Catching Up Once Again!

Eiteag’s kitten is now named Hailey, short for ‘Haillie-a-Jo’. Dàrna made up to Imperial and everyone else continues to do well.

We had a good day at the Supreme show, with Small in competition and Eiteag and Dàrna on Club Row. Both RACCS and the West of Scotland went well, which was a relief, given that I was ASM for the former, and we were both ASMs for the latter.

It’s been three months since my last post – I’m really not very good at this regular-posting malarky, am I?!  Before Christmas, I had a very good excuse – Assistant Show Managing for two shows in December was a lot of work.  However, I started writing this post between Christmas and New Year, and there’s really no excuse for it not to have been finished ages ago.  However, I will finish it today!

Surprise Kittens

You may remember that we sent Sonia away to stud back in June, but after three months of she and the stud cuddling up together but apparently not doing anything, we brought her home again.  Well… on the evening of the 8th of November (Friday), I picked Sonia up for a cuddle, and realised that her nipples were swollen, and that she looked distinctly pregnant!

She had been kept in isolation in the spare room, since returning from stud, because she was having bad diarrhoea, for which we hadn’t yet managed to determine a cause.  However, she had managed to escape from the spare room a couple of times, which wasn’t a problem, because she only escaped into the hallway, and there aren’t any other cats in there anyway.  However, occasionally Donny also escapes from the bathroom, where he and Eiteag live to keep them apart from the girls, and although I couldn’t recall the two ever escaping at the same time, I had the horrible thought that perhaps she and Donny had been out together and he had mated her.

At that point, Ayla and her kittens were still in the kitten room, so that night we shut the other cats out of the front bedroom and gave it a thorough clean, intending to let it stand for a few days before moving Ayla and her kittens into it, and then the kitten room could be cleaned out and allowed to stand for a few days before Sonia was moved into there.  We usually leave a room empty for a few days before moving kittens or pregnant girls in, just to be on the safe side with the delicate immune systems.

On the Sunday evening, however, I picked Sonia up and realised that she was spotting blood.  My first thought was to wonder if something had gone wrong with the pregnancy, but then I realised that she was actually in pre-labour.  We considered leaving Sonia where she was, because we wouldn’t normally move a queen so close to birthing, but the spare room really isn’t suitable for a queen with kittens – there are all sorts of places where the kittens could be hidden away, or could fall or get separated from their mum.  We therefore moved Ayla and her kittens into the front bedroom, gave the kitten room a thorough clean, and then moved Sonia across to there.  On the plus-side, having her kittens when she did left no doubt as to who the father was, because she would have had to have conceived whilst still at stud!

We spent the night in the kitten room, and early the next morning, I thought I heard Ayla’s adopted kitten squealing.  I dreamt that one of the other kittens was standing on her, but somewhere deep in my subconscious, something was obviously awake, and registered that Ayla and her kittens weren’t in the room with us any more.  I got up and checked the kitten pen, and sure enough, there was Sonia, sitting on top of the stack that she had made out of all the bedding, perched on top of the heat mat, and on the opposite side of the pen, lying on the bare floor, was a kitten.

When I touched him, he was very cold, but immediately responded by starting to shout, loudly.  I rearranged the bedding, cleaned him up, and laid him in against his mum.  I waited a couple of hours to see if she was going to have another, because I had thought I could feel two the previous evening, but no matter how hard I palpated her abdomen now, I could feel no sign of another kitten, so I assumed I must have been mistaken.

That evening, Tracey came up to visit, and I took her up to see the newborn.  As we walked into the room, Sonia was lying on her side in the pen and out slid a second kitten.  Her reaction to this second kitten was the same as the first: she didn’t mind the kitten being there, but was totally uninterested in doing anything with her.  I got the kitten cleaned up, whilst she screamed blue murder, and then settled her alongside her brother, against Sonia’s tummy.

By the following day, the girl had lost weight, so I tried to get her to latch on and suckle, but she seemed to struggle to do so.  I made up a bottle of milk formula and offered her that, and she drained it dry within seconds, so there was obviously nothing wrong with her ability to suck.  That continued right up until the kittens were weaned – the boy was drinking from his mum, but the girl didn’t seem to be able to get latched on, so I had to bottle-feed her.  I know that an inability to suckle properly is sometimes a symptom of flat-chested syndrome, so I kept checking her ribcage for abnormalities, but have found none, so there seems to be absolutely no reason for her inability to feed from Sonia.

Anyway, Sonia’s kittens are now approaching three months old, and have moved into the livingroom with some of our adults and neuters.  When they were younger, they were the messiest kittens we have ever seen, and we had to keep them penned when we weren’t in the room, until they were about eight weeks old.  Sonia wanted nothing to do with them from when they were about four weeks, so we were lucky that they were quite early to eat solids.  The girl is still a very messy eater, not in the sense of throwing the food around, but just that she manages to cover her entire head in it, to the point that Tracey has named her ‘Messy Molly’.  She has named the boy ‘Harry Houdini’, due to his ability to get out of wherever you put him, in order to come and find people to cuddle up to.

We are now looking for new homes for both kittens, though the girl’s type has developed so beautifully that I’m sorely tempted!

Supreme Show

At the 2012 Supreme, we only entered Ayla, as a kitten, and she enjoyed it so much that we decided that we would enter Small in the kitten class in 2013.  This time, however, we had also offered to take cats to represent the breed on Club Row, with a joint table for the Asian Group Cat Society and Bombay and Asian Cats Breed Club.  We had a double pen for Donny and Eiteag to share, and a single pen for Dàrna, with the table in between.

We were staying with Anita on both the Friday and Saturday nights, and like last time, the boys were sharing the stud run in her car-port.  This time, however, it was Anita’s husband, Rob, who had cleaned the run out ready for our arrival, and he hadn’t made as good a job of removing the smell of her stud boy, as Anita usually manages.  Donny is definitely not keen on other stud boys, and as a result, was completely freaked by the smell of Anita’s boy, and in absense of any other cats, seemed to decide that Eiteag was the strange boy he could smell.  We had to separate the two boys for the night (the stud run has compartments), and decided just to leave Donny at the house to calm down, rather than taking him to the show.

We therefore ended up having just Tiffs on the club table, which is not something we normally do – if we’re representing the Asian breed group, we normally try and take cats that represent the group as fully as possible.  If we had known that Tia wasn’t going to be pregnant by the time of the Supreme, we would have entered her, but she should have been pregnant by then (she hadn’t come into season from the late summer through to now).  As it happens, it was rather nice having Small in competition, and both her parents on Club Row, because it meant that when I was talking to people in front of Small’s pen, that I could tell them that they could meet her parents on Club Row.

Both Dàrna and Eiteag were beautifully behaved, and made fantastic ambassadors for the breed.  Dàrna spent most of the day lying in her basket on the table, so that passersby could stroke her, marvelling at the gorgeous silky texture of the Tiffanie coat.  Whenever Dàrna wanted to go back into her pen for a few minutes peace, or a bite to eat, Eiteag would come out onto the table and bound around playing with his feather stick.  He wasn’t so practical to have out for any length of time, because he wanted to go off and explore, so we would only keep him out for as long as it took him to get bored of his toys and decide that he wanted to go for a wander.  By that point, Dàrna would be ready to come back out again, so we’d put him back in his pen, and have her back out instead.

In terms of juding, the Supreme takes a different format to all other GCCF shows, with the cats housed in decorated pens in the centre of the hall, with a series of ‘rings’ around the outside of the hall.  The rings have plain pens into which the cats are moved by stewards in preparation for being judged, and the cats are then taken from these pens onto the judges’ tables for judging.  Unlike other GCCF shows, the cats’ owners, and other spectators, can stand right in front of where the judging takes place, and listen to what the judges are saying about the cats.  After a class has been judged, the stewards will often ask if any of the owners  are present, and let them take their own cats back to the pens.

Small was an absolute superstar, taking the whole day in her stride, just like her Auntie Ayla did last year.  Hers was one of the first classes judged by Grace Denny, and I went over to watch her being judged.  As the steward was handing her to Grace, I heard her say “this one’s got a huge purr”, or something similar, and I watched with pride as Small cuddled into Grace.  I love it when our cats win, but I love even more to see them showing off the breed’s fabulous temperament.

In the event, Small was not only adorable, she also won, taking both 1st in her kitten class, and Best of Breed, and then going on to be shortlisted for Best of Variety.  Grace praised her coat, saying it was one of the best she has seen on a kitten of her age, and that she is a lovely big girl.  Given that one of the key reasons we kept Small is her size, I was delighted to hear Grace say that.  Afterwards, Grace asked if I bred her, and I said I had, and told Grace that she had given Small’s mother an Imperial at the North West Show.  Grace made my day by saying “well, hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to give her an Imperial as well, one day”.  I was absolutely delighted!

Once Small’s judging was finished, I put a sign on her pen saying that she had gone to join her parents on Club Row, with the pen numbers, and took her up so that we had the three together for the rest of the day.  Incidentally, by the time we got back to the house, Donny had got over his pique, and was absolutely desperate for Eiteag’s company, and the two spent most of the rest of the evening grooming eachother, much to my relief.  Meanwhile, Richard and I took Rob and Anita out for dinner and then to watch the 3D screening of the 50th Anniversary, ‘Day of the Doctor’, Doctor Who special at the cinema!


RACCS had their second show on the 7th of December, in Annan, which was the venue that the Committee originally chose, before all the messing about after the Supreme show moved date in 2012.  This was my second time as an Assistant Show Manager (ASM), but the first show that I really had a key role in organising, not least in that I suggested the hall originally, so I was a little nervous beforehand!  The show did receive an entry of 54 cats, which is really good for a breed club, especially on its first stand-alone show, so that allayed my fears slightly.

I needn’t have worried at all, though, because the show came off without a hitch.  The feedback from both judges and exhibitors for the hall was excellent, the atmosphere was friendly and there was a good number of gorgeous cats, who were almost all impeccably behaved.  Also, Elisabeth and Karen were ecstatic, because Zach won Overall Best in Show, which was a lovely end to the day.

West of Scotland Show

A fortnight later, we had the West of Scotland show, which had received a fabulous entry of 313 cats – more than 20 entries above that received for any Scottish show in the past few years.  Considering the fuss that was made at last year’s AGM, about the date being too close to Christmas, with people saying that exhibitors would never come to a show on the 21st, I was delighted to see the entry so high.  It does rather suggest that the exhibitors were pleased with the date, and it meant that we could absolutely go to town on the Christmas theme!  For instance, as joint-ASMs, Richard and I had the pleasure of designing Christmas-themed rosettes, which went down well with exhibitors.

I received a call early on the morning of the show, from exhibitors who were coming up from Wales, to say that their car had broken down 2 1/2 hours south of us.  They said that the AA man said the repair would only take 10 minutes once he had the correct part, and had gone to get said part, but that he didn’t think the parts shop opened until 8am.  The maths wasn’t too difficult there, to realise that meant they wouldn’t be at the show until at least 10:30 – half an hour after the show was meant to start.

I told them that since I was ASM, I would need to check with the show manager, but that I thought we could probably manage to hold those classes back for them.  Shortly after arriving in the show hall, I received a text message from another exhibitor, to say that they were stuck in a very slow diversion around a closure on the M74.  Over the next half our or so, several exhibitors also came up to the front to say that various friends had asked them to let us know that they were stuck in this same diversion.

In the end, we did what I had seen done at another show in the past, and asked the judges just to skip past any empty pens they came across in the first hour.  The exhibitors who had the breakdown were the last to arrive, and they had also been caught in the diversion, of course.  In the event, they were vetted in (we had kept one vet on standby) at 11:17, but it was definitely worth their while, because they went on to win not only an Olympian certificate, but also Best in Show!

Anyone working on a show at any level above Section Manager is not allowed to enter their cats in competition.  Our cats therefore couldn’t compete, but we did take Small and Dàrna on exhibition.  A few Cagarans had been entered in competition by their new owners, however, including Lainni, who won the Reserve Imperial and Best of Breed Tiffanie; Quinn, who had the Reserve Grand withheld on her (presumably for lack of silver undercoat, though she also wasn’t in the best mood); and Bobbie, in her first adult show, winning her 1st CC and Best of Breed Ocicat.  Special mention has to go to Sarndra Devereux’s stunning Bombay boy, Tarby (GR CH Rainsong Jolly-Jack-Tar), who was Overall Best Foreign exhibit.

Christmas and New Year

This year, Richard’s parents went off to Hong Kong and Thailand to visit friends over the Christmas holidays, so we spent the time with my family and various friends.  As I said earlier, we also spent plenty of time with the cats, which has been lovely, because our lives are so busy the rest of the year that it’s sometimes difficult to find time just to… be with them, not doing anything.

Seven plates laid out with the cats' Christmas Dinners on them
The cats’ Christmas Dinners – roast beef trimmings and Applaws Tuna Loin.  One plate per group, divided according to how many cats are in the group

Four of the cats around one of the plates of Christmas Dinner
Tucking in to Christmas Dinner – Jinny top left, Dàrna top right, Annas bottom left and Small bottom right

We went to the family service at the church on Christmas Eve, where my Mum was singing in the choir, and then went back to Mum and Dad’s for a cup of tea.  That turned into several hours of singing on the karaoke with my parents and Calum, and between that at the carol singing earlier in the evening, I was completely hoarse by the time we headed home at about 2am.

Three kittens and Ayla grouped around their plate of Christmas Dinner
Ayla and the kittens enjoying their Christmas Dinner
(Frenchie top left, Hailey top right, Zuko bottom left and Ayla bottom right)

Christmas Day was at my parents this year, and due to my sister going off to her boyfriend’s for Christmas Dinner, my Grandparents going to one of my Aunts, and various other relatives linking up in various ways, there were only five of us for dinner.  When Richard and I had dinner here two years ago, there were sixteen of us, so five was bizarrely few – my Mum hardly knew what to do with herself!

For New Year, Elisabeth and Tracey joined us for a snack-and-pizza tea, over the first half of a DVD.  At 11:30, Tracey left (something to do with a superstition about first-footing herself), and we switched over to Jools Holland.  A few minutes before midnight, we headed outside, and let off a firework on the front lawn at the bells, with a row of little furry faces watching from the house windows (our cats all love watching fireworks).  Back inside, we opened a bottle of champagne, and then settled down to a night of DVD-watching, eventually heading to bed at 8am.

Getting up again at noon, we enjoyed our annual New Year cooked breakfast (including fruit dumpling and fried pancakes and potato scones, mmm!), over another DVD.  Elisabeth and I ended up watching the Sound of Music on TV, and then we ran her home on our way to a family get-together at my Grandparents.  There can surely be few better ways to spend time than with family, friends and a housefull of cats?!

Notts & Derbys Show

We went to the Notts & Derbys show during the middle of last month, because it’s literally only fifteen minutes from Richard’s parents house, and can therefore be combined with a nice family visit.  I wanted to see what some of the judges thought of Zuko and Frenchie, so we entered them in the HP section, and since we were taking them, we decided to take Ayla along for the ride.  As it happens, she was actually awarded the Reserve Grand, beating one other, which was more than I expected, given her size.  Zuko won his kitten class and he and his mum both had good results in their side classes.  Our star of the show, though, was Frenchie, who placed well in all her sides, won her kitten class and beat her brother for ‘Best of Colour’, and then went on to win Best Pedigree Pet and then Best Household Pet.  One of the judges wrote that she is a star in the making, and she certainly adored her day out at the show, so I’m hoping that we can find someone interested in taking her out again in future.

Shropshire Show

We really enjoyed the Shropshire Show last year, because we had a lovely day looking at potteries, and lunch at the Wedgewood museum.  It is also pretty central to the AGCS Committee, so when we were discussing a potential venue for the club’s AGM, I suggested the Shropshire as the venue.  That was agreed, and since I was obviously going to have to be there to take the minutes, we clearly had to enter!

We only took two – Dàrna to try for her final Imperial, and Small in her last time out as a kitten (she is 9 months today).  Both girls were adorable as usual, and we got Small won her first and Best of Breed, getting some really encouraging comments from the judges in the process, which I was delighted about.  However, what absolutely made our day was Dàrna taking that final Imperial, and in the process becoming the first Imperial Grand Champion that we have owned (our other Imperials have been neuters), and only the sixth Imperial-titled Tiffanie (Annas was the first, and there have been four in-between).  She also made Donny the first cat we’ve owned to have two Imperial-titled parents.  She will now be spayed and can retire from the hormone swings of being an entire.

Eiteag’s Kitten

When I last posted, we were trying to decide on an ‘H-name’ for Eiteag’s kitten, and we eventually settled on Haillie-a-Jo, which means ‘Totally a Sweetheart’ in old Scots.  Her pet name comes directly from her pedigree name, and is Hailey.  Her type has continued to develop beautifully, and still has the most amazing nature.  We have also had her hernia operated on successfully, and she now flies round the room with her ‘siblings’, which is lovely to see.  The vet and vet nurse told us that the muscle had been torn from the pelvic bone the whole way up to the rib-cage.  The vet nurse said that when they first opened her up, they all just stood and looked for a few seconds, because they couldn’t believe the extent of the damage that her mum had caused.  On a positive note, at least the fact that they could see that it had been torn means that we can put to bed any residual fears about genetic causes for the hernia!

What’s Next?

Well, Tia, Lhasa and Tilly are finally back in season, so I’m thinking that we’ll give them one full call and then mate them on their next call, sometime next month.  We may be totally mad, but since the three of them live together, and do everything together, we’re going to try mating the three at around the same time, and see if they’ll raise their kittens together.  That would mean that we’d be having three litters in late spring/early summer.  We’re going to try putting both Lhasa and Tia to Eiteag, since he is meant to be neutered after that, and I’d like to see what both girls produce with him, and Tilly to Donny.  The latter mating, and Tia’s have the potential to give us a mixture of Tiffanies and Asian Shorthairs, but Lhasa’s litter would be guaranteed to be all Tiffs, which would be nice.

We’ve got a few shows lined up over the next three months, and are hoping to be able to get Small made up to Champion and Cheeky to Premier.  After that, we’ve got nobody ‘needing’ to be titled, so I think we might take a break from showing and let our depleted cash reserves re-build!  Who knows, though…

A New Home and Two Shows

Kia and Quinn have been spayed, and Kia has settled into her new home. Apollo also seems to have settled, being a much happier boy since the Scottish. Fi may or may not be pregnant, but Keela definitely wasn’t, and is now back with us to have another shot with Shogun. Shogun is now a Champion, and Apollo won his first Grand.

Kia and Quinn were succesfully spayed the second week in January. When I collected them, the vet receptionist warned me that Quinn had been trying to lick her stitches, and had managed to remove the collar they had given her, three times whilst still in her pen at the practice. They didn’t think the collar would even last the evening, so we were just going to have to keep an eye on her licking, ourselves. She did indeed have the collar off within a couple of hours of getting home, so I put a tiny bit of Vicks vaporub in a circle around the area of the spay. Cats don’t like the smell (it’s menthol and eucalyptus), so she stopped trying to lick it and didn’t start again even once the vaporub had evaporated.  As an aside, I was fascinated to see that her skin is pale – normally a dark-coloured cat would have dark skin, but it must be because she’s a smoke, and therefore has a pale undercoat, that hers is pink.

Donny and Quinn cuddled up on the evening after her spay
Cuddling after Quinn's spay - note the pale skin!

The two cuddled up together
Quinn and Donny cuddled up together in the bed on the windowledge, looking adorable

Both girls had their checkup ten days later, and since there were no problems, I let Sheona know that Kia would be okay to move in with them that weekend. We then had several busy days, because I am the secretary for RACCS (Russian and Abyssinian Cat Club of Scotland), whose AGM was the third weekend last month, and the AGM notification and papers had to go out 21 days in advance of the meeting.  That was a welcome distraction from thinking about having to say goodbye to our sweet little Kia.  I still haven’t started looking for a home for Quinn yet – really must get onto that, but I just keep putting it off…

Kia’s New Home

The last Sunday in January, we got all of Kia’s paperwork ready, and then put her into her basket for the journey. Normally, when you opened the door to the room that she was in, she was right behind it, ready to say hello. This time, Richard had to collect her from the far side of the room, so she definitely knew something was going on, and that set me off worrying whether we were doing the right thing.

When we got to Sheona’s, however, I opened the front of the basket, and in typical Ocicat fashion, Kia was immediately out and running around to explore her new surroundings. Richard and I sat in the livingroom with Sheona and Bruce, having a cup of tea, and after a few minutes, Kia started rubbing around their legs, but wouldn’t come near us. She would rub around them and then stand in front of them, looking at Richard and I as if to say “These people are acceptable. You can go now”. Once she was sure we got the message, she then came and gave us a quick cuddle on the couch, before going back to exploring and playing with her new toys. She absolutely loves their windowledges (which Sheona had cleared ready for Kia’s arrival!), because the flat is on the 4th floor, with views down the River Kelvin, and plenty of birds to chirp at. Even better, they all have radiators immediatley below them to keep her warm!

Kia in Sheona's shopping bag
Kia in Sheona's shopping bag - "Don't go out, Mummy, I want to play!"

When we headed for the door, Kia took herself off into the bedroom and sat under the bed. It took us a few minutes to persuade her that she really was giong to be allowed to stay there, and then she came out to say a quick goodbye before going off to sit on one of the windowledges again. In some ways that actually made it easier, because she was so obviously perfectly content to move into a new environment.  We’ve since had updates from Sheona, and even a video of Kia exploring, and she has settled in beautifully, which if we were honest we always knew she would.  I think we just didn’t want to admit that she’d be fine without us!

Scottish Cat Club Show

The first weekend last month saw us going to the Scottish Cat Club show in Larkhall, just a bit south of Glasgow.  This is one of the more local shows for us, so we went along to help set up on the Friday, and were allowed to set up our own pens at the same time.  That meant that when we got there on the show morning, we only had to put down food and pop the cats in their pens.  This was just as well, given that we were running very late due to having had to give Apollo a bath in the morning.

When I went to get him, he’d obviously been having a mud bath overnight, so our lovely apricot silver was now a grey!  We got him cleaned up and had to put him straight into his basket without time to dry him off.  We stuck him next to the space heater in the car, in the hope that the hot air would dry him out, but by the time we got to vetting-in, he was still very soggy, and kind of squelched onto the vet’s table.  Given that this was the first time Steve was going to have seen him since we brought him home, this wasn’t the best possible start to the morning!  As it happens, once Apollo was in his pen, I managed to get him dried off with a spare blanket, and then we went over his coat with a slicker brush, so by the time the judges saw him you would never have known!

Apollo looking gorgeous
Gorgeous Apollo sitting in his pen with his Grand rosette

We also took Shogun, Annas, Ali and little Donny.  Lona was there with both Lainni and Tabh, so this was the first show where there have been three Cagarans in competition, which was rather nice!  It was particularly lovely to see Tabh again – we haven’t seen him since the last time he was out on the bench, at this show last year, when he left us to go home with Lona!  Lainni didn’t place in the Grand, but did well in her side classes, and Tabh won his first PC, making him the fourth Cagaran to win a certificate.

Lainni in her pen at the Scottish
Lainni looking pretty in her pen

Tabh in his pen at the Scottish
Tabh peering peering at the camera

Annas won the Reserve Olympian, Ali got the Reserve Grand and came second in the last ever Scottish Royal Canin final (winning £20, which covered his entry fee!), Apollo won his first Grand, and Shogun won his third and qualifying CC, so he is now a Champion!

Shogun peering out from behind his rosettes
Shogun looking adorable

Ali looking adorable
Ali paddle-pawing on his vetbed

Donny with his rosettes
Donny with his rosettes

Annas in amongst her rosettes
Annas in amongst her rosetttes

Donny is still just a kitten, so wasn’t up for any certificates, but he did well in his sides, and the judges liked his type, so that was the main thing.


Ever since we got Apollo at first, he had been uptight and nervy, refusing to settle.  We thought we would try him at the Scottish, since it isn’t too far to travel, and see how he coped before entering anything else with him.  However, the show saw him have a complete personality transplant, and he rolled around in his pen rubbing his head on anyone who stuck their hands in, and generally being adorable, so there’s no issue there.  Even better, he has continued the transformation since we got back, and has been utterly adorable ever since.  When we go out to his pen now, he comes out of his house and will rub against us and purr loudly, and gets so soppy that he virtually falls over in his efforts to get you to stroke him all over.  We couldn’t be more delighted with the change, as we now have the sweet boy that we were expecting, though he still ‘talks’ with a loud Essex accent, lol!

Apollo looking cute
Apollo rolling around demonstrating his new, sweeter temperament

Coventry & Leicester Show

A fortnight after the Scottish, we took the Friday afternoon off work, and drove down to stay with our friends, Tracy and Gary, collecting Elisabeth on the way.  Tracy and Gary seem to put us up every few months, with assorted cats in tow, and are always gracious and good-natured, regardless of our odd departure times, and habit of arriving later than we thought.  We are so lucky that they put up with us!

We were a couple of hours down the motorway when we realised that my handbag had been left at home.  The main issue was that it contained the vaccination cards for not only our cats, but also for Keela, because we had forgotten to leave hers with Anita when we returned Keela in January.  Thankfully, the GCCF has a rule that if you forget your vaccination card, you can send it in to the GCCF office within 7 days, so we had a debate about whether to turn around and go back, or carry on and just fill in the paperwork to send the cards in.  I phoned Anita and asked if she would be okay with us doing the latter, and she said that was fine, as long as I was sure about the rule.

Poor Katie has had an eye infection for several weeks, starting around the time of the Notts & Derbys.  You may remember that we didn’t take her to that show, because she was pulling funny faces on the show morning?  It seems those silly faces were the beginning of this infection, for which we’ve been giving her eye drops ever since.  It is improving, but the progress has been very slow.  Since she’s supposed to get her drops every hour or two during the day, we couldn’t leave her at home whilst we went down to the show, so she came too.  I sat in the back seat, and took her out of her basket every hour to put her drops in.  We had to pull into a services at one point, because the bottle had fallen on the floor and rolled away under the seats – perhaps Katie pushed it off deliberately!

We got to Tracy and Gary’s a bit later than planned, but still in time to have a nice dinner with them, and a bit of a catch-up.  Just after we had gone to bed, I heard a strange noise, and turned the light on to discover that Katie, whose stomach has been rather upset by her medication, had had a ‘little accident’ on the blanket over the top of the bed, and Donny was busy getting it all over his feet trying to clean it up.  Thankfully it hadn’t gone through the blanket to the duvet underneath, so Richard got a bin-bag (we always carry some when travelling) and stuck the blanket in that, outside the front door (!), whilst I took Donny into the bathroom and got him cleaned up.  We washed the blanket when we got home, and will post it back down to Tracy and Gary, because it didn’t seem fair to have them clean that up as well as looking after us!  Oh the joys of travelling with animals.  Actually, that’s not fair, because we’ve never had a problem before – there’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

Anyway, we got up and away on Saturday morning basically on schedule, and the journey took us less than an hour, putting us at the hall just after 8am.  This is the show’s first year in a new venue, which wasn’t too far from the motorway and had excellent parking.  Sue Moreland was the duty vet, and she is always easy to deal with, so we got the vetting-in paperwork completed without problem.  Whilst I finished penning the cats, Richard went off to buy a slicker-brush and grooming glove, because those were in the handbag that had been left in Scotland.  We had taken Annas, Dàrna and Donny, and all three looked lovely – especially Annas, whose coat showed up beautifully under the lighting in the new venue.

Annas looking very black
Annas looking very black

Donny sprawled in his pen
Donny sprawled in his pen

After penning the cats and getting them ready, Richard and I went off to get breakfast in the cafe, whose food was excellent and reasonably priced.  Richard then went back to check on the cats, whilst I went to find the judges room and mark up my steward’s card.  The show had received record entries, and three of the judges had been so popular that their original ‘books’ (list of cats to judge) had been just under 140 cats each!  To put that into context, the recommended maximum number is 70, and 50 is considered a fairly heavy book.  My judge, Elaine Culf, was one of the popular ones, but thankfully the show managers had managed to bring in some other judges, and move some of Elaine’s less critical classes over to them.  Elaine only judges in the Semi-Longhair section at the moment, and we had some stunning Maine Coons and Birmans, in particular, and an absolutely gorgeous Siberian, who was her pick for Best Semi-Longhair kitten.

At one point, I collected a beautiful cream Birman neuter female from her pen, and when I realised that it was Mylward Sassafras (there are not many 12-year-old cream Birmans being shown, let alone ones that gorgeous), I knew that Annas wasn’t going to have got the Olympian, particularly given that the equally stunning Danleigh Starburst was in the pen next to Sassafras.  Both girls have been extremely successful and are already Bronze Olympians, and Annas just isn’t quite up to their standard, beautiful as she is.  Sure enough, Sassafras and Starburst had been awarded the female neuter Olympian and Reserve, but not placing in a class of eight fantastic exhibits is no great failing.  I’ve never seen such big classes at the top levels as were there yesterday – it is lovely to see a class of 14 in an Olympian and ten in an Imperial.  That’s proper competition!  Dàrna was in the 10-in-the-Imperial class, and also didn’t place, but again I can’t get upset about her loosing out against such competition.

Gorgeous Dàrna looking funny, as usual
Gorgeous Dàrna pulling a daft face, as she likes to do in photos!

Donny won his kitten class and Best of Breed, and also did very well in his side classes – probably his best result being 2nd in the Foreign 50th Birthday class, which was huge, and against adults and neuters as well as kittens.  The winner in that class was a beautiful Mau, and the judge said that Donny only lost out on maturity!  I spoke to a couple of the judges after the show, and they were saying how lovely his head is, and how much he’s come on since they saw him at the AGCS!  It’s lovely to get such good feedback for one of our own-bred kittens.

Catty Meetings

A week past yesterday, I had a day-trip to Newcastle for a work meeting with the northern account manager for PRS.  I managed to pop briefly into the office at the very end of the working day, but had to leave sharp because we had the West of Scotland committee meeting in Glasgow that evening.  This was the post-show meeting, so there was plenty to discuss, and by the end of the evening I was very much ready for my bed.

We are back into ‘AGM Season’, so Saturday saw us driving down to Anita’s, to stay overnight before the Ocicat AGM on Sunday.  It was great to see little Cailin again, though she was a bit wary with us – probably because the last time we visited Anita’s we were dropping Keela off, and she was rather unpleasant to Cailin afterwards.  We had a lovely meal with Anita and Rob, and plenty of cat-chat, then a nice easy start the next morning with just a 40-minute drive to the AGM.

As always, that was an enjoyable event, with a meal beforehand and tea and cake afterwards.  We had taken Katie with us again, because she’s still on the eye-drops, and thought we might as well take Grace as her travelling companion, rather than Dàrna, as we normally would.  That meant that I was able to take Grace in after the meeting, and let the experienced Oci breeders give me their thoughts on her.  Rosemary thinks that she has the potential to give us some really good type kittens, and Stacie has suggested that we take her to Curry, who is Rosemary’s cinnamon Ocicat stud.  He carries classic, so that would suit us perfectly, since it would have the potential to produce both Ocis and Classics, as well as the almost inevitable variants.  We will probably take her down to Rosemary in a couple of months.

Pregnancy Update

Fi was finally mated the last weekend in January, and having seen a mating, we now know that one of the issues (aside from her being a pain and rolling onto her back!) is that she is very long in the body, whereas he is quite compact, so he actually finds it quite difficult to mate her!

A week ago, she was very slightly pinked up, which can either mean a pregnancy, or that they are coming back into season.  Obviously, we were hoping for the former, but when I got up last Saturday morning, Fi was rolling around on the floor, standing in the classic calling pose, and even making little calling noises.  This was the first time she’s actually come properly into call like that, so I scooped her up and took her straight up the stairs to Shogun, who could hardly believe that I had finally brought him a girl who was both in season and happy to be mated – he kept sniffing at her and then looking at me in astonishment.  After a few minutes, however, he got over his shock and proceeded to mate her four times inside half-an-hour.  We then had to leave to go to the Oci AGM, but when we got back on Sunday, I popped her in with him for another ten minutes or so, and saw another two matings.  Hopefully that will be enough to finally result in a pregnancy.

Keela unfortunately decided that she didn’t want to be pregnant after all (exactly what her mum did the first time), so we brought her back from the Coventry & Leicester show to try again with Shogun.  She seemed to have forgotten who he is, and spent the first few days growling and hissing at him from the corner of the kitten pen, which we put her in until she settled a bit.  He wasn’t quite sure what to make of having his loving little companion (Fi) taken out of the room and her being replaced with a screaming demon, bless him!  She has now calmed down, though, and seems fine with him, so when she next comes into season we’ll be hoping that he can successfully mate her as well.

By the time Keela goes back to Anita, we will know for sure whether or not Fi is pregnant, and if she’s not, we might stick Katie in with Shogun instead, since she is also much shorter in the body, and therefore easier for him.  She had beautiful kittens by him last year, and we haven’t yet kept anything from her, so that would also be fine.  Fi could then go in with Apollo, who is getting a bit desperate for a girl, but I don’t want to put anyone with him until I know for sure what’s happening with Shogun.  The complexities of cat-breeding!

Kitten Visit

The past couple of days have been rather busy for me at work, starting with a 4:30am rise yesterday, to drive to Liverpool for a 10:30am meeting with Sound & Secure, who are one of our installation partners.  After that, I scooted across for an update meeting with Wren Kitchens in Howden, and a first visit with the Relish Bar and Grill in Doncaster.  Since I wasn’t very far from Barnsley at the end of the day, I had contacted June, who owns Rafa (one of the kittens from Katie’s first litter – originally known as Soolay), to ask if I could pop in and say hello – something that she has always said we are welcome to do.

Rafa in his favourite seat - June's!
Rafa in his favourite seat - June's!

She suggested that not only should I come to say hello, but that I should stop with them for dinner, and then stay the night!  I was bowled over by such a generous offer, and feel very lucky that we found such fantastic owners for Rafa.  I was treated to some proper Yorkshire hospitality, with a delicious stew for dinner, copious quantities of tea, and hours of cat-chat.  Rafa has grown into a really handsome boy, with the most spectacular ruff and incredibly rich colouration considering that Katie is a ‘high silver’ (i.e. bright silver with no rusty tones).

Rafa showing off his fantastic ruff and incredible colour
Rafa showing off his fantastic ruff and rich colour

He also has the most adorable temperament – if he is lying in a seat that June wants to sit in, she just picks him up, and moves him to another seat, and he just lies there in whatever position she puts him down!  She was telling me that he is working through all of the ‘non-cat’ people that they know, converting them one-by-one to how wonderful cats can be – what a fantastic ambassador for the feline population in general, and Tiffanies in particular.  He and his companion, Riley, are obviously doted-on, and have everyone wrapped around their little paws.

Rafa lying in the position in which June put him down
Rafa lying in the position in which June put him down

This morning I had a meeting in Newcastle, with a new manager for another of our clients, Blue Inc.  On the way back up the A1, I passed within a couple of hundred yards of Sophie’s owners, and knowing that their cats are often visible through the glass door, I couldn’t resist popping off to see if I could see her.  Sure enough, when I arrived at their house, I could see her sitting in one of the windows, and when I went around to the door, she came into the hallway to look at me through the door.

Sophie looking out of the window
Sophie sitting in the window looking at me

Sophie looking at me through the glass door
Sophie looking at me through the glass door

She has also grown into a beautiful cat, and although Fi definitely has the better head of the two, Sophie has the most amazing tail.  Last time I called in like that, I ended up with her moggy housemate climbing all over the inside of my car, but I didn’t see him this time.  Sophie and William, their other Tiffanie, talked to me through the door for a while, and then I headed home to get ready for the Lancs show tomorrow, and the Asian BAC meeting on Sunday.

Sophie and William looking out through the glass door
Sophie and William looking out through the glass door

I swear once you start, the world of cat showing and breeding takes over your life!

Farewell to B-B & Other News

B-B sadly had to be put to sleep due to a sudden illness last month, but his siblings are still doing well. We had a good day out at the Scottish show, and are starting to make plans for this year’s litters.

Farewell to B-B

Beautiful B-B
Beautiful B-B aged 15 weeks

The latter part of January was pretty horrendous, with B-B being very ill.  Initially the vets thought he had FIP, so couldn’t give him any treatment.  Then we had tests done, which came back negative, so they thought it must have been some sort of bacterial vasculitis, and began treatment.  Unfortunately, by the time we started this, the vasculitis had already damaged his kidneys, so we had to have him put to sleep after they failed suddenly.

B-B aged 1 day
B-B aged 1 day

B-B aged 10 days
B-B aged 10 days

B-B aged 2 weeks
B-B aged 2 weeks

B-B aged 4 weeks
B-B aged 4 weeks

We were obviously still nervous about FIP, so have had the lab in Edinburgh conduct a necropsy on him.  At present, we are still waiting for the results of the histopathology tests, but the internal examination found none of the granulomatous legions that characterise FIP, making it unlikely that this is what killed him.  We should get the rest of the results next week.

B-B aged 4 weeks
B-B aged 4 weeks

B-B aged 6 weeks
B-B aged 6 weeks

B-B aged 8 weeks
B-B aged 8 weeks

B-B aged 9 weeks
B-B aged 9 weeks

I am absolutely devastated, and can’t believe our beautiful B-B is gone.  He was the first of Dàrna’s partial-breach kittens, so I had to literally pull him into this world, and I stroked his little head as he left it again.  He was an early favourite of ours, both because he was so stunning, and because he was the first of the litter to really have a definite personality.  We named him weeks before any of the others, because he suited his name so well – he always was a little imp, right to the end.  He used to sit on top of us at night, and purred constantly.

B-B at Christmas aged 10 weeks
B-B at Christmas aged 10 weeks

B-B at Christmas aged 10 weeks
B-B at Christmas aged 10 weeks

B-B aged 3 months
B-B aged 3 months

B-B aged 3 months
B-B aged 3 months

RIP wee man.  We miss you.

The boys aged 3 months
The boys aged 3 months (B-B on the right)

The litter aged 3 months
The litter aged 3 months (B-B at the back)

B-B aged 15 weeks
B-B aged 15 weeks

B-B with three siblings aged 15 weeks
B-B with three siblings aged 15 weeks

Scottish Show

We entered the Scottish show a couple of months ago, and I was booked to steward for John Trotter.  Added to that, Lona had entered Tabh (who is now well settled in his new home), and Fiona had entered Alek in the pedigree pet section.  A few weeks ago, we thought that we wouldn’t be able to attend the show due to B-B’s illness, but with B-B gone, we realised that there was no point moping around the house missing him.  I was hoped that John wouldn’t have lots of chocolate Burmese, though, because that would have been too much.

We had Fiona in the kitten class, Xaria going for her 5th (and final) Imperial, and Ali entered in the regional final of the Royal Canin Stakes.  The judges were again impressed with Fiona, saying that she was very Burmese in type, and she won Best of Breed.  She then topped her day off by receiving a nomination for Best in Show – since each judge was only allowed to nominate one cat from the section, that’s pretty good going!

Fiona relaxing in her pen at the Scottish show 2011
Fiona relaxing in her pen with her Best of Breed and 1st rosettes

Fiona playing with her Best in Show nomination card
Fiona playing with her Best In Show nomination card

Xaria did us proud by winning the Imperial, making her now officially Imperial Grand Premier!

Xaria examining her Imperial certificate at the Scottish show 2011
Xaria examining her Imperial certificate

Xaria sitting with her rosettes and certificate
Xaria looking beautiful with her rosettes and certificate

Ali was third in the Royal Canin final,winning us £20, and also won the heat to qualify for next year’s final, giving us another £16, so he has once again more than paid for his own show entry.  The moggies are good at that!

Ali's rosette-covered pen
Ali's rosette-covered pen

Ali in his pen with some of his rosettes
Ali in his pen

Tabh was his usual adorable self, taking the whole experience in his stride once again.  As before, the judges said that he is an attractive boy, though not the best Tiffanie, type-wise, but has a fantastic temperament.  The was Alek’s first show, and he was a bit nervous initially, and spent most of the day scowling grumpily.  He did well, though, and looked absolutely gorgeous!

Alek lying in his show pen
Alek scowling in his pen, and looking beautiful

I had a good day stewarding for John, with some lovely cats to handle, including having Fiona and Tabh in one of the side classes.  My favourite (apart from those two, of course!), was a lilac Burmese kitten, who had the lovely impish face and beautiful eye set – her ears are still a bit big at the moment, but hopefully she will grow into those as she gets older, in which case she’ll be a stunning adult.  John was very pleasant, and at the end of the day, he signed my first official stewarding certificate – I have finally joined the stewarding scheme, after months of people saying I should!

Other News

Anita took Keela to a Felis Brittanica (FIFé) show at the end of January, and she won Best in Show!  Not a bad show start for Dàrna’s first litter, to have two of the girls win Best in Show at their first outings.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if that continued?!

Keela being judged at the FB show
Keela being judged at the FB show

Keela with her FB awards
Keela with her rosettes and cup

Katie and Kia are both calling almost constantly now, so I’m hoping to take the two of them to stud early next month, which would give us kittens around the middle of May.  Hopefully we will finally get a chance to just enjoy a litter grow up and leave us without problems!  Since we’ve had an issue with B-B being ill, I’m waiting for a couple of test results back on the girls first, before we take them, just to make sure there are no lurking problems that we could pass on to the studs.

Wish us luck!

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 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 9

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

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

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

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

Purple-toes struggling to breathe

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

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

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

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

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