Introducing Monty. 7th August 2020 – a new addition to Bramble Garden

I am typing this one-handed. The other hand is wrapped around a tiny tabby kitten. Usually, this blog is all about my garden and what I’m growing. I share with you my trials and tribulations as I coax seedlings into growth, set them out and watch over them. Just about everything seems determined to munch on, peck at and generally stunt my treasured seedlings. Gardening certainly teaches patience. Well, this time I am nurturing a kitten. We have called him Monty. And the process is rather like growing a delicate seedling. It requires plenty of patience. He has been a heap of trouble!

Monty had a life-threatening condition which wasn’t apparent until he arrived here. On his first morning, he was lively enough, but as the day wore on it was like watching a wind-up toy running out of power. He sort of wound down and stopped. I noticed he wasn’t eating anything, or using his litter tray. Luckily, I’d booked a vets appointment for vaccinations, but instead of getting his jabs he was put on a drip and given antibiotics. His problem turned out to be a blocked bowel.

While he was with his mother, in a familiar place, with his siblings, he survived. The mother’s milk sustained him. But taken away from his mother and moved to a new home, he crashed. I had never heard of this happening before and the vets warned kittens can sometimes die unexpectedly. The owner wouldn’t have known anything was wrong, so there’s absolutely no criticism being made here.

The crisis spurred me into full-speed rescue mode. Special baby milk arrived from the vets, complete with little bottles and teats. Monty became so weak he couldn’t lap the milk, so I measured out tiny amounts, 10ml at a time, and tipped him on his back. It was a struggle. Every few hours, I’d boil the kettle and mix the powder into a paste and then into a liquid. Any little lumps, and he wouldn’t drink it. Too cold, he’d refuse. He wasn’t at all helpful in this campaign. But I was determined he would survive.

There’s been so much I’ve not been able to change these past five months, so many things out of my control. I’m used to being able to do something to make things better. With covid, I felt I could do little to make a difference. But when Monty came along, I put all my efforts into encouraging him to live – it was something positive to do.

Now, after a few weeks, he is lapping milk and starting to eat.

Prescription kitten mousse arrived from the vets. Tiny amounts offered on the tip of my finger, to start with. Then I tapped the edge of the plate to encourage him.

After all this nursing, back and forth to the vets for subcutaneous fluids, Monty, is starting to thrive and is gaining weight. He’s still on the baby milk, and I’m reading -and re-reading the ‘ kitten paediatric weaning’ leaflets given to me by the vets to work out how to move him on to dried food. I’ve realised that nothing is going to be easy.

Carrying him around, and literally willing him to live, he is bonded to me now. I know all his funny little ways, and I expect he knows mine too.

He likes to lie down the side of the armchair in the summerhouse, rather than on my knee. He is somewhat squashed in, but I assume he feels safe there.

Monty has been as much trouble to nurture as a rare and exotic flower. But just as rewarding as anything I’ve ever ‘grown.’

I hope you’ve enjoyed this diversion from the usual tour of the garden. Have you ever had to nurture something as much as I have with Monty? Isn’t it rewarding – and exhausting. But so worthwhile. Thanks, as ever, for reading the blog and keeping in touch through these difficult times. It is much appreciated.

34 thoughts on “Introducing Monty. 7th August 2020 – a new addition to Bramble Garden

  1. That was such a lovely read. Monty has melted our hearts. We once inherited an older cat , the ugliest, most unappealing cat I’d ever known and he came with dreadful habits too – quite dysfunctional. I wondered if I’d cope! But once we’d sorted out his health issues, which it turned out were considerable, he calmed down and became the most loving cat ever. I miss him badly to this day.

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    • Oh Fliss, I knew you’d understand every word of this blog! I remember you mentioning your much-loved cat. Do you remember Stanley, the grey British Blue cat that came from Sue’s friend when he went into a care home. I think he was 22 when he came here and thoroughly bad tempered. He lasted another 3 years and lived like a king! He slept on a purple velvet throw and had the best of everything. Peter came to visit twice, and mercifully, Stanley remembered who he was and allowed himself to be made a fuss of. If you absent -mindedly stroked him, he would go for you, and he had really sharp claws. I’m hoping Monty turns out to be sweet-natured. If not, he’ll be adored anyway. That is the deal with cats! Lots of love. And thanks for reading. Karen xx

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  2. Oh my goodness how adorable, you had me with the first picture. What a lot of effort but well worth it, I’m sure. I’ve been nursing one of my hens and willing her to survive but had to give up the fight today. However, she had a good life here for 2 and a half years after being liberated from her caged life for that I am grateful and so was she.

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    • Oh Alison, I’m sorry to hear about your hen. I’m sure she had a wonderful life with you. You did your best for her. And that’s all that counts. I’m sure they know. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words. It’s much appreciated. Karen

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  3. Oh monty…what a handsome boy you are and how lucky you are to be looked after by Karen.

    Karen , monty has obviously come into your life for a purpose…. And your love for him shines out of every paragraph. What a great pair!

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    • Thank you Bridget, that’s very kind of you. Must admit, he is making us smile. He’s a joy, and all the more precious because he’s been so poorly. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Hope you are keeping well. xx

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  4. Monty is a ball of beauty. Well done you and well done Monty.

    I have hand-reared a couple of kittens at slightly different stages of their post postpartum development.
    As you say, it is rewarding encouraging the kitty to thrive and grow well. The emotional input and the interrupted nights with two to four hourly feeds etc, were in their funny way, though demanding, a delight. Surrogate parenthood to a furry four-legged friend is quite an experience.

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    • Thank you. It has been an experience! Something to focus on. I’m glad to say we seem to have turned a corner today and he’s starting to eat more than a tiny teaspoon. He still has a terribly poor appetite. But he’s got the message now that he’s got to try. I’ve only done this surrogate parenthood caper with ducks and hens before. My husband used to take the children to the local Melton livestock market on a Tuesday- and one day he came back with a cardboard box of ducklings just a few days old! He said he’d put in a bid and didn’t expect to buy them, but no one else bid, so he got them for £1. We had fun teaching them to swim in the kitchen sink. Luckily, all thrived. We set up a crèche in front of the kitchen boiler. Thanks for reading and for telling me your story. Isn’t life full of unexpected experiences! Enjoy the weekend.

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  5. Oh what an absolute sweetheart Karen. I can feel your love for him shining out of your words. I hope that he continues to make good progress and to to delight you for many years to come.

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    • Thank you Anna. I must admit, I love this tiny scrappy kitten. When he became ill, his hair stuck up on end like a manky old fur coat, all in little peaked clumps. I think it was the dehydration. Today, it’s soft as silk, which hopefully means we are getting somewhere. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments. Enjoy the weekend. x

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  6. Such a heartening story, Karen… Monty is one lucky kitten!! You certainly have shown, once again, what a difference love amd ongoing, tender care can make. So happy to hear Monty is on the mend. Sending Big hugs your way, with love, Jo

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    • Thank you Jo. Love is a powerful thing. I’ve watched it work magic in my family many a time. Thanks for your very kind words and support. It’s very much appreciated. Enjoy your weekend. Thanks again xx

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  7. So sweet. Bless you Karen for not giving up. I’d guess being carried around with you was one of the vital keys to Monty not giving up either. Very well done. Thanks for sharing your heartwarming story.

    I’ve had to nurse my old retired mare for 15 months after she foundered in both front feet with Cushings disease. Twce daily poltices,X rays special boots, horrid tasting medicine and all the basic horse care stuff for 15 months. Wonderful vet and a very good farrier were part of her recuperation team. Still on meds and limited grazing but doing very well with definitely nearly recovered feet. Hooray!

    Our extra reward is some wonderful compost from her shavings, muck, and urine bedding, now full of brandling worms and Christmas cake consistency. Broken down it makes a good survface mulch. But there is enough to continue to rot for the late autumn compost spreading for no dig.

    You are a very special person Karen, I commend you for your generousity and love for all.
    Sending a gentle hug,
    Suella

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    • Thank you Suella. I knew you would read my words and understand every syllable. The power of love and determination is very strong. Good luck with your mare. I hope she makes a full and strong recovery. Very rewarding to see. There is nothing like the feeling of overcome all the odds. Today, Monty is eating a little more and he’s coping with the heatwave, which was an additional worry. I’m currently keeping him cool in the summerhouse, turned to face the wood and horseshoe pond. There’s a slight breeze from the water. Thanks for your kind words. Enjoy your weekend. Returning your hugs xx

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  8. Sweet little Monty – he’s lucky to have such a caring human! ❤ ❤ Wish you the best of luck and that he continues to get better. We adopted all three of our cats (not at the same time, over a few years) when they were fully grown from a local shelter. While fully grown means we haven't had to do anything like you described, two of the three came to us very troubled, sick, and a little bit hostile/traumatized. It took a lot of patience, training, vet trips, and love to get them happy and healthy, and you are right, it was very rewarding to see them finally settle down into peaceful and even quite affectionate kitties!

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    • How wonderful. We are like-minded! We too have always had adult cats from the RSPCA plus one very elderly cat taken in when his owner went into a care home. They also needed love, patience and understanding, their own space, and eventually they all settled into a peaceful happy routine. I’m laughing now because I thought a kitten would be easy in comparison! I think we both agree, we have to put our whole heart into anything we do, and hopefully reap the rewards. Monty is off to the vet again tomorrow and he will be weighed and checked to see how he’s doing. Fingers crossed. Thanks again for reading the blog, and for your kind words and best wishes. It is much appreciated. ❤️

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  9. Wow, what a story, and thank goodness Monty ended up with you, with all your patience…and love! it’s the latter, in my opinion, that brought him through this. I suspect you have a little friend who will follow you everywhere!

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  10. Super pictures, Karen, bringing tears to my eyes and a lovely story of, hopefully, survival. Knowing you, you won’t give up and I’m sure Monty will sense that and fight. Hope you’re getting some sleep! See you soon for a garden chat – if Monty will permit! Much love, Mary xx

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    • Thank you Mary. That’s really kind of you. I think he knows. I’m at his beck and call. I know what all the different little sounds he makes mean…. when he’s tired, hungry, wants his milk. Luckily he sleeps through now. Come round soon for garden chat. Xx

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    • Thank you Eliza. Well, I like Monty Don, so I don’t mind people thinking he’s named after him. But actually, I just like the name, and he has an ‘M’ on his forehead. Apparently most tabby cats do. Thanks again for reading the blog. Have a lovely weekend xx ❤️

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    • Thank you Mike. Must say, the vets have been amazing. The love and care they give is awe inspiring. They even opened on a Sunday morning so Monty could have some treatment. It’s been difficult to see him struggle, but I never gave up and just carried himself around everywhere and willed him to get better. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend. Take care. Lots of love. Karen xx

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  11. Oh Karen, this is gorgeous and so life-affirming. I didn’t realise wee Monty had been so poorly, the poor wee mite, nor what a stressful time you’ve had. He couldn’t be in better hands and I’m glad he’s thriving now. Take care lovely, love Ruth XX

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    • Thank you Ruth. It’s why I’ve been a bit quiet recently. Literally couldn’t put him down and every few minutes trying to keep him hydrated. Poor little thing. No wonder he wouldn’t eat or drink anything. I wasn’t expecting it at all. Thought having a kitten would be easy! I can laugh now. He’s so worth it though. He’s such a joy to have about the place. It’s wonderful to see him playing. Vets are so wonderful. I’m indebted to them. They even opened on a Sunday morning so he could have some treatment. Life’s been so difficult for everyone these last 5 months, and Monty is only here because of covid ( vets cancelled spraying operations and the inevitable happened). I wanted one good thing to come out of this awful time, and something to make us all smile again- and he has. Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading. Lots of love . Karen XX

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