I whisked the raccoon kit downstairs, opened the freezer, and took out the tin of KMR or Kitten Milk Replacer. I sifted through another cabinet and found a new pet bottle still inside its original container. Then, I got out a shaker for making mixed drinks, read the directions and proceeded to make the kit a long-overdue supper.
As I was mixing the KMR with water, I noticed how the kit almost looked dried up. His fur was icky, and his skin seemed almost adhered to his body--like no space between the skin and the body proper. He was extrememly dehydrated. His attitude revealed his lack of moisture, too, because he acted as though he couldn't see, and it didn't help that one eye was pasted shut with eye matter. So, even before I tried to feed him, I got paper towels, wet them with warm water, and began stroking him all over. My towels rapidly turned yellow--probably from his sitting in his own waste for such a long time. I think the washing also helped stimulate him back to reality a bit, for he began to move his head slightly, almost as though he was analyzing his surroundings.
I out the KMR solution into a bottle and put it to his mouth. When I had done that with my first raccoon kit, he immediately began sucking on it. This kit, however, was in dire shape: he didn't even know that there was a nipple bottle at his lips and that milk was running down his chin.
A chill went through my body: had I only thought, when I first heard the noise in the fan, that some critter needed rescuing, he might not be so worn out and dehydrated. The kit may have lost his suck reflex. Losing a suck reflex is not a good prognosis for a baby animal. Still, I was determined he should have liquids.
I put a fingernail between his upper and lower jaw and pried the lower jaw loose. It was like a creaky chest that hadn't been opened for years. When I had it open, I stuck in the nipple and squirted the good milk into his mouth. It dribbled out the side and down his chest.
I was worried. Was he so far gone that he couldn't even swallow? This wasn't looking good. "Edgar! He needs fluids. He's all dried up--can't even drink anything."
Edgar went for the fluids and gave him five cc's under the skin in two places. I had already washed his eyes and put opthalmic ointment in them. But I had to try to get him to participate in the feeding. I could jam as much liquid into his mouth as possible, but if he couldn't swallow, all my attempts at saving him would be lost.
I warmed the KMR in the microwave, put the nipple to his lips--nothing. He just hung limp in my hands: too far gone. I cursed myself for ignoring his cries the previous day. I tried again--squirting the liquid into the back of his mouth. This time I saw his mouth move, and as another squirt went into him, a tiny, broad tongue lapped at the juice. He wasn't sucking, but he was licking the fluid.
For an hour I worked with him, Edgar helping to steady him in my arms. His head was almost as long as his body, and he kept twisting it away from me as though he didn't like bing forced to drink. After half the bottle was empty, I squeezed his belly: it was taut.
I held him against my chest, and he made a feeble attempt to crawl up to my neck. I helped him--shades of Rustle dancing through my head--and he made it to my hairline where he burrowed his head. While he lay on my shoulder, with one hand steadying him, I made him a nice raccoon nest out of a cardboard box and towels. Then I heated in the microwave a sack of birdseed that people use on sore body parts and wrapped it in a towel.
I put him in the box on top of the heated pouch, and he fell right to sleep. My only worry was that we had rescued him too late and that he wouldn't survive the night.