The manager of Yorkshire Cat Rescue called for pet owners to promptly neuter young cats, after three rescue kittens turned out to be pregnant.
The Keighley-based charity rescued three pregnant kittens within a four week period. Misty, who was estimated to be four months old, ended up having an emergency C-section as she was too small to give birth naturally.
Sam Davies, centre manager at Yorkshire Cat Rescue, said: “Misty was very friendly and her coat was in a great condition so we are fairly certain that she has gone missing from a loving home.
“Our guess is that she was allowed outside and was then frightened too far away from home by the local tomcats when she came into season. She wasn’t microchipped so, unfortunately, we weren’t able to locate her owners.”
On arrival at the rescue centre, Misty didn’t show any signs of pregnancy, explained Sam: “We thoroughly check all female cats when they arrive at the centre but Misty was such a slim and young kitten that we didn’t even consider the possibility. We booked her in for neutering a week later where the vets discovered that she was in fact pregnant.
“Even responsible owners often choose to wait until their female cats are six months old before neutering them, but the truth is that kittens can become pregnant at just 16 weeks young. At such a young age, being chased by entire males can be very frightening and this is how many young female cats end up lost each year.
“Sadly, at such a young age, cats can struggle to give birth naturally and will sometimes need an emergency C-section. Of course, those that go into labour outside risk terrible complications and even death.”
Misty went into labour in August. But it quickly became apparent that despite her best efforts, she was unable to give birth naturally. Instead, she was rushed to the vet where, through an emergency C-section, four large kittens were delivered.
Sara Atkinson, founder of Yorkshire Cat Rescue, says: “We have an amazing network of foster families who followed updates from foster mum, Liz when Misty went into labour. She made the right decision calling the vet when she did.”
Misty’s kittens are now back home with Liz and are all feeding normally after a few nervous hours of coaxing the young mum into engaging with them. Misty too is doing well despite her ordeal.
Sam concludes: “These young mums haven’t always developed their instincts fully and sometimes struggle to care for their new-borns. Even worse, these early pregnancies can stop them growing and maturing fully as their kittens absorb all available resources.
“There are so many potential risks and complications for young mums and kittens that people simply aren’t aware of. Luckily Misty seems to be doing ok – not least thanks to the care she is receiving from her amazing foster carer.”