Two of Katie’s Tiffanie kittens have started to open their eyes.
I was down in Yorkshire yesterday meeting with one of our clients, Wren Kitchens. I have now seen around two of their showrooms, and I must confess to being rather impressed with the value for money – excellent quality for a really, really good price! They had a Franke tap there that Richard and I looked at when we were doing our kitchen, but we couldn’t find it for less than £240 (and therefore didn’t bother), whereas Wren have the exact same one for £99.99!! I highly recommend checking them out if you’re needing a new kitchen, and they’re just about to bring in a bedroom range as well.
Since I was going to be away all day, Mum had checked on Katie and the babies at lunchtime, and reported that all were present and correct. Evidently, it is only okay for ‘strangers’ to visit the kittens when accompanied by us, because Mum didn’t even open the pen, but Katie was snarling at her just for being in the room! Thankfully Katie had chosen not to turn the pen upside down at that stage, so Mum didn’t need to try and brave Katie’s wroth to do any pen rearrangements.
Richard had also checked on them when he got in from work, but I was still desperate to see them by the time I got back after 10pm. Of course, they were all absolutely fine, and sound asleep, but that’s not the point! After tea, I did the nightly weigh-in, and was glad to see that purple-toes was up 16g today, rather than the underwhelming 7g that she has gained both of the previous days. She is now up to 179g, so just 1g short of the double-birth-weight target for the first seven days. Red-toes sailed past double yesterday evening (by an impressive 12g), and is now up to 206g; as did orange-toes (by 9g), who is now up to 207g. Blue-toes was that bit heavier at birth, so although he was the same weight as red-toes yesterday, he didn’t cross the double-birth-weight threshold until this evening, when he was up to 205g.
Red-toes and blue-toes have both started to open their eyes today, although the other two are showing no signs as yet. Red-toes has just the inner corners of her eyes visible, while blue-toes has just the inner corner on his right eye, but almost his full left eye open. Both are looking nice and healthy, with no discharge or swelling, so I’m hopeful that there will not be any complications. Fingers crossed!
Katie’s Tiffanie kittens are now lifting their heads up and trying to stand.
Today is the first day that the kittens have been happy to sit in our hands and be stroked, without immediately calling for their mum. This morning they had started lifting their heads up as if they were trying to look around, although they are obviously still blind at this stage. By this evening, they had also started trying to stand up, but I swear they got around better when they were just dragging themselves along the floor! Whenever they try and stand up they wobble around so much that they can hardly move, and then half the time they only manage one step and then they fall over. They seem to spend about as much time on their backs with their legs in the air as they do on their feet! They are much more active today, though, and have been exploring every corner of their box. Katie has also taken to lying down a small distance from them, as if trying to encourage them to come to her, instead of the other way around.
It has been really hot again today, which meant that Katie kept overheating whenever the kittens were tucked in against her tummy to feed. We did try turning the fan on, with it facing away from the pen, but the kittens can obviously still feel the air movement, and they don’t seem to like it, so we had to turn it off again. I’ve also turned the heat mat off for the moment. Between their increased movement and their mum’s reluctance to feed them for any length of time, it is perhaps not surprising that none of the kittens had gained much today. The largest gain was just 11g, but hopefully they’ll be back up again tomorrow.
Katie’s kittens are getting closer to doubling their birth weights, and Kia has had her first experience of the ‘great outdoors’
Now that Katie’s kittens have grown a bit, they were getting too big to be able to all feed at the same time when she is curled in the purple basket. That space was fine when they were a few hours old, but the size they now are means that she really needs to be properly stretched out on her side to allow them all to latch on. Unfortunately, she still seemed determined that she wanted to stay in that corner. In desperation, I tried swapping ends in the pen, with the birthing box moving to the right-hand end, and the basket and litter tray to the left-hand end. Thankfully, Katie didn’t seem to mind the change from basket to box, as long as she was able to stay in her chosen corner, so she can now stretch out on her side (she seems to like putting her head on the heated pad), and the kittens can all fit on to suckle. Being in the box also has the advantage that if the kittens felt cold they could just crawl onto the heated pad.
All four have had much bigger gains today (probably because they could actually reach a teat properly!) – red-toes is up 13g to 162g, purple-toes and blue-toes are both up 17g to 149g and 166g respectively, and orange-toes is up 18g to 165g. That means even the smallest one only has 31g to go to hit the double-birth-weight target that I would like to see them all at by the end of their first week. I have also checked their genders again tonight, and I’m still sure that the two silvers are girls, and one of the black ticked tabbies is a boy. The fourth kitten I am now thinking is also a boy, which would give me a nice split of two boys and two girls.
Kia’s First Outside Adventure
We built a run in the garden, to enable the cats to have some time outside without being able to get right out and get run over, lost, injured or, in the case of the girls, get pregnant by the local Tom. Only the neuters were using the run, however, because we hadn’t shown any of the girls what the catflap was for. One of the times we were visiting Elisabeth, she commented that the girl she has in to stud at the moment doesn’t seem to know how to use the catflap, so has to be shut in the stud house overnight. That got me thinking that perhaps we ought to get the girls used to being outside and using a catflap before they go off to stud, to make the transition a bit easier for them (obviously, it’s too late for Katie!).
Yesterday we were going to be out doing the garden all day, so that seemed like a good time to have them outside for the first time. The run is connected to the house by a suspension bridge (eight metres long, and weighed a tonne to put up there!), and Dàrna didn’t go beyond the bridge, preferring just to sit up where she could enjoy the view. Kia, however, was almost straight down into the run to explore, and spent the next few hours racing around the run chasing flies then running back up onto the bridge, and then back into the run again, going round and round shouting almost continuously. She seemed to have a great time, and even after we had her in for dinner, she was in and out of the catflap for the rest of the evening. In the video you can see that Xaria was also out enjoying the good weather!
Katie’s kittens continue to develop, and surprise me by how happy they make me feel.
Katie’s kittens are developing nicely. The black silver ticked tabby has darkened up a bit, and the two black ticked tabbies (I’m pretty sure that’s what they are now) are developing a stronger brown in their undercoats. I’ve also heard one of the kittens purring today, for the first time. Katie has been doing so almost continuously since her babies arrived, but I haven’t heard any of the kittens until today. They seem very contented, though, and I love how close they are at this stage; cuddling up together.
Red-toes had a smaller gain tonight, up by just 8g, but combined with the 23g gain yesterday, that’s an average of a nice, healthy, 15-16g per day. Orange toes was up by 15g today, whilst blue-toes is up 14g. Once again, it’s only really purple-toes who isn’t gaining as much as I would like, having gone up just 10g. Having said that, everything is relative, and although she’s gaining slower than her siblings, my established breeder friends tell me that 10g is still acceptable.
I have been amazed at my own reaction to the kittens. Obviously, we thought we would enjoy the experience of breeding, or we wouldn’t have got involved, but I had no expectation of just how much I would enjoy it. Nobody told me I would find myself smiling every time I look at the babies! Have a look at this video of the babies suckling and see if it has the same effect on you. I love the way their ears ‘waggle’ as they suck! The fourth baby is there, by the way – you can just see it’s rear end sticking out from under Katie’s leg.
The kittens are, in fact, now almost three days old and have already grown noticeably. Katie seems to be enjoying her role as mother, and divides her time between lying in the basket with the kittens, and lying just outside the basket, or at the other end of the pen. She seems to feel that they need fed every twenty minutes or so, and will climb back in and nudge the kittens awake to get them to eat. The weather has been really hot (we had a fan on all day to keep the room below 26°C) so she gets too hot if she stays in the basket with them. Even when she is outside the basket, she keeps a close watch on what is going on inside it.
At last night’s weigh-in, red-toes, blue-toes and orange-toes were up by 15g, 16g and 17g, taking them to 118g, 118g and 117g respectively. Purple-toes was only up by 7g to 107g, so I weighed them again this morning, and was pleased to see that she (or he!) was up a further 9g overnight to 116g. Red-toes and blue-toes were also up 9g to 127g, and orange-toes was up 4g to 121g. By this evening’s weigh-in, Purple-toes and orange-toes were both up 15g from last night (6g and 11g from this morning), blue-toes was up 17g and red-toes was up 23g!! They are now 122g, 132g, 135g and 141g – that means even the smallest one has already put on over a third of its birth weight, and they’re not even three days old until 4am tomorrow morning!
I have been changing the towel lining their basket every evening, but Katie isn’t very impressed with me doing so. Last night I also wanted to wipe out the bottom of the kitten pen, because Katie had spilled some of her litter on the floor. Like last night, she had used the other tray, and then moved onto the bed when we let her out. I lifted out the basket, complete with kittens, and sat it by the pen door whilst I wiped the bottom of the pen. When Katie saw that her kittens were in the ‘wrong’ place, she jumped down and before I had even finished wiping the pen, she had one of the kittens back in and was standing on the bare floor with this kitten in her mouth, not sure what to do next.
I took the kitten and put it back in the basket, and then put her in with them. She settled down to feed and clean the babies, but watched me with a scowl throughout. Having wiped out the pen, I then had to move both her and the babies out of the basket in order to change the towel. She wasn’t hugely impressed with being moved out onto the floor on her towel, but she does seem happier once the basket is clean. I’m sure we have another of these little baskets somewhere, so I must look the other one out, so that I can make up the second basket, lift the first one out, replace it with the second and then swap the kittens over. At least that would avoid the step of having to move them on their towel onto the floor!
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get a kitten to hold still for long enough that you can get a photo of its face – even at this age. Heaven help us once the kittens are a few weeks old and able to run around. I think all I’ll be managing to get is photos of their tails as they run out of the picture! I also had to have a couple of shots with some of them, because Katie tells me off if they started squeaking, so I had to give them back to her and then try again a couple of minutes later.
Katie’s kittens are now one day old, and doing well.
Katie’s kittens are now one day old, and all doing well. They are all feeding and Katie is being a perfect mother, looking after them expertly and keeping them nice and clean. When we were getting ready for bed last night, we let Katie out of the pen, and she went straight to use the litter tray outside the pen, rather than the one next to her kittens. She then went and sat on the bed, but the second one of her kittens squealed, she was straight back into the pen to check on them.
I weighed them before going to bed, and they had put on between 5g and 13g each. Red-toes, who was one of the two smallest kittens (the lively one that I mentioned yesterday) had actually put on the most weight, going from 90g to 103g, and the largest kitten (blue-toes) had put on the least, going from 97g to 102g. The others had both gone up to 100g.
Red-toes is proving to be a character when eating as well. Most kittens ‘paddle paw’ on their mum’s tummys whilst feeding, but this wee one does the most emphatic massaging I’ve ever seen. It is absolutely hilarious! I tried to catch it on video this morning, but unfortunately I missed the most over-the-top bit due to laughing about it. You’ll see from the video that it’s still pretty extreme even when she (I’ll refer to her as a girl for the moment) is being a bit calmer about it. Apologies about the alarm clock going off in the background, by the way!
Well, last night’s guess that Katie was due imminently turned out to be correct. When we half-woke briefly at 3:20am, she was still moving around the room without kittens. When Richard was stroking Katie in his sleep just after 4am, and encountered a tiny leg, we were suddenly very much awake, and there was Katie on the bed next to us, with three tiny babies. We were just in time to watch the fourth, and final, kitten arriving at 4:12am.
Katie coped perfectly, doing everything including cutting the cords and cleaning up the placentas. We moved her initially onto a clean area of the covers, with a series of clean towels, changing them over regularly as she got herself and the kittens cleaned up.
There were two at 90g, one at 92g and one at 97g. From the looks of which are the driest, I’m guessing they were produced in that order; sensible girl! I’ve had a quick check, and I think there is possibly three girls and a boy, but I’ve never even seen kittens at that age before, so it’s pretty much complete guess-work and is therefore probably totally wrong!
There’s one that is obviously a black silver shaded (I think the first-born), and one that I suspect might be a black silver ticked tabby. The other two are much darker, so I’m wondering if they might be black smokes, although they do have quite strong tabby-type face markings, so may be black ticked tabbies. I know smokes have facial markings, but I’m not sure how strong they usually are at this stage.
I have painted the babies’ toenails to make sure we can keep track of which is which when we’re weighing them. The first kitten to arrive was ‘purple-toes’ (the one that I think is a black silver ticked tabby), followed by ‘red-toes’ (the black silver shaded), followed by ‘orange-toes’ and lastly by ‘blue-toes’.
We’ve now got Katie and the babies tucked in to her basket in the kitten pen, and she has wolfed down two tins of Applause and a pouch of wet food, plus a whole bowl of water. She seems delighted to actually be able to reach to clean every part of her body again! Thankfully she’s taking great care of them all, and all four are latched on and suckling well.
Already, there is one who is obviously going to be a wee minx (red toes) – before Katie had even finished giving birth, this kitten was trundling off up the bed. She (I think it’s a girl!) is totally blind, deaf, and helpless, yet off she went. Once we returned her to her mum’s side, she set off round the side of Katie, then she went over the top of her, then she buried underneath and set off on the other side, and so it goes on. Eventually she gets bored, though, and then they all settle down to eat.
Another good day at the Lakeland Show, an enjoyable couple of days, and preparing for the imminent arrival of kittens.
The Lakeland & District Cat Club had their show in Kendal on Saturday, and we took Breckin, Xaria and Ali this year. Last year at that show, Tármus and Xaria both made up to Premier, and both that hall in particular, and Kendal in general, are lovely locations for a show, so we were hoping for an enjoyable day. This year, Xaria was looking for her first Imperial, and Breckin and Ali for Grands (Challenge and Mastercat).
As usual, we had packed the show case a few nights beforehand, so that we didn’t have a mad rush on the morning of the show. On Friday night, we also shut the three who were attending in the front hallway (with ‘facilities’), so that we knew we could find them in the morning. We had offered to take Xaria’s brother, Xander, in our car again, since he seems to do better when he’s travelled next to her, and this was to be his third (and qualifying) Grand, if he behaved well enough to win it. She was also glad to have one less basket to take, since she was also taking her stud boy, Teddy, one of her girls, Sophie (Xaria’s Grandmother), and one of her most recent litter of kittens, little Zach.
We had arranged to be at Elisabeth’s for 6am, so left the house about 5:15am, and had a good clear run through to Glasgow. We arrived a bit before 6am, and just in time to have a cup of tea! A good run South saw us arrive at the show hall just after 8am, which meant we were early enough to sail straight through vetting in: half an hour later, and there was a sizeable queue.
Breckin was a bit unsure to start with, because this is the first show we’ve had her at where we’ve not had Kia, Monty or one of the Tiffs to pop in the pen with her for the first half hour to help her settle. Margaret Rodger did say to me later, though, that she was absolutely fine when she was being judged (and that she’s gorgeous!), which is good to know! Ali was penned next to the gorgeous Agacat, owned by Steven & Stuart (Esanes Bengals, Pixiebobs & Maine Coons), who had taken Best Household Pet at the Nor’East a few weeks ago. We fully expected Aga to win, but losing is never a problem when you’re been beaten by something as gorgeous as him. As it happens, we were both beaten for the Grand Mastercat certificate by a ginger that we don’t know. Personally, I still think Aga should have got it!
The Sports Centre where the show takes place has a nice cafe upstairs, but it isn’t big enough to cope with the influx of exhibitors when the show ‘chucks out’, so we got up there just before 10am, to ensure we got seats (and bacon & sausage rolls!). We had managed to secure one of the window seats, which meant that I could watch Xander being judged (and Xaria, after that). Thankfully, Xander behaved impeccably, which meant that Elisabeth was able to come down from her panic station and actually enjoy the rest of the day! Xaria behaved beautifully, as always.
We then took advantage of our seats to mark up show catalogues, and also have another round of tea/coffee. By the time we finally went back down into the hall, Xander and Xaria’s results were up, and we were delighted to see that both had won their certificates. In fact, I checked Xander’s result first, and was so excited to see that he had won his Grand, that I forgot to check if Xazzle had won her Imperial! Elisabeth had been sidetracked by another of our friends, whose two Abyssinian boys had ‘done the double’ again, winning both the Imperial Grand Challenge and Imperial Grand Premier certificates. That meant I got to ‘break the news’ of Xander’s result to Elisabeth, which was quite a nice job, really! When we did look at Xaria’s result, we were delighted to see that she had also done us proud and won her first Imperial.
As already mentioned, Ali didn’t win the Grand Mastercat, nor did Breckin win her Grand. We didn’t actually expect Breckin to get it, though, because she is still so young, and the cat that did win it was the beautiful Freya, a Tiffanie girl owned by another friend, Sue Dykes (Kashi Tibetan Terriers). Freya is one of the most stunning examples of the breed that most people have ever seen, and is out of the stud that I had originally hoped to be able to use before we even got our first girl. Unfortunately, he is no longer working, so we just have to be content with seeing his gorgeous offspring at shows!
Once we were allowed back in to the cats, we did the rounds, telling them how clever they had been (all of them), and then gave them lunch. We then headed off for a leisurely walk in glorious sunshine, to find our own lunch. We couldn’t resist heading back to the same place as last year, the Natland MillBeck Ice-Cream Parlour. Needless to say, we all enjoyed ice-cream sundaes to finish!
When we returned to the show hall we went straight over to check the remaining results, and another of our friends came up to say that Elisabeth needed to go and check baby Zach’s pen. When we did so, we discovered that to top off the day, Zach had taken Best Foreign Kitten! The two Imp-winning Abys had also taken Best Foreign Neuter and Best Foreign Adult, so regardless of who took Overall Best Foreign, one of our friends had it! In the end, it was the stunning adult, Coen (Glendavan Roderick-Jaynes), who also made up to Imperial on the day.
Sunday was another lovely sunny day, and we spent the first half getting some of the garden back under control (two weekends where we were busy on the Saturday and then it rained on the Sunday, followed by last weekend at Kirsty’s meant it was needing the work!). The afternoon and evening were spent through at Elisabeth’s, where she was having her annual barbecue. Another delicious meal, helped along by Lenny Pontello’s barbecuing skills, and also a chance to meet some of Elisabeth’s family, as well as catch up with Lorraine and her baby, Lina.
This evening I have been out with my family to celebrate Kirsty’s and my birthdays. When the others decided to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, we discovered that the two names actually work quite well for joint celebrations – “Happy Birthday, Heather and Kirsty”! How we didn’t discover that years ago at our joint parties as kids, I don’t know.
Katie is really heavily pregnant now, and has become really proud of her tummy in the past 24 hours. She will roll onto her back to ask you to stroke it, which is something she’s never done before.
Before going out tonight, we noticed that Katie’s sides had relaxed off, which I’ve been told means that labour is starting, and she was being quite chatty today, so I think she’s going to go tonight. Her kittens are also being really active, although I didn’t manage to record their most active period because I was too busy watching it myself!
We filled her birthing box with towels before going out, just in case she decided to have her babies while we were eating, but she is still wandering around the bedroom happily now. In preparation, I’ve brought up the scales and a notepad and pen to record weights, and also a selection of nail-polishes to mark kitten toenails so that we can tell them apart. Wish us luck!
A weekend visit to my sister, Kirsty, in Montrose; another AGM and returning home to the cats
I have my birthday this week, and Kirsty (my sister) has hers next weekend, so we decided that it would be good to get together for a meal out. Since Richard and I still hadn’t visited Kirsty’s ‘new’ house in Montrose, which she moved into last summer, we thought it was about time we did so. We have the Lakeland show on Saturday, and Kirsty is away on holiday the following weekend, so the weekend just gone seemed the best bet.
Kirsty and I thought it might be nice to have Calum (our brother) join us for the weekend, and never one to pass up a free meal, he accepted the invitation. Richard and I didn’t want to leave Katie for more than one night, so close to her due date, so we said that we would drive up on the Saturday morning. In order to ensure that we could get an early start, Calum stayed with us on Friday night, although he did go home to Mum’s for his tea first!
We got up pretty sharp on Saturday, although it was almost 9am by the time we had segregated the cats into various groups according to what food they were to be left with. Breckin, Tármus and Ali are all on ‘light’ food, so they were grouped together, and shut in the Livingroom and Study to give Tármus and Ali access to the run. We left Dàrna shut in with Katie in the kitten room, which meant they could both have plenty of ‘Queen mix’. Xaria, Annas and Jinny were shut in my room with a mixture of Senior and normal ‘Neuter mix’; not that Xaria and Annas need Senior food, but they get on well with Jinny, so seemed like good company for her. Call, Kia and the Devons were all shut in the Hallway and Stairwell, with ordinary ‘Neuter mix’; it would have been good to leave Kia with something higher in energy, but we don’t want the others gaining weight, and she’s much to hyperactive to be shut in the kitten room for two days. That only left Monty, who is limited to Royal Canin Sensible due to his jippy tummy. After a bit of a debate, we decided that the only option was to shut him in the front hall by himself: not ideal, but we couldn’t come up with anything better.
Saturday was spent doing Kirsty’s garden, interspersed with lunch at a local farm-cafe and a walk to the beach, and the followed by an evening meal at the local Indian, which was very good. Sunday we had a leisurely start and then headed down to Brechin Castle country park, where we had lunch and wandered around the farm: they have three litters of piglets at the moment, which are extremely cute!
Kirsty had an early meeting in Stirling today, so she was travelling down to stay at Mum and Dad’s last night. That meant we were able to dispatch Calum home with Kirsty, while we stopped off in Dundee to attend the Nor’East of Scotland AGM and subsequent ‘High Tea’. The AGM was interesting, with quite a lot of constructive discussion, and it was good to get to know some of the other club members at the meal afterwards.
By the time we got home, it was certainly mid evening, and I was anxious to see how Katie would have got on. As you might expect, she was absolutely fine, although pleased to see us, and I think quite pleased to have a break from Dàrna! I wasn’t sure it was even possible, but Katie has obviously grown further just in the 36 hours we’ve been away, and is now actually finding it difficult to reach around herself to clean properly. I’m hoping Dàrna will step in to help, because Katie would prefer that to having me clean her with a cloth, but I might have to do so later in the week.
Fingers crossed for a nice peaceful week, followed by a good show on Saturday and an uncomplicated labour on Sunday or Monday of next week!
We’ve set up a TV for the kittens to watch, and also organised the next set of stud visits.
We finally got around to setting up a TV in the kitten room last night. The theory behind that is that it will get the kittens used to the sound of a TV, whilst also keeping the girls company when they’re in there alone. It also means that we can sit with them in the evenings and still keep up with CSI!
I’ve organised a repeat stud visit for Dàrna, and also a stud visit for Kia. Breckin still hasn’t called yet, which is no bad thing, because it means I don’t have to sort out a stud for her until later in the summer. If she held off until the early Autumn, that would be ideal, since it would avoid the potential of her due date clashing with The Supreme! Chance being what it is, though, who knows what will actually happen! Amanda (Colgan – Rushbrooke Asians, Burmese & Bengals) has always said that her mantra is “manage the situation”, and I can rapidly see us finding the same.