A newborn kitten was saved from being caught up in a lawnmower and heroically kept alive by her rescuer, who bottled fed her through the night.
Darryl Messer, 25, was cutting the lawn at his home when he spotted something furry in the longer grass. On close inspection he was shocked to discover it was a tiny ginger kitten.
“At first I thought it was a something like a dead weasel but I soon realised it was a kitten that was still alive,” said Darryl.
The PHD student scooped up the feline, which he named Virgil after defender Van Dijk of his beloved Liverpool, and wrapped her up to keep warm.
“She was cold and wet and had a few slugs on her and was still attached to the umbilical cord,” added Darryl.
He quickly sought advice from a local vet.
“The vet showed me how to bottle feed her and make sure her bowels were working. She did warn me it was unlikely she would make it through the night,” said Darryl.
He decided he wouldn’t go to bed that night, bottle feeding Virgil every two hours and making a cosy bed to keep the tiny kitten warm. His sleepless night paid off and the kitten survived.
Darryl, from Whitehaven, in Cumbria, originally thought the kitten was a boy, having been wrongly told all gingers were male. Despite discovering he was in fact a she, he wanted the name Virgil to remain.
“As lovely as Virgil was, I quickly came to realise that I was not going to be able to hand feed her for the next four or five weeks!”
It was then that Jade Courty, a veterinary nurse and a volunteer fosterer for the West Cumbria Branch of Cats Protection stepped in. Jade has taken on the responsibility of hand-rearing Virgil, who she has nicknamed April.
Virgil’s mother has since been found, having taken refuge on the roof of a neighbour’s one-story extension. It is unclear whether she dropped her kitten when moving her litter or she fell from the roof. She is being regularly checked on by neighbours.
Jade certainly has her hands full as she is also fostering Cleo and her litter of kittens, who were born on the same day as the lawnmower drama.
“All the beautiful kittens and mum Chloe are doing really well. All the kittens will be available for rehoming once they are old enough, while Cleo, who is a community cat, will be neutered, vaccinated and released back to the care of the neighbours who were looking out for her,” said Jade.
Darryl added: “I’m seriously thinking about adopting Virgil when she is ready to be rehomed but I will have to think about the commitment involved.”