The Wild Bunch (Feral Orphans)

On April 12, 2021, the Lancaster Animal Shelter called to say they had a very sick mom cat who could no longer care for her litter of four kittens. They said the kittens were 2-3 weeks old, but they were actually much closer to 10 days, which is a big difference at that age.  But regardless of how young and tiny they were, they were all feisty and hissy the first few days, which is why we named the litter (three girls and a boy) the Wild Bunch. Emma, Angel, Elsa, and Dutch are all characters from the Wild Bunch movie. Emma is the gray and brown tabby. She required tube feeding for about three days because she couldn’t figure out how to latch onto a bottle or syringe. Angel and Elsa are the two big white sisters. Angel has two small stripes on her forehead, and Elsa has the larger dark spot on the back of her head. Dutch is the small white male. Although his personality is much bigger than his body, he was significantly smaller than his sisters. 
 
All were initially adopted; however, Dutch and Elsa tested positive for FeLV. Elsa was weak positive, but Dutch’s results showed a stronger positive. The mom cat and the two other siblings tested negative. We suspect the dad cat was positive and passed along the FeLV, which the mom could effectively fight off. Angel and Emma may have fought it off as well or were never positive to begin with.
 
Both Dutch and Elsa will be retested in early July. Regardless of the results, both kittens should live normal lives.
 
Post script: Dutch and Elsa were adopted together by a kind family who, knowing the probable medical outcome, adopt FeLV+ kittens. Both Dutch and Elsa were doing very well but suddenly became ill in February 2022 and were euthanized within a few weeks of each other. Emma, who had tested negative as a kitten, was also euthanized in February. Angel was retested with the results being weak negative for FeLV.  Adopting FeLV+ kittens is a heroic choice. Dutch, Elsa, and Emma were loved and gave love. Their lives had meaning, and they will be missed.