We were on the way to the shelter to take Libby for an ovarian hysterectomy when we found the kittens. We immediately called the clinic and informed them Libby would be late, and began asking the people who work at the stores in the area if they knew anything about the kittens.
After establishing that neither the kittens nor a pregnant cat had been seen in the vicinity before, Ken settled down to wait for the mother cat to come back, while the others went to fetch the camera so we could document the rescue.
A few hours later with still no sign of the mother cat, we decided to bring them to the club.
We spay and neuter our cats, so this was the first time we'd had to deal with newborn kittens. Ken watched YouTube videos on how to take care of newborns, and all of the videos mentioned kitten formula that "you can get at any pet store." But we're in the Philippines, and there is only one brand of quality formula that is sold here, apparently called Prolac according the store employees, and all the pet stores we tried were out of it.
There was no quality kitten formula to be bought in the entire region.
In the end we found something called APT at a veterinary clinic. It lists only 5 ingredients, and after mixing it it was evident that it wasn't a quality product, even though it was quite expensive. But having no alternative, we used that initially.
One of the kittens was clearly the runt: half the size of his siblings - only 64 grams while the others weighed about 120 grams, he didn't do a very good job suckling at the baby bottle.
Another one of the kittens was producing a lot of mucus. Both this one and the little runt died within 2-3 days of being rescued.
After a week the remaining kittens were still alive. Their eyes had started to open, but closed again due to an infection, so they had to be put on antibiotics.
We decided to take a risk and make our own quality formula, using lactose-free infant supplement, protein powder (since human milk has a lower protein content than cat milk), and egg yolks. This worked surprisingly well. The only side effect was that the kittens became constipated. The kittens grew, changing in appearance almost daily, and it was a joy to watch them suckle ferociously at feeding time.
The kittens had to be fed and cleaned up every 2-3 hours, even at night.
Meanwhile, we had three very sick dogs, one of whom was bleeding all the time and one of whom was on an IV, requiring constant monitoring. Any one of these cases would have drained our resources; taken together, with the newborn kittens, all happening at the same time, they pushed us right to the limit.
Apart from when he was at school, Ken reared the kittens entirely by himself. He prepared their milk, bottle-fed them, washed the baby bottles, cleaned their butts, recorded their weights before and after feeding, gave them vitamins, changed their hot-water bottle, took them to the clinic by taxi, learned how to administer enemas, dewormed them, and weaned them using Recovery.
After 3 weeks Ken was exhausted, and, his immune system shot due to insufficient rest, he caught the flu. He ended up missing 10 days of school, but kept looking after the kittens while at home. Even so, Ken says he will rescue any newborn kittens he comes across. Perhaps even more surprising was his answer when asked if the kittens are up for adoption, like all the other cats at the shelter: an instant and resounding "yes." Ken can be quite silly, like any child of his age, but this kitten rescue does seem to validate at least some of the adulation he gets on the Internet.
The three surviving kittens, Abby, Arthur and Andrew, have now been transferred to the shelter where they are eating Whiskas Junior.