KENSAL, N.D. — Kali Freier has fostered animals all her life.
"When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who would knock baby birds out of their nest for fun and I would pick them up," Freier said. "My dad found two abandoned cottontail rabbits in our shed while he was mowing the lawn and he brought them into the house and he said 'what do I do with these' and I said 'well, get me a cage.'"
Freier, of Kensal, about 30 miles north of Jamestown, said her love for animals has only blossomed. So when a coworker approached her with a stray cat that had just given birth to a litter of kittens that he'd found on his doorstep, she didn't hesitate to take them.
"I had the space and I had the time, and I love animals," Freier said.
Freier said the mother, whom she has been calling Momma Cat since taking over custody, gave birth to six kittens on Oct. 24, but one of the kittens died. After a couple of days caring for the kittens, Freier said she noticed something odd about Momma Cat.
"I noticed that her belly still looked pregnant, and I was kind of getting nervous that she had a kitten that was dead in there or that didn't make it," Freier said. "That's dangerous for the mama cat so on my day off I took her into the vet and they did X-rays and confirmed that there was a kitten still inside the mother.
"So we basically decided to do an emergency spay," Freier said.
Freier said Dr. Dawn Entzminger, veterinarian at Dr. Dawn's Pet Stop, removed Momma Cat's uterus as well as the kitten still inside her, five days after the other kittens were born.
"I came back about at 4 o'clock to pick her up and there was a bunch of people in the waiting room just standing there waiting for something and Dr. Dawn saw me and she just pointed at me and said 'come here,'" Freier said. "So I followed her and when we went around the corner there was like three different vet techs (veterinarian technicians) standing there and the vet and the one goes 'did you tell her yet' and I just stopped walking and I said, 'is it alive?'
"And Dawn said 'oh, he's alive and he's a boy,'" Freier said.
Entzminger said in her 21 years of practice, she had never seen anything like it.
"Impossible odds," Entzminger said. "Totally amazed, five days after the rest (of the litter)."
Over a week later, Freier said she named him Miracle and will keep him and his brothers and sisters until they reach 8 weeks old and are ready for adoption.
Entzminger said the name was a "perfect fit".
Freier said she doesn't normally mandate people who adopt her fostered animals to keep the pet's name, but her "miracle kitten" is an exception. Freier also said the name has a double meaning, as his ready-for-adoption date is Dec. 25.
"A Christmas miracle," Freier said.
"There's absolutely no way that he should have survived and that the mom should have survived having a kitten in there five days longer," Freier said. "So he's kind of a miracle. You could stand outside on a cloudless night and count the stars before you'd be able to find the probability of this cat surviving."
Freier said she has created a fundraiser online to raise money to help pay for the veterinary fees. As of Nov. 7, Freier said she has raised $425.
She has also created a Facebook page so people are able to keep up with Miracle's story. It can be found at https://www.facebook.com/thekittenmiracle/.