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.
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!
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)!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
Two of Katie’s Tiffanie kittens have started to open their eyes.
I was down in Yorkshire yesterday meeting with one of our clients, Wren Kitchens. I have now seen around two of their showrooms, and I must confess to being rather impressed with the value for money – excellent quality for a really, really good price! They had a Franke tap there that Richard and I looked at when we were doing our kitchen, but we couldn’t find it for less than £240 (and therefore didn’t bother), whereas Wren have the exact same one for £99.99!! I highly recommend checking them out if you’re needing a new kitchen, and they’re just about to bring in a bedroom range as well.
Since I was going to be away all day, Mum had checked on Katie and the babies at lunchtime, and reported that all were present and correct. Evidently, it is only okay for ‘strangers’ to visit the kittens when accompanied by us, because Mum didn’t even open the pen, but Katie was snarling at her just for being in the room! Thankfully Katie had chosen not to turn the pen upside down at that stage, so Mum didn’t need to try and brave Katie’s wroth to do any pen rearrangements.
Richard had also checked on them when he got in from work, but I was still desperate to see them by the time I got back after 10pm. Of course, they were all absolutely fine, and sound asleep, but that’s not the point! After tea, I did the nightly weigh-in, and was glad to see that purple-toes was up 16g today, rather than the underwhelming 7g that she has gained both of the previous days. She is now up to 179g, so just 1g short of the double-birth-weight target for the first seven days. Red-toes sailed past double yesterday evening (by an impressive 12g), and is now up to 206g; as did orange-toes (by 9g), who is now up to 207g. Blue-toes was that bit heavier at birth, so although he was the same weight as red-toes yesterday, he didn’t cross the double-birth-weight threshold until this evening, when he was up to 205g.
Red-toes and blue-toes have both started to open their eyes today, although the other two are showing no signs as yet. Red-toes has just the inner corners of her eyes visible, while blue-toes has just the inner corner on his right eye, but almost his full left eye open. Both are looking nice and healthy, with no discharge or swelling, so I’m hopeful that there will not be any complications. Fingers crossed!
Katie’s Tiffanie kittens are now lifting their heads up and trying to stand.
Today is the first day that the kittens have been happy to sit in our hands and be stroked, without immediately calling for their mum. This morning they had started lifting their heads up as if they were trying to look around, although they are obviously still blind at this stage. By this evening, they had also started trying to stand up, but I swear they got around better when they were just dragging themselves along the floor! Whenever they try and stand up they wobble around so much that they can hardly move, and then half the time they only manage one step and then they fall over. They seem to spend about as much time on their backs with their legs in the air as they do on their feet! They are much more active today, though, and have been exploring every corner of their box. Katie has also taken to lying down a small distance from them, as if trying to encourage them to come to her, instead of the other way around.
It has been really hot again today, which meant that Katie kept overheating whenever the kittens were tucked in against her tummy to feed. We did try turning the fan on, with it facing away from the pen, but the kittens can obviously still feel the air movement, and they don’t seem to like it, so we had to turn it off again. I’ve also turned the heat mat off for the moment. Between their increased movement and their mum’s reluctance to feed them for any length of time, it is perhaps not surprising that none of the kittens had gained much today. The largest gain was just 11g, but hopefully they’ll be back up again tomorrow.
Katie’s kittens are getting closer to doubling their birth weights, and Kia has had her first experience of the ‘great outdoors’
Now that Katie’s kittens have grown a bit, they were getting too big to be able to all feed at the same time when she is curled in the purple basket. That space was fine when they were a few hours old, but the size they now are means that she really needs to be properly stretched out on her side to allow them all to latch on. Unfortunately, she still seemed determined that she wanted to stay in that corner. In desperation, I tried swapping ends in the pen, with the birthing box moving to the right-hand end, and the basket and litter tray to the left-hand end. Thankfully, Katie didn’t seem to mind the change from basket to box, as long as she was able to stay in her chosen corner, so she can now stretch out on her side (she seems to like putting her head on the heated pad), and the kittens can all fit on to suckle. Being in the box also has the advantage that if the kittens felt cold they could just crawl onto the heated pad.
All four have had much bigger gains today (probably because they could actually reach a teat properly!) – red-toes is up 13g to 162g, purple-toes and blue-toes are both up 17g to 149g and 166g respectively, and orange-toes is up 18g to 165g. That means even the smallest one only has 31g to go to hit the double-birth-weight target that I would like to see them all at by the end of their first week. I have also checked their genders again tonight, and I’m still sure that the two silvers are girls, and one of the black ticked tabbies is a boy. The fourth kitten I am now thinking is also a boy, which would give me a nice split of two boys and two girls.
Kia’s First Outside Adventure
We built a run in the garden, to enable the cats to have some time outside without being able to get right out and get run over, lost, injured or, in the case of the girls, get pregnant by the local Tom. Only the neuters were using the run, however, because we hadn’t shown any of the girls what the catflap was for. One of the times we were visiting Elisabeth, she commented that the girl she has in to stud at the moment doesn’t seem to know how to use the catflap, so has to be shut in the stud house overnight. That got me thinking that perhaps we ought to get the girls used to being outside and using a catflap before they go off to stud, to make the transition a bit easier for them (obviously, it’s too late for Katie!).
Yesterday we were going to be out doing the garden all day, so that seemed like a good time to have them outside for the first time. The run is connected to the house by a suspension bridge (eight metres long, and weighed a tonne to put up there!), and Dàrna didn’t go beyond the bridge, preferring just to sit up where she could enjoy the view. Kia, however, was almost straight down into the run to explore, and spent the next few hours racing around the run chasing flies then running back up onto the bridge, and then back into the run again, going round and round shouting almost continuously. She seemed to have a great time, and even after we had her in for dinner, she was in and out of the catflap for the rest of the evening. In the video you can see that Xaria was also out enjoying the good weather!
Katie’s kittens continue to develop, and surprise me by how happy they make me feel.
Katie’s kittens are developing nicely. The black silver ticked tabby has darkened up a bit, and the two black ticked tabbies (I’m pretty sure that’s what they are now) are developing a stronger brown in their undercoats. I’ve also heard one of the kittens purring today, for the first time. Katie has been doing so almost continuously since her babies arrived, but I haven’t heard any of the kittens until today. They seem very contented, though, and I love how close they are at this stage; cuddling up together.
Red-toes had a smaller gain tonight, up by just 8g, but combined with the 23g gain yesterday, that’s an average of a nice, healthy, 15-16g per day. Orange toes was up by 15g today, whilst blue-toes is up 14g. Once again, it’s only really purple-toes who isn’t gaining as much as I would like, having gone up just 10g. Having said that, everything is relative, and although she’s gaining slower than her siblings, my established breeder friends tell me that 10g is still acceptable.
I have been amazed at my own reaction to the kittens. Obviously, we thought we would enjoy the experience of breeding, or we wouldn’t have got involved, but I had no expectation of just how much I would enjoy it. Nobody told me I would find myself smiling every time I look at the babies! Have a look at this video of the babies suckling and see if it has the same effect on you. I love the way their ears ‘waggle’ as they suck! The fourth baby is there, by the way – you can just see it’s rear end sticking out from under Katie’s leg.
The kittens are, in fact, now almost three days old and have already grown noticeably. Katie seems to be enjoying her role as mother, and divides her time between lying in the basket with the kittens, and lying just outside the basket, or at the other end of the pen. She seems to feel that they need fed every twenty minutes or so, and will climb back in and nudge the kittens awake to get them to eat. The weather has been really hot (we had a fan on all day to keep the room below 26°C) so she gets too hot if she stays in the basket with them. Even when she is outside the basket, she keeps a close watch on what is going on inside it.
At last night’s weigh-in, red-toes, blue-toes and orange-toes were up by 15g, 16g and 17g, taking them to 118g, 118g and 117g respectively. Purple-toes was only up by 7g to 107g, so I weighed them again this morning, and was pleased to see that she (or he!) was up a further 9g overnight to 116g. Red-toes and blue-toes were also up 9g to 127g, and orange-toes was up 4g to 121g. By this evening’s weigh-in, Purple-toes and orange-toes were both up 15g from last night (6g and 11g from this morning), blue-toes was up 17g and red-toes was up 23g!! They are now 122g, 132g, 135g and 141g – that means even the smallest one has already put on over a third of its birth weight, and they’re not even three days old until 4am tomorrow morning!
I have been changing the towel lining their basket every evening, but Katie isn’t very impressed with me doing so. Last night I also wanted to wipe out the bottom of the kitten pen, because Katie had spilled some of her litter on the floor. Like last night, she had used the other tray, and then moved onto the bed when we let her out. I lifted out the basket, complete with kittens, and sat it by the pen door whilst I wiped the bottom of the pen. When Katie saw that her kittens were in the ‘wrong’ place, she jumped down and before I had even finished wiping the pen, she had one of the kittens back in and was standing on the bare floor with this kitten in her mouth, not sure what to do next.
I took the kitten and put it back in the basket, and then put her in with them. She settled down to feed and clean the babies, but watched me with a scowl throughout. Having wiped out the pen, I then had to move both her and the babies out of the basket in order to change the towel. She wasn’t hugely impressed with being moved out onto the floor on her towel, but she does seem happier once the basket is clean. I’m sure we have another of these little baskets somewhere, so I must look the other one out, so that I can make up the second basket, lift the first one out, replace it with the second and then swap the kittens over. At least that would avoid the step of having to move them on their towel onto the floor!
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get a kitten to hold still for long enough that you can get a photo of its face – even at this age. Heaven help us once the kittens are a few weeks old and able to run around. I think all I’ll be managing to get is photos of their tails as they run out of the picture! I also had to have a couple of shots with some of them, because Katie tells me off if they started squeaking, so I had to give them back to her and then try again a couple of minutes later.
Katie’s kittens are now one day old, and doing well.
Katie’s kittens are now one day old, and all doing well. They are all feeding and Katie is being a perfect mother, looking after them expertly and keeping them nice and clean. When we were getting ready for bed last night, we let Katie out of the pen, and she went straight to use the litter tray outside the pen, rather than the one next to her kittens. She then went and sat on the bed, but the second one of her kittens squealed, she was straight back into the pen to check on them.
I weighed them before going to bed, and they had put on between 5g and 13g each. Red-toes, who was one of the two smallest kittens (the lively one that I mentioned yesterday) had actually put on the most weight, going from 90g to 103g, and the largest kitten (blue-toes) had put on the least, going from 97g to 102g. The others had both gone up to 100g.
Red-toes is proving to be a character when eating as well. Most kittens ‘paddle paw’ on their mum’s tummys whilst feeding, but this wee one does the most emphatic massaging I’ve ever seen. It is absolutely hilarious! I tried to catch it on video this morning, but unfortunately I missed the most over-the-top bit due to laughing about it. You’ll see from the video that it’s still pretty extreme even when she (I’ll refer to her as a girl for the moment) is being a bit calmer about it. Apologies about the alarm clock going off in the background, by the way!