I promised you kitten updates, so that's what you're gonna get today. I'm sorry to say that this means I'll have to hand over a lot of the post to my human, as she was there and I wasn't. All I know is that I spent a restful day on Sunday catching up on the napping I'd missed the day before, and then on Monday morning, she got up, packed my PTU full of good things like ping pong balls and food, and left! I'll hand the rest of today over to her to tell you what happened, while I do exactly what I did all day Sunday! Happy napping, friends.
The Human's Story
I've been friends with a lady who lives close-ish to my mum's for quite a few months now, and I thought that as I was in London anyway, it would be a good chance for us to meet up. i wasn't motivated at all by the fact that she had six very cute five-week old kittens in her bedroom, I promise! We're both breeders, me of Persians and she of Burmese, but she's been doing this for many years, whereas I'm still waiting for my first litter, so she's sort of a mentor to me as well as a friend. I had some things to bring for her too, so the trip was convenient enough that it was perfect! I'd bought kitten food last year when I suspected tia was pregnant, but hadn't used it and it was about to go off. I'd also bought a big bag of a premium quality dried food that I wanted to shift Tia onto. She loved it, but it was making her vomit. This lady's cats all eat that particular food, so she got that as well. Then there were books to swap, and things like coloidal silver for bathing eyes and wounds that no breeder can be without... In short, I brought quite the bag of goodies, and left with the same when the visit was over!
It took quite a long time to get there on the trains, but boy was it worth it. when I finally got to her house, I didn't really know what to expect. She has Bengals and Burmese, not the calmest of cats in the universe, so I suspected I'd be attacked, used as a climbing post, stalked etc. nothing could be further from the truth. The cats were so well socialised that they simply came and climbed all over me for a fuss. I was surprised to say the least!
But on to more important stuff. you're really only reading to find out about the kittens, aren't you? Well, as I've said, there were6 in total, all of them boys, and most of them very squeaky and noisy. the mum was incredibly good with me handling them, and didn't seem upset in the slightest. They're just at the weaning and litter training stage, and while I was there, they took their first ever poo! Strange as it seems, I was as proud as if they were my own! Many people say that kittens scream when they poo for the first time, but this simply wasn't the case with this lot. They certainly announced to the world that they'd done one, but that was about all. This was something I'd worried about. I don't like hearing animals in distress, even less so little baby ones, and I wondered how I'd know the difference in real distress and first time poop distress. Seems this won't be a problem though.
Do you remember when they were first born that we thought the smallest wouldn't survive? Well, he has, thanks to diligent feeding by the owner. At five weeks old, they are mostly still suckling from mum, but the smallest still needs topping up. The owner has been so good at feeding that the baby is now heavier than his naturally fed smallest brother, so she's taken on the task of bumping him up too. That was my job on Monday. I'd never syringe fed before, and the lady is determined to teach me all she can before I get my own litter of kittens.
So off we went, squealing kitten in hand, to draw up some KMR (kitten milk replacer) and feed. It's easier to wrap a baby in a towel to do this so that waving paws are contained and can't grab hold of the syringe or the teat. These little ones were still small enough that a facecloth was big enough to swallow them whole.
Feeding, while being simple, is still a little tricky. For one, you need to get the syringe and the teat parallel to their mouths. Ideally, the teat should sit between the two front teeth. I say ideal because you never achieve this, not when the baby is moving his head from side to side trying to get more milk at once. you need to trickle feed them to prevent choking, but they're so greedy and desperate for the food that they feel this isn't enough. The second little lad was even chewing his teat to try and get more. I can only shudder to think what those teeth do to poor mum's nipples, and think it's no wonder she won't let him feed as readily as the others. he was really desperate for his feed though, so it's a good thing that he's being topped up. he almost swallowed his teat through managing to chew it off the syringe!
Feeding doesn't really take all that long. About five minutes was all that was needed for each kitten. They do suckle on mum for much longer, but seeing how quickly they drink, i suspect this is for comfort rather than anything else. I had a cuddle of two of the boys for a time after that while we talked about things in general. It's amazing how those little creatures seek out a warm spot and then curl up so trustingly. both preferred to sleep on the bare skin right on the top of my elbow, sort of in the crook of my arm, but lying on my forearm. There's nothing quite like the feeling something so tiny can give just by the slight pressure of its 300 or so grams of weight, and the warmth that little body gives off as it snuggles against you. I've never experienced this before, but hope to many, many times in the future.
That's all I have on kittens, I'm afraid. Sharing their first poo, feeding, snuggling; i think I learned a lot in one day, and that not all practical. Here's to Tia coming into call soon, and here's to healthy, happy kittens for all of us.