Happy ending for TV show's stray kitten

Nobody knows how the tiny kitten came to be all alone in a lane at just a few days old. Her mother was nowhere to be found, and there was no sign of any brothers and sisters nearby. She was completely helpless.

Natasha’s story -?featured in the first episode of ITV show Inside Animal A&E -?could have had a very different ending had it not been for a kind passerby discovering her and taking her to the Blue Cross animal hospital in Grimsby, but thankfully she is now one very much loved and cared for pet.

"Natasha was so small that she could fit in the palm of your hand, when she arrived at Blue Cross Grimsby. She was so vulnerable and to think what might have happened had she not been found doesn’t bear thinking about,"?said Charlotte Hailstones, Staff Nurse at Grimsby animal hospital.

Tiny kitten in open hands
Natasha - then called Olivier - was a tiny kitten when she arrived in our care. Photo courtesy of Crackit Productions.

Mother cats feed and clean their kittens during their first few weeks and days of life, but because Natasha had become separated from her mum, our dedicated team stepped into the role; feeding her and helping her go to the toilet every few hours, right around the clock.

Charlotte explained: "We fed Natasha with food inside a syringe at the stage, as she was still much too young for solid food. Mum would usually lick her babies to stimulate them to go to the loo, so instead we use soft and damp cotton wool to gently wipe kittens’ tummies and bottoms to encourage them. After all that we give them a wash and then it’s back to a warm bed."

Tiny lonesome kittens can become cold very easily because they don’t have their feline family to snuggle up with for warmth. Our animal hospital ward has a special area for kitten care that is warm and cosy, and gives young vulnerable animals their first taste of what’s to come for a pet in a loving home.

Natasha the cat

As well as being terribly hungry, Natasha was suffering from conjunctivitis, which had made her eyes sore, itchy and weepy. We gave her the medication she needed to get her back to full health.

Once she was strong enough to leave the veterinary hospital, Natasha was fostered by volunteers through our Thirsk rehoming centre, in North Yorkshire. There the hand rearing continued until she was weened. During this time we made sure she got used to all the sights, sounds and smells of a home environment to get her ready for life as a pet. And two months old, she was ready to find that home.

Judith Gathercole had recently lost her beloved dog to cancer. Her home had never been without animals, and with arthritis making long dog walks difficult, Judith was on the lookout for a friendly feline to become part of the family.

Natasha and owner Judith sitting on the sofa
Natasha is now happy with new owner Judith

Judith had always taken in rescue animals, and so the local rehoming centre websites were the first port of call in her search.

“When I first got her she was no trouble at all,” said Judith. “I think it’s because she’d been brought up in a house with her foster carers from about two weeks old, so she was used to living in a home.

"She wanted to be with me and do whatever I was doing. She would climb up my trousers and onto my shoulder if I was standing up, if I was on my computer she’d be on the keys, if I was trying to cook she’d jump up and try to help with the tea!”

Natasha the cat with her scratch post

When Natasha first arrived in Blue Cross care, she was so tiny that we couldn’t tell whether she was male or female. We settled on male and named her Oliver at first, but this changed to Olivia when we realised she was a girl! The pretty cat has since been given her third and final name, based on Judith’s happy memories.

“She was ‘Olivia’ but I had lived in France for a long time and I wanted her to have a French name,” Judith explained.

“My daughter in law asked what the French word was for spots, because of all the markings on her, and I said, ‘It’s “tache”’, so tache could be short for Natasha, so that’s why it is.

Natasha the cat under a chair with her toy
Natasha couldn't be happier in her new home.

“After my dog died I thought it wasn’t fair to get another dog because they need lots of exercise and I have problems with arthritis, but I wanted a pet in the house and I have had cats before. My son’s dog is not particularly good with cats so I thought if I got a kitten I could gradually introduce them, rather than getting an older cat that wasn’t used to dogs.”

Natasha is a cat who loves to play, and she’s fallen on her paws with becoming part of Judith’s family. She has lots of toys to play with, a wonderful garden and beyond to explore, and she even has her own bedroom!

But more than that, the cat who was once a vulnerable and helpless kitten, now has a loving home with an owner who adores her, and she will never know loneliness again.

Inside Animal A&E??is an eight part series following the pets coming through the doors of our Grimsby and Victoria animal hospitals.

It is?aired weekly by ITV on Monday nights at 8pm, starting from 7 September. It can also be watched on ITV hub.

Natasha the cat and Judith share a loving moment
— Page last updated 10/09/2020