The two little kittens did not survive.
They had more "ups" than "downs" so I thought they were out of the woods. They both had good appetites. The littlest one suddenly seemed uncoordinated and stopped eating. Sometimes you can just push a kitten through one of these low points by syringe feeding until they get their appetite back, but the little kitten began crying in pain when any attempt to syringe feed her was made. I took her to the veterinarian, where they tentatively diagnosed distemper, and we chose to put her down.
The second kitten happily ate a big breakfast from his bottle. He was a loud boy, and I saw no problems with him. When I came back from the vet, he was sound asleep, so I let him sleep a bit more. When I woke him up, he started bashing around the box, without making a sound. I thought at first I had startled him, but it continued, and it was clear he was suffering neurologically. So it was back to the vet, where heads were shaken sadly, and he was put down as well.
The veterinary staff felt they should be tested for rabies, even though their mom was acting normally, since there isn't much research on how rabies is passed in utero. Perhaps mom had rabies but was not clinical yet, and the kittens contracted it before they were born, and is progressed more quickly in them than in the mom. It was unlikely, but couldn't be ruled out without pulling a lot of books off the shelves, so I went ahead and called the health department. They were extremely helpful (this was 4:30 pm on July 3rd, right before the holiday), and by Friday morning the results were back: Negative.
It's always sad to lose kittens, and even sadder to tell the people who rescued them, and even though I knew Valarie and Craig would be understanding, I put it off almost a week. And failed to blog as well. I finally called to let them know, and then I was off for travel for work, and the blog was neglected.
Mom cat is doing great and will go off to be spayed this week. She still looks like a kitten herself. She is no longer emaciated. She doesn't much like to be picked up, and I plan to work on that once she's upstairs with the other cats.