Prudence's story was written by Nan Hobson, one of our foster mums, who used to specialise in hand-rearing.
Dougal's mum Rosie gave birth by caesarean at least 1 week prematurely. There were 6 kittens in all, very weak and small, ranging from 1ozs to 2ozs. The vet didn't give any of them much chance of survival. Rosie was too ill to look after them, in any case they were too weak to suckle, so the kittens all came into an incubator for hand-rearing.
Over the next week, sadly 5 of the kittens died one by one, the tiniest of all surviving a week and putting on one ounce. Dougal, at the end of the first week weighed 4ozs, he had doubled his birth weight. Premature kittens are more of a problem, a one week premature kitten is the equivalent of a baby being a month premature.
Dougal continued to make good progress, I took each feed as it came along, praying a lot, and thanking God he was still alive at the next feed.
When Dougal was 2weeks old, 3, 10 day old kittens came in from a rescue in Abridge. They had gone into the cattery with Prudence their mum, who unfortunately escaped a couple of hours later. By late afternoon there was still no sign of Prudence, and the kittens needed to be hand-reared, so they came to me to go into another incubator - 3 beautiful kittens, a blue and white boy whom I named Norman, a blue and white tabby Violet, and a black and white Posy.
The next night Prudence turned up at the cattery banging on the door looking for her kittens. Pauline and Terry who own the cattery, couldn't get near her. She was so very frightened, but it didn't take long for her to go into the cat trap which had been set for her, no doubt by this time she was feeling very hungry and the pilchards in the trap were very tempting!! Prudence arrived here to be reunited with her kittens, which she accepted back with no trouble at all.
At first Prudence was quite nervous of me, but after a couple of days she realised that there was no need to worry, and she watched me feed Dougal with increasing interest. By the end of the week she was even sitting by me on the bed whilst I fed him giving him the occasional lick. Prudence and her kittens were in very good health and we had been given their history, so we knew where they came from, and Dougal's mum had been tested for all the nasty virus's so we knew he was OK.
Something very special then happened - I was feeding Dougal as usual, and I put him down on the bed to get some more cotton wool to clean him. When I looked around, there was Prudence giving him a good wash all over, when suddenly she picked him up by the scruff and took him over into the box where her own kittens were, I just sat and watched. Dougal got a very good wash and was soon cuddled up to the others. After a couple of hours, I felt quite happy about leaving him there. Prudence seemed very pleased with herself and I felt sure she wouldn't do him any harm.
Dougal however, didn't know how to suckle, so for the time being he would still have to be bottle fed.
That night, Prudence came up onto my lap for the first time and looked into my eyes and she seemed to say "Thank you for helping me, now I'll help you". Two days later she had completely taken Dougal over and I didn't have to feed him anymore. Dougal was a week older than Prudence's kittens, the same size and weight, but a completely different colour being ginger and white.
All the kittens thrived, well they had such a good mum. Dougal now called Hobson, along with Violet went to live with Maureen who rescued his mum Rosie, and I'm sure she will keep in touch to let us know how he is doing. Norman went to a home to be cat number 5 and we have since heard that he has completely taken the other 4 over. Posy had to wait longer for a home, but is now settled in a home where she is the only cat, no doubt spoilt rotten. Prudence, after being spayed went to a family on Canvey Island. She has settled very well and taken the dog over.
Two stories, ending as one with a very happy ending.
The above was 1992 - 'Hobson' is now a very big cat, and Violet is the cat featured on our 10th Anniversary tea towel.