Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Anticipation

This has been a very difficult Autumn for me, and one that has been fraught with anxiety. With very little money and almost no mobility, I almost despair of being able to organise a proper Yuletide celebration.

Beauty's delivery of four healthy kittens on 2 December was the best Advent gift in the world. Now, each day, I look forward to the next little sign of progress in the lives of the kittens. It generates almost as much anticipation as the thought of opening the next little window on the Advent Calendars we had as children.

Nine days old now, the largest kitten's eyes may open in the next day or two. Another sign is a new tendency to roam a little when they are not nursing. Their movements would not be described as 'roaming' by any frame of reference other than that of a week-old kitten, I daresay, but for a tiny blind creature who has been in the world for only a week to strike out and explore his environment a few inches from his mother's warm belly IS courageous.

Beauty tends to them scrupulously. They are spotless, warm and their little bellies are rounded and plump. She still have an incredible appetite herself but never loses sight of their needs for a moment.

Any one who spared a glance for the photographs on this site probably would think them all alike, and not be able to see any significant change between the appearance of the newborns on 2 December and their appearance a week later.

To me, though, it is fascinating to note how their little heads have changed in shape, becoming less elongated while their fur becomes ever thicker and their legs fatter. Their future markings begin to show a little now.

The biggest chance, however, is the one that has occurred where Beauty herself is concerned. She had no hesitations in assuming the role of Mother but now, a week later, she is beginning to relax a little rather than convincing herself that the kittens need to be nursed constantly. She will throw herself down next to them and go to sleep now, which is something she would not have done a week ago. Dear Beauty, I really do think she is one of the best mothers I have known, and I am relieved to see her rest once in a while!

Meanwhile, Ashleigh finally has taken his courage in all paws to leap tentatively into the Kitten Bed Beauty abandoned two days ago as too small to contain her and her babies any longer. He now arranges himself rather disconsolately in the deep box, peering over the edge at the Kittens and his consort, once his constant companion and playmate, now completely absorbed in her new role. I do hear him playing with his toys, though, in the middle of the night, so he has not become clinically depressed... but he remains utterly bewildered and insecure in the face of the new invasion of tiny Ashleighs and the one little baby who looks like Beauty.

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