It’s a dark night when you and your neighbor are walking near your apartment building. You hear a screech from the nearby underbrush, and you freeze. Noises in the night are not uncommon around this area, but the ones emanating from the bushes are stranger than usual. Then, despite the instinct to get to somewhere well lit, curiosity gets the better of you…
This is the exact position in which Imgur user “arthisbeapirate” found herself in spring 2015. And, although not everyone’s natural reaction is to investigate strange noises in the night, that is precisely what the pair did.
“I had heard the stories, but then it happened to me. One night, my neighbor and I noticed what sounded like strange baby birds chirping in a bush at our apartment complex,” arthisbeapirate wrote on Imgur. “After a little investigation, jackpot…”
The unexpected discovery that the two investigators made wasn’t baby birds at all; they found a mewing little payoff in the form of three baby kittens. The curious pair, however, elected to leave the kittens alone in case their mommy came back for them.
“The mother didn’t seem to be doing her job (we had seen her around and she was very young herself) and the kittens didn’t appear to be doing well,” the OP wrote. Therefore, she “decided [she] had to take them in.” When she and her friend took a closer look, though, they found that the three kittens were tangled in a mess of umbilical cords. What’s more, a forth kitten was lying separate and on its own.
Later, they took the kittens to a veterinarian, who worked immediately to detangle the dehydrated, malnourished and hypothermic siblings. Tragically, though, one of the kittens didn’t live through the procedure. Rather than risk the others almost certainly being euthanized at a shelter, then, arthisbeapirate decided to care for them herself.
“At first they needed to be fed every two hours throughout the day and night, and even getting them to latch onto the bottle was a challenge,” she wrote. Thankfully, her neighbor helped her with the feedings. The two also tried unsuccessfully to trap the momma cat, but the feral animal was having none of their tricks.
Despite lots of loving care and nursing, however, both kittens that had been attached via the umbilical cord passed away just a day apart from each other. Afterward, arthisbeapirate named the remaining cat Ripley “in honor of the ultimate badass survivor – Eleanor Ripley” from the Alien film franchise.
True to her namesake, Ripley became strong and healthy under arthisbeapirate’s care. “One of the coolest things was watching her go from a shaking little alien creature to developing normal cat behaviors… without having any parents to pick them up from,” she wrote on her Imgur post.
But what was the deal with the Ripley’s biological mom? Well, if a mother cat is too nervous to lie down and allow the kittens to suckle she may or may not ever give them the chance. In fact, sometimes birth trauma can really mess with a young female cats ability to adopt the proper maternal skills she needs. This is most likely the case with Ripley’s young mother, who eventually stopped visiting the area altogether.
But there are other reasons a mother cat may abandon one or more of her brood. If one of the kittens is sick, for example, she may not nurse it with the others to prevent it from spreading disease. A mother cat may also stop nursing if she suffers from mastitis, a teat infection that makes nursing a litter sore and painful.
Fortunately, though, Ripley flourished under her new human mommy’s love. However, there was some improvising to do around the home. “Though my complex allowed pets and I had always entertained the possibility of getting a cat, my apartment was nowhere near ready and I had to do a lot of rushed catproofing,” she wrote.
Like a responsible mommy, then, arthisbeapirate had her kitty spayed to avoid the possibility of history repeating itself. It may surprise you to learn that, due to huge numbers of stray cats, an estimated 1.4 million felines are euthanized in shelters across the United States.
You can’t keep a good cat down, though, and Ripley really is a born survivor. “She bounced back quickly!” arthisbeapirate wrote. You only have to notice the fluff almost immediately sprouting over the shaven area of her stomach to see that.
Indeed, Ripley grew at a rate that surprised her new owner. Certainly, Ripley’s size meant that she destroyed her fair share of household objects, including making a scratching post out of the couch and bedroom floor. And don’t let this picture fool you; Ripley drinks responsibly.
Charmingly, when Ripley was first being nursed back to health, her mommy gave her a stuffed Tauntaun teddy, from the Star Wars franchise, to keep her warm. And, a year later, the cat still has her snuggle buddy and sparring partner. Although now she’s bigger, Ripley tends to have the upper hand in their wrestling matches.
When she’s not doing that, though, Ripley also likes to snuggle with her mom and get some affection. And, from the contented look on her face, she’s purr-fectly happy.
After all, despite tragically losing her siblings, Ripley now has a human who adores her. Plus, she gets all the belly rubs she could ever want and a premium spot on her mommy’s lap. That is, when she’s not curling into whatever gap she can find.
The born survivor even got her very own birthday cake! “Ripley just celebrated her first birthday (though she didn’t know what to make of her birthday ‘cake’) and is still going strong,” arthisbeapirate reported on her Imgur post.
Ripley may not have been a planned furry baby, but her human is happy to have rescued her. She wrote, “She was made an unexpected entry into my life, and while it’s definitely been challenging at times getting to this point, I’m glad we found each other!”