Kitten Update Week 11

Alek is back to eating solids, Soolay is growing by the minute, and Dàrna’s kittens are only a bit over a week away.

The kittens are now 11 weeks, and spend most of their time running around the house, whether we want them to or not – all three have now figured out how to jump their gate.  The funniest thing about that, is the fact that of the adults, only Jinny, Ali and Kia actually jump the gates.  The others all end up ‘trapped’ on whatever side of the gates they are on when we shut them!

Alek had started being a bit funny with food again towards the end of last week, so we were keeping a close eye on him.  We had agreed weeks ago that we would spend Friday and Saturday night with my parents on a boat on the Clyde, so little Alek just had to come too.  Considering that it was his first trip away from his siblings, and his first overnight stay anywhere outside the house, not to mention his first experience of a moving boat, he took it all amazingly calmly.  He didn’t seem the least bothered, even when my Mum was getting jumpy due to the size of the swell coming up Loch Fyne (Mum doesn’t like bumpy sailing!).

Alek experiencing his first rough weather at sea!

Over the course of the weekend he started eating properly again, and has been taking in enough food of his own accord to gain a steady 25g+ each day.  Lainni is still gaining at about 15g per day, as would be expected.  Soolay, on the other hand, is definitely living up to his name (An-Sùlair = The Gannet), and seems to be growing by the minute – he managed 77g today alone!

He is aware that he is the biggest in the litter, and likes to think that he is really a lion, and needs to protect his smaller siblings.  If someone annoys him, he’ll turn around and spit at them, which makes me laugh every time – he’s so clearly trying to be big and intimidating, but it’s just too cute for words!  He and Kia are still having great fun playing together, and when you see them together, it’s easy to tell just how big he’s getting, because she’s quite a good size.

Tiffanie kitten & Ocicat Classic adult playing
Kia and Soolay playing

Alek is still more independent and less boisterous than his brother, but he has now become quite cuddly and into people, and will follow you around the house when he’s out.  Even if he’s not ‘out’, he’ll normally still follow you around the house, having jumped the gate first.  Since he went back onto solid food, he has become quite possessive of his particular choice of food – his favourite at the moment is the Royal Canin baby mousse stuff, and if there is a dish of that down, he will munch it whilst growling at anyone else that comes too close.

Lainni is very people-oriented, and loves nothing better than cuddling up to us.  I quite often wake in the morning to find her half on my shoulder, half on the pillow, tucked in under my chin, purring away to herself.  She is still a bit of a ‘madam’, though, and doesn’t like not getting her way.  If we are eating tea in the livingroom for some reason, she can get quite determined about trying to steal food from us, and if you push her away she will literally scream in annoyance (which is very funny!).

I still haven’t posted adverts for the boys on the breed club websites, partly due to Alek having been a bit funny about his food, and partly just due to a lack of time.  They are due to have their vaccinations done either next week or the week after, so I will speak to the vet about that tomorrow, when I take Annas for one of her annual boosters.  I think that since Alek is a bit behind where he should be weight-wise, that it might be an idea to keep them back the extra week, but we’ll see what the vet thinks.

Dàrna’s kittens are due towards the end of next week, and she has now decided that she likes the kittens after all.  She was going from kitten to kitten this morning, polishing them all, and has taken to waiting until they are finished eating before feeding herself.  I felt her kittens moving for the first time yesterday, which is a lot later than I did with Katie’s lot.  There is definitely at least two kittens on each side, but whether there’s any more than that, I have no idea.

Katie is now almost completely dry of milk, and is starting to call again.  I’m giving her another few days, and will then probably let her back in with her kittens, but we’ll need to keep a close eye that they’re not injuring her by continuing to suckle.  She looks fantastic, and I am now kicking myself that I didn’t enter her in the North West show later this month.  I was going to, but I wasn’t quite brave enough to risk her not having dried up yet.  We’ll know for next year!

I had Kia checked out by the vet on Friday afternoon, who confirmed that she had been pregnant – her womb apparently feels like a ‘post-parturient’ (post-birthing) womb.  The vet couldn’t feel anything of any size in there now, though, so it would seem that she has indeed completely miscarried.  I’m not certain, but it’s possible that she is also starting to think about calling again.  If she does then we will hold her back and perhaps take her back to stud next month.

Hopefully, Breckin will also be ready to go by then, as she was putting  her tail to the side for the first time this morning.  If the Ocis both took next month, then they would be having their kittens at about the same time in relation to Dàrna’s as Dàrna will have hers in relation to Katie’s.  In other words, their kittens would just be arriving as Dàrna’s are ready to leave.  I think that’s probably no bad thing, because I’m sure we’ll miss having kittens around once they’re gone.  Actually, that’s one of the worries with the boys is that we’ll get too attached to them!

Fingers crossed the next couple of weeks see them continue to grow and develop, without any further issues, and that we’ll find some lovely homes for them to go to.  Then we’ll have to look forward to Lainni being out on the bench…

Kitten Update Week 10 & Teesside Show

The kittens continue to do well, Dàrna gets bigger by the moment, and Kia miscarries. Plus, a quick summary of the Teesside show.

That’s the kittens 10 weeks old now – what a scary thought.  It seems like no time at all since we were crossing our fingers for an easy labour for Katie!

Soolay has overtaken Lainni in size again, and is getting on for 1kg in weight.  He loves his food and is seldom to be found very far from the food dish.  Mind you, he makes up for it whenever he does leave the dish for a while, by racing around the place, pouncing on anything that moves.  We took the kittens along to the girls’ room last night, so that we could keep both groups company at the same time, and Soolay hit it off with Kia.  The two of them went racing around the room at high speed, jumping on and off every piece of furniture, which was very cute.  Alek just came and cuddled up with us on the bed, and went to sleep!

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten sleeping under the bedcovers
Alek sleeping in the bed

The kittens love the new arrangement giving them access onto the landing at the top of the stairs, although Alek has already figured out how to jump up onto the top of the gate (it is something like 60cm tall!) and get out.  The other two just stand behind the gate crying to be let out, unless there is washing on the banister, in which case Lainni climbs onto the top of it.  If ever there was a good incentive for getting our laundry put away once it is dry, instead of leaving it hanging on the banister, it’s watching Lainni balancing on the top of it!

The kittens prefer to spend their time out on the landing rather than in their room, because the landing lets them watch what’s going on down below.  We’ve moved a couple of the kittens’ little beds out there, and those have become the favourite sleeping spaces, with both baskets usually containing at least one kitten, and sometimes all three.

Three Tiffanie kittens in a very small basket
All three kittens crammed into a tiny basket

At least spending time on the landing should help to continue the process of getting them used to the normal sounds of a house – ordinary things like the toilet flushing, doors opening and closing and the washing machine running.  I’ve also continued trying to give them different experiences, including their first baths, which they were surprisingly un-bothered by.  Actually, they are more miffed about being bundled up in a towel afterwards than they are about the bathing itself.

Tiffanie kitten after a bath
Alek looking grumpy about being wrapped in a towel

I finally got around to putting up an advert on kittenlist, but have yet to contact the breed clubs to see about getting listings on their sites.  We are members of the three Asian Group clubs, though, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too difficult to get onto the sites.

Pregnancy Update

Throughout last week, Kia became increasingly firm in the abdomen, and was starting to pink up.  Unfortunately, she started spotting blood on Saturday, and continued doing so until yesterday.  I spoke to the vet to check if there was anything to worry about, and he suggested taking her temperature, and if that was normal, and she seemed otherwise well, just to “let nature take its course”.  Her temperature was fine, so the obvious explanation is that she has been going through a miscarriage, which does happen periodically with maiden queens, especially.  Disappointing, but at least there is no danger for her.  She’s certainly lost the firmness from her abdomen, and is much more hyper than she was before the weekend.

There is no missing the fact that Dàrna is pregnant – she seems to get larger by the minute, and has slowed down a lot.  She also goes from super-cheery and purring to a moody cow in seconds, so it appears that she is experiencing the same sort of hormone-related mood swings that humans can do.  Considering the level of morning sickness that she had early-on in her first pregnancy, that wouldn’t seem an unreasonable assumption.

Pregnant Tiffanie
Dàrna looking very pregnant and pleased with herself

Assuming that we are correct in our assumption about Kia, I would expect her to start calling again in the next couple of weeks.  If she does so, then I will get her booked in to revisit the stud on the next call after that, which will probably be around early October.  I am hoping that Breckin will be calling by then as well, which means that she could perhaps go to stud at around the same time.  On the other hand, the results of sending two girls off together have not exactly been encouraging so far – perhaps we should send off one at a time from now on?!

Since we have had issues with the kittens being reluctant to feed properly, and now Kia’s miscarriage, I am going to have a full faecal panel run on a couple of the cats to check for any issues.  It is perfectly possible that we have just had a string of bad luck, but I want to be completely sure of that before Dàrna’s babies arrive, and before we send the Ocis off to stud.  If nothing else, it will give us peace of mind that we have done everything possible to ensure a healthy litter next time around!

Teesside Show

As I mentioned last week, we went down to the Teesside show on Saturday, where we had Annas on exhibition, but also Breckin, Xaria and Monty entered in the show.  All three did well, although we didn’t bring home any certificates – Breckin got another Reserve Grand, Xaria got another Reserve Imperial, they all won their Best of Breed and Monty also picked up a Best in Show nomination.  Xaria and Monty also won another PC each.

Kitten Update Week 9 & Aby BAC Seminar

Katie’s kittens have their first vaccinations and Dàrna manages to hold her pregnancy. Also attended the Aby BAC Seminar.

The kittens are 9 weeks old today, and had their first vaccinations this afternoon.  None seem to be the least bit phased by the experience, although surprisingly Soolay whined least about the injection.  Considering the fact that he’s the noisiest of the three at home, that was not what I expected.

They are continuing to develop their individual personalities, with Alek being quieter and more independent than the other two.  Strangely, though, if you do give him a cuddle he tends to be the one who will stay with you for the longest – the other two will come for a cuddle but then want to be off doing things again.  He absolutely loves lying on his back in your hands while you stroke the sides of his head, and goes into a sort of blissful, dreamy state when doing so.

All three are now making determined breaks for freedom virtually every time their door is opened, so we are in the process of fitting baby-gates to contain them in one area of the house without stopping the adults from moving around freely.  We have put up gates at one end of the hall and in the doorway of the bedroom at the bottom of the stairs.  The other doors off that area tend to be closed anyway, so gating those doors means that we can keep the kittens in the area around the hall and stairs.  This evening’s job is to hang another gate at the top of the stairs so that we can limit them to the landing outside their room when we’re not around to monitor their activity on the stairs.

They were so desperate to get out yesterday that I finally gave in and shut the two gates that we had already fitted so that I could let them out.  They raced up and down the stairs, pouncing on each other, and also climbed to the top of the large scratching post in the hallway.  Thankfully, kittens are pretty indestructible and are perfectly capable of bouncing down the stairs without injury.  The adults were not at all sure what to make of these crazy, high-speed balls of fluff that were flying around their feet, and were generally very suspicious of them!

Lainni is thankfully now back on solid food, but Alek has now decided to go off it – I swear they are just trying to test us!  Katie is back to checking in on them just once each day, in the evening, so she obviously thinks everything is fine, in spite of Alek’s refusal.  I’m just hoping that Alek does what Lainni did, and goes back onto solids of his own accord after a few days.  At 9 weeks, he jolly well should do!

Now that the kittens have been vaccinated, they can start ‘receiving visitors’, so I must get around to putting adverts on the kitten lists of the breed clubs etc.  I am planning to put through their registrations with the GCCF this week, as well.  Assuming everything goes to plan, they will have their second vaccinations around the 3rd week in September, have their neutering operations about a week after that, and go to their new homes a week or two after that.  It’s quite nerve-racking to think that in as little as five weeks they could be leaving us to go to their new homes!

Dàrna is thankfully still pregnant, so it looks like she is going to hold it this time!  It will still be another few days before we know anything about Kia, however.  Both girls are eating more than usual, however, and are far more maternal about the kittens than any of the other cats (except Katie, obviously), so I’m hoping that is a good sign.  A slightly scary thought, though, is the fact that Dàrna will be due in probably only about 3 weeks!  Fingers crossed her litter is less wearing on the nerves than Katie’s lot have been.

We’re going down to the Teesside show this weekend, with Annas on exhibition, so I really must put together something to go on the top of her pen.  This show will be her two-year anniversary of first being shown, so I’m quite looking forward to having her there as an example of where two years can get you!  She is a much better example of the breed than she was two years ago, because it took her until earlier this year to really grow into herself.  I have warned Lona that there is a good chance Lainni will be the same, but that fits with her anyway, because she is showing another of her cats at the moment, so is happy to do the bulk of Lainni’s showing once she is a bit older.

As a bit of an aside, I travelled down to the Abyssinian BAC (Breed Advisory Council) Seminar in Evesham on Sunday, which was well worth attending.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to drive for a chance, because I managed to get a lift with David Miskelly (Glendavan Abyssinians & Ragdolls, Aberdeenshire).  The seminar was themed around the subject of colour, and there were cats there representing a good number of the Aby colours, including Usual, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Sorrel, Fawn, Cream, Chocolate Tortie Silver and Fawn Silver.

The attendees were split into two groups, with a speaker and steward each.  The speaker for my group was Helen Marriot-Power, with Lynda Ashmore stewarding.  Both are very well-respected judges, so it was fantastic to hear their opinions on the individual cats there, but also on various aspects of the cat fancy more generally.  Obviously, the talks were very interesting, but probably the best aspect of the day for me was just getting to discuss Abys, other breeds, stewarding, showing etc. etc. with these judges and the other attendees at the event.  There was also a lovely meal, which always helps!

There is a Foreign-Group seminar in a few weeks time, and for anyone who is available to attend, I highly recommend it.  I have only attended two seminars, but both have been extremely worthwhile and enjoyable, both from a learning perspective and just as a pleasant way to socialise.  Besides, you get to look at lots of lovely cats!

Kitten Update 8 weeks

The kittens are now 8 weeks and aside from some issues trying to wean them, they are now lively, playful and developing nicely.

Well, that’s the kittens eight weeks old – what a scary thought! I have them booked to have their first vaccinations next week. After that, they will be ready to start ‘entertaining’ visitors, so I really must get around to putting some adverts out for them. Hopefully, I will be able to do so on Saturday.

Black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten at 8 weeks
Lainni looking quite grown-up
Soolay looking adorable
Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten at 8 weeks
Alek looking uncharacteristically worried

Lainni’s future ‘Mum’, Lona, will actually be coming to visit this evening, so I am both excited and nervous to see what she thinks of her ‘baby’ when they actually meet, instead of just seeing photos. I have given Lainni strict instructions that she is to make Lona feel special and wanted, although Lainni being Lainni she’ll just do exactly what she wants anyway.

Speaking of which, having said last time that the kittens were all on solid food, they then ‘un-weaned’ themselves. For no apparent reason, they all decided that they didn’t like solids after all, and that only Mum’s milk would do. Poor Katie had got used to being out most of the time and only popping in to check on them, but when she realised that they had started losing weight due to not eating, she had to start feeding them again.

Black silver shaded Tiffanie feeding her 8-week-old kittens
The kittens looking far too big to be feeding from Mum

The boys have since gone back onto solids, but Lainni is still determined to stick with milk. I have tried every type of food, from plain chicken, salmon and prawns, through various prepared adult and kitten foods with chunks of meat, to assorted pastes, mousses and patés.   The boys think it’s great, because they get different things every time their bowls are put down, but Lainni just sniffs the food, then reaches past it and starts ‘digging’ the floor as if trying to cover it up.  Very frustrating!

Aside from their ‘food issues’, though, the kittens are continuing to develop well, and are very active and playful.  They love having someone sleep in the room with them, and will all pile up onto the bed and tuck themselves in around your legs.  Then, when you wake up in the morning they come up and sit beside the pillow looking at you until you give them a quick stroke, after which they go off and play.

Lainni is very into cuddles, and will sit beside your feet waiting to be picked up.  She is quite like her mummy, and likes to think that she’s more ‘dignified’ than the boys.  Sometimes she will refuse to join in their games, but then go crashing around the room with Katie, who treats her sons as if they are made of china, but will happily throw Lainni around when playing!  Lainni also loves the steps up to the windowledge, and in fact, the three kittens will all jump up and down the stairs, poucing on eachother, popping up between steps or climbing right up the post at the back and squeezing through onto the top step.

Alek is still probably the most independent of the three, although he does love a cuddle, and is often the first to arrive at your feet when you go into their room.  Both boys have developed a nasty habit of trying to climb trouser legs to get up for a cuddle, which is very cute when you’re wearing trousers, but not so pleasant if you’ve got bare legs!

Soolay is still Katie’s favourite, and is therefore the neediest of the three, preferring to sit and cry for someone to do things for him, rather than figure out how to do them himself!  Having said that, he is virtually always the first onto the food when it’s put down, so he’s certainly not retiring when it comes to eating.  He is also the most talkative of the three, and if you look at him and say his name he will miaow back at you.

We had friends up staying at the weekend, and Soolay was their favourite, although Richard or I would probably go for either Lainni or Alek, because we like their more independent natures.  It was interesting to watch the kittens playing with someone that they don’t know, and they took it all in their stride.  Mind you, I have been taking them into the office at the end of the day, to meet my colleagues and get used to new places and being handled by new people.

Fingers crossed that they are as good with Lona this evening!

Kitten Update Day 47, Eastern Counties Show & Stud Collections

The kittens continue to do well, and now have names. We collect the girls from stud, and Monty wins his first Grand certificate.

I can’t believe our ‘babies’ are almost seven weeks old already! Since they were managing to jump out of the pen anyway, we took one of the sides out of it last weekend. This gave them full-time access to the whole kitten room, and it didn’t take Lainni long to find the heated bed in the corner, where she has taken up residence.

Since my last post, order has been restored, and Lainni is now back ahead of target at just over 700g. The boys are only a few grams apart at just over 650g, but both are still running a bit behind target. They are all coming on leaps and bounds, though, so hopefully they will soon catch up with their sister.

The week following Grandpa’s death was a bit of a rush to sort out everything that needs to be done to organise a funeral. We buried him on Thursday of last week, following a touching service that I think was a fitting tribute.

We had arranged to collect Dàrna at the Eastern Counties show, which Steve and Thomas were doing with their own cats.  Since we were going to have to go all that way to the show anyway, we figured we might as well make the most of it and enter some of our lot!

Unfortunately, the Eastern Counties was on the same day as the Scottish Rex show, which I very much wanted to support.  A few weeks ago we were at a barbecue at Elisabeth’s, and I was complaining about not being able to support the show.  She offered to take the Devons, saying that she could go straight up on the train from her house to Bearsden.   I phoned her the next morning just to check that she really meant that she was happy to take them, and that it wasn’t just the wine talking!  Thankfully, she confirmed that she was still happy to do so once sober!

Richard and I left home early on Friday morning in order to get to Elisabeth’s for about 9am to drop off the Devons before she left for work.  We set them up in her ‘small bedroom’, and hoped that their presence wouldn’t upset her cats too much!  It is surprisingly nerve-racking allowing someone else to take one of your cats to a show, even when you have complete trust in that person’s ability to look after your cats.

We went straight from Elisabeth’s down to Naomi’s to collect Kia, getting to her house at about 3:30pm.  Thomas phoned me on the way south to say that Dàrna had pinked up and was starting to gain a bit of weight.  She was also eating more than she had previously been doing, finishing her own dish first and then stealing from Pippin’s!

When we got to Naomi’s Kia was still in season, but had been mated every day last week, so that has hopefully been enough!  Stacie (Kia’s breeder) lives about 25 minutes from Naomi’s, so we called in with her to let her see Kia again.  In theory we were calling in just for a quick visit, but that never happens when we go to Stacie’s, because we always get talking.  I think we finally left Stacie’s at about 7:30pm, and headed down to Tracy and Gary’s, where we were staying on Friday evening.

As always, Kia took the whole thing in her stride, settling straight into Tracy and Gary’s, and ignoring the grumpy noises made by Monty and Xaria in response to her arrival.  She prowled around the two rooms, making sure that she knew every corner, then jumped up to give Gary a cuddle.

On Saturday morning we left Kia in the house and headed up to the show hall, getting there just before 8am.  We had taken Xaria (chasing her 2nd Imperial), Breckin (chasing her 2nd Grand) and Monty (chasing his 1st Grand).  After getting them penned and breakfasted, we went out to the car with Thomas and collected Dàrna, who wasn’t exactly thrilled at having been taken away from her ‘boyfriend’.  We ran her back to Tracy and Gary’s, where she settled down on the sofa growling at Kia and us to show her disgust!

We had lunch with Tracy and Gary, then headed back to the show hall.  By the time we got there, the Open results were all up, and I checked those while Richard went to feed the cats.  Neither Xaria nor Breckin had won their certificate, but both had managed to win Best of Breed, and I couldn’t be all that upset about Breckin not winner hers, since she lost to the daughter of the stud boy whose kittens Dàrna is hopefully carrying!  Breckin’s sister Lani was also there, and she won her 2nd CC.  Monty had really done us proud, and won his 1st Grand – with two Reserve Grands already, from the Double show last month, he is doing incredibly well for an Aby of just over 13 months.

After the show we went back to Tracy and Gary’s for tea, before heading home.  We couldn’t stay away for a second night because we didn’t want to risk the Devons upsetting Elisabeth’s cats by being there for a second night.  We got to Elisabeth’s at about 1:30am, and by the time we had a hot drink with her, got the Devon’s ready and then did the journey home, it was 3:30am, and we more or less fell into bed after checking on the kittens.

They are now extremely active and playful, running all over the kitten room.  All three are able to climb the stairs onto the window-ledge, and their various scratching posts.  They can also now jump up high enough to grab the edge of the mattress, then hauling themselves the last bit onto the top of the bed.  That means that when we wake up in the morning it is normally to find a trio of kittens wrapped around our legs!

They are all on solid food now, and Katie has started leaving the kitten room for substantial periods of time.  She was out of the room all night last night, and then ran into the room to check on them this morning.  Even after having her away from them all night, though, not one of the kittens tried to suckle when she did come back into the room.  She only stayed with them for about 20 minutes, before asking to be let out again, and didn’t return to them until about three hours ago.

As the kittens have become more active, I wanted to have something to call them other than ‘blue-toes’ and ‘orange’.  If we didn’t come up with something fairly quickly, they were going to be known by their colours forever-more!  I am not going to register the names we have chosen for a few more weeks to give us a chance to find new owners, so that they can have the option to change them.  However, subject to such changes, the names will be An-Sùlair (‘The Gannet’, because he LOVES his food) for Orange, and Aileag (‘Hiccups’, because he seems to get them after every meal).  Their pet names will be ‘Sùlai’ or ‘Soolay’, and Alek.

Black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten, face on
Lainni looking at the camera

Black silver shaded Tiffanie kitten, side on
Lainni side view

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten, face on
Sùlai front view

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten, side on
Sùlai side view

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten, face on
Alek front view

Black ticked tabby Tiffanie kitten, side on
Alek side view

The more the kittens develop, the stronger their individual personalities and preferences become.  Lainni tends to run over to us whenever we enter the room, and climbs onto our feet.  She usually purrs when we start stroking her, although sometimes she is too hyper for that, and tends to pounce on our hands instead!

Tiffanie kitten biting fingers
Lainni biting my fingers

Sùlai will run up to us and give a little miaow if we talk to him whilst looking at him.  He likes to tuck himself into our sides, and is a real softy.  Alek, on the other hand, doesn’t really talk much, and is much more independent than the other two, but if we pick him up and lie him on his back, stroking his head, he goes completely limp and starts to drop off to sleep.  Very cute!  He is also going to be a fantastic hunter when older, because he responds immediately to any prey-type toy, whereas Lainni watches it for a while first, and Sùlai tends to run and hide!

Apologies for the epistle, but hopefully it won’t be so long until my next post, now that the family drama is over!

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!