Kitten Update Day 37

Katie has mastitis and two of the kittens suffer from a bacterial infection. Meanwhile, my Grandpa takes ill and dies in hospital.

Well, it’s been 10 stressful days since my last update.  I hope by the end of this post you will understand why there hasn’t been one for so long!  Incidentally, ‘red-toes’ has now been booked, and her future owner has named her Lainni, which means ‘Sparkling’.

Blue-toes lost 36g on Wednesday last week, and a further 18g on Thursday, which made us rather nervous, although he was behaving normally.  We started giving him supplementary bottle feeds on Thursday evening, which put him back to a slight gain from Thursday to Friday, but he did seem slightly quieter than his siblings that day.

Around lunchtime on Friday I had to rush into hospital to see my Grandpa. He has been in the hospital since the spring but had ‘taken a turn’ and was not expected to survive. There followed a tense few hours as family arrived from all over. Of particular concern was the fact that my parents and brother were on a boating holiday up the West coast when we got the call, and had no way to get back. We all heaved a huge sigh of relief when they finally managed to get to the bedside by means of a bus, a hire car, and what I suspect was probably a pretty hairy drive down!

As it happens, Grandpa decided he wasn’t ready to go yet, and by late Friday evening had settled down enough that the nurses sent us home, saying that nothing was likely to happen that night. When I got home at about midnight, the kittens were all squealing, which they shouldn’t be doing. When I weighed them, all three had lost weight, so I knew something was definitely wrong.

I put my hands under Katie to pick her up and was alarmed to feel hard pads there. Two of her mammary glands were quite swollen, which reminded me of something I had read about in one of my books on breeding. I had one of my books up in the kitten room, but couldn’t remember what I had done with the other one. Richard eventually found it, and sure enough, when I re-read the section on mastitis (mammary infection), I was convinced that’s what she had.

The babies were obviously hungry, which was why they were squealing, so we gave them a bottle-feed. I wasn’t sure what the effect would be on the kittens if they managed to get milk out of one of the infected teats. To prevent this, I cut up an old pair of tights to make a tube with leg holes, and put it on Katie while she cuddled her babies and got them cleaned up after their feed. I didn’t think we would be likely to be able to keep the stocking on her overnight, so we shut the babies in the pen and Katie outside it until we could get her to the vet.

Tiffanie wearing a 'body stocking'
Katie cuddling her kittens wearing her 'body stocking'

Dad texted me just after 7am on Saturday to say that Grandpa had survived the night and was quite bright.  That day was his 83rd birthday, so they opened some of his cards and presents with him. Before we could even think about going in to the hospital, we had to give the babies another bottle, then at 9am I phoned the vet and got an appointment to take Katie in at 10:20am.

The vet confirmed my suspicions that she had mastitis in two of her mammary glands, and gave her an injection of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory. He recommended continuing with the feeds of Cimicat (kitten milk formula), but trying to get the kittens weaned in the next few days.  He gave the three kittens a check-up and identified that blue-toes was quieter than the others.  We were told to pay particular attention to blue-toes and ensure that he got plenty of Cimicat, but the other two seemed fine.  The kittens were to be kept apart from Katie until that evening and then put back in with her.

After getting back from the vets, Richard and I headed into the hospital where the whole family had gathered to cut a cake for Grandpa’s birthday.  We headed home at about 9pm to get the kittens fed.  Katie was looking a lot better, with a good amount of the swelling having gone down.  She was thrilled to be let back in with her babies, and we were pretty glad to let her in, since they had trashed their pen while shut in alone!  They had walked through their food dishes and smeared it all over the pen.  There was food in the water dish, water in the food dishes, litter in both food and water dishes and litter and food all over their bedding!

On Sunday morning, Dad had texted me to say that Grandpa was still doing okay.  I got up at about 9:30am, intending to have a leisurely breakfast and a shower and then head back into the hospital.  When I looked into the kitten pen, the boys were both drinking from Katie, and Lainni was lying beside her.  This is extremely unusual, because Lainni is normally the first to drink from Katie whenever she lies down.

I reached in to stroke Lainni, and as soon as I touched her, she jumped up and ran across her pen in a zig-zag manner before crashing into the side and falling to the floor.  I wasn’t sure what I’d just seen, so I tried to turn her around, and she set off in the opposite direction, crashed into the water bowl, stood up again, fell into the litter tray and lay there unmoving.  I picked her up, and she stretched out and started twitching as if she was having a fit.  Her eyes were glazed and unseeing, as well.

I was terrified, and immediately phoned the vet hospital in Stirling (they provide ‘999 emergency’ out-of-hours cover for our vets).  They asked me to bring Lainni through, but leave her mum and brothers behind.  When we got to the vet hospital, they worried that it might be meningitis, and started her on antibiotics.  They asked me to phone at 2pm to see how she was responding, and I headed off to return to the hospital to see Grandpa.

Grandpa was doing really quite well, and was bright and talking to us all.  I phoned the vet hospital at 2pm and they said that they were optimistic, because Lainni was now able to focus on them, and her episodes of random running seemed to be abating.  They suggested that I might be able to collect her around 9pm, so I said I would call back about 7pm.

At 4pm my mobile rang, and the vet hospital’s number showed up.  I dashed out of Grandpa’s room to answer the call, expecting the worst.  Instead, the nurse was saying that Lainni had responded really well.  They had been able to get 4ml of water and 2ml of Cimicat into her, and she was now playing on the nurse’s desk!  They said that I would definitely be able to collect her that evening, and suggested going in between 6:30 and 7pm.

When we got her home, she was really hyper and running around, obviously fed up having been shut in a small cage most of the day.

Lainni running around after returning from the vet hospital

Katie was really glad to see her back, and spent the first few minutes chasing around virtually attached to Lainni’s tail, and not letting her out of sight for a minute.  Eventually she calmed down a bit, and sat off to one side, but she was still entirely focussed on Lainni’s every move.

Katie watching Lainni intently

We were to take Lainni to our own vets on Monday to get her a repeat antibiotic injection.  Blue-toes was still too quiet, so I asked to be able to bring him as well, and they agreed, and gave me an appointment at 11am.  I spent a couple of hours at work, and then took the babies to the vet.  Blue-toes temperature was over 40°C, which is far too hot, so he was also given an antibiotic injection.  I then spent the rest of the day at the hospital again, only popping back to the house briefly to give the kittens a solid food meal as a start to the weaning process.

Katie was to return to the vets on Tuesday to have her mastitis checked, and the vet had asked to see all three kittens at that point.  Lainni was doing really well, and her temperature was completely normal, as was Orange-toes.  Blue-toes had brightened up on Monday after having his antibiotics, but had quietened again on Tuesday and by the time of the vet appointment his temperature was back to 40°C again.

This time I was sent away with a liquid antibiotic preparation that needs to be dropped into their mouths.  Since even orange-toes was still having erratic weight results, the vet and I felt that all three should be given the antibiotics to be on the safe side.  In theory, the antibiotics are ‘palatable’ (and Katie does appear to want them), but the kittens obviously haven’t read the label and clearly don’t think so!

Frothy kittens objecting to their antibiotic drops

On Wednesday morning, we let the kittens out for a run around, and all three were clearly brighter than before.  After giving them another solid feed (unbelievably messy process, by the way!), I collected my aunt and we went back into the hospital to see Grandpa again.  Grandpa fought bravely throughout the day, and said his goodbyes to all of us before finally passing away at about 5:30pm.

When we returned from the hospital, blue-toes was running around the kitten room, having jumped out of the pen.  When we lifted his siblings out, the three of them all ran around the room, pouncing on eachother, so they all appeared to be back to normal.  When we brought up their solid food to give them their evening meal, both orange-toes and Lainni lapped the food from the dish without us having to force the food into them.  Blue-toes is quite determined that Mum’s milk is better!

I had the Devons in the vet today for their annual vaccinations, so I took the kittens back in at the same time.  This time, all three kittens were bright and their temperatures were normal, including blue-toes.  The vet feels that since their recovery has been so quick, their illness is unlikely to have been caused by any of the nasty possibilities that we had been considering.  In reality, it has probably just been a bad case of bacterial infection, most likely set off by the kittens’ immune systems being reduced due to the lower milk quality as a result of the mastitis.  Even Lainni’s ‘neurological symptoms’ were probably nothing more than the result of a high fever!

It’s been a pretty horrendous few days, but at least the babies have come through it safe and well.  Surely it can only get better from here?!

Kitten Update Day 27

The babies get to explore outside their box for the first time, and red-toes is booked to go to a show home!

The kittens are now looking like miniature cats, rather than just kittens. Although still not entirely steady on their feet, they are perfectly capable of pouncing on each other, and are becoming more playful by the day. When I got up on Saturday morning, red-toes and blue-toes were playing a game of ‘bumpies’ – stand a few inches apart, bounce twice towards eachother, crash into eachother, fall over sideways and then stand up and repeat. Very funny to watch!

We were helping at the Edinburgh & East of Scotland show on Saturday (Richard had his first experience of stewarding), and when we got back in that evening, the babies were moving all around their box and starting to try and climb out. While I was watching, red-toes managed to get up and over the low edge, but once her front half was out, she wasn’t sure how to proceed. She ended up doing a handstand with her back feet still hooked over the side of the box, too scared to carry on forwards, but unable to pull herself up backwards.

Tiffanie kitten escaping her 'nest'
Red-toes climbing out of the nest

She did eventually decide just to drop down onto the floor, but then she stood beside the box looking totally shocked and overwhelmed, and started whimpering. Katie was getting a bit upset by the noise she was making, so I helped her back into the box.

Red-toes trying to decide what to do next, and then being helped back into the box

Since the kittens were obviously going to start climbing out of the box, but equally obviously couldn’t get back in, I decided to flatten the lower edge, so that they could just walk in and out.  Katie evidently approved of this arrangement, because she promptly lined all the babies up in the opening and lay there to feet them!  The babies spent the rest of that evening either exploring outside the box, or sleeping in the new opening!

Tiffanie kittens exploring outside their 'nest' for the first time
Red-toes and blue-toes exploring outside the box

Tiffanie kittens sleeping in the entrance to their 'nest'
The three babies sleeping in the new entrance

All three are now becoming much more individual characters, rather than just a litter of kittens.  Orange-toes is a bit of a ‘mummy’s boy’, and has a tendency to cry for Katie whenever something isn’t to his liking, yet he surprised us by being the first one out of the box to explore.  He is now getting a lot better about being handled, and even came to the edge of the box to ask for a cuddle yesterday.  Both red-toes and blue-toes are now very cuddly, but blue-toes tends to want to sit and look around, whereas red-toes likes to tuck into you.  She is very alert and inquisitive, but is totally uninterested in any food other than Mum’s milk.  The boys, on the other hand, are both getting very interested in the dish of kitten food that I have put in their pen.  Blue-toes watches Katie eating it (of course, she prefers that to her own food!), and then goes and sticks his head in the dish like she does.  He hasn’t quite figured out that he’s supposed to actually eat, so he just stands with his head in the dish, but I’m sure it won’t be long before he gets it.

I took some more individual photos on Sunday, and when you compare those to the ones from last week, it is obvious just how much they are coming on.

Black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Red-toes front-on

Black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Red-toes side-on

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Orange-toes front-on

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Orange-toes side-on

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Blue-toes front-on

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 25 days
Blue-toes side-on

All four are now over 475g, with red-toes still the largest at 489g.  She looks smaller than her brothers, yet is consistently heavier, so I am hopeful that she will have ‘good Burmese weight’ when she is older.  Particularly so, since she is reserved to go to a show home!  Yes, our first baby has a home booked.  She will be going to live with a couple who have seven other cats, including some retired breeding queens from a friend of ours.  Little red-toes will have access to a cat-secure garden, and we will get to see her out on the bench!  Fingers crossed she continues to develop nicely.

The nesting box has vetbed in the bottom, plus the heat pad and a towel.  I change these over at least once per week, just to minimise the risk of any infection.  When I went in to change them last night, the room was quite cool (still over 20°C, but not as warm as usual), so I put a teddy in the (human) bed, and tucked the babies in between that and the pillow to keep them warm.

Tiffanie kittens tucked up in bed
"There were three in the bed..."

Katie has always liked to go under the covers on the bed, so when she noticed that the kittens were there, she jumped up, burrowed in past them and then called to them from under the covers.  By that point, I had finished sorting their box, but since she was then feeding them, I didn’t want to interrupt.  Once they had finished eating, she tucked them all up to have a nap, and she went off to have something to eat herself.  When I opened up the covers to check on them, they looked absolutely adorable!

Adorable Tiffanie kittens tucked up in bed
Blue-toes and red-toes curled up sleepily

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten sprawling asleep
Orange-toes 'splatted' asleep beside the teddy

Three Tiffanie kittens curled up beside a teddy
The three kittens tucked into the side of the teddy

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten looking adorable
Orange-toes waking up and looking adorable

Kitten Update Day 23

The kittens are learning to walk, and starting to display individual personalities. They get more adorable by the day.

The kittens are all now standing up and walking around, although orange-toes still isn’t as good at it as his siblings are.

The babies starting to toddle around aged 21 days

They are growing well, with all three now over 400g. They all exceeded their three-week growth target, although blue-toes was over by 7g, whereas red-toes was over by a whopping 49g! She is the heaviest of the three (probably because she is the most aggressive about claiming and keeping a teat!), but orange-toes is the biggest. That might be part of the reason for his being worse at walking than the others – he’s just so chubby!

They are all starting to develop quite different personalities now. Red-toes is quieter and more studious than the boys, always watching and listening to what is going on. She loves cuddles, and will happily sit in your hand for several minutes as long as you are stroking her. Blue-toes has the biggest purr, and purrs almost constantly whilst drinking from his mum. He is also getting quite into being cuddled, and even came over to the edge of the box this morning, looked up at me and miaowed, making it clear that he wanted a cuddle. Orange-toes, on the other hand, is the whiney kitten in the bunch, and will complain about anything and everything. He whines when you pick him up, whines when his siblings wake him up, and whines if his mum is too slow to start feeding him when she jumps into the box. We will need to make sure that we handle him as often as possible, to ensure that he grows out of it. In the meantime, he really is quite funny!

For showing, Tiffanies should feel heavier than they look, but should have slender limbs and neat, oval paws. At the moment, red-toes is looking the best from that perspective, with long, slim legs, and is surprisingly heavy. Orange-toes is a bit chunky in the legs at the moment and has big paws, but if his legs lengthen out and he grows into his paws then he is going to be a lovely big boy. At the end of the day, though, it is unlikely to matter whether the kittens are good for showing, because we are unlikely to be able to find owners who want to show them, so all three will probably go purely as pets.

Besides which, they are possibly the most gorgeous animals ever to arrive on the planet!

Tiffanie kittens at 21 days old
The kittens looking adorable

Kitten Update Day 20

Nothing dreadful happened to the kittens while we were away at the show, and they have all continued gaining well.

The kittens were, of course, fine when we got back on Saturday evening, and my fears about something dreadful happening whilst we were away proved to be completely unfounded.  Katie was extremely pleased to see us, because I think she felt a bit lonely up there with nobody other than her kittens for company.  She has been rather unsettled and clingy ever since, to the point that I’ve actually had to shut her back in the cage this morning, because she’s being too restless to actually allow her kittens to feed properly!  Whether that will help, though, I’m not sure – even when she’s with them she’s not being particularly helpful about letting them feed.  Hopefully she’ll calm down over the next day or so, and things can go back to normal.

Katie being awkward and sleeping in a position from which her kittens struggle to feed

The babies had grown noticeably even just in the 36 hours we were away, and all three had gained brilliantly by Saturday evening.  Sunday’s gains, by comparison, were pretty pathetic, I think because of Katie’s restlessness.  Having had Katie shut in her pen today, however, things were back on track by this evening, with the gains since Thursday evening now ranging between 46g and 63g, and all the kittens being well over 350g.  Red-toes has even managed to hit 400g today!

H&L Joint Show & more stud drop-offs

Saturday saw the first double all-breed show, when the Humberside and Lincolnshire Cat Clubs joined together to put their two shows on in the same hall, on the same day.  The big advantage of this, for exhibitors, is that cats could potentially bring home two certificates from the one show.  Aside from that, though, there is obviously the cost saving in only travelling to one show whilst really ‘doing’ two.  For us, there was an added incentive, that the stud owners whom Dàrna needed to return to were also attending and were prepared to take her back with them, and that the stud owner whom Kia was to visit lives fairly close.

Richard’s mum’s birthday was the day before the show, and the hall was in Doncaster, which is only about an hour from Loughborough, where his parents live.  We therefore decided to combine the show with a visit to their house.  Unfortunately, our cunning plan was somewhat dampened by the fact that Janet (his mum) was away at a conference for the weekend and only his dad was at home!  Still, we had a nice meal with him on Friday evening, having left about lunchtime and called in at Naomi Johnson’s (Vervain Burmese, Asians & Ocicats) on the way.

Naomi has a boy, Mickey, bred by Rita Legget (Yesso Ocicats), who bred Breckin.  In fact, Naomi’s boy is Breckin’s half-nephew, or something like that.  He is a chocolate silver, and since his father is a blue, and his mother is a classic, he also carries dilute and classic pattern.  Kia carries either chocolate or cinnamon, and both her parents carry dilute, giving her a 2/3 chance of carrying it also.  If she does carry dilute, then a match between her and Mickey should statistically produce 1/2 spotted and 1/2 classic; 1/2 silver and 1/2 non-silver; 3/8 tawny, 1/8 blue, 3/8 chocolate and 1/8 lilac.

Naomi has enviable outside runs, and we took Kia straight out to the run next to Mickey, so that she could get to know him before she comes into season.  When we opened her basket, she was straight out and had a good check around her new quarters and then started eyeing up the boys – Mickey on one side and Greg, the Burmese, slightly further down.  It doesn’t look like there’s going to be any worry whatsoever about her feeling homesick, or failing to settle in, but what else would we expect from the sprite?

On the Saturday we arrived at the show hall just before 8am, although a slight detour into the wrong car-park meant that we didn’t actually get the cats in to vetting-in until about 8:15am.  We are all so used the process that both they and we were sorted and breakfasted by no later than 9am.

The Dome in Doncaster is one of the show halls fortunate enough to have a balcony where exhibitors can sit to watch their cats being judged, so we made our way up there initially.  The results boards were also up there, but for some reason they had all been crammed into one tiny corner of the balcony, which we all took one look at and said “this’ll be hell later”.  Sure enough, by half-way through the afternoon everyone was tripping over eachother and the results boards and generally getting totally confused and fed up.  Thankfully, someone eventually had the sense to move one of the boards out onto the landing, which made life much easier.

Since Breckin and Monty are both so young still (Breckin is just 13 months and 2 days today, and Monty is just over a week past his 1st birthday), I didn’t really expect them to get anything.  They excelled themselves, however, with Monty taking the Reserve Grand in both shows, and Breckin taking Reserve in one show and the Grand in the other!  The competition was tough in both cases, too, so they did really well.  Xaria didn’t get anything in the Imperial classes, unfortunately, but she did beat a rather stunning boy for Best of Breed, so she didn’t exactly have a bad day either!

Dàrna wasn’t entered in the show, and the day was far too hot for us to leave her in the car (19.5°C when we left Loughborough at 7am!), so we had to leave her in Loughborough.  Richard therefore had to leave about 12:30pm to head back to his parents’ to collect her.  I think she had been spoilt all morning by having Bill (Richard’s dad) all to herself, and was in an exceptionally good mood by the time we handed her over to Steve and Thomas (Kagura Burmese & Asians) at the end of the show.

We have arranged to collect both girls in four weeks’ time, and fingers crossed that this time we have two expanding tummys, and not just one!

Kitten Update Day 17

The kittens are caught in the act of fighting, and we have our first trip away from them.

The kittens are continuing to grow well, with all three being above 330g last night.  I had to weigh them just half-way through the day today, because we’re taking Kia and Dàrna to stud this afternoon, and won’t be back until tomorrow.  Even so, they had still gained a minimum of 9g in a bit under 12 hours!  This is our first trip away from them, and I am SO nervous.  I will be absolutely desperate to see them again tomorrow.

Katie is now eating a full bowl of dry food plus 1/4 of a can and 2-4 pouches of wet every day.  This should continue to increase until probably the week after next, by which point the kittens will be moving onto solid food of their own, and the load on Katie will gradually decrease.  She is very chatty at the moment, and will call to her babies whenever she gets back into the birthing box, probably because they are now responding to sounds.

The boys are still basically just interested in sleeping and Mum’s milk, although they will now sit quietly in our hands when we pick them up for a stroke.  The girlie (red-toes), on the other hand, is definitely responding to us now, and when you look down into the pen, you are normally met with a little pair of blue eyes.  If you sit by the side of the box and talk to her, she will actually get up and come over to the side where you are, and if you put your hand in the pen and don’t stroke her, she comes over and nudges it until you do!  She also loves cuddles, and will roll around in your hands for you to stroke all of her.  If she carries on the way she is at the moment, she’s going to make someone a fantastic cuddly pet.

The kittens may be sweet, but they are still capable of violence against each other when fighting over a teat.  The second from back teat on Katie’s left side is the favourite with all three kittens, and they will fight over it, even though there are perfectly good teats right next to it.  They have been doing this since they were only a couple of days old, but I am normally so busy laughing at them that I forget to film it.  Last night, I had my phone right beside me, though, so I managed to capture the moment.

Red-toes and blue-toes fighting over a teat

We clipped their claws on Tuesday night, because they had become really quite sharp, and I was worried that they might catch eachother in the eye and do some damage: even whilst doing them, I noticed that blue-toes had a tiny cut on the top of his head, presumably from one of his siblings.  I also didn’t want them scratching Katie whilst suckling.  Now that they are bigger and stronger, Katie is also a lot less tolerant of them moving around whilst suckling, so I assume they are actually starting to hurt her now.  I noticed earlier this week that they have teeth now, too!

Fingers crossed for a good day tomorrow, and that we come home to a nest of healthy, happy babies!

Kitten Update Day 14

We have chosen a name for the kitten that we lost, and the other kittens continue to grow nicely.

Katie’s kittens are now two weeks old, and the three remaining are developing nicely, looking chubby and adorable. One of the boys, in particular, is really broad in the head, and like a little dumpling. This video shows him struggling to roll over, because he is so fat (which they should be at this age)!

Orange-toes being a fat little dumpling!

Katie is still keeping them immaculate and feeding them dutifully. Until purple-toes passed away, we had to keep Katie shut in the pen with them most of the time, just to try and ensure that purple-toes got as much opportunity to feed as possible. Now that she is no longer with us, we have been able to let Katie out, which stops her getting so bored. She chooses when to return to her kittens and they just sleep until she jumps into the box and licks them awake. Once awake, they all tussle over who gets which teat, before settling down for a good feed. All three have continued making good gains since we started leaving the pen door open, so it looks like this is going to work well for all of us.

We still have a ‘target’ for the kittens to gain their birth-weight each week. Red-toes and orange-toes are currently running exactly two days ahead of this, having achieved today’s targets of 270g and 276g respectively, on Sunday. Blue-toes’ target was 291g, which he has passed today, so all three are doing really well.  Yesterday, blue-toes was 279g, red-toes was 286g and orange-toes was 290g, giving gains of 15g, 16g and 14g respectively.  Today, blue-toes is up a healthy 19g to 298g (exceeding target by 7g), red-toes is up just 9g to 295g (exceeding target by 25g) and orange-toes is up 16g to 306g (exceeding target by 30g!).

We got the camera out today to take some photos of the babies, and I decided to put to rest once and for all the queries about whether we really painted their toenails (yes, Tracy!).  The photo below shows one of blue-toes’ feet complete with nail-varnish, although it is starting to get a bit patchy now, because I haven’t re-painted them since birth.

Tiffanie kitten with painted toe-nails
Blue-toes' painted toe-nails

Their eyes are all fully open now, so I have taken some updated individual pictures. I may need to change these later, since most aren’t very good. The kittens don’t move around much, so I thought it would be easy to get photos of them, but I was totally wrong – it is near impossible, because they just won’t hold still!!

A black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Red-toes front-on

A black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Red-toes side-on

A black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Orange-toes front-on

A black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Orange-toes side-on

A black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Blue-toes front-on

A black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten aged 14 days
Blue-toes side-on

Whenever we are doing anything with the babies, Katie comes to watch.  She is now so used to us handling them, and that she doesn’t even ask for them back anymore, just waits for us to finish.  When we were taking the last of the photos of blue-toes, she came out to see what we were up to, so we moved the other two babies onto the bed with her to get a photo of them together.

Tiffanie mum and 14-day-old kittens
Katie with her three babies

We are holding off naming the kittens until they have more defined personalities, so that we can choose something representative of who they are. However, we decided to name purple-toes, since she obviously won’t be changing now. This litter will all have names beginning with the letter ‘A’, but it didn’t take us very long to find something suitable. We have chosen Aithreachas (pronounced Ahrechas), which means ‘sorry’, so her full ‘pedigree name’ would be Cagaran Aithreachas, which is ‘Darling, sorry’. We will make a little marker stone to put on her grave, so that we can always find where she is buried.

Kitten Update Day 12

One of Katie’s kittens has had to be put to sleep.

Well, it’s been a tough couple of days!

By Thursday evening, Purple-toes was 185g, which was a gain of 3g on the previous evening, but was down 4g on her weight from that morning.  Blue-toes had started gaining again, and was up to 210g, which was a gain of 8g from Wednesday evening.  Red-toes was up 10g to 230g, and orange-toes was up 12g to 232g.

By Friday morning, Purple-toes was really no better, and had gained nothing overnight, so when I phoned the vet to give them an update on her, they wanted to see her back in again.  Once again, there was nothing that they could see that would indicate what was wrong with her.  She was given another shot of antibiotics, and we were advised to start supplementary feeding to try and stop her falling any further behind her siblings.  We were asked to phone with another update yesterday morning.

On Friday evening, blue-toes was up a much more healthy 18g to 228g, while red-toes was up 8g to 238g and orange-toes was up 15g to 247g.  Although 8g isn’t a great gain, it didn’t worry me because I had been warned to expect a dip in gains, if not even a slight loss at around the time their eyes open.  As long as she gained a better amount last night, there was nothing to worry about.  Purple-toes, on the other hand, had unfortunately lost a disappointing 7g, taking her down to 178g – 50g behind her next-smallest sibling.

Purple-toes breathing problems had continued, and when I checked her over after giving a supplemental feed late on Friday, I was shocked to find that she had a slight anal prolapse.  Our vets’ out-of-hours emergency service is provided by a local veterinary hospital, so I called them to ask their advice about whether there was anything I should be doing. They asked if I wanted to taker her in, but I said that if they didn’t consider it an emergency, then I would rather not put her through the trauma of being removed from her mum and siblings and taken an hour round trip for no benefit.  They said that was sensible, and told me just to keep the protrusion lubricated and then take her up to the vet in the morning.

Yesterday morning I honestly thought that I might be getting up to a dead kitten, or one that would need to be put to sleep.  Instead, the protrusion had gone back inside, her breathing had almost returned to normal, and she was suckling on her mum.  She even fought one of her brothers off the favourite teat!

Purple-toes and her siblings eating(she is the one on the right)

I phoned the vet and told them what had happened on Friday night, and then gave them an update on what she looked like this morning.  They didn’t feel that there was any need to see her, and asked me just to keep an eye on her and then give them an update call on Monday morning.

I was stewarding for John Harrison at the Siamese Cat Society of Scotland show yesterday, so Richard was on kitten-watching duty, and had to give purple-toes top-up feeds every couple of hours throughout the day.  The show went well, with some lovely cats to handle, and Richard had no issues with giving purple-toes her feeds.  By the time I returned home, she had actually gained a little bit on the weight she had been yesterday morning.

Unfortunately, within a couple of hours her prolapse recurred, and over the next couple of hours got progressively worse.  Whilst talking to Stacie (Kia’s breeder), it suddenly occurred to me that purple-toes wasn’t actually straining to breathe, she was pushing against some sort of digestive blockage!  I phoned the veterinary hospital again, and told them what was happening, and they asked if I wanted to bring her in.  This time, I said that I felt she was in pain, and that I felt something had to be done, so we arranged to take her through to Stirling.

I weighed all four kittens, and photocopied the record sheet, just in case that was helpful for the vets.  Red-toes and blue-toes were up to 258g (gains of 20g and 30g!), and orange-toes was up to 263g (a gain of 16g), whereas purple-toes was down 8g to 170g.  Definitely not good news.  We packaged her up with a hot-water-bottle, and a lot of blankets again, and took her through to Stirling.

When we unwrapped purple-toes for the vet to see, she said that it was obviously an intussusception.  She said that these are not uncommon in kittens of weaning age, at 5 to 6 weeks, but that she had never seen one in a kitten this small before.  She mentioned that in a kitten of 6 weeks, the corrective operation is a piece of major surgery, and in a kitten this young, there is absolutely no way the surgery would be possible.  The only option was to have purple-toes put to sleep.

I knew that I would be upset if that was the outcome, but I was surprised by the strength of my reaction.  When she took purple-toes away to give her the injection, I found tears pouring down my face, and when I asked if she had any advice about what to do about helping Katie to understand what had happened, my voice kept catching in my throat.  A couple of my friends have said since, that the day I no longer react like that is the day we should stop breeding, because a breeder who really cares will always react that way, no matter how many times you’ve seen one go.

The advice the vet gave about what to do about Katie was to play it by ear, and to show her the kitten only if she asked for it.  The twice that we had taken purple-toes to the vet, Katie always watched her go fairly calmly, but was instantly looking for her the second we returned.  Yesterday she had once again watched us take her kitten away, but when we returned she didn’t ask us for her kitten, and has never once looked for her.  It is as if she has just accepted that we will have done whatever is required, and therefore feels no need to know what happened.

We knew when we got involved in breeding that it is impossible to avoid ever losing a kitten, but had hoped to have at least a few successful litters first.  Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, and we’ve experienced the devastation of losing a kitten on our first litter.  At least we still have three beautiful babies to keep us occupied, and the fact that it was an intussusception means we know it is nothing that can infect the other kittens, or affect future litters.  We have to be thankful for such small mercies!

RIP little purple-toes.  We will never forget you.

Purple-toes on her return from the veterinary hospital
Purple-toes at rest

Kitten Update Day 9

Katie’s smallest Tiffanie kitten, ‘purple-toes’, is not very well and has to visit the vet.

Well, it’s been a bit of an eventful day in the life of the kittens!  We didn’t do an update last night, because we went to the cinema to see Sex and the City with my mum.  Besides which, a couple of the ‘gains’ were so pathetic that I preferred to wait until I could do another weigh-in before reporting.  In fact, blue-toes didn’t even bother with a gain: he went the other way and actually lost 3g!  Purple-toes at least went in the right direction, but by a measly 3g.  The other two gained 13g and 14g, taking them both up to 220g, compared to 202g for blue-toes and 182g for purple-toes.

By this morning (Thursday), purple-toes was up 7g to 189g, but blue-toes was down another 1g to 201g  If that wasn’t bad enough, purple-toes was breathing faster than her siblings, at a rate of two or three breaths to every one of theirs.  Kia and Dàrna were due to have blood tests today ready for going to stud next weekend, so I dropped them off at the vets just before 10am, and then went to work (thankfully my boss wasn’t in yet!).  Richard checked on them all between jobs at about 10:30, and reported that blue-toes was back up to Tuesday’s total of 205g, and that purple-toes was asleep and breathing more slowly.

When I went up for lunch, the first thing I did was check on the kittens (poor neuters all sat around complaining that I hadn’t fed them, which is what I usually do before anything else!).  Purple-toes was really looking quite laboured in her breathing, with her whole tummy and sides going in and out with every breath.  I had to go and collect the girls from the vet at 2:30pm (both clear for FIV and FeLV, as expected), so I videoed purple-toes on my phone before I went and showed the video to the vet nurse.

Purple-toes struggling to breathe

She agreed with me that it looked like a problem, so they managed to find me a gap in the schedule at 4pm.  We prepared a basket with a furry pad in the bottom, a blanket for her to snuggle into and a bottle of hot water wrapped in a towel to keep her warm.  When the kittens are safely in their pen with Katie, and toddling around their box, they don’t seem too vulnerable, but when they’re ‘lost’ in the middle of even our smallest cat basket, and going outside in the wind, they suddenly seem terribly small and fragile!

The vet, Ruby, took me into her room as soon as I arrived, so that I didn’t have to keep purple-toes away any longer than necessary.  One of the nurses had mentioned that I had a video of the problem, so she asked to see that.  Actually, by the time I collected purple-toes to take her up there, she was back to just breathing rapidly, rather than straining, as she had been at lunchtime.

Ruby checked the kitten over to make sure there were no anatomical defects evident, and checked in her mouth, which was clear of obstruction.  Purple-toes wasn’t for co-operating with our attempts to check this, though!  Ruby then listened to purple-toes’ chest, which was also clear, and her heart rate, which was pretty normal for a kitten of that size, at 180 bpm.  Her temperature was a little low at 98°F, but considering the fact that she had been taken out of her warm nest, and had now been sitting out on the vet’s table for a few minutes, that wasn’t particularly of concern.

Basically, we didn’t find anything specific that could account for the apparent difficulty breathing.  In the end, Ruby give her a (tiny, tiny) dose of antibiotics, and then sent us home with strict instructions to make sure she gets lots of feeds from Katie.

The prognosis for such a tiny kitten with any sort of infection is not good, so all we can do now is cross our fingers and pray.  Wish her luck!