Thursday, 30 June 2011

Fading baby

The human here. I'm sorry, but I'm too exhausted to write for Tia today. I'm having to hand feed the baby that isn't gaining weight, as he lost again overnight when left with only one feed. This means he's being fed every two hours around the clock. I'm finding it very hard, and so is Tia who wails piteously every time I take him away for topping up. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up, but I know I'll go as long as I can. I just hope and pray that he doesn't have some hidden health defect that's preventing him from gaining. Keep praying, folks. I don't know when I'll write again. My priority for the next little while is these kittens, and next to that, I need sleep for myself whenever I manage to snatch some. I'll write every time I feel up to it, and will try and keep mom Trish up to date with what's going on with the little fading baby. Boy do I hope that what I'm doing is enough.

Thank you to all of you who stopped by and left comments, not just in these last few days, but over the last week as well. I'm sorry if I haven't commented back. I've tried with every one of you, but either you have word verification which i can't get past, or Blogger won't accept the comments for some reason. I'll keep trying whenever I have the energy. Know that I read every one of you though. thank you for being so supportive!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Are they really mine?

Friends, it's me back again, and boy am I tired. These babies really do take it out of you.

I can't tell you much about how they were born. I know, I know, I promised I'd remember and tell you, but the strange thing is, I can't. one minute the human was sitting talking to me on the floor. I wouldn't let her move a muscle. Every time she got up to try and organise things, I cried and cried for her till she had to sit back down with me again. Labour is scary. I knew I should be pushing, but I couldn't do it. I knew that something was wrong, but I couldn't tell anyone. I was terrified.

The human called the nice vet lady people who I don't like so much any more. She came to see me, and she had to check that I was dilating. Friends, do you know how they do that? They have to feel around inside your looloo! That's the polite term for it. The human tells me that's the word her family uses (they're weird) so that little kids won't come right out and talk about rude things in public.

Anyway, when the vet did this, I screamed my head off cuz I wasn't dilated and I can tell you something, it hurt. If it hadn't been the human's gentle, reassuring hands on my face, I'd have bit, but it's a mark of how far I've come that I only opened my mouth and screamed. When the human first got me, I'd have pulled no punches. Well, I wasn't dilated, and I was leaking out of my looloo too, and so they thought it best that I had something called a C Section. I don't know what this is, but when the vet lady people put me in a PTU and took me away, I was terrified! I was going with her, and my human wasn't coming! I can't tell you how scared that made me, but the vet lady people kept telling me it would be over quick and I'd be first on the list and wouldn't have to wait. First on what list?

When we got to the vet place, she took me into a room, out of the PTU and then... Well, then nothing. Blank. No memory. I came to a little later in a cage, and there were these three tiny little squeaking things beside me. I sniffed them. Smelled strange so I ignored them. I hurt. My yummy tummy was all sore, and even worse than that, they shaved all of my floof off! I was bald!

To cover the shame of that, I sat up so that only my floofy bits were on show. I started to clean the vet smell off of me, and then I felt something very, very strange. A small tugging was going on in my lower belly region, and you know, it felt uncomfortable and right all at the same time. I felt like I should lie down, so I did, but I don't know why. The tugging increased, and so did the squeaking from the moving things. Then a second gentle pulling started. In spite of myself, I felt my body relaxing. I looked down, and there were two of the little wrigglers, and they had their mouths around my nimples! That was what the tugging sensation was. I was too groggy to complain, so I just let them get on with it and wished that my human would come back and get me. I missed her so, so much.

She did eventually come back, and she took me home with her, but the white wrigglers came too. I wasn't too sure about this. They were kinda like mousies, and I know how upset my human was the last time there was a mousie in the house and I wouldn't kill it. I didn't want to kill these. I sorta liked them in a vague kind of way.

I was very gently placed in a soft bed when I got home. I was too tired to give thanks propperly, but I can do it now. Mom Trish sent the big, deep trays that my huan had lined with vetbed for me. Thank you, mom Trish! I watched in some fascination as the human very gently placed the wrigglers in with me, and made sure they were up against my yummy tummy. Strange. If they were mousies, she'd not have allowed them to get loose. But there seemed little danger of them running away. They didn't seem to be able to move propperly, and they all scrabbled at my yummy tummy as though searching for something.

"Those are your babies ,Tia," the human said some while later as she climbed into the pen with me where my bed was. She spent a lot of time cuddling my head, then fiddling around by my tummy. When she did, the tugging started again, and the squeaking stopped. She gave me a little mouse to cuddle under my chin, but I didn't know what to do with it, and anyway, it went wriggling back towards my tummy. I was just content to be home with the human.

Every time the little mousies squeaked, I felt an overwhelming urge to protect them. The only way I could think of to hide them was to lie on them, but this upset the human for some reason. She spent a lot of time soothing me, reassuring me that nobody wanted to take the little mousies away, and that I could keep them all to myself. Lots of times that day she reassured me, talked to me, cuddled me and told me that the tugging was ok and I needed to accept it. Eventually I felt calm enough to go to sleep with my head in the human's hand.

The human took us all to bed with her last night. She has another littler pen in there that she put us all into. I wasn't too bothered. I just wanted to sleep, but something about the mousies bothered me. I nudged one of them away from my yummy tummy and sniffed. It smelled like me now, and I didn't mind it as much . I gave it a friendly lick and it shrieked. I almost did too . I hadn't meant to hurt it! I stopped straight away, but when it stopped too, I decided to try again. The same thing happened, but now I knew I had to lick it all over. Maybe if I got rid of the last of the vet smell, the human would forget that the mousies came from the vets and I could keep them.

I washed all of my mousies all over from head to toe, but I didn't like it when yucky stuff came out of their back ends. I had to lick that all up cuz although it didn't smell like the vet, it didn't smell like me neither. I only washed them once, cuz I didn't want to have to do the cleaning chore again.

When the human looked in the pen this morning, she found me and three clean mousies. As she helped the biggest one to find a nimple to suck on, she told me again, "These are your babies, Tia". But I knew they weren't. My babies were stil inside me. I hadn't pushed them out. Still, if she was Ok with me adopting the mousies, then I was willing to give it a go.

For the next few hours, I pondered this strange phenomenon, but the more I looked at the mousies, the more I listened to them squeak, the more I wasn't sure. They sounded like kittens. now that they were clean, they even smelled like kittens. And there was the other fact that I couldn't feel my own kicking me any more. Could it be?

Friends, I'm still very confused about this all, but the human keeps telling me that yes, it could be, and in fact it is. She never lies to me, so I guess I'll have to believe her. She says the vet lady people cut a hole in my yummy tummy and took the babies out that way cuz I couldn't do it myself. Seems a bit weird to me though. I mean, they come out the same way they go in, or that's what my mummycat told me. But again I say that my human doesn't lie to me.

I have decided that they must be my babies, and I will adopt them and feed them. I have oodles of milk, but despite the fact that I have eight nimples, they all fight. If one is having a drink, the other two come and muscle in on them cuz they want some too. It's stupid cuz I have more than enough for three of them to have more than two each! But they all want the same one! The human says that she told you through Mom Trish that the girl mousie, ah, excuse me, kitten, was in a sack with pus in. Well, she's surviving superbly well and is gaining lotsa weight. She gained one and a half times normal daily weight yesterday, and is still vigorous today! The middle boy has gained loads too, but now your prayers are needed for the fattest mousie. he isn't gaining weight cuz he lets the others push him off the nimple too easily. He's a gentle little thing who seems to like snuggling and loving more than fighting, but he will need to fight if he's to survive. The human's friend expressed some of my milk for him yesterday so that he would get all my immunity, and she tube fed him this morning. The human will syringe him tonight with some extra milk if she feels that he hasn't gained again, but all day she's been fighting his battles, attaching him to a nimple and then keeping the others away for ten or fifteen minutes at a time so that he has a chance to get some mummy's milk instead of powdered stuff. We'll have to wait and see if it's enough though.

He got very cold today as well, so had to become what Mom Trish calls a booby baby. He got to cuddle down the human's top so that he could steal her heat and get warm enough to feed again. She says that they won't feed when they're cold, so it's really important. However, she's worried that all the handling is reducing my already fragile bond with the babies. I've been out of the nest three times today. Perhaps she's paranoid, cuz I usually go a few minutes after the babies start crying, but she says I'm either very relaxed and trusting, or not attached enough, as that is not normal behaviour. I do have a lot of cleaning to do though. I'm leaking icky stuff out my back end, and whenever I try to clean it in the pen, the babies scream at me cuz the milk bar has moved. I can't be dealing with it all the time. I have to have me time as well as baby time.

So, are there any of you that wouldn't mind babysitting for a bit? I could really do with the rest!

Now, I really must go off to the litter tray while these squealers are all asleep. Excuse me...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

We have Kittens!


Katnip Lounge Mommy here...

Tia has had her kittens!

Two whopping big boys (over 100 grams each) and a petite little girl (78 grams).
As you can see by the incision, Tia had a little trouble with her delivery...she was ready to go but the babies weren't coming, and then she started to have some creamy pus-type discharge; so off to the vet she went for a quick C-section!

Tia is home now, resting comfortably, and learning all about how to be a proper Mummy.  The kittens are nursing, and Tia is eating for England...she ate a whole day's worth of food in ONE meal! 
The only worry is the little girl kitten was in the sac that was filled with pus; so the hope is she didn't aspirate any into her lungs during the surgery.

Tia's Human is overjoyed to have Tia and her babes home, safe and sound.  I bet she ends up sleeping in the kitten pen with all of them tonight!  When I spoke with her on the phone I heard the tots wailing in the background for the milk bar, and they all have mighty sets of lungs, heh heh.

Please purr that Tia heals up quickly and that all the kittens stay healthy.
There are more pix to come later, when each one gets weighed...
Stay tuned!!

xx  Trish

Sunday, 26 June 2011

No Babies yet...


I got a quick note from Tia's Human:

Temperature has dropped another 02 degrees. She's maintained it below 100 for the last 9 hours or so, so it really shouldn't be that long now. They say 12/24 hours is the length of time it normally takes, so fingers crossed and we'll have babies tonight or tomorrow... I feel like I've been saying that for a long time now!

Keep your paws crossed for kittens soon!

xx  Katnip Lounge Mommy  xx

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Tummy Full of Kittens!


It's the Katnip Lounge Mommy here, and I have exciting news!

Do you see this great big Tia tummy?

It is soon to get smaller!

Yes, Tia's Human has reported to me that Tia had dropped her mucus plug and will be starting labor shortly...fingers crossed!

Tia:  I'm gonna be a Mommy, what a relief!

Stay tuned...I'll update as I get news from the maternity ward!

Cross your paws for a safe delivery for our first time Mama Cat.

xx  Trish

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Birth

So the day has arrived and kittens are due. But what should you be looking out for? How will you know when the queen has begun serious labour, and what should you do when she has?

As mentioned yesterday, the queen will drop her mucous plug when she is ready to birth. This announces the first stage of labour, and she could remain in this state for 12-24 hours. Not much happens visibly, but her cervix will be dilating in readiness to pass the kittens. She will most likely be over affectionate, either that or ignore everyone completely. They tend to extremes in this period, and it's often one of the first warning signs an owner has if they fail to notice the plug.

Second stage labour is also known as active labour, and for a very good reason, for it is now that the queen begins contractions, and will start to actively push to birth the kittens. It is now that she should be encouraged to enter and stay in the birthing box. Some cats wish to be left alone while others have been known to follow their chosen human from room to room, often with a kitten half born, hanging from them. The cat's wishes should be respected at this time, but rather than leave her, sit back and watch as help may be needed if problems arise.

Experienced queens can produce kittens as quickly as five minutes after contractions begin, but for a maiden, a first-timer, it commonly takes much longer. However, no cat should be allowed to actively push for any time greater than an hour without the production of a kitten. If this happens, a vet visit is in order.

About 40% of kittens are born tail and back legs first. In humans this would be grounds for a C section, but in cats, it's regarded as normal. As birthing begins in earnest, allow the cat to do as much as she can before stepping in. Kittens will be born in a sack, the consistency of which is like very thick egg membrane, you know, the stuff you get right next to the shell? Normally, the mother will begin to lick the kitten's face as soon as it is born, but if she does not do this, human intervension is necessary very quickly. The kitten inside is being deprived of oxygen and will need help to breathe. The sack should be broken with fingers around the baby's nose and mouth. Then the kitten needs to be rubbed vigorously with one of those facecloths we spoke of yesterday. In times gone by, it was suggested to swing the kitten gently to remove fluid from the lungs, but research has shown that this can lead to brain damage. It is now recommended to hold the kitten with its head lower than its body, and stimulate with rubbing in order to encourage the breath.

Each kitten will be born still attached to its placenta. The mother will pass this shortly after the kitten is born. She should chew the umbilical chord herself, but if not, this should be cut about 1 inch from the kitten's body after it has turned blue and blood has stopped flowing. This is normally about three minutes after birth. It is normal, and should even be encouraged, for the mother to eat her placentas. It provides a good source of nutrition for her. As disgusting as you may find it, it is the right thing for her to do. Placentas must be counted, and there should be one per kitten. If she retains one, she will need to visit the vet fairly urgently. Retained placentas rot and cause major, sometimes life-threatening infection. An injection of oxytosin will encourage the placenta to be passed.

If the cat has a large litter, she may tire in between kittens. It is permissible for her to sleep, sometimes for hours at a time between kittens, but only if she does not have any active contractions at the time.

Kittens should only be separated from mum if she is restless, upset or frightened and is in danger of standing on them. Where possible, they should be left with her. A kitten's whole drive once it has been born is to suckle, and when they do this, it stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytosin. Not only does this bring in the milk but it strengthens uterine contractions which means that the rest of the kittens will follow more quickly and easily. Mum will normally be more content with her babies with her, and the kittens will feel secure. They will also be able to maintain their body temperature by using mum's heat to stay warm.

Expect the cat not to use the litter tray for a day or two, and only to leave the nest to eat and drink. In the wild, it is paramount that she avoids detection by predators. Her babies are defenseless and easy pickings. Instinct tells her that the smell of her wee or poo might draw a predator to her, so she will hold them in for as long as possible. It is not a good idea to place the litter tray too close-by until this period has ended as it will potentially stress her to have her smell so strongly in the nest. That being said, some cats take security from this. Again, it's a case of whatever works.

As soon as kittens are born, weigh them, then record this weight in a chart. It is important to monitor the weight gain over the next few weeks, as this will tell you if a particular kitten needs topping up with KMR. If you are forced to hand feed a litter, it will be an exhausting process. Kittens need fed every two hours, and while that doesn't sound like much, weeks of broken sleep are terrible on the body.

Kittens can be handled from day one. Contrary to common misconception, the mother will not reject them simply because they smell of humans. Remember, she knows those humans and their smells, and realises that they pose no threat. Outsiders should not be permitted to handle the newborns as the unfamiliar scent can upset the mother. However, the earlier they are picked up and cuddled by family members, the quicker they will socialise and come to enjoy the contact. Initially, a kitten will scream and cry for its mother as it thinks the human is a predator. Because of this, they should only be handled for short periods. As time progresses, however, they will come to realise that you don't want to eat them for a mid morning snack, and will begin to appreciate that good things happen once you pick them up. Be respectful of the mother. If she comes running as soon as the baby squeaks, handle him near or in the pen so that she can see he is unharmed whilst being able to remain with the rest of the litter for comfort. If you are across the other side of the room and the little one is screaming, when she leaves the litter, they will call for her. This leads to a mum being pulled in two directions, and it will make her take the kitten from you to return it to the nest. This means shorter handling time for you and less socialisation for the kitten. When I handle young kittens, I do so almost under the mother's nose. Many of them will give a comforting lick to the shrieking baby to reassure him that he is not for supper, and while it rarely quiets them, it does indicate that she is happy with the handling.

So, kittens are born and with mum. The hard bit is now over... The harder bit has only just begun. That's all for my week of education, but I hope you've enjoyed what you have read, and perhaps even learned a thing or two. If this helps even one unsure fosterer, breeder, or unfortunate recipient of an oops litter, then I've done my job. I wanted you to see what is happening with Tia at the moment, and what will be happening here when I am unable to write during the birth. I really hope it's given you a window into the workings of a breeding household. Kittening is no simple business! Now all that remains to do is to wait, and it's that which I find the hardest. Will you all wait with me? It'd be nice to have the company!

Tia is due on Monday evening if she carries exactly to term. however, it is not uncommon for cats to birth at 63 days. if so, that's tomorrow! I'll let you know as soon as anything happens!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Preparing for Kittens

Pregnancy can be a very exciting time, but it also brings with it a whole bundle of nerves, especially if you are a first timer. There are many preparations to be made and relatively little time to make them in. Arrangements range from very elaborate to almost too simple, but they do share commonalities.

The first thing to do as the end of the pregnancy approaches is to identify a quiet place for the cat to have her kittens, then change your mind once you've found the perfect spot, settling instead for the most inconvenient or awkward to get to place in the house, as no doubt, the queen will choose here. To be fair, many of them will settle where you've decided, especially with a little coaxing.

At the very least, a cardboard box should be placed in the spot that cat and owner have compromised on. This is normally sufficient for an oops litter, but if a person is breeding, it is more common to place a kittening box or pen here instead. This structure contains mum and babies securely and also serves to keep other cats out of the nesting place, something which mum is normally grateful for. Line the box with soft towels, but allow mum to arrange these to her own liking, i.e, try not to neaten them once she's pulled them around with her nesting.

Cats prefer dark, cave-like areas to birth in. In the wild, they seek out thick clumps of bushes or similar accommodation. To simulate this, cover the pen. Mine is draped in a sheet, then covered with towels with only the front left unobstructed. This enables an anxious mum to feel secure whilst in the nest, but to keep an eye on her bonded human which settles her anxiety.

Whether you're using a pen or a box, it's important to ensure that mum has a way out but the kittens do not. Babies crawl erratically with no clear idea of where they are going, and if they travel too far, they will not manage to find their way back to mum. A kitten cannot regulate its own body temperature for the first few weeks. In the first days it is blind and deaf. It finds mum by smell and through the vibrations of her purr, so if it travels too far, it has little chance of making it back. Not only will it grow hungry, but it is also at risk of fatal chilling. The tops of kittening pens can be left open to allow mum to jump in and out. Boxes can have openings cut in them high enough that kittens will not crawl over the top. If given free access, the queen can continue to interact with other members of the household, but be aware that this will permit other cats entry. If the queen is very stressed by this, it is often better to close the pen and give her solitude.

Providing a secure area is not enough however. As the birth approaches, certain equipment should be bought, gathered and stored in a kittening bag to have ready to hand when labour begins. Some people only store the bear minimum; towels, scissors and that's about it. I would not kitten with such a small kit, but many do, and some are successful. However, I will list what I carry and tell you what each thing is for.

  • human incontinence pads: These are far better than towels, as they actively soak up the mess produced during labour. These are layered in the birthing box. As kittens are born, soiled layers are peeled away to allow mum and babies always to lie on a clean area.
  • Small box: This is used if kittens need to be separated from the mother. It contains them safely.
  • Heating pad:A hot water bottle also works, but ensure it is no hotter than body temperature. Remember that kittens cannot maintain their body temperature. This is to keep them warm if separated from the mother during birthing.
  • Rough facecloths: These are for stimulating limp or lifeless babies. Rough ones are good for rubbing, as they simulate the action of a mother's tongue. They can mean the difference between life and death.
  • KMR, syringes and soft teats: KMR stands for kitten milk replacer. Syringes and teats are used along with KMR if the mother's milk fails to come in, or if she rejects her kittens and refuses to feed them. Hand rearing is very difficult and has a high mortality rate for kittens, so should only be a consideration if all attempts to encourage the mother to suckle them have failed.
  • Scales: These must weigh in 1g intervals, and are used to keep track of kittens. Babies should be weighed at the same time every day for the sake of consistency, as weights vary dramatically. A kitten should gain between 7-10 grams a day and should have just about doubled its birth weight in the first week of life. More weight gain is good, but less will mean that the kitten needs topping up (supplemental feeding with KMR) to keep him on track.
  • Iodine: This is to dab the end of the umbilical chords once they have been cut. It prevents any infection.
  • Sterile scissors. They are used to cut the chord, although it is better to do this with fingernails. A more ragged end leads to quicker healing.
  • Baby sterilizing tablets: These are used to keep syringes and teats clean. Kittens should be treated as though they were babies when it comes to infection control, as they are just as prone to illness.
  • Nutri drops: A high glucose, high calory liquid. Nutri drops can be given to a struggling mother or a very week kitten. They provide the burst of energy need to push out another baby or to latch on for that all important suckle.
  • Various homeopathic remedies: Secale and Caulophyllum to increase contractions in the case of a queen who is having difficulties with labour. Pulsatilla to keep contractions coming at regular intervals. Urtica to bring in the milk if she produces nothing. Carbo Veg to revive blue or still-born kittens. Arnica to ease the bruising experienced during labour.
  • Baby wipes: For cleaning up mum once she's done. This is not necessary, but she is usually so tired by that point that she will appreciate the help.

As you can see, it's quite an extensive kit, but as you can also see, a lot of it is quite necessary if you wish to ensure a safe delivery for mum and babies.

Next, you need to speak to other members of the household about the birth itself. Select who will attend carefully. Now is not the time to invite friends, family and neighbors round to watch, as this will stress the labouring mum. Limit this to those who live in the house, and/or a mentor, and experienced person who has agreed to come and help you with the first birth. This source of knowledge can be invaluable, as problems may arise that only they know the solution to. A mentor should be sought as soon as pregnancy is confirmed.

Be aware that still births are quite common during kittening. Think carefully about whether you wish children to see this. Watching the miracle of new life being born is an incredible experience, but to watch it die, sometimes in your very hands, is one to break the heart of even the toughest person. It may be too much for a child to deal with emotionally. It may also be difficult for a small child to remain quiet and calm throughout labour, as it can take quite a long time to complete.

Watch the mother for signs that her time is approaching. In the week leading up to the birth, she will begin nesting behavior; pawing at carpet, seeking dark, quiet places to rest. She will also self-groom much more. In the last few days, her belly will drop and kitten movement will lessen. They are tightly packed at this stage, and there is little room for acrobatics. As her body lines them up in readiness for the birth, that space becomes even more limited.

About 12-24 hours before the birth, the mother's temperature will also drop from 102 to below 100 degrees. This is a sure sign that birth is imminent. You may also notice a small plug of mucous on her fur or on your floor. This is quite normal. It is the vaginal plug, and signifies the first stage of labour has begun.

Tomorrow I will talk about the birth itself; how to know when second stage labour is beginning, what to do when it does, when to call the vet and what to do once kittens are born.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

How to know if a cat is pregnant

Before we move on to the next post, I'll give you the answer to yesterday's question as promised.

Tia, a seal tortie point, carries dilute and chocolate. The dad, a cream point, does not carry chocolate. This means that all dominant coloured kittens, red, seal or tortie, will carry dilute. All kittens will also be colourpoint. Any of the kittens could carry chocolate, but only a DNA test will tell us which ones, as none of them will show the colouring.
Girls: red, cream, seal tortie, blue-cream tortie.
Boys: Seal, blue, red, cream.

Now that that's out of the way, on to pregnancy.

The question that I see over and over again on forums, websites and groups is this. "What are the signs that a cat is pregnant?" There are certain signs which, when you know what you are looking for, are unmistakable at confirming a cat's pregnancy. Let's start with the mating.

When a cat is in season, she is said to be calling. Anyone who has lived with a calling cat will know why the name is so apt, for they do indeed call, usually very loudly and incessantly. The call varies in length from cat to cat, but normally lasts between five and seven days. A cat will become unusually vocal, will roll around on the floor and often become much more affectionate. One of the very obvious signs of calling comes when she lies on her stomach on the floor, tucks her back feet under her and lifts her rear into the air. Touch her lower back and her tail will move to one side and her back feet will tread in place. This is her way of presenting herself to the male, and any red blooded tom will not ignore such a blatant invitation. I don't need to explain what happens next, right? Most owners don't know that their cat has mated for sure or when they've done it. If the girl is an outdoor puss, the owner may have no idea that mating has happened until pregnancy is well established. If an indoor cat escapes while in call, they will have more of a rough idea, but timings will still not be specific. That's why other signs are essential to confirm a cat's pregnancy.

One of the earliest signs anyone will notice is what breeders term as pinking up. This normally happens at about three weeks gestation. If the cat's nipples are examined, they will often be slightly enlarged, and a nice, rosy pink colour. It's very noticeable when they do pink up, but a few cats never show this sign, and others don't exhibit it until much later in the pregnancy. First time mothers, or maiden queens, will normally pink spectacularly.

At four weeks of gestation, an experienced vet will be able to feel the babies when they palpate the queen's stomach. They are about the size of walnuts now, and easier to count than later in the pregnancy when they are more squashed together.

The fifth week sees the queen begin to eat more food and gain weight. She should be fed a high quality complete diet, preferably wet and preferably kitten food as this has extra nutrition added to it that her growing babies will need. If the cat will not eat wet, then don't worry too much, but it is the first choice if tolerated. She may also experience morning sickness during the 3-5 week period. This is very normal.

At seven weeks, there can be no doubt. The cat is fat and kitten movement can now be felt. There is an easy way to tell the difference in a fat cat and one who is pregnant, as a pregnant tummy bulges out to the sides rather like saddlebags, whereas an over-weight cat's tummy will simply hang down. The queen will have a huge appetite to cope with the demand of the growing babies, but will probably go off her food in week eight due to the over-crowding of her abdomen. If any cat exhibits these signs, then they are definitely pregnant.

Average cat gestation lasts for 65 days, but birth can happen anywhere from day 63 to day 70. This is quite a large window bearing in mind the relatively short pregnancy time, but it is proposed that the time period is so great due to most owners not being aware of the mating date of the cat. Vets have a hard time setting an accurate date based on the pregnant cat's condition, so this somewhat alters averages and allows for much more variation.

Vets have a number of tools which can be used to diagnose pregnancy. The first, and least stressful for the cat, is that already mentioned; palpation. Using their hands, the vet feels the cat's stomach, searching for an enlarged uterus and the small uterine swellings which indicate kittens. However, unless a vet is very experienced, there's a chance they may mis-diagnose. Some cats have been thought to be pregnant when they are simply constipated. Others show no sign of uterine swelling only to produce a large litter a few weeks later. This test should be used as evidence in the case for or against pregnancy rather than the definitive answer.

Vets can also perform an ultrasound exam. This will definitely confirm pregnancy if the cat carries kittens, but it does not allow accurate fetal aging or counting of a litter size. This is because babies are aged by looking at their crown rump length. They are curled up in the stomach, making this very difficult to measure. Babies also curl around internal organs, hide behind one another and generally try to avoid detection, so although pregnancy is confirmed, ultrasound will most likely predict a much smaller litter size than is present. It requires shaving the cat's abdomen which many do not like.

If the pregnancy is more advanced, a vet may choose to x-ray the mother cat in order to accurately predict litter size, and more closely estimate the age of the babies and the date birthing will take place. However, this is not normally a routinely used diagnosing method. For one thing, calcification of the bones, the stage necessary for babies' bones to show up on the film, doesn't happen until much, much later in the pregnancy, by which point it is clear without an x-ray that the cat is in fact pregnant. For another, x-rays do pose a risk to the unborn babies, one which is normally not worth taking. it is used mostly when a queen has had difficulties in the past, or if a breeder absolutely must know the size of the litter to expect.

X-ray allows more accurate fetal aging as it defines the crown rump bone structure very clearly. As this is on a physical film, it can be measured with a tape measure, and the size will correspond to a certain gestational period. In this way, the birthing time can be more closely predicted. The size of the litter can be seen by counting skull bones on the film.

There is one last test which can be used. This is a hormone test, and requires some of the cat's blood to run. however, very few labs perform the test, mainly because it is not normally demanded. It is used in early pregnancy to confirm that the queen carries kittens.

Most people would never dream of using ultrasound, x-ray or hormone tests, and often, the palpation combined with physical signs that the cat exhibits are enough to accurately predict the presence or absence of a pregnancy. However, if a cat has escaped and mated, and kittens were not planned, it is worthwhile considering having her spayed. Pregnancy carries enormous risks which can claim the life of a mother and some or all of the babies. Treatment for illness or birth problems can be very expensive. Even raising healthy, problem-free kittens is a very costly business. When considering whether to allow the cat to have kittens, one must also come to terms with the harsh reality that you might exchange your girl's life for the new ones.

If the father of the kittens is not known, the queen and/or the kittens may have contracted numerous diseases. FIV and feline leukemia are very real possibilities, and queens should be tested for these as soon as possible. If the father is known and vaccinated, this is less of a risk.

In short, breeding is not for the faint-hearted, and should be something very carefully considered before embarked upon. If the breeding of kittens does not contribute something to the breed in question, then it would be much better to spay the girl and enjoy her as a much loved pet. However, if she can better the breed somehow, then kittens should be enjoyed and cherished as much as possible.

Tomorrow I'll talk about preparing for the arrival of kittens. What sort of area will the cat need to give birth in? What equipment will you need? Will you have to help? What if things go wrong and how will you actually know they're going wrong? Until then.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Genetics: Part 2

Colour prediction

Ok, now to colour prediction at last. There are two ways to do this. The first is to look at a cat’s pattern and work through it until you reduce the genes to the dominant red or black (remember, every pattern is made from these colours). This is called de-construction. The second way is to take the cat and begin with black or red, adding the modifier genes until you come up with the existing pattern. This is often what we breeders have to do to work out the possibilities for colour and pattern from specific matings. I will give you examples of each and talk you through how to do them. I’ll start with de-construction, as it’s probably a bit easier. I’ll concentrate on tabbies, colourpoints and bicolours as these are easier to get to grips with.


  • 1. A blue tabby. First of all, remove the tabby gene. This leaves you with a blue cat. Then remove the dilute to leave black.

  • 2. A cream and white bicolour. Remove the bicolour to leave a cream, then remove the dilute to leave red.

  • 3. A blue tortie colourpoint. Remove the colourpoint to leave a blue-cream tortie. Remove the dilute to leave tortie.

  • 4. A white. Remove white to get… Anything is possible. Remember, white masks any colour or pattern combination.

  • 5. A lilac tabby colourpoint. Remove the tabby to leave a lilac colourpoint. Remove the colourpoint to leave a lilac. Remove the chocolate to get blue. Remove blue to get black.


  • 1. A cream tabby. Add dilute to red to get cream. Add tabby to cream to get cream tabby.

  • 2. A blue and white bicolour. Begin with black. Add dilute to get blue, then bicolour to get a blue and white bicolour.

  • 3. A blue-cream tabby colourpoint. Begin with tortie, red and black. Add dilute to get blue-cream. Add tabby to get a blue-cream tabby. Add colourpoint to get a blue-cream tabby point (also called a blue tortie tabby point).

  • 4. White. Start with black or red, and add anything you like. As long as you finish with adding white, the cat will appear white, no matter its genetic colouring or patterning.

  • 5. A red chocolate colourpoint. (Remember, chocolate only modifies the black gene. This cat would actually be seen as a red colourpoint). Start with red. Add chocolate to get red chocolate (this will appear to the eye as still a red cat). Then add colourpoint to get a red choc colourpoint. Note: The cats would be classed by registering bodies as red colourpoints despite carrying two copies of the chocolate gene.

Notice that in the last examples, I have avoided black colourpoints. This is because, when a cat is pointed, the black gene is called by a different name. It is called a seal. It is the same gene and behaves the same way, but is just known as a different name.

The challenge

As a breeder or owner of a pregnant cat, you will need to be able to generate colour/pattern possibilities based on the pattern and colour of the mother and father. To this end, I am going to leave you with the colours and patterns involved in Tia’s mating. I’d love to see if you can come up with the colours of kittens she might produce. Do remember though that torties or blue-creams are usually only female. Also remember that a tortie mother can pass on either black or red to her offspring, while the father can only pass on one colour.

Tia is a seal tortie colourpoint carrying dilute and chocolate. Remember, seal means black. So in simple terms, she is a tortie colourpoint carrying dilute and chocolate. The father is a cream colourpoint who does not carry chocolate. So, what colour kittens will she produce? For the really enterprising among you, I’d like to know whether they will carry chocolate/dilute as well. I’ll tell you the answer in tomorrow’s post. For those of you that read regularly, you may already have seen it!

To help you, I will outline the mating combinations of Tia’s parents.

Mother: blue tortie tabby carrying colourpoint.

Father: chocolate colourpoint.


Mother: remove tabby to leave blue tortie, and dilute to leave tortie.

Father: Remove colourpoint to leave chocolate, and chocolate to leave black.


All kittens will carry dilute, as the mother has two copies and the dad has none.

Therefore, blues, creams or blue-creams are not an option, because no kitten will get two copies of the dilute gene.

All kittens will carry colourpoint as the dad has two copies. Colourpoint kittens are a possibility if the mother passes on her single copy to offspring.

If the mother carries two tabby genes, all offspring will be tabby. I know Tia’s mother did not, which means tabby is a possibility as she only carries one copy of this dominant gene.

Girl kittens: black, black tabby, seal colourpoint, seal tabby colourpoint, tortie, tortie tabby, seal tortie colourpoint, seal tortie tabby colourpoint.

Boys: black, black tabby, seal colourpoint, seal tabby colourpoint, red, red tabby, red colourpoint, red tabby colourpoint.

Note that boys are not torties, and that boys can be solid red where girls cannot. This is because the father always passes a black gene. Girls, because of their x chromosomes can express both black and red at the same time, but for the boys, it is the mother who has the final say on colour, hence the ability for her red to be expressed. This is because it is the mother who passes on the X chromosome and the father the Y. Remember that the colour genes are on the leg of the chromosome missing from the y.

I hope this has been helpful, and sorry it’s been so long and confusing!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Genetics: Part 1

The human here. As Tia mentioned yesterday, all this week, I’ve been allowed to post on her blog to address some things that I hope will help others if they ever find themselves in a position where they have a mum cat to look out for. I really hope this week’s posts help even one person.

So, your cat is pregnant. One of the most common questions people ask is what colour the kittens will be. This all comes down to genetics, and they are complex enough that I’m going to split them into two posts. I’ll start with the basics today.

What is a gene?

In its simplest form, a gene is a part of your DNA. It is a chain of different molecules which code for the production of a protein in the body. These proteins and coding strands are responsible for many things from hair colour to height, skin tone and even weight to some extent (no, that can’t be used as a valid reason to go eat chocolate!). In short, genes are the things that make you look the way you do, and often, have the health problems that you experience. They are passed to you from your mother and your father. In this post, I’ll be looking at genes specifically linked to coat colour and pattern, as these are the best understood so far in the cat world.

How do we get genes?

At the point of fertilization, a sperm from the father and an egg from the mother join. Each of these cells carries genetic, DNA information which binds together when the cells join. DNA, and therefore genes, are housed on things called chromosomes. Most are x-shaped, one half being formed from the mother’s DNA and the other from the father’s. Genes therefore have a pair partner on the opposite strand of the chromosome. However, whereas a female possesses all X shaped chromosomes, a male has one in each cell that is a Y shape. It is missing a leg. This means that genes on the opposite corresponding leg have no pair partner. Cat coat colour genes exist on this chromosome, which explains why girls only are torties. Boys can only express one colour at a time due to not having a pair partner in the DNA for the colour gene. Those male torties that do exist are sterile. This is because they not only have an x-y chromosome as normal males do, but they have an XXY set-up, meaning they have an extra, unwanted chromosome. This has the added effect of making them sterile.

Dominant and Recessive/dilute

Genes come in two types. These are called dominant and recessive. Dominant genes do what their name suggests; they dominate. Just one dominant gene will mean that a cat exhibits the trait linked to that gene. Recessives cannot manifest alone. There needs to be two recessives in order for the physical trait to be noticed. To understand genes, you need to remember that they always come in pairs, one from the mother and one from the father. When it comes to coat colour, the recessive gene commonly seen is called a dilute gene. This is because it dilutes the true colour of the coat to form something else.

A person can be said to be a carrier of a recessive, but not a dominant. Why? Because carriers possess the gene, but do not show the physical trait. Remember, if a person, or a cat, has a dominant gene, they will show that trait even if they only have one dominant. So, if they have a dominant, they cannot carry the gene because they show the trait. The same is true if they possess two recessives. However, if they have only one recessive, then they will possess the gene but not the trait, so can be called a carrier. This will be important when we come on to predicting colour possibilities in cats.

Speaking of cats, let’s get to colour. Believe it or not, there are only two true colours in cats. Despite the profusion of different coloured coats and combinations out there, they all come from only two colours. Those are black and red. Every coat colour’s genetics can be traced back to either black or red. But how? That’s what I’m going to try and explain. And that’s when it gets complicated.

Dilutes, the recessives remember, are very important in coat colour in cats, as they allow deviation from the blacks and reds. Black and red are dominant, but the dilutes, even though they are recessive, are able to work in tandem with this dominant to alter it. If a cat has the dominant gene for black, but also possesses two dilute genes, then instead of black, their coat will turn blue. Likewise, if another cat has the dominant for red, two dilutes will work with the red gene to produce a cream coat.

But you’ve seen cats that show black and red together, haven’t you? Or cats who show blue and cream? Well, that’s very common. These cats are called torties and blue torties/blue-creams. Most of them are female, but a very small percentage can be male. However, because colour genes are sex linked, any tortie male is sterile and can never reproduce. Females exhibit black and red or the dilute forms of them due to having two x chromosomes. So although the two are dominant, they can both exist in harmony given their position on chromosomes. If a boy had two x chromosomes, he could do the same thing.

So, by the logic we’ve already explored, you couldn’t have a cat with red and cream in its coat. Why? Because it takes two dilute genes to make cream, and if you have two dilutes, they cancel out the red. Similarly, you couldn’t have a cat with black and blue. The same is true when you look at red and blue or cream and black. I hope you understand why. Remember, two recessives/dilutes code for cream and blue, so when they’re there, they cancel out the red and black. Blue-cream exists together because both are dilute colours. Red and black exist together because both are dominant colours.


Just to complicate things further, there’s another way that colours can vary. Well, there’s more than one, but let’s keep it simple. Chocolate is rare, and is an alteration of the black dominant gene.

Ok, I lied when I said we’d keep it simple, because chocolate isn’t. It’s the interaction between a dominant and a recessive which can also be altered by a dilute. Confused? I was for a long time. Basically, chocolate is a recessive gene. That means, as with the dilute, that two copies of chocolate must exist before the cat can have a chocolate colour visible on its coat. One copy alone makes the cat a chocolate carrier. However, here’s where things get extra tricky. Chocolate, although it is a recessive which will modify only the black dominant gene, can itself be modified by that old friend, the dilute. If a cat has two copies of chocolate and two dilutes, then it makes lilac. Obviously, if a cat only has one dilute then chocolate still wins. If it has only one chocolate, then the dilute will act on the dominant coat colour, red or black.

Ready for more complication? Chocolate cannot impact or modify the red gene, so if you have a red boy or girl, they can have two copies of the chocolate gene and not show it. They can also have two copies of the dilute and still not show chocolate or lilac, although in this case, the base colour of the coat would be cream, not red (remember, red plus two dilutes =cream).


Although this isn’t exactly a colour, it is almost like a trump card, for if copies of a white gene exist, they mask all other colours. So even if a cat possesses the genetic make-up to be a tortie, it will still appear white due to the masking properties of this gene. Even if only one copy exists, the cat will still be white. This is the ace of spades when it comes to colours!

So, to recap

Black and red are dominant, so only one copy is necessary to see a physical trait presented.

Dilute is recessive. If only one copy exists, a cat is a dilute carrier. If two copies exist, black cats become blues, red cats become creams, and tortie cats become blue-creams.

Chocolate is a recessive gene which only modifies the black dominant. Any reds with two copies of the chocolate gene will remain red but are called red chocolates. Two copies of the gene on a black cat will make it a chocolate. One copy will make any cat a chocolate carrier.

The dilute modifies chocolate, if two copies exist, to become lilac.

White is the trump gene, masking all other colours. Any cat with even one copy of the white gene will appear as all white. Any cat with two copies of the gene will consistently produce offspring who are all white.

Ok, now that we have that sorted, we do, don’t we? It’s time to move on to patterns.



  • Colourpoint is a recessive gene, so two copies are necessary for a cat to be pointed.

  • Tabby is a dominant, so only one copy is necessary for tabby to become the pattern.

  • Bicolour is also dominant. When one copy of the gene is present, a black cat becomes a black and white bicolour, a red cat a red and white bicolour, and a tortie a calico. Remember that with the influence of the dilute, you can also get blue and white bicolours and cream and white. If a cat has two copies of the gene, it will be mostly white and will be called a van.

  • Shaded/smoke/shell: This too is dominant. One copy alone makes a black cat a black smoke, a red cat a red smoke and a tortie a tortie smoke. The smoke gene varies in its expression though, producing something called variable penetrance. This basically deals with the length of the hair shaft that the colour extends to. Smokes have a hair shaft that is mostly coloured, but with a white undercoat. When the colour extends 50% down the shaft, the cat is a shaded rather than a smoke. Some cats have colour just on the tips of the shaft, and these are called shells.

  • There is one final pattern, silver/golden, but it is quite a complex one to explain given that it is a combination of three genes working together. If any of you wish to know more, please write me privately and I’ll direct you to an informative article to read.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sleepy Sunday

Friends, as my pregnancy progresses, I find myself wanting to sleep more and more. The only problem is that I can't! Why? Cuz my babies have been injected with wiggly worms that make them keep moving all the time. One baby has gotten itself into a real comfy position next to my ribs, and when it kicks, it plays football with the bottom one. This is guaranteed to make me get up from a comfy position and roll around or walk a little to try and ease the discomfort and settle the baby so that I can go back to sleeping. I'm spending a lot of time on my back now. I find that this alters the position of the wrigglers inside me and gives me a few moments of kick free peace. It doesn't last long though. All those babies weigh a lot, and that weight presses on my organs when I'm that way up. That isn't too comfy either, so I have to keep rolling.

I'd gone off my food a little in the last few days too. This isn't uncommon for a mummycat with a yummy tummy stuffed full of babies. There simply isn't room in there for a big meal. however, the human knows that everything I eat is going to my babies. Even though I have a belly the size of a small whale, she can still easily feel my backbone and pelvis, so she knows it's very important for me to keep eating. She got out the really special treats, the ones I'd do anything for, and she's been crumbling them on the top of my stinky goodness. They're freeze-dried chicken and they crumble to powder which makes the food smell and taste so good that I can't ignore it. Those babies just have to move over and make room, cuz it's not staying in the bowl! So much for not eating...

My safe place has now been augmented by an upside down cardboard box with a hole cut in the front for me to go in and out. It's great in there, very dark and private and cosy. She's set one up in the bedroom for me too after she caught me trying to nest under the bed, but I haven't bothered with that one yet. I prefer to spend most of my time hanging out on the towel she's put on top of the kittening pen. It's comfy up there, and I can watch the world go by whilst guarding my safe place. She says she'd rather I nested, but she's not worried. On the pen or in it. Either's good enough for her until babies come along.

My belly gets bigger by the day, and even the human can easily feel baby movement now. The little footballer even managed to kick her in the stomach the other day when we were cuddling. She found this highly amusing. My ribs did not.

There's almost only seven days to go now, and I fear I may have passed my last peaceful weekend for a long, long time to come. The human's having silly nightmares about the litter, that something will go wrong when I'm delivering. I'm not worried though. What will be will be. Dogman came this week and took some pictures of the yummy tummy, so as soon as he emails them to the human, I'll get her to put them up here.

For the rest of this week, I've asked her to put up some educational posts. We're going to look at genetics, how to prepare for the arrival of kittens, how to help your cat during birthing, and how to care for mum and babies once they have been born. The genetics alone is massive, so will probably take up two posts, but we hope it will be helpful for some peoples who find themselves with a pregnant cat. I'll pop in from time to time to give you updates if anything happens, but this last week is likely to be long and tedious and very uncomfortable. Thank cod it's not stupidly hot here too, that's all I can say!

I have to go to see our nice vet people tomorrow. She's going to cut my nails and probably have a feel of the yummy tummy, as she's excited too about babycats. She'll then show my human how to take my temperature, and that I'm not looking forward to. It's important to take in the last week though. When birth is close, it will drop within 12 hours. The human's breeder friend is coming down to help us if we need it, so that gives the human an indication of when to call her to come. It's a loss of dignity for me though, and i intend to put up a tremendous fight whenever I see that thermometer thingy coming! She may be able to placate me with lotsa treats though... Who says I'm not shallow!

Anyway, friends, I hope you enjoy the week of education. Think of me as I grow fatter, eh? Soon, very soon, there'll be lots of little me's running around. I can't wait!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Kittens and weddings and plane birds, oh my!

At last, friends, it's time to update you all propperly! My human says this post is gonna be hard to write, cuz my safe place is in the way and it's disrupting the signal of her wireless keyboard to the computer box. I'll tell you all about it, shall I?

My safe place is a kittening pen. It's mesh on all sides so that I can see out when I want to. It's nice and big and made of wood framing. The bottom is a solid floor lined in a soft plastic lino. It's cushioned, so I could lie on it without any bedding if I needed to. Of course I'd never need to cuz my human has made it all soft in there, but babies crawl, and they sleep where they fall when they're tired, so it keeps it nice and comfy for them. She's put some huge fluffy towels in there for me cuz next to her fleecey sweatshirt and dressing gown, she knows these are my favourite things to lie on. She's gone one better though.

She got a massive quilt cover which she draped over the top and sides of the pen. Then she got another of those big towels and put it over the top of the cover. Now, not only is it comfortable to lie on top of the pen as well as inside, but inside is all dark and cave-like for me so that I feel safe. I think it'd be a good place to hide my babies away. She's left the front and a little of the sides uncovered so I can still see out. The door at the front is open so I can come and go easily, and the top is also open. Most of this is covered, but there's a small square where I can jump in and out. She's put my scratchy post with the platform near this so I can jump on there and then into the pen. She says this is what I'll have to do when I have babycats, as if she leaves the door open, they're likely to crawl out and get lost. What do you think? Do you think babycats would be safe here, or should I carry on trying to nest behind the TV where I know she doesn't want me? It would almost be worth doing it just for this!

So, my human's trip to Alaska. Where to start? She said she would update you herself, but in typical human style, she didn't. She says it was hard and slow to access the blog with her little tiny man in a box, the one she calls Laptop. I say that's still no reason not to post.

The plane bird ate her just as I said it would, and just like I told you, it spat her out in Seattle, forcing her to beg another one to take her the last bit to Alaska. I told you she had lots in her suitcase that would make him not want to take her the whole way, and I wasn't joking! She did get there eventually though. my human doesn't like being eaten for a long time by plane birds, so she was mighty glad to get there. She was also super glad to see Bug and his family.

She didn't do tons while she was there, but she didn't mind either. She says that the time to relax sat well with her. Bug's mummypeople cooked her super good dinners though, and she got to try lots of strange foods that peoples in this country don't have like Corn dogs and quessadillas (think that's how you write it) and lots of different sweeties (they call it candy). She got to eat cheese curds again too which she loves so much that she had to go back again and again for more of them.

She says they also went back to the gold mine that she had visited last time she was there. She found a lot of gold in the dirt, and Bug, Bug's step-sister and her little girlkitten gave my human all the gold they found too! She told them she's saving a little every time she goes there, and eventually she'll have it made into a small piece of jewelery. Speaking of jewelery, she bought a bit while she was there. It's a beautiful gold nugget that has been put on a chain, and she loves it very, very much.

They did something even more exciting than that though. They went to a real, real big pet shop! And you know what she bought for me? She bought kitten milk just in case my babies needed feeding up a little, in case I don't have enough milk for them, but that's not the cool part. She also bought Da Bird. the real Da Bird! I like it a lot. This one I can really wrassle with when I catch it and it still doesn't break. I nearly exhausted myself totally when I tried to catch it when she brought it out for me after she got home. I love, love, love that thing!

The human also spent time with Bug's family. His mummypeople is such a good cook, and his step-dad is lotsa fun too. His step-sister came over a lot and brought her two kittens, a boy and a girl. The girl is older, but the boy is way cuter. He sang her lots and lots of songs and even taught her the tickle song which him and his mummypeople made up. That meant that he got to tickle the human while singing it, but she did it right back to him too! She recorded him singing so that she could remember it even when he grows up. She's been singing it to me, but I keep telling her that the yummy tummy is not for tickling, cuz the babies go crazy when she does. I also tell her that the right to give kissies is not, in fact, a right, but an earned privilage. I think all the kissies the little boykitten gave her when he was tickling her turned her soft. This she of course ignores as she plants kissies on the babies.

My human can now feel the babies kicking a lot. There's one that we both think is a tortie like me, cuz that one kicks the most and the hardest. The human is sure she felt all four feet going at one point this morning. I'm more than sure, cuz it was kicking at my poor ribs!

I'm quite uncomfortable today. The babies are kicking hard and I can't rest for long. I think it's about time they came out of me, but the human says I have to keep them for another 11 days to let them grow a little more. Well, aren't they big enough already? The human now thinks I might possibly have more than three, cuz I'm so big. Even though I am not even eight weeks pregnant yet, I am already bigger than Phoebe, and she had five! She's not sure though, as she can only feel three distinct movement patterns in my yummy tummy, and I'm not telling how many I'm growing inside me. I did tell you I'd work hard on growing a big yummy tummy for the human while she was away though, and I've certainly done that!

It took her a massive 38 hours to travel from Alaska to Ireland, and this time it took four plane birds to get her all the way home. She says she never wants to travel that long again. She was so tired when she finally got there that she was doing stupid things like bursting into tears for no reason. She was even like that at the wedding the next day.

The wedding went so well. The bride was gorgeous, and the groom, her cousin, was the most handsome groom ever! My human does admit to being somewhat biased though. He's her cousin after all. He is deaf, and had brought a lot of his deaf friends along. He and his new wife hired an interpretor to stand at the front and sign so that they all could hear the talk noise that the peoples were making. My human thought that was a very nice touch. Glen also spoke all of his own speeches rather than signing them, something which is very hard for him to do. He doesn't speak very well and he knows it. Talking is a great effort for him and also an embarrassment cuz he worries what peoples will think of his funny noises. But he stood in front of everyone and told his wife how much he loved her. It would be fair to say my human had such a bad case of leaky eyes that she used up all the tissues in the place. That cousin is the closest to her in so many ways. They were born only two months apart, and they are the only two cousins who both share a disability. Sure there are many more in their family, but they were the only two in that generation. They looked out for each other growing up, she speaking for him when he couldn't, he taking her places that she couldn't go on accounta her broken eyes. She's so glad that he's happy now with his new wife. They go off to Sri Lanca for their honeymoon tomorrow.

So that's it for my human's trip. She really enjoyed it, but she loved getting home to me too. As much as I'll most likely live to regret this statement, I'm enjoying having her back, and I'm glad she won't be going away for a long time!

oh speaking of babies, even though we weren't, phoebe and her new family are doing well, although the mummypeople thinks she may have a temperature today. The human has advised taking her to the vet, but I don't know whether they will or not. Mom Trish, don't worry. We definitely won't we seeing the same vet! For one thing, we choose better, and for another, she livs in Ireland and I am in England. Thank goodness! I'm so glad that a lot of you found the post educational. I'll remember everything about when my babycats are born so that I can tell you all that too! I'll also do a few genetics posts this week and one on the things in my human's kittening bag if you like. Would you all like to see that?

My human says thank you to everyone who hoped she'd feel better today. She is, in fact, feeling a little more like herself. She says the pain killers are now working, but I say it's all thanks to the attentive nursing I've been doing. Cat spit works wonders!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Phoebe's Family

Friends, I'm afraid our update today will be short and sweet. My human has been very, very sick with a sore tummy, has taken way more pain killers than she normally does, and is too tired from throwing up with the pain and blissed with the meds to write much for me. I'm sorry about that, and I promise I'll get to more interesting things tomorrow or late rin the week!

The only reason I could get her to write at all was cuz I shouted and shouted till she thought I might be going into early labour (Isn't she paranoid? I think I'll start calling her Marvin. Eternal smoochies to any of you who get the reference!). I wasn't, but I wanted to make her think it, cuz then she thought about Phoebe from yesterday and her babycats. That, as I had hoped, made her remember that she'd promised you an update.

In total, Phoebe now has five babycats, one white with cream paws, face and tail, two black with a white paw, one that looks like a tiger, and another that's a little tortie, or so says the mummypeople. They had to take her in to see the vet peoples who are shockingly ignorant when it comes to birthing. Phoebe wasn't passing enough chord to let the mummypeople cut it easily, and instead of giving her oxytosin straight away, the vet lady people advised the mummypeople to pull gently on the chord to ease out the placenta. Well, you don't do that ever, as she found out, as when you do, it tears the mummycat. Hardly surprising when you figure that the placenta is still attached to the wall of the uterus and will let go only when the mum makes an effort and goes with her contractions. Phoebe wasn't. Thankfully, the mummypeople was pulling real gently and as soon as she saw the first drops of blood she stopped, but that could have been real, real bad. The fourth baby was still attached when Phoebe pushed out a fifth, and it was then that she got took to the vet.

They cut the chord on the fifth one, but she didn't pass the placenta. Again, they showed their ignorance by telling the mummypeople that Oxytosin, although it would make her pass the placenta, would be painful for her, and the increased contractions would kill any remaining kittens. Well duh, stupid vet people, how do you think kittens get born in the first place? It ain't by relaxing! Instead, they opted for a course of preventative antibiotics to make sure that she couldn't get sick if she didn''t pass the placenta. If it was me they'd done that to, the human would be filled with dread. She tried to explain this to the mummypeople, but by that point it was too late and the antibiotics had been given.

So Phoebe is at home with her babies. Me and the human will wait to see how things develop. Three babies remained attached to mum with no slack in the chord, and the first born actually got tangled in its chord and mum did nothing to help. The second born was the only one in this litter who won't be at signifficant risk of abdominal hernea due to pulling on the chord.

Why do I tell you all these things, negative as they are? For a lot of reasons actuallly. Phoebe, at nine months old, was too young to be a mum, and made no effort to clean, de-bag or chew the chords on kittens. She didn't have the reserves necessary to complete a delivery due to being too skinny in my opinion (they didn't know they had to feed her higher quality food, and more of it, while she was pregnant). Four out of five kittens may have life threatening health issues in the near future. The mum may also face the same risk through infection. Lack of preparedness and being informed led to the lives of five cats being put unnecessarily at risk, and to the addition of five mostly unwanted kittens into the already over-crowded kitten world. The family now find themselves having to look after a large litter, a sick mum and pay all the expenses, and they're not rich. I tell you these things to illustrate how important it is to have your cat spayed or neutered if you're not breeding to a specific end or for a certain purpose. It's so, so important. I'm also telling you this cuz I know the human needs to rant, specially cuz it's her family who are being so unforgiveably stupid. She loves them, but she thinks they're idiots today!

That's all we have for now. I'll update you as soon as the human makes the talk noise on the phone thing with her auntie, the mummypeople, and I know more about how the new little family are doing today. Thanks for listening to our rant, and sorry there wasn't more interesting stuff to read!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Friends, my state of abandonment and dreadful neglect has finished! My human is back!

She arrived home yesterday morning to find me in a terrible state. I tell you, I was so, so upset and missing her so much that I was on my back in the middle of the floor with my paws in the air considering giving a full stretch to show off the yummy tummy in all its glory. Dogman was tickling me, so i thought it only polite. I was so upset, so mistreated that when the human walked through the door, I didn't even get up to greet her straight away. I barely had the energy to turn my head to look at her through sleepy eyes. Do you see the abuse I have to put up with? Animal Rights organisations would be horrified!

This lasted for all of about ten seconds though, all until she spoke. I'd been resolute until then. I'd decided to ignore her until she begged me to relent, to make her pay for daring to go away when she did, even though she said she'd gone then so that I could have her with me in the last part of my pregnancy and right up until the babies were born and had left home.

But friends, when she spoke, my resolution disappeared as fast as tuna juice on a hot day when you really, really need a drink. She sat down and I walked to the side of the sofa and started to shout at her. I couldn't contain myself. I shouted and talked and brrped and told her everything that I'd done while I was without her. All this while standing at her feet. She asked me to come up and see her, and I obliged. Oh what bliss followed! I've said before that my human is a good cuddler, but I'll say it again. I smooshed my face on her. I climbed on her. I cuddled right in, then rolled over so that her hands could touch all over my big, baby-filled tummy. She loved it and so did I. We were otgether again.

I didn't leave her for a whole half an hour, but when I did, I decided that I had to get a grip on myself again. With a nonchalance that I pretended, but certainly didn't feel, I turned my back on her, walked to the food bowl, ate enough to choke a horse, then went and sprawled on the floor. This too lasted about ten seconds, cuz she got down there with me, and I just had to roll around on my back and purr and headbut her and generally love on her.

She didn't leave me all yesterday sept when Stupid Dogface came to visit with Dogman's mummypeople. The human and Dogman left me then to go outside and talk to her an dDogface. Dogface had just been to the vet, so the human didn't want her in the house in case she was carrying something with her. As soon as my human stepped outside and closed that door, as soon as I couldn't see her any more, I set up a tremendous yowling. No way was I going to be separated from my girl that soon! It was so bad that even the mummypeople commented on it. In the end, the human opened the door and let me come out a little with them all, but I was still separated from Dogface. Why? Well, I'll tell you why. Cuz we have something new!

While the human was away, Dogman and I and his friend were busy! His friend is a builder, and Dogman is a super designer. I am an excelent project manager, and between the three of us, we cooked up something super! I knew the human had been wanting this for a long time and so did Dogman, so while she was away, we ook our chance and built... A screen door! It's super! It's got two layers. The inner one protects against flies and is strong enough to withstand climbing cats and kittens. The outer one is a thinner mesh which prevents midges and mosquitos, but that can't be ripped by us when we climb. The whole thing is on a strong timber frame. It is held shut with a normal handle lock. If that fails, two strong magnets help hold it in place. If they give way, a chain lock will let the door open only so far before it will not go any further. The only thing that could escape is a very tiny kitten, but only after the first two defences have been broken, so basically, they have no chance. It's super for me too, cuz now I can go and sit outside without feeling frightened. You se,e when I'm behind a door, I feel secure, and can watch the birdies with no fear! Isn't that marvellous? All day today, I've been bounding off the human to run and have a look at them when I hear one chattering.

And here, the post will be cut very abruptly short. Phoebe has gone into labour and the human needs to go and help her peoples help her. As we speak she has had four babycats. She has cut the chord on none of them. The mummypeople had to do the first three. The third one was so close that the chord was cut a little too short and bled. Thankfully though, the peoples managed to stop this. When she gave birth to the third, she did nothing for it. She didn't break the sack and it was cold and wasn't moving which is why they cut the chord. That baby is now full of life, but the fourth is still attached to Phoebe. It's so close that they can't cut the chord without injuring the baby, but this one is moving around a little, so isn't in immediate danger. However, it's been half an hour and Phoebe hasn't pushed out the chord or the afterbirth. Babies, when they remain attached for a long time, run the risk of herneas if they move around too much and pul on the chord. Phoebe is getting tired and sleepy and isn't pushing any more, so the human has asked the mummypeople to call for the vet and take them in. I'll write more as soon as I know anything. Please pray hard, friends. Phoebe is only a baby herslef, so it's little wonder that she doesn't know what to do with babycats. They're all gonna need some help to pull through this. Let's hope the vet peoples can sort it all out. Sorry if there are typos in this, but the human won't re-read as she's still talking to the mummypeople to reassure her.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Disable to help the Disabled

are responsible for the grapics for today and for putting it together. We'd also like to thank ML and KC for putting this up on the CB!
Friends, the human is back! She arrived back this morning, and I'm very pleased to see her. However, I'm not going to say any more about that today. Why? Cuz today is a very special day that both me and the human would like to draw attention to. It's called Disable for the Disabled.

When someone sets up a new blog, Blogger's default option means that, in order to comment, you need to enter a word verification. As we've said before, this makes it very difficult for me and the human on accounta the fact that she has broken eyes, can't read the word, and can't use the audio as it never works. Others have different disabilities that prevent them from commenting too. Some have physical discomfort which means they can't sit at a computer for too long, and if they want to read everything everyone has to say, they just don't have the extra time it takes to comment when word verification is an issue. So it's not just the broken eyed peoples and cats that this affects.

Today, we'd like to ask you to disable this option if you feel comfortable with doing it. You may well get more comments on your blog because of it! If you tell us in the comments that you have, then we promise to stop by and comment. We're very much looking forward to getting the chance to talk to you all!

Ann, Maggie and Zoe of the

Please, friends, think about disabling if for no other reason than the irony of the thing! By disabling, you're actually enabling!