Case Study #16: Aura - severe cleft palate
Aura was born with a severe cleft hard and soft palate. Her mom was Chloe, a feral cat with kidney disease and a multitude of other health issues. Read Chloe's case study.

If Aura had been born in the wild, she would have starved to death because she was unable to nurse. Thankfully, her story has a much different ending.

Aura's story is still unfolding as I write this. We have a few months to go before she can have surgery to repair her palate. Regardless of what the future holds for her, Aura is living her best possible life and living every day to the fullest.

Aura was worth saving.
In order to solve cat overpopulation, we need to address its root cause. We tell the stories of our "lost cause" cats and kittens to prove they have value and change people's perceptions. As people's perceptions change, their compassion, connection and desire to take action grows. That means more spaying and neutering, more volunteers, more adopters, more advocates, more resources and more support within communities.

A miracle kitten is born

Aura was born on April 22, 2018. She has two sisters, and two brothers. All five were vigorous and healthy at birth, with normal birth weights.

Aura's mama Chloe was one of three pregnant ferals from the Happy Forest feral colony who were sharing our caternity ward. All three gave birth within five days of each other, with Chloe's kittens born last.

Ramona and Rula, the other two mamas, both had kittens who were struggling. Normally I wouldn't disturb a feral mama cat to weigh and check kittens if everything looked ok on the livestream, but because we had kittens fading in the other litters, I felt it was necessary to risk stressing Chloe by weighing her kittens shortly after birth, and again six hours later.

That decision is what saved Aura's life.

At their six-hour weigh-in, I noticed that Aura's siblings had all gained weight. Aura had lost several grams for no apparent reason. I knew something was wrong, and based on how strong she was and observations of her trying to nurse, it made sense that she was having trouble nursing for some reason. A cleft palate was the most likely issue, so I checked and saw that was exactly what was wrong.

I will never forget the sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach, looking at her and knowing her prognosis was grim. Dr. F and I talked about it, I sent photos, and she confirmed it was a severe cleft palate. She warned me that it would be a huge investment of time and energy, for a poor prognosis.

I struggled with what the right decision was for Aura. I didn't want to prolong her life if it would cause suffering for her at some point, but I also was pretty confident she was not suffering at that time. I decided to give her 24 hours to see how she tolerated tube feedings, and see if she wanted to give up or if she wanted to fight.

It became clear pretty quickly that she is a fighter. Thankfully, she tolerated her tube feedings very well.

(more to follow...)

Skye drop
Trapping Skye, March 23 2016

Skye 2
Skye in the trap, March 23 2016

Bin of Safety Prototype at 1:27:00

Video of Skye's eye exam and ultrasound

Video of Skye's first purrs, on day 5

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