by Jamie Gandy

The story of Darla the Blue mama, her babies, and the Orphans that she adopted.

On February 11th the nursery reached out to their dedicated fosters in hopes of saving three pregnant mama cats and four kittens from being killed that day at 2pm at a high kill shelter in South Texas (Palm Valley if I remember exactly). Mom and I talked about it, and even though we still had Anna as a foster, we decided we couldn't let a mama and their future kittens be killed. It wasn't an easy choice for us though, especially with what had just happened to Anna's kittens all dying from a serious URI (turned into pneumonia) the month before. We didn't think we could ever foster a pregnant mama cat with the risk of her possibly losing the kittens.
But the urgent plea for lifesavers, with a deadline, pushed us to make the choice to say yes, regardless of the risk.

February 12th transport brought the three future mamas and the four kittens (all with spoken fosters!!!) to Austin. Since mom and I were the first ones to get to the nursery they gave us the choice of what mama we wanted. There was a pretty tortie mama (who has Felv, I think), a pretty silver tabby mama and a pretty Russian blue. It actually took us several minutes to decide between the silver mama and the blue mama, but since we hadn't fostered a blue mama yet we decided on her. Of course, her loving us petting her made it easy to pick her, lol.

That day Darla came home with us. She was already so big we thought that she was going to have her kittens any day. She ended up having URI and that instantly sparked concern. We quickly got her on medicine in hopes to get it cleared up before she gave birth.

For the first three days, she had to stay in a crate because we still had Anna, who was pre-adopted at that time and was to be picked up by her forever owner. Darla was so very well behaved in a crate, which made me very sad because it was so obvious that she must have spent a good amount of time behind bars.

The day Anna went to her forever home, Darla was allowed to get out of the crate, and she never wanted to go back inside it. After that day every time I tried to crate her, she would freak out and wouldn't calm down until she was out. So mom's bathroom/bedroom became her domain.

Fortunately, she was a lot less along with her pregnancy then we had thought (which allowed her URI to get cleared up). When we picked her up on the Feb 12th she was probably just a month along. Because she didn't give birth to her kittens until March 15th.

She had four healthy, beautiful little kittens. Adir (black) Athena, Annabella, and Ava Grace (the runt), all torties. Darla was the sweetest mama cat who was perfectly happy with me loving and handling her newborns.

On March 28th we gave Darla's mama duties a test when the nursery contacted me to see if we could try giving Darla three orphan siblings to care for. These three were three weeks old, and at the same weight as Darla's two-week-old kittens. They had just come in with other kittens from a Houston shelter. On the opening day of the nursery. Finding them a sergeant mama was their best chance at surviving and striving.

The look Darla gave us that first night when we brought Valeria, Valerio and Valentino home was the scariest look from a cat, lol. She looked ticked that we brought her three more kittens, not just that but they stank because they didn't have a mom to clean them. That look was evil. She didn't want 'seven' kittens.

That first night only Valerio would latch on to nurse from Darla. For Valentino and Valeria, it wasn't so easy. They were starving and my supplementing wasn't working good. Weights were dropping. By day three I was talking about taking the two of them back to the nursery. I felt like I was already failing them and I didn't want them to do worse under my care. At work that morning my mom texted me telling me that Valentino finally latched on. I burst into tears of joy.

LATE that night (after midnight) Valeria finally let starvation get the better of her and she latched on and nursed like her life depended on it. It was a BEAUTIFUL sight to behold!
Under the love of their new mama, they started gaining weight!

Darla was a gem of a mother to these three orphans. They became her babies. Amusingly enough they fit perfectly into her litter. Valeria is a tortie just like her new sisters, Valerio is black (just a little lighter and fluffier) like Adir, and Valentino is a Blue just like Darla. These babies were meant for her!

Once they became old enough for adoption, Valerio and Valentino were the first to meet (and go home with) their forever home. A lovely couple came out on May 17th to meet all three boys, and after a couple of hours of playing and loving on them and sharing stories of the cat they had recently lost to cancer, they decided to adopt Valentino and Valerio. On May 18th they filled out the paperwork, paid the deposit to take them home before their neuter, and came back here to pick the boys up.

Next was Darla. I had to find a babysitter foster a couple of times when the kittens were little, and that's how Darla met her forever mama. Her babysitter became super interested in her. When it came time for Darla to dry up for her spay the lady took over fostering her and ended up adopting her. A very happily ever after. And I get lots of updates!!

Next was Valeria, who had a lot of interested people because of her beautiful, unique face. On May 19th a sweet lady and her mom came out to meet her. They were smitten with her loving, playful personality. On May 20th she was pre-adopted. (She remained with me until her spay day on June 4th) She became the little sister to two dogs. A perfect match for this girl.

Next was adorable Ava Grace (who I was most tempted to adopt myself at the time) The meet and greet was a little more different than usual (but I've done it before). On June 4th, the day of spay, a lady and her roommate came out to the clinic during the time I was picking them up from surgery to meet Ava Grace. She was already sure beforehand that she wanted Ava, meeting her was just to seal the deal. And it certainly did. They filled out the paperwork there and took her home. She now has a little kitten sister to play with (from runt to oldest, lol).

Then came Adir. On June 5th a lady and her friend came out to meet this spirited boy and the love was undeniable. She wouldn’t be able to adopt him until June 9th because she was headed out of town. But come the 9th she filled out the paperwork and then she came back here with her boyfriend to take Adir home with her. To note, it was the same day that VERY bad storm hit where we had a tornado warning on our phones. They picked him up and it started to pour right when they got in the car.

Then there were my long waited Athena and Annabella. They had been waiting for almost two months for their forever home, come July 15th they will be four months old. No interested inquiries and the one Athena had was scared off from the ringworm. A couple weeks ago I gave them their last lymn dip and bleached their room before allowing them to join my pack. And from then on they fell in love with my babies, and my babies fell in love with them (especially Obi). Mom and I had talked about the fact that we didn’t care if Athena and Annabella remained with us for however long it took them to find their perfect forever home TOGETHER. These girls were happy here, and our love for them was matched by their love for us. So when I received an email on July 5th with someone interested in meeting my girls, I was pretty surprised. That night she came out to meet the girls. That’s why they have been waiting so long, so they could find their forever home with this very nice lady, who I could tell was a wonderful person by the way she talked about the love she has for her cats she recently had to say goodbye too. Seeing that love in her eyes made it very clear that she would cherish my girls that same way.

June 6th Athena and Annabella were adopted and went off to their happily ever after home. The way they deserve, with a family that will love them for the rest of their lives.

It wasn’t easy seeing them leave, I already miss them all so very much. But these are eight lives that were able to make it out ALIVE. Lives that wouldn’t have found their happily ever afters if Darla had been killed by that shelter on February 11th. Until the day I die these precious babies will always be loved by me, and I will always pray for them and their families.

Many of you have followed my journey with Darla and her kittens on here, so whenever I get updates from any of them I will share them with y’all so you can see them grow into stunning adult cats.

Even though it has been a rough start with Bluebell and her little kittens, with Quiche and Sandman passing away, I am happy that I am sharing my room with this sweet mama, Bluebell, Sally Cinnamon, Sangria, Sail Away and Super Sonic. Fostering them has made it a little easier with the absence of Athena and Annabella. Not just for me, but also for Obi as well.

The story of fostering Darla and her babies may have come to a close, but it has helped open up the journey of Bluebell and her S16 kittens. I hope each of you enjoys their stories the way you enjoyed my A4 and V4 babies. I hope the pictures I will share of them will make you laugh, make you smile, make your days just a little brighter because of their innocent way of enjoying LIFE.

Annabella ~ Anabella and Athena with Obi and Jamie ~ Ava Grace ~