Newborn kittens are very tiny when they are born; usually around 5 ounces and totally blind.
They can do little more than squirm around and follow their instinct to find milk.
With a mother’s milk and love, a normal kitten will gain about a half an ounce a day.
They should be able to double their birth weight by seven days and triple it by 21 days.
Knowing those facts, Susan Spaulding, founder of the National Kitten Coalition and a cat foster parent of 25 years, felt her heart sink when she weighed this tiny kitten and realized it weighed less than 3 ounces!
And it was at least a couple of days old, so she knew the chances of the tiny baby making it was slim to none.
But she’d performed miracles before, so she would do her best to do it again for the kitten she’d named Bijou.
Spaulding immediately set about getting a nice warm bed ready for Bijou and her four siblings. As soon as she knew they were warm, she gave them a warm bottle of milk.
“I honestly didn’t know what the future held, but I was going to give Bijou and her brothers lots of love and hope for the best,” Spaulding told The Dodo.
Bijou’s litter mates, all boys, were all much larger and stronger than she was, but even so, one of her brothers did not survive the move from the shelter.
As for Bijou, she just wasn’t looking strong at first.
Her health faltered extremely low at one point, and Spaulding was worried she might not make it, but this little kitty had some fight in her!
“As long as Bijou was fighting and comfortable, I was going to fight right along with her,” Spaulding said.
Around the clock she mixed formula, warmed it and fed the babies.
Her weight didn’t change much, but she grew stronger and Spaulding began to believe that she just might have pulled off another miracle after all.
Eventually, the vet agreed that Bijou had made it past all of the hurdles necessary for him to give her a clean bill of health.
He warned that she would never be a normal sized cat; there was also the possibility that she might always be a bit frail.
But Spaulding didn’t worry about that. She knew that she and Bijou could pull another miracle out of the hat if need be.
At 9 weeks, she had barely weighed more than 8 ounces, the National Kitten Coalition maintains, and was half the size of a normal kitten at 4 months old.
Now almost 20 months old, Bijou is the princess of Charlotte, North Carolina, and even though she has stopped growing in size, she is still growing sweeter every day.
We are so grateful that people like Spaulding and the Kitten Coalition exist to give a chance to those that don’t have one without them.
We hope that Bijou continues to grow in spirit and energy if not in size.
May she and Spaulding never need to find another miracle…but we are so happy to know they have each other if need be.