Business Lessons Learned from Rescuing Kittens

As some of you know from reading my social networking posts, a few years  ago my daughter brought me 3 rescued kittens from the parking lot at her work. I have a big heart for animals, and lots of experience rescuing wild kittens.

During the process of trying to keep these kittens alive I was reminded of the similarities between
growing up kittens, and growing up a business.

1. Early on you have to bottle feed your business, give it lots of attention and monitor it’s health constantly.

Estimating their age at about 5 weeks, we started bottle feeding all 3 kittens (every couple hours), treating their infected eyes and trying to rid them of fleas. Within 24 hours we lost the sickest kitten and almost lost a second one. He was catatonic and barely breathing in fact, we had to put an ear to his chest to make sure his heart was still beating.

2. Sometimes you have to concentrate all of your energies on your business in order to make sure it survives.

I held that kitten wrapped in a towel close to my chest (so it could hear a heartbeat) for a couple of hours… then my husband came home and force-fed it water with a syringe. We let it rest, and force-fed it water again every hour or so.

5 hours later kitten #2, who we named Blondie was trying to crawl out of the box… so we force fed it kitten formula every 2 hours.

3. You need to move your business towards maturity, putting it on auto-pilot as much as possible.

The third kitten, named Buddy started eating and drinking on it’s own on day 2, and Blondie followed suit on day 4. It was time to start the litter box training, so we decided to move them into the bathroom giving them a lot more room to eat, play and take care of business.

4. You never know when a new business prospect is going to present itself.

At the end of the week, day 6, my daughter calls me to let me know that a friend has found another wild kitten (at her work parking lot) with it’s eyes glued shut and in need of rescuing. So, we took in kitten #4, a 6 week old black short-haired beauty appearing relatively healthy except for it’s eyes and snot from ear to ear.

Right away we started treating her eyes with tetracycline and soon they eyes cleared up and her snotty nose got better, but she wouldn’t eat, so my husband force-fed it every couple of hours and 3 days later she decided she was hungry.

5. Sometimes you are going to fail, no matter how much energy and effort you put into it.

A week later on Saturday afternoon, I noticed that the strongest of the 3 kittens, Buddy, was having a hard time breathing. He wasn’t eating or drinking and wanted to be left alone. Every time I tried to force-feed or hydrate, he fought like a champ and wore himself out. So finally we isolated him, providing a warm bed, food, water and a litter box.

The next morning when my husband checked on him, Buddy came out of his box looking very normal. Dennis picked him up and he cried like he was in pain and fought so hard he wore himself out. I wrapped him in a towel and held him to my chest. He stopped breathing within a half hour. It broke my heart.

So now, we are down to 2 kittens, the black one called RJ, and Blondie who we now call Simba because we discovered ‘she’ is a ‘he’. Simba is smaller that RJ, because he is a couple of weeks younger, however, he is aggressive and not afraid of anything.

RJ appeared to be an ‘laid back’, easy going kitten, eating normal, but more likely to sleep than play. And, we realized that she still had a bit of a cough and rattle in her chest.

6. Sometimes you need to call in an expert (spending money) to make sure that your business stays healthy and on track.

On Saturday morning, July 6th, I decided that I needed to take RJ to the vet. I have a home for her, but I couldn’t give her away (in good conscience) if she was sick. The vet examined her and recommended a blood test to make sure she didn’t have a feline form of distemper.

Fortunately she didn’t have the distemper, but her white blood cell count was high and so was her temperature. The vet recommended an expensive shot of antibiotics ($59.00) that would fight whatever infection she is fighting and I agreed.

A few hours after the shot, RJ is a new kitten… turns out she is not ‘laid back’ she loves to play and is every bit as aggressive as Simba.

It is interesting how this experience with kittens has affected my life. When we are not home, we isolate them from our 3 adult cats, but otherwise, we bring them into our living room to interact with them for hours a day. Sometimes I even try to get some work done.

RJ is about 9 weeks old and just about ready to adopt out and we will miss her greatly. Simba is about 6-7 weeks old and we’ll probably keep him around until he fills out a bit cause you can still count his ribs.

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