North West, New Homes and Kittens

We had a good day at the North West Show, with Dàrna picking up the Imperial, Tia the Grand, and Eiteag a Reserve. Milly, Keela, Breckin and Grace have all found new homes that seem ideally suited to their needs. Ayla’s kittens continue to do well, and the other half of our outcross has also produced a kitten, but just one and it is not yet certain whether it will survive.

Okay, so the attempt to post early last week was a bit of a fail, but at least I’m only ten days after the show this time!  There is a bit of news to fill you in on besides the show, though…

North West Show

We’ve done the North West for the past four years, and had some pretty good results there, beginning with making Annas up to Grand in time to enter her in the UK class at the Supreme.  This year, we took Dàrna to try for her fourth Imperial, and Eiteag and Tia both trying for the Grand.

Dàrna sitting in her pen with her rosettes and certificate on the door
A typically bad photo of Dàrna

Dàrna sitting in her pen, with her rosettes and certificate attached to the pen door.  She is rubbing her face against her Imperial rosette
Giving her Imperial rosette some love

We have never seen Dàrna’s Imperial judge put an Asian ahead of a nice Russian or Abyssinian, so we entered Dàrna hoping that there wouldn’t be any entered.  When we got our catalogue and I realised that there were lovely examples of both breeds entered, I felt sure she wasn’t going to place.  Imagine my surprise when we got back to the pen after lunch, and discovered an Imperial rosette!  Of course, that only leaves her with one to go, so next time she’s out I’ll be rather nervous.

Eiteag sitting at the front of his pen, peering out, with his rosette and certificate pinned to the door
Eiteag watching a neighbouring cat being put into its basket

Eiteag sitting at the front of his pen, looking content
Eiteag looking relaxed at the front of his pen

Eiteag won the Reserve Grand to a nice Bengal, and didn’t get the Best of Breed, because that went to Dàrna, but he did place well in his side-classes.  I was disappointed that he didn’t get the certificate, because he only needs one to make him up, and since he’s due to be neutered once he’s mated Tia or Lhasa (still haven’t decided which), I really want to get that final certificate.

Tia looking lovely, sitting in her pen with her rosettes and certificate on the door
Beautiful Tia posing prettily

Tia reaching up to sniff the Grand rosette pinned to her door
Examining her Grand rosette

Tia was a star as usual, posing beautifully in her pen, and winning her second Grand, and Best of Breed against good competition.  If only Dàrna and Eiteag would pose so perfectly, it would make getting decent photos a whole lot easier! Of course, even Tia isn’t always perfectly behaved…

Tia studiously examining the tails of her Grand rosette
Considering chewing the rosette…

Tia taking hold of the tail of her rosette and pulling it backwards into her pen
…and having a tug of war with it!

Unusually, I wasn’t stewarding at this show, so Richard and I went down to Tatton Park for a wander around the gardens there.  We had lunch in the National Trust’s café in the former stables (we are both members of the Trust), and then headed back to the show hall.  Long-term readers of our blog may remember that gorgeous B-B (Fiona’s litter brother) was originally booked to live with a vet student, before he contracted an infection that eventually took him from us.  His intended owner has been exchanging emails with me periodically, ever since, but we hadn’t actually met, so when she said that she was going to come over to the show to meet us, I was delighted.  Her circumstances changed shortly after B-B’s death, to mean that bringing a new kitten into the house wouldn’t be practical, but she is now back in a situation where she has the time and stability of routine to enable her to take a kitten, and is therefore hoping for one from our Eiteag/Donny litters.

Tia lying curled up in her pen, with her Grand certificate laid in front of her, while she chews on its corner
Tia looking adorable and gorgeous as she considers eating her Grand certificate

New Homes

There has been an a bit of an exodus around here, since my last post.  I still had an advert up to try and find a new home for Milly, and a couple of weeks ago, I added an advert for Keela, who was only waiting to see Anita again when she was up in August, and then was meant to look for a new home.  She is such an adorable cat that Richard and I kept putting it off, but she deserved to be more the centre of attention than she can be here, so I finally made myself put the advert up just over a fortnight ago.  On the Thursday, I was contacted by possible homes for both girls, and Keela’s possible owner asked if he could come and visit us after work on the Friday.  On Friday afternoon, Milly’s possible owners phoned and asked if they could come and see her later on the Friday evening, so we ended up with one set of visitors at 17:30 and another set at 19:30!  Since we hadn’t known about Milly’s visitors in advance, we hoovered her room as soon as we got in from work.

Keela’s prospective owner, Hugh, arrived with a friend who wasn’t used to cats, and they were both amazed by how cuddly and people-oriented she was.  Hugh’s friend said she had no idea a cat could be so loving, and that if she’d known that she would have considered a cat instead of her dog!  Keela was all over them with purrs, and Hugh was besotted.  Even after we had been around the rest of the house to meet all of her assorted relatives (Dàrna is her mum, Fi her litter-sister, Donny her half-brother, Eiteag and Ayla her nephew and niece, and therefore Small and Ayla’s kittens her great-nieces and nephew), he walked back into the kitchen and declared that she was undoubtedly the most beautiful of the lot.  I offered to drop her off on the Sunday, which turned out to be his 18th birthday, and his mum told me that he has been campaigning for a pet since he was three years old, but that she had always said no.  Now that he is 18, he finally has the pet that he has wanted for the past fifteen years, so I have no doubt that she will be utterly doted on.  She’s already got him well wound around her little paws!

When Milly’s visitors arrived here, Pam said that the purpose of the visit was to see whether Milly was going to interact well with her husband, Stuart.  Milly was totally hyper after the hoovering, however, and was much too busy doing her own thing to bother herself with new people, so I felt sure that she was going to be staying with us a bit longer.  Pam got down on the floor with her, however, and started jangling her bracelet to attract Milly’s attention, and they were soon playing together with an assortment of toys.  When I said to them that they could take some time to think about whether or not she would suit them, still fully expecting that they would decide not to take her, Pam turned to Stuart and asked if he felt he needed time to think about it.  He looked thoughtful for a moment and then said “I think she would fit in my pocket”, and that was the decision made.  From Pam’s emails, it seems that Milly settled in almost straight away, but even her British Shorthair housemates are starting to come around to the idea now.

Early last week, I had a call from a woman who had seen the advert about Keela, and was wondering if she was still available.  I told her that Keela had gone to her new home already, but we got talking, and it turned out that she was actually looking for a cat to help with mousing on her farm.  I mentioned about Breckin, who you may remember is very uncomfortable in the company of humans, and whom we have always felt would be best suited to a farm or similar environment, where she can come and go as she pleases, and doesn’t have to interact with people if she doesn’t want to.  Breckin has always loved the company of other cats, though, and before I knew what was going on, we had arranged that I would take both her and Grace up to the farm on Saturday.  The girls have a bed and their food and water in one of the out-buildings, but can choose to come into the house if they wish.  I suspect that Breckin won’t, but Grace will probably make the most of the human attention.  She had already said hello to her new owners before I even left the farm, whereas Breckin had disappeared under a truck in one of the other outbuildings.

The farm is in Aberdeenshire, so dropping them off also gave me an excuse to go visiting.  I saw Cannach again, for the first time since we dropped him off as a kitten, and he is a lovely handsome boy.  One of the kids carried him out to me, lying on his back with his paws in the air like a big baby, and then he just sat against her shoulder whilst I said hello.  I showed his owners the photos of Fileànta and Ayla’s kittens, because these are his nieces and nephew.  It is always lovely to catch up with kittens in their new homes, and see how much they are loved.

Kittens

Now we come to the bit that most of you are probably waiting for – the kitten update.  Ayla’s kittens are four weeks old today, and are continuing to grow really well, both now being well over 400g.  With Eiteag’s outcross kittens also due, we had started Ayla off in the back bedroom, leaving the more nervy Cheeky to have the kitten room.  The way that we normally get the kittens used to the sights and sounds of the household, however, is to let them out onto the landing area outside the kitten room (we have Perspex panels to stop them going through the banisters, and a baby gate to prevent them falling down the stairs).  Since they aren’t in the kitten room, we have moved them into the kitchen instead, so that have noises like the washing machine and the compressor on the fridge.  Ayla is delighted, because it means she gets a lot more ‘lap time’.

Ayla sitting in the corner of her nest box in the kitchen, with her son peeking over from behind her, and her daughter suckling in front.
Ayla and her kittens relaxing in their new location in the kitchen

The girl is the noisier of the two, and starts shouting as soon as she hears our voices, or we open the kitchen door, whichever comes first.  She is very much her mother’s daughter, liking to ride around on a shoulder.  Her brother is quieter and less boisterous, but very sweet.  He has the shorter, broader head, better ear set, and slightly better eyes, but the girl has the better coat and tail, and slimmer limbs, so I’m reserving judgement as to which is the better overall.  Since the plan is to mate one of these to one of the other outcross litter by Eiteag, which one ends up being kept will come down to what gender we have there.

The two kittens in their box, the girl looking at the camera, and the boy pouncing
The girl on the left, and the boy on the right.  Ayla has started bringing toys into the nest for them to play with, and he had just been pouncing on the little pink ‘puff’

Both kittens are spotted tabbies, and I am currently leaning towards the boy being a chocolate, and the girl a lilac.  It is possible that the girl is a chocolate silver, rather than lilac, because her coat is paler and slightly silkier than the boy’s, but the colour is still pretty faint, and there’s no rush to register them, since these can’t be shown anyway: being 1st-generation outcross, they will be registered as ‘Cat of Asian Type’, and can only be shown in the Household Pet section.

The girl lying on her side by her mum and brother (who is suckling), showing her delicate spotting
The girl showing her developing spots

Eiteag’s outcross kitten was born at 02:20 this morning, but it was quite a difficult birth, and the mum wants nothing to do with the kitten.  She delivered the kitten in the middle of the floor, then jumped up onto her scratching post.  I checked the kitten over, and tried to get her to settle and clean it, but she then shot off the scratching post, and ran around the room jumping on and off bits of furniture with the kitten dragging behind it, attached by its umbilical cord to the placenta that was still inside.  Eventually, the umbilical cord broke, and the kitten dropped to the middle of the floor, after which its mum hid under the wardrobe to deliver and eat the placenta.  Unfortunately, the excessive tugging on the umbilical cord seems to have caused a hernia, so I’m absolutely kicking myself that I didn’t just break the cord when the mum was on the scratching post, because the kitten was perfect at that point.

When I picked it up from the middle of the floor, it wasn’t breathing, so I tried to stimulate it (I haven’t checked gender) by drying it off using a facecloth.  That did result in a couple of little gasps, but these were probably the best part of 20-30 seconds apart, so it wasn’t looking good.  I tried showing the kitten to Fiona, but she wasn’t interested, so I took it down to Ayla, to see if she could do anything.  I had already dried it off, but she gave it a good clean, and elicited another couple of gasps in the process.  Things still weren’t looking promising, though. Ayla then settled down beside the kitten, with it held between her front paws, against her chest, and started purring.  Within seconds, the kitten had started to breath more regularly, and a few minutes later I helped to clear some fluid from its lungs.  By the time she had been cuddling it for twenty minutes or so, its breathing seemed pretty normal.  I have read that a cat’s purr has fantastic healing powers, and having seen the way this kitten responded, I have no doubt that is correct.

At that point, I tried taking the kitten back up to its mum, to see if she would at least give it a feed, so that it could take in the colostrum (anti-body rich milk) from her, but she curled up tightly into a ball, and refused to let the kitten anywhere near her teats.  I tried leaving them together for a while, but when I came back into the room, she was still curled in a ball, and the kitten was lying limply against her.  When I tried to encourage her to pay attention to the kitten, she responded by giving it a couple of licks, and I thought we might be getting somewhere.  She then found the umbilical chord, and started chewing on it, giving such a tug that the kitten cried out, and I was worried that she would make the hernia worse.  She then tried to bite the kitten’s leg, and I decided just to take the kitten away again.

When I went back into the kitchen, Ayla immediately came over to me, obviously looking for the kitten that I had given her and then taken away, and when I gave it back, she started purring.  Her own two kittens seem to have accepted it as a slightly strange and tiny toy, and will either cuddle up with it or pounce on it, depending on what mood they are in.  When I came down for breakfast this morning, Ayla’s female kitten was jumping on the kitten, rolling off, giving it a couple of licks and then repeating the procedure.  The kitten doesn’t seem at all bothered by their attentions, though, and I am much happier with Ayla looking after it than I was with its real mum.

The kitten was only 70g at birth, and was so exhausted that it was more interested in sleeping than feeding.  It still doesn’t seem to be feeding, so I have been bottle-feeding it every couple of hours, in the hope that once it builds up a bit of energy, and gets a taste for milk, it will start feeding with its adoptive siblings.  Keep your fingers crossed for it.

The tiny newborn kitten next to the two older kittens
The new kitten looking tiny next to Ayla’s older kittens