more agitated by the kittens. Sitting in hard-to-reach places and leaving the room when she could.

I was told so many downsides to kittens before they arrived. Things about how noisy and messy they would be. I can’t tell you if they were true because I watched these kittens turn into miniature Nalas with rose-tinted glasses. One, in particular, has all the same markings! His name is Grumpy and my housemate has decided to adopt him. Another kitten is called Lucifer (Luci, as I like to call him, because it doesn’t feel right associating a kitten with “The Dark Lord”). He’s a tabby with white socks and my boyfriend has adopted him. It was amazing to watch these little creatures grow into little cats. From their first steps, the first trip up and down the stairs, to learning how to eat solids and how to play. You can really see their personalities now and I just know they’ll make some animal lovers so happy. I’ve become so attached to them. They all have names.

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  • Luci
  • Mufasa
  • Hic-Up
  • Anatoli
  • Butters
  • Grumpy

I knew it would come, and today is the day, the last kitten has gone to new homes. I’m absolutely heartbroken. It’ll be so quiet without them and almost a little lonely but knowing those who have taken them, I know they will be safe and happy. The whole experience really changed my life. I can’t imagine how my summer would have gone without kittens to come home to after a bad day at work! There is no better cuddle buddy or stress buster than a kitten, a ten out of ten would recommend.

So in honour of my adopted kittens, here’s their (highly summarised) story!

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