Shaka: The Tail of Two Kitties

By Kristi VanBenschoten

For those of you who have been following the "Cat of the Day" stories, you may remember the story about Little Raja. Raja was a kitten who came to us very sick, and despite all our efforts and determination, she unfortunately passed away. Raja was a little princess; her back leg didn't work very well, and she was very small, so she spent a lot of time riding around on my shoulder. She would sleep in my arms at night and purr her little heart out. When Raja passed, I was heartbroken and vowed, "No more new cats." Well, wouldn't you know, I would eat those words...

Shaka kitten with milk bottle

The Tail of Two Kitties

A few months before the second anniversary of Raja's passing, Rob, one of our shipping experts, came in and said that a feral cat around his house had just given birth to a kitten on his front porch, but the mother had left and not returned. I immediately asked him to go get me the kitten, knowing it was going to be cold and hungry and could not be left without warmth and food for long.

Shaka newborn kitten

Rob rushed off to get the kitten and, within what felt like the blink of an eye, returned with the tiniest (about 4 inches), yet astonishingly vocal, kitten I had ever met. Without hesitation, I swiftly prepared a snug, plush bed for the tiny creature, complete with a toasty warming pad, a cuddly plush bunny, and soft, cocoon-like blankets - that part was a breeze.

The next challenge was to determine how and what to feed this precious bundle of fur. I dashed off to Tractor Supply for premium kitten milk, a specialized syringe, and an ingeniously designed kitten nipple. Upon my return, I hurriedly concocted a delectable kitten milk mixture, meticulously warming it up to the perfect body temperature. (The photos below were taken a bit later)

Shaka kitten with milk bottle


Kristi feeding Shaka kitten with milk bottle

We managed to coax a bit of nourishment into her, but the oversized kitten nipple presented quite a formidable hurdle for her delicate frame, making it a thrilling endeavor for her to ingest more than just a tantalizing morsel. We were determined to find the right kitten nipple, and thanks to the wonders of Google, Amazon, and an array of resounding accolades in reviews for the "Miracle Nipple" brand, we finally unearthed one that worked astonishingly well for her.

Shaka kitten

However, we weren't entirely out of the woods just yet. We still faced the daunting task of round-the-clock feedings every three hours and tending to her bathroom needs since newborn kittens rely on assistance for their bodily functions. Just as I thought we had mastered this challenge and that we were going to be alright, Hurricane Ian entered the scene. Now we had to ingeniously devise a way to keep the kitten warm and the bottle at the perfect temperature with no running water and no power. No worries; we had this, right? Of course, we did! We warmed water under the brilliant, scorching sun outside. To keep her snug, we placed her in a cozy bathroom; this one was a little easier as there was no power, so it was naturally warm in the house anyway.

Shaka kitten and black cat

Shaka kitten

Despite all the odds, this kitten was a tenacious fighter, and even with only a 15% survival rate without a mother, she thrived. We marveled at her remarkable resilience, as she embodied a fiery spirit that blazed with determination. As Shaka continued to grow, we noticed that she bore a striking resemblance to Raja, and everyone was inadvertently calling her Raja. Shaka was like Raja 2.0, a sleek and elegant feline with luxuriant, flowing fur, and vibrant health. She exuded the same feisty and spirited character as her predecessor.

Shaka is now a little over a year old and is thriving splendidly. She remains a petite, enchanting cat, with a penchant for riding on my shoulder wherever she goes and a proclivity for resting on the pillow just above my head. I'm not implying she's a reincarnation of Raja, but I can't help but wonder if there's a bit of Raja's indomitable spirit within her?..

Shaka fluffy cat

Shaka fluffy cat

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