Pip Squeak's Page

Meet "The Charmed One", or Charmed. We just call her the Pip Squeak for short. The Pipper got off to a rocky start in life: she was born here:

From the very beginning of her life, the only thing in the kitten’s favor was her will to live. Her story starts in August, 2003 when her mom, Mama Cass was scheduled to arrive at Rude Ranch.

Mama Cass was one of several cats that we agreed to take from Morgan County West Virginia that week. We were asked to give Mama Cass priority as she was due to give birth soon and the county humane society would not be able to hold the mom and her kittens until they were old enough to be adopted.

The day that Mama Cass and the other kittens were to make the two hour trip to Rude Ranch started out with incident. Unfortunately, half way through the trip the animals and their driver encountered an extremely violent thunderstorm, which became a harrowing five hour ordeal. The stress of the storm and the longer trip affected Mama Cass greatly: she went into premature labor, 12 hours after arriving.

A major problem with this situation was that Mama Cass was not far enough along in her pregnancy to produce milk for her kittens. Additionally the kittens’ bodies were not mature enough to survive outside of their mom.

> Unfortunately, the first kittens were still born. By the end of the day Mama Cass was exhausted, but still not done. The following morning, only 36 hours after arriving at the shelter, one of our volunteers noticed something while cleaning Mama Cass’ cage: she was trying to give birth to another kitten! Only by now Mama Cass was so exhausted she could not “push” the kitten out. Thinking quickly, Executive Director Bob Rude delivered the tiny kitten, cut her umbilical cord and cleaned her off. The kitten only weighed 2 ½ ounces, much smaller than the 4 ounces an average new born kitten weighs. The kitten needed immediate attention to warm her body and for nourishment. Her throat and jaw muscles were not developed enough for her to try to nurse from a bottle, so a feeding tube was used to get formula into her body.

The next few days were a blur as volunteers worked round the clock to keep the tiny kitten warm and fed. An early morning power failure resulted in her being driven around in a car, with the heater on high until the power came back and she could be “plugged in” again.

The kitten slowly started to grow and gain weight. By the time she was 3 weeks old, she weighed 6 ounces, and had come to be known as the “Charmed One”. There was also another dilemma: Bob and Kathy Rude, her main caretakers were scheduled to attend a conference 600 miles away in Asheville, NC. However, the kitten still needed to be fed every 3 hours with her feeding tube. With everyone else committed to caring for the other animals and the day to day chores of the shelter, who would care for the kitten?

The answer to this problem came in the form of gym bags, coolers and long acting hot water bottles, as the kitten, her feeding tubes, formula and everything else were loaded up and headed off to the conference. She was smuggled in and out of the hotel in a gym bag during the day. While on the road, the Rudes ordered food for themselves and a “hot water bottle” for the kitten.

Once back in Maryland and after hurricane Isabelle, the kitten continued to grow slowly and still could not eat on her own. However, by the time she was 5 weeks old, she was up to 12 ounces and was starting to look a little like a kitten, rather than a skeleton with fur.

By the time she was 7 weeks old, she was nick named the “Pip Squeak” and she was finally able to run and play a little. At 8 weeks, she had another break through... She started eating! Once she discovered food, there was no stopping her: any other plate of food, whether containing cat, dog or human food was fair game for a “Pip” attack. Before long she mastered many other survival skills: climbing a leg to get to the table, sneak ankle attacks, kill the bed mouse at 2 am, and finding the softest pillow to sleep on.

Although the Pipper still considered herself to be quite the "special" one, she soon discovered that once grown, her special orphan status no longer matter to the rest of the cats in the shelter. Soon her tail and sleeping form became fair game for all the other furballs. She also soon found that climbing up human legs produced rather loud screams and not the cuddles she had grown accostumed too... essentially the Pip Squeak grew up. However, in her mind she was still a bratty little orphan who should get special privledges.

Before long the PipSqueak discovered a need in the house.... not a single cat was supervising the laundry area, and taking advantage of all of those nice warm towels that came out of the dryer. She sought to remedy this and quickly took up a post on top of the dryer. Now she inspects each and every load of laundry that comes out of the dryer. However, every now and then she's been known to fall asleep on the job....

Pip's Story: Going to Work in the Office

Everyone talks about what they went through to take care of me when I was little and how cute I was (of course I was cute!). Anyway, it wasn't that big of a deal, I just went in a gym bag, with my bottles, heating pad and stuff and off we went. I just had to be quiet when we were riding in elevators and stuff. Kathy even took me to work with her. She was supposed to keep me under her desk, but we all know how that goes.

Anyway, it was just before I started eating on my own Bob and Kathy gave me my bottle every 4 hours. If I decided not to cooperate and take my bottle, they still stuck that icky tube down my throat. (Even though I was 6 weeks old, I was still really small and didn't start eating on my own yet) Bob was really busy at the shelter, so Kathy took me to work with her. The first part was getting me passed the security guards. I had to be really quiet, and Kathy went in the back door, so they wouldn't x-ray me. Not sure why she didn't want the guards to take a picture of me, but what the heck. After we got in, Kathy told her boss that I was hidden (and plugged in) under her desk and that if I didn't drink my bottle, he would have to help feed me. You never saw someone praying that a kitten would eat so much in your life! Fortunately, for the boss, I ate my mid morning meal. Then I settled in for a nice mid morning nap.

When I woke up from my nap, I got kind of bored and wanted to explore. I got out of my gym bag and started playing with the cords and cables under Kathy's desk. Thinking that I would get into more trouble under the desk than on top of it, Kathy picked me up and put me on her desk. Wow! You wouldn't believe all the toys she had there! There were all these pens and pencils, and all this paper, just waiting to be shredded! Not only that, but the walls of her cubey area were made of cloth and perfect for climbing and looking over the walls to see what other people were doing! Then I found this thing that moved across the screen on her PC monitor thingy. I really started chasing that. I kept running over her keyboard thing. Kathy really didn't like that, but who cares? It was fun. Then all of a sudden, I hit a great combination of keys and all the computer systems stopped working! That was really cool!

For some reason, Kathy didn't want to take me to work with her the next day. I don't know why, afterall as cute as I was, who couldn't resist me?