Sunday, May 30, 2010

Time Flies... the Tiny Babies Explore their World

Born on 24 April, the weeks have flown by so quickly that I did not realise the new Kittens actually were annoyed by the restraints under which they lived. My greatest concern had been Beauty, who appeared weakened by the constant demands that her children made upon her. I therefore plied her with Cat Milk and KMR... and fed it to the smallest of the kittens as well.

When all the Kittens howled angrily at me whenever I entered their universe, I thought it was hunger that motivated them. Little did I realise that they ALL were ready for big changes.

I removed the box that had been their nest a few days ago, after a struggle with Beauty... she kept taking ONE kitten out of the box and stashing it in the tiny cat carrier that had been her second nest for them. It is interesting to realise now that the kitten she chose was the largest one, not the smallest. In fact, she was trying to acknowledge his need for independence rather than attempting to find another nest.

At the point when I removed the box, I was feeding the smallest kittens a couple of times each day with a feeding syringe. After all the kittens showed signs of interest in the Cat Milk, I began to try to teach them to drink from a bowl. Some were quicker to grasp the system than others. A couple of them continued to try to bite the edge of the bowl, vainly attempting to find a nipple where none existed and becoming quite cross when none materialised.

I had placed another large box behind the scratching post some time ago. Ash liked it and tended to crawl into it when the antics of the Puttikins proved too much for him. I did not realise that the tiny kittens were using it as a secret lavatory until yesterday. I cleaned it out and placed fresh cardboard on the bottom of it last night. This morning, however, Mish-Mish, one of the Puttikins, SAT in it. Utterly insane and quite disgusting. I immediately demolished THAT box and seeing that the tiny kittens had some notion of the purpose of a litter box, filled the small litter box and placed it there instead.

As all the Cat Milk was gone, I had to make an emergency run for supplies. I decided to buy Kitten Chow as well. About half of the kittens immediately began to eat it. No grace nor elegance, but what a fabulous accomplishment! Unfortunately, as I had predicted, the Puttikins went for it as well. It reminds me of older children who decide that THEY want a bottle when a younger sibling arrives on the scene. Actually, I have found Adoro more than once ensconced between two of his tiny siblings, happily nursing... I had to scold him firmly as Beauty certainly does not have milk nor strength to spare for a five month old kitten!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tiny Version of Beauty


It may be a Boy, but he is a perfect tiny version of his mother, Beauty. The two Girls resemble Ashleigh's grandmother, I believe. In fact, when I brought Ash and Beauty home, I left behind a Blue Cream Persian who was Ash's sister, I think. I have their pedigree papers somewhere.

Genetics is fascinating. With the same set of parents, the Puttikins all were either Flame Points or Marmalade with no Blue Creams, but now, in this litter, there are two Blue Cream females. Males dominate in both litters. In fact, despite my most fervent wish, Adoro is male and not the female I once thought him to be.

Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I heard the most desperate piercing wails for help from a tiny kitten. When I investigated, I discovered that Beauty FINALLY had decided to use the large box I had introduced into the nursery for her Kittens but which she had disdained for over a week. The first to go into it was the largest white male. I daresay he had escaped again from his blanket and prompted Beauty to make the move. He was the ONLY kitten in the box, which is why he was howling with loneliness and terror. I imagine she would have moved the others, but scooping them up into my arms and dumping them all into the box was the work of a moment. Beauty looked at me then as though to say, 'Well done. I knew you would do it for me if I waited...'

A brief period of spirited verbal exchanges followed. The tiny babies scrabbled about in the box, while Beauty arranged herself for their convenience and, within five minutes or so, they all were nursing happily and rather loudly.

What never ceases to amuse me but sometimes frustrates me as well, even though it really is NONE of my business, is the way two kittens will fight over the same nipple. Cats have EIGHT, don't they? And yet, over and over, two kittens will bat wildly at one another, often protesting vocally as well, determined to win one specific spot, rather than moving a little to find a free nipple. It is the two largest kittens, both of whom resemble the Puttikins and will be Flamepoints, I daresay, who jockey for position on a daily basis. The 'runt' of the litter is one of the Grey Blue Persians. She is very docile, even timid, and I find her asleep sometimes when the others are exploring their environment on their stubby little legs. I study them daily to make certain they all are eating and even she eats properly, but she still lags behind the others a little. I suppose I shouldn't worry too much. Little Mish-Mish (formerly Pumpkin) was like that once upon a time, and now he is one of the most adventurous of the Putti.

I am trying not to fall in love with this lot, as becoming so attached to all four of the Puttikins proved to be a fatal error of judgement. When Beauty delivered the two Blue Creams, I thought I would not be susceptible to them as I tend to gravitate towards cats and other creatures with symmetrical markings, although I had a Calico cat once whom I adored. I then told myself there was no need to fear the two whites as I had THREE Flamepoints in the Puttikins. That leaves the little flame male, who is far brighter and more distinctly marked than Mish Mish. It's all nonsense, of course. I'll love every one of them and want to keep every one of them but be required somehow to cut the apronstrings. It's much more difficult for me to do than it is for their REAL mother.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Honesty of Animals


(Photograph of the culprit, Adoro, originally nicknamed 'Dora the Explorer' when we thought he/she was a girl. He is much too pretty to be anything but a girl, but his gender is somewhat fixed by some little extras that appeared only recently below his tail. He still doesn't display as much evidence of masculinity in that respect as his brothers. And we WANTED a girl so badly... perhaps that was part of the problem. Anyway, Adoro is my little hermaphrodite, my Attis. And yes, his favourite place is a washbasin!)

Animals are so much more honest and unconstrained by appearance. A cat will lift her leg to clean her private parts with consummate grace and a fine lack of concern with social niceties.

The Puttikins are 5 months old now. Beauty rejected ALL of them in a very firm manner when she knew she was pregnant again. No more nursing for them! Like most children, they were almost too eager to grow up until the option to remain children was taken from them.

I think Beauty chose the tiny cat carrier as nursery for her new litter partly in order to keep the Puttikins away.

Last night, I found all her little kittens in a row nursing happily with BIG Adoro at the end of the row! When I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck to remove him, I did so with a little pang of empathy for the poor little boy. The problem is that Beauty is too weak to support HIS needs at this point in time. The idyll is ended for him and for his siblings.

Yet, that age-old desire lives within all of us, I suspect, however we choose to ignore it or sublimate it or transfer it to some act that is more 'socially acceptable'. Every Cat I ever had would revert to childhood nursing instincts at times. The Puttikins are fascinated with the buttons on one cardigan I have and go at them with enthusiasm. I know they are pretending they are nursing again. Even Beauty, two-time Mother, has moments when she wishes to curl up next to her mother and be a kitten again. As her mother is not here, she makes do with me, nudging me to try to find a way into the interior of a jacket or cardigan. She will leap onto my back and then knead the back of my neck, where the hair is thick, questing for something that does not exist.

I keep finding the largest white kitten halfway across the floor of the room. He somehow has the energy to climb over the barricade I erected in the form of a thick blanket and then to continue, slowly but methodically to an unknown destination. Only a fortnight old... where does he think he is going and what does he intend to do once he arrives? I think at this age, although their eyes are open, their vision remains poor. Yet, he is another explorer, like Adoro.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tiny Kitten goes Walkabout

The five kittens are a fortnight old now. They were more heard than seen, in opposition to the old Victorian adage as to a child's proper behaviour in the home. Recently, they had developed a wide range of vocal responses and cries and Beauty always would respond...

One Kitten in particular, the largest white one, is extremely vocal. In fact, more than once, I fancied him to be in terrible pain or danger because of the piercing, desperate quality of his cries. In fact, he simply was vocalising his need for his Mum's milk... and possibly his increasing boredom.

All five kittens were nesting in a small cat carrier which satisfied Beauty as she wanted to have total privacy. This morning, I found the large white kitten outside the little carrier, not simply next to it but on the other side of the room!

He obviously had crawled all the way across the bare floor, either on a little adventure or in search of Beauty. All the Puttikins were watching him with fascination. Beauty was ignoring him, oddly enough.

Well, I felt that was an indication that the carrier no longer served any purpose. Their eyes had opened and they now wished to see the world a little. Moreover, I wished to be able to see THEM.

I therefore moved the lot of them onto a soft blanket in a secluded corner. I then created a little wall or barricade with a heavy quilt to keep them from leaving the blanket completely.

Whether or not this will serve is questionable. So far, I have found Beauty with one baby in a couple of very cramped spaces, having abandoned the rest of the litter at least temporarily.

No space, no peace and no quiet... It has to be extremely frustrating for her.

As a litter, this second litter is very different in appearance to the Puttikins. The Puttikins consist of three Flamepoint Himalayans and one Marmalade or Tawny Persian. This litter probably will have two Flamepoints and one Flame Persian who will resemble Beauty, but the other two kittens will be Blue Cream Persians. It is amazing how the same parents can produce such a variety of children.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beauty's Hidden Treasures

With Beauty's four kittens stashed in a very small cat carrier, I do not have the ability to interact with them as I did with the Puttikins. Beauty is desperately jealous of her privacy, probably because of the incredible energy of her older children, and the best I can do without distressing her is to catch a stolen glimpse of the tiny babies from time to time.

Beauty still is very content to keep them in the small cat carrier I 'remodeled' for her. I have offered her larger areas, among them a very spacious box with comfortable bedding, but she continues to keep the little babies in the carrier.

Here is a photograph of them as they appear now, a fortnight old. I am dying to clean their little faces, but dare not interfere. Beauty kept the Puttikins immaculate, but she had more space...

The most magical part of this is to eavesdrop on her conversations with her babies. She speaks to them in so many different ways and they all respond, each with a different little voice.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

One Week Old

When Beauty had her first litter, I was very excited by the magic of it all. On 24 April, she had her second litter. Although I cannot help but love all cats and kittens, I was a little upset that she had become pregnant so quickly after the first litter.

It is a very different situation for her as well, with her first offspring racing about like juvenile delinquents. There is very little privacy. I could see that she was extremely uncomfortable but in a fairly limited amount of space, I had to be very inventive.

She had the first kitten near dawn, after I had fallen asleep. When I went into the room to feed the cats their breakfast, they behaved oddly. Usually they purr wildly when they see me, and focus on the food in my hands.

On 24 April, they were a bit distracted... I did not understand this until I heard a very high-pitched little cry. Beauty was out and about so I had to search a bit before I found the baby. She had stashed it in the back of a little carpeted 'cave' that I bought for the kittens. The tiny baby was in there with Adoro. Evidently, it seemed like the safest, most concealed spot as far as Beauty was concerned.

I tried to set up a large box but the Putti were too fascinated with that and transformed it instantly into a playpen. I finally took out an old carrier that had a steel barred door. I took the carrier to pieces, removing the metal door, then fastened it together again without the door.

As small and cramped as it appeared to be for Beauty, she is content there for the time being. She could not deliver her litter in that cramped space, but she nurses her five kittens there and they are safe from the wild romps of their older siblings.

Even though they have the same mother and father, two members of the new litter are completely different in appearance. There are two Blue-Cream Persians, one Flame kitten quite like Beauty herself and two colourpoints who resemble the Puttikins. I have had little opportunity to look at them properly as Beauty still is very protective of them.