15 August 2002
I went down into the kitchen this morning and found an empty kitten pen. Libby had moved the whole family under the sideboard, and there they were asleep on the hard wooden floor. They seemed quite happy, and I think as it was cooler the whole situation was better for Libby. She's been too hot for a couple of days (me too!) and also it's about that time when they want to move anyway. The good effects were immediately obvious - all the kittens had gained far more weight than usual, so Libby had been letting down her milk better and lying still longer for them to feed. Heat is a bit of a problem, and I've put a big fan into the room which helps. The wooden floor is also good for Libby as she can splay her hot tummy over it to cool down. I have given them a soft mat to sleep on, and created a 'corral' as they're a bit small yet to be allowed into every corner in that room. Libby has stopped them from running about by carrying them back where they belong if they stray too far, but she appreciated the temporary walls I put up.

Ellie's babies are also too hot, but Ellie is appreciating being taken out every day to the 'fat farm' (she's in Scuttle's run with only a small amount of low-calorie biscuits for munching, though it doesn't seem to be making much impact on her fat hump!). Because of the hot days, they sleep most of the day and then play when it gets cooler in the evenings.

16 August 2002
There is a
movie for today
Last week I said, "I can't see myself being able to photograph them like this again..." I had no idea how right I was. However, you can't dwell on these things endlessly - kittens die, it's part of breeding and breeders know and accept that - something that people often don't understand when they come to see the kittens and think "oh wouldn't it be fun to have a cute litter of kittens...". I'm very lucky indeed to still have 8 healthy kittens, but things can go dreadfully wrong - the queen can die, whole litters can die - it's not a game. It's also not as simple as it looks to keep them clean and well - hours every day go into cleaning litter trays and washing floors, never mind just sitting and watching one that looks a bit shaky to try and see what is bothering him. And at the end of it, if you've managed to do it as well as you can, you sell them for less than they've cost to rear because you want someone else to have the love and happiness these kittens bring. I'm sure that sounds disillusioned, it's not really, I just don't want people reading this diary to think it's all fun and games, and then put their lovely girl at risk because they don't realise what's really involved.

Having said all that depressing stuff though, there's absolutely nothing to beat the pleasure of seeing your babies grow up strong and well, developing strong personalities and learning all the tricks of being irresistible! (Katie and Dudley below)

17 August 2002
Seems like it's my week for being a 'bad' mummy. Yesterday I discovered that Pumpkin (my 11-year-old Tonkinese), who had been a bit quiet in the last few days, had a burst abscess on her bum - seems her anal glands had become impacted and then burst. The vet was quite surprised as this is quite an unusual thing to happen! Didn't make me feel any better though. Poor old Pumpkin says it's too sore for me to bathe, but the antibiotics are helping already. Here she is with her beautiful daughter, Reckless...

Then Katie started winking at me, and after another visit to the vet this morning it seems she has knocked her eye. Unfortunately the eye cream to protect her cornea and help it to heal fully, is making her her wink even more than before. It doesn't seem to stop her bucketing about the upstairs though.

Libby's babies are just adorable, they're so active now. This evening I offered all of them some minced raw meat (as I have the last few evenings) and at last two of them decided the taste was GREAT and ate a big heap of it. No luck at all with the others though. However, two is a start, and that means more milk for the others. No surprises that the first to try the meat was Seven, who is very precocious and very good about things with me as she's so used to me handling her to give her her extra milk. I even managed to sort out a
movie of the little ones at long last.

18 August 2002
A typical morning:

Finally give up trying to sleep with Pumpkin digging claws into my chest

Get up, put Pumpkin's eye drops in (she has an allergy) also give antibiotic for sore bottom

Try to have bath and get dressed without tripping over cats winding around legs

Finally get down to the kitchen, put kettle on for nice cup of tea, give Libby plate of raw rabbit

Visit Libby's kittens, decide it's a good moment to weigh them as Libby is eating, and also try to persuade each baby to eat some meat (ho ho ho)

Put kettle on again, bring Ellie downstairs and open the garden door for Ellie and Libby to run in the garden for a bit. Take frozen fish and put in microwave to cook. Make 3 plates of food for Ellie's babies with wormer in and take upstairs.

Clean Ellie's babies' litter trays, wipe up spilt water on floor, refill water bowl and sweep up scattered litter, cuddle babies, put in Katy's eye cream, check for other damage to kittens and room caused by wild games in the night.

Make another plate of raw rabbit for Libby who has eaten the first one, put Ellie in the cattery, clean the cattery litter tray, take clean fleeces out of washing maching and put in dryer, put dirty fleeces on to wash, wipe up flood caused by washing-machine filter blocked by fluff from fleeces.

Put kettle on again, take today's food out of the freezer, put Teddy's collar on and let the Tonkinese into the garden for their turn. Refill biscuit bowl and water for Tonkinese, and put out chicken for them too.

Do upstairs litter trays. Make another plate of food for Libby who has eaten the second one, mix in some tinned food, watch babies playing...

Take Libby's last plate of food (which she hasn't eaten) upstairs for Ellie's kittens, make another plate of food for Libby that does not have tinned food in it.

Put kettle on again. Go out and sit with Ellie who is shouting for attention (and quite possibly more food)

Run out into road and retrieve Teddy who has gone over the wire for a laugh, make a big fuss of him (which was why he did it in the first place), do downstairs litter trays

Change bedding and newspaper lining for Libby's babies which is soaked with pee because they prefer doing it on soft fleece than in cat litter

Put kettle on again. Empty dishwasher and reload with dirty plates from yesterday and overnight, phone cat litter people for more litter, phone rabbit supplier to fix time to collect sack of frozen rabbit.

Take clean fleeces out of machine and hang out to dry, take dry fleeces out of dryer and put ready for tomorrow

Wonder what I've forgotten, put kettle on again MAKE CUP OF TEA, head upstairs to work and update kitten diary. (Yes, I know it's Sunday, but I don't exactly get a full day done during the week, so I have to make it up at weekends!)

And that's a day when I don't have to take any of them down to the vet...
I took a lot of pictures of Ellis today for Petra in Germany, as she has to decide finally whether or not to commit herself to having Ellis. If she says 'yes' he will need to have a Rabies shot and then wait 30 days before travelling. He will also need a horrendous load of paperwork to accompany him, and that has to show the exact date, time, route, and method of travel for his journey. What a performance!

19 August 2002
There is a
movie for today

I was greeted this morning by the funniest sight: I went down to the kitchen and opened the door into Libby's room, to see a herd of kittens rushing about the floor, all changing direction in unison like a flock of birds. They had escaped (all of them) from the corall I had made for them (I suspect Libby helped) and were all running about the wood floor, but all together - it did look odd! Libby was trotting around after them making that cooing noise that cats only make when they're talking to their babies. I was interested to see how very obedient they are, running across the room and sticking close to her as she walked about. She finally settled them into a corner (again on the bare floor) with two walls for security and a third wall supplied by the large litter box (how hygenic!). They seem very happy there now, as I have given them a big square of vetbed to cuddle up on.

many apologies to those of you who are aesthetically offended by 'red-eye'! I have a camera that does a double-flash to get rid of this, but it doesn't actually get rid of it. Besides, by the time you've pressed the buttons to change to red-eye flash, the pose is lost. So here is Ellie (above) with her three babies (below), and you can see just how adult they look. It's interesting that none seems to have her very good ear set (they should point outwards as much as upwards but they're a bit upright), even though both their parents have a good ear set (look at the angle of Ellie's). I think they may still have some maturing to do and perhaps their ears will be a bit less upright then. The line of the outside edge of the ears should continue on from the line of the side of the face up from the muzzle to make a triangle - it is the triangle that is the most distinctive feature of the Siamese - apart from the markings of course!.

20 August 2002
I was working all day today in Leominster, which meant getting up around 6 am to do the food and trays (thank goodness I didn't have to worry about wormer this morning!). Filza, my lodger held the fort during that day, taking care of the early evening feed - I had put down enough food for nobody to need extra in the middle of the day. All was well when I got back around midnight, completely exhausted, and in dire need of some time with my babies. One of the little ones had a very sore and red eye - I think it must have got caught by a claw during a 'feeding frenzy'. It was Seven, my special one (I mustn't have special ones, it's just a recipe for heartbreak...) and she was very good about having some eyedrops put in. It does look terribly red and swollen though, poor baby. It's not an unusual ocurrence with any litter, and particularly with a big litter where the fighting for teats can get quite fierce, the odd sore eye is to be expected. The thing to watch out for though is 'gummy eye' - the name many breeders give to an eye infection that can get into a whole litter of kittens and make their eyes stick shut, so they have to be bathed several times a day. It's not usually Chlamydia, and no-one knows quite why it happens. However, I think it's less common now that we have readily available antibiotic drops and creams to treat sore eyes before it can spread. I had it a couple of times in my first litters over 10 years ago, but have been lucky since then not to get it at all. Fingers crossed that it continues that way. Libby's babies suddenly look more grown up...

21 August 2002

Today the kittens are saying a special hello to Jilly in California, who looks in every day to keep an eye on things. This update is just for you, as I was planning on leaving it until tomorrow, but I couldn't disappoint you!
Sally came to visit Dudley again, and as she left she said something about collecting him next week. For some reason I was taken quite unprepared: I know they're going somewhere inside my head, but I suppose the confusion of having a much younger litter, and Ellis staying longer because he's going to Germany meant that I just hadn't taken on board that they're going at all, never mind so very soon. They are very big and grown up now, and definitely ready for their new homes, so I don't think it will be much of a wrench for them. The big excitement for the day was the arrival of 'Pooh' from Newcastle: he had been driven all the way down by Yvonne (a friend of the breeder, Poppi) as he's going to live with Katy. He's a little bit older than her, and more 'typy' as he's from a more show-type mother, but old-style father. They're almost the same size, so I think they'll go well together. My lot didn't turn a hair: they sniffed him a bit and poked him with a paw, then sauntered off. Poor Pooh hissed quite a lot, and then moved onto growling, so after a while I moved him to a warm nest in the bathroom where he relaxed and showed off his charm skills. He's a 'real' Siamese in the sense that his favourite place is on a shoulder - none of mine go up there (yet), so I had a lot of fun with him. He's very affectionate, and purrs at the drop of a hat. I hope they settle together soon, but as he's obviously a bit wary of my blues Filza has offered to have him in bed with her tonight so that he's not lonely. He's being very quiet in the bathroom at the moment, and has just stuffed his face with a large plate of raw rabbit!

Pooh, chocolate point, inspecting the funny
blue things...

One of the funny blue things inspecting Pooh...

Left: Katy taking a good look...


and below, Pooh tucking into his bikkies in the safety of the

Libby's babies are revelling in the extra freedom, and are slowly concentrating their widdle in litter trays rather than in nice fleece beds. However, the litter trays are still used for other things.....

So it's 12 weeks finally for Ellie's babies. Tomorrow they'll be having their second vaccination (the booster) and that really marks the point where they're no longer my babies. Ellis has gone from being the littlest one, to being the biggest by a long way. Dudley and Katy are pretty hefty though, and definitely seem heavier than you expect just from looking at them, which is a very good sign. They stay with me for a further week for the vaccination to take hold and provide them with antibody coverage, but then it's out into the wide world. Only one more Rogue's Gallery to go...