1 August 2002

What a way to wake up! At 6 am there was a terrible howling from the kitten room - something awful was happening to one of Ellie's babies. The Tonkinese (who were sleeping all over me) leapt off the bed and rushed out of the door with me in hot pursuit, trying to struggle into a dressing-gown so as not to scandalise my new lodger (who moved in last night). When I got to the kitten-room door the howling was appalling: Dudley and Ellis were tearing about the room like lunatics and Ellie was on the bench-seat unable to decide where to turn. It took me several seconds to work out where the terrible noise was coming from as it was so loud it seemed to be everywhere. Finally I found my little Katy: I have an oil-filled electric radiator in the kitten room in case the normal house heating isn't enough. This is pushed up to the bench seat at right angles. Katy had somehow slid down and got her neck caught between the radiator and the side of the seat and the weight of her body was pulling her lower and making it tighter - she was slowly being strangled, though she was making plenty of noise about it. I pulled her out immediately only to get a smack from Ellie for my trouble (I think she was so relieved she just wanted me to give her her baby). Katy was FINE and immediately went back to running about the room with her tail fluffed up. The boys were less fine and it took some coaxing to persuade Ellis to come out from behind the sink. (Here's Katy)

Having kittens is like having small toddlers in the house - you think everything is safe and then someone will turn some perfectly innocent piece of furniture into a death-trap. A couple of days ago a friend found that one of her kittens had crawled up the outlet hose from her tumble-drier into the inside of the machine. She only knew he was there because the mother was trying desperately to get him out by crooning up the hose! That could have been a really nasty disaster, and she's thanking the cat gods that she found him in time. I'm also thanking the cat gods that I was in the house when this happened, as if she'd been left for half an hour I don't think she would have survived. I sat beside her for an hour after this to make sure that her throat didn't swell and asphixyate her, but there were no after-effects to see. They will all be going to the vet for their first vaccinations this afternoon, so I will ask the vet check her over just in case. Here she is beside the scene of the crime (the heater is pulled out now!).

2 August 2002
There is a
movie for today
 Vaccinations went without a hitch yesterday (and Katy's neck was fine!). However the vet can hear a very slight heart murmur with Dudley. He expects this to disappear by the time of his booster jab, and I gather this is not uncommon in young animals. At any rate there's no outward sign that Dudley feels any different from the others - I don't think he'd be aware of it - and the chances are it will clear up before he's ready to go.

One of Libby's babies isn't doing so well. The smallest kittens were nos. 5-7, but yesterday morning no.3 had lost 4 gms instead of gaining about 7-10 like the others. He also seems hotter than the other kittens all the time, and is not so energetic about complaining if I pick him up. I watched him all yesterday and made sure he was eating (seemingly no problem there), but his weight went down rather than up, though he did get back up to his morning weight at mid-afernoon. However by the evening he was so dehydrated that I took him in to the vet for sub-cutaneous fluids. The vet agreed that he was very dry, and even when she put fluids under his skin, the skin didn't close up properly as it should, so some of the fluids came back out. This morning he hadn't lost any more weight, but he hadn't gained either, and was again extremely dehydrated. I am giving him rehydration fluid by mouth which is helping a bit, and he has also been given a tiny shot of antibiotic which should cover him in case he has a temperature. I wondered about slight pneumonia in case I had got fluid in his lungs, but his lungs and heart are clear. We don't really know what's going on, so all I can do is support him and treat his symptoms and hope he sorts himself out given time. At least he is feeding. Here is Libby's Rogue's gallery, as her babies are now 2 weeks old.

3 August 2002
 The little one who wasn't doing so well has picked up superbly following his antibiotic and is now thriving again - even putting on twice the weight of the other kittens to make up for his temporary setback. When I commented to my vet that I couldn't understand why this kitten had apparently got ill with no real cause, he said he wasn't surprised at all, as it was Siamese. He also said that he thought it was a miracle I still have nine babies. I told him that the reason I'm breeding old-style (apart from preferring the look of them) is that they're supposed to be far less difficult to breed than the more showy types, and I don't believe that Siamese are more sickly than other breeds. I know he was just winding me up, but I find I'm very sensitive about this litter as I'm determined that all nine should make it now that they've got this far. The next big hurdle is the 3-week mark, when any kitten with a heart problem will fade as it will outgrow the heart. I don't see any signs of this but it can happen very unexpectedly so I'm not relaxing yet.

Ellie's children have changed quite a lot since I moved them to the kitten room upstairs - they are suddenly much more affectionate and have just started to seek out humans rather than just putting up with them. Today Katy kept demanding that I pick her up and cuddle her, and then purring like mad. It was really nice to feel appreciated. I had a picture of them today, but it was so fuzzy for some reason that I had to throw it out, so here's another of Libby's instead.

4 August 2002
There are two movies for today - see below
Quite an eventful day - lots of visitors for the babies, and then in the evening I took Scuttle (the kitten's dad) to his new home in Hitchin, Herts. There are four human adults there, another stud in a pen further up the garden, and an aviary full of birds to amuse him, plus the occasional visitor in a cattery pen opposite for him to look at. There's also a lot more general coming and going than there is here so his main problems, loneliness and boredom, should not be a problem any more. He is also destined to have a neutered companion, so he will have someone to cuddle up with when he sleeps. His new stud quarters are extremely luxurious, with all the nicest things he could imagine. He sprayed up the wall to say he wanted to keep it, even though it's so brand spanking new that no other cat has ever been near it! I stayed for about 2 hours, and he seemed extremely happy. This afternoon (before leaving) a friend took two movies of Scuttle the great pansy getting cuddles from his mummy. I couldn't decide which one to use, so have loaded them both!

arm-tickling movie
big softie movie
I think Ellie's kittens are getting more responsive because I'm taking Ellie out and away from them for periods of several hours at a time - partly to give her a break, but also so that I can leave food down for the kittens to eat in their own time and make sure that Ellie doesn't hoover it up. She's getting seriously overweight again, and it's on the point of being unhealthy. Libby's babies are fat little piglets and so beautiful it makes my throat catch!

5 August 2002
There is a
movie for today
Apparently Scuttle hasn't shown any sign of shouting for attention (which he did almost non-stop here), so he's obviously not unhappy in his new luxury quarters. Ellie is out in Scuttle's shed this morning to get some fresh air - it's rather sad that because she spent her first 4 years in a shed in a garden, that's what she likes now. She came to me as an adult when her owner died. However, given the choice, she has now decided that where she really wants to be is on my bed. I wish she didn't bully my other cats, as I hate keeping her separate all the time, especially when she clearly wants to be much more part of my life than she is. Ellie's babies are scooting all over my study at the moment - skidding on piles of papers - I'm going to regret it later, but it gave me a chance to give the kitten room a good brushing out.

Libby's kittens are suddenly spending much more time awake and wiggle about in the box, sometimes lying on their backs waving their legs in the air. They are all doing well, and seem to be putting on more weight. I don't know how Libby does it as I'm only helping with the feeding of two of the kittens at the moment, 3 and 7. She's very happy, purring all the time, and we 'moved house' this morning as she unexpectedly decided to carry one of the babies. I've only moved her into the room next to the kitchen, but I also changed all the bedding so that it feels like a new home. Their colours still elude me - there is one who is brindled like pepper and salt, two who are very dark as if they've rolled in soot, several who are very pale. There are clearly seals and chocolates (the very pale ones), but there should be blues as well, and at the moment I can't really tell them from the seals. It looks as though I have 6 girls and 3 boys.

6 August 2002
There is a
movie for today
I hate this time: this is when I have to allow the prospective owners of the kittens to come and see them, and I have to choose the best homes I can for the babies. It's so hard to decide if someone is going to be a good mummy or daddy for the babies when I feel so protective about them. I know I'm neurotic about my cats, and I know that most people aren't so wrapped up in them, but I still try to find someone who is going to be everything that I want - and maybe that's just impossible: a bit like describing your perfect partner - nobody is that perfect!

Bliss 1

Bliss 2

Libby's babies are much more active - rolling about and biting each other, and 6 and 7 are planning the great escape!

The Great Escape...


7 August 2002
There is a
movie for today
(sorry, it's a long one, 34 secs, but is the first I've got of the little ones being active. Seven is the one having a wash, Three is running about the place and the one doing all the falling over is Five.)

Ellie's babies are 10 weeks old today, and time is going much too fast. All three babies are now much more affectionate and clearly pleased to see humans when they get visitors. They run about the upstairs like a herd of elephants and then sleep like babies.

Today they had their first serious visitor - time for me and them to make choices about whose life they're going to disrupt next. Katie and Ellis had a look and then wandered off, but Dudley lay on his back kneading his little hands, purring, and making cows eyes at the person he decided he was going to love most in the world. He's not usually that demonstrative, but he was a little tart with Sally, who didn't stand a chance. This wasn't just a short episode - he went on like this for half an hour, so I certainly wasn't being given any say in the matter either!