Last month, Good Samaritans from Los Angeles saw a kitten trying to cross the street in a high traffic residential area. She was very frail.
They safely stopped the traffic to secure the kitty.
They reached out to their local TNR (trap-neuter-return) rescue, TNR Now, for help. "The kitten was malnourished… barely the size of my already small palm. She was all bones underneath all that fuzz," TNR Now wrote.
Her eyes were crusted shut due to a severe upper respiratory infection. She was so hungry that she scarfed down all the food she was given to make up for the lost meals. After getting her eyes and face cleaned and treated with medication, the kitten could finally rest that night.
Meanwhile, Nikki Martinez, a rescuer based in Las Vegas, was contacted about the kitten needing an experienced foster. "I know that shelters and rescues around the country are overflowing with cats and kittens, and Los Angeles in particular has a huge need for foster homes. Every foster and rescue I knew of personally was full," Nikki told Love Meow.
"I happened to be visiting Southern California at the time and asked a friend if she could transport to where I was staying. She did, and I was able to take her home with me to foster her."
She named her Sugarbug. The kitten was very small and weak, weighing only 0.6 pounds (272 grams). Nikki immediately started syringe-feeding her and treating her infection with antibiotics. "I fed her a mixture of kitten food made into 'soup' to keep her hydrated, and supplemented her with nutritional gel formulated for kittens."
During the first few days, the kitten just wanted to sleep. Her little body was exhausted from living on the street for so long without food. Nikki gave her plenty of clean and cozy blankets to keep her warm and comfortable.
With around-the-clock feedings and frequent face washing and eye meds, Sugarbug began to gain more energy.
Watch her full rescue journey in this video:
"She was a champ about having her face cleaned and having her eye meds put in. Having a clean face and clean bedding is important to help her fight off her infection."
A few days later, Sugarbug started to play. Each day, she got a bit stronger and more playful. By the time, she regained strength in all four legs, she couldn't stop playing and pouncing on the toys.
"She loves to play, and when she gets sleepy she cuddles up next to me on the sofa. She has such a sweet and gentle disposition. I can't imagine her living on the street alone and scared and hungry," Nikki told Love Meow.
In less than three weeks, Sugarbug has made an incredible transformation.
"Las Vegas has an estimated 250,000 stray/feral cats living on the street. Los Angeles has approximately three million! If there are stray cats living in your area, step up and get them spayed/neutered," Nikki said.
Little Sugarbug has been in foster care for 20 days, she has tripled in size and her eyes have completely cleared up. They are blue and beautiful.
"From roaming the streets alone in downtown Los Angeles and starving, to a life of cozy blankets and a food dish that's never empty — Sugarbug certainly enjoys indoor living," Nikki said.
"Fostering saves lives and TNR saves more."