22 August 2002
I have just uploaded three movies for last week, so if you missed them, go back to week 12: they are from the 16th, 17th and 19th.
Rather than taking 3 kittens and 3 adults to the vet for their vaccination boosters, he called me and said he'd come around and do it here. So I took the chance to have him look at most of the others while he was here. Just in case you're wondering, I have three adult Tonkinese (2 neuters and a breeding girl who won't call); two adult Siamese (Ellie and Libby); 3 nearly ready to go kittens (Ellis, Dudley, Katy); one imported kitten here for a week (Pooh); and 8 small babies. It feels like a heck of a lot at the moment, especially as they are all in separate parts of the house to stop them from sniping at each other!
The verdict:

The three Tonkinese, Pumpkin, Reckless and Teddy, are happy and healthy, and got their jabs.

Ellis and Katy are also fine and got their jabs: here they are sleeping it all off.

Dudley has no trace of a heart murmur (hooray!!) - here he is laughing his head off at it all. However he got a very wobbly tummy overnight, though he has no temperature and doesn't appear to feel ill at all. I think this is because he's been licking the fleeces and getting wool in his gut which is irritating it. He didn't get his jab, and is not allowed any food for 12 hours. If he is fine again tomorrow he can have his jab then, otherwise it may take a little longer...

Ellie is very obese still, in spite of hardly eating for the past week. The vet thinks the fat has invaded her liver, making her feel yucky, and that's why she's picking at food, so she has to go on a special 'reducing' diet. This means that she may not be able to spend so much time with her babies as otherwise she eats their food (so she can only be with them when they have no food down, which is only during some parts of the day). Poor Ellie, but she is very happy in her 'fat farm' out in the garden as this was how she lived for four years, before she came to me.

Pooh is looking very sleek, and stuffing his face with raw rabbit. He seems fine, but he's not allowed to go with the others just yet in case Dudley has a tummy bug that he could pass on. I also want to give him a little longer to settle in as any stress lowers the immune system and I'd like to give him a chance to settle a bit more before having to tackle the three musketeers again!

Libby is also very good, especially as her irritable bowel problems seem to have cleared completely since the kittens came.

Libby's kittens are generally fine except for one, Number Eight (sounds like something out of 'The Prisoner' - this is still counting as if I have nine). He was shown to the vet because his weight-gain has been miserable for 5 days now. He has a heart murmur and may be fading, but I don't think I'm going to let this one get away from me yet. I had a kitten with a heart murmur in a previous litter of 8, and he started to fade just like this at weaning time, and he refused to wean. That was when we spotted the heart problem because I took him to the vet. The vet expected that one to fade and die, but I began supplementing him with KMR and he ended up the biggest and most beautiful kitten, though he weaned much later than the others, and still has a noticeable heart murmur. I hope I can do the same with this one, and when I gave him his milk just now he slurped up two whole syringes full which is an excellent sign: if he was feeling rotten he would have refused to eat. So I'm back onto supplementing and we'll just see how he goes. I'm also going to worm them with a very gentle wormer and that may also help as worms can cause heart murmurs, believe it or not!

23 August 2002
Ellis, Dudley and Katy are tearing around the upstairs doing their 'herd of elephants' impersonation. Pooh meanwhile is sitting on the edge of my bed hissing at anyone who comes too close, but you can see he wants to join in. Dudley clearly has nothing wrong with him - nice clean overnight litter trays - and is desperate to make friends with Pooh. It would be Katy who is the most hissy of them all when she's supposed to be making friends with him! Pooh slept under the duvet with my feet for quite a lot of last night, and I was suprised when Teddy and Reckless forced the bedroom door and joined me: Teddy sleeping on top of Pooh (on top of the duvet) and Reckless under the top end of the duvet. I'm sure neither of them realised there was an alien in there too!
All is well downstairs too - the ones I supplemented with extra milk yesterday have put on masses of weight except for Eight, but he has at least put on more weight than he has been for the last few days. They are all happy to play, and funnily enough all were happy to pose for the camera too. Seven is still the most cuddly kitten, and keeps climbing into my lap and saying 'keep me mummy!'. Several of the Seals now purr when I stroke them, but apart from Seven none of them likes to be held yet. I can't believe they're five weeks old - they seem so small compared to the hefalumps upstairs, and it doesn't seem like they've been with me that long. I can't believe it's a week since I did their last set of pictures either. They're beginning to show how they're going to look as adults - and isn't Nine the prettiest?

24 August 2002
My efforts to improve things with Eight aren't really working very well. He hasn't lost weight but is gaining slightly. However, he had quite a lot of milk but only gained 10 grams over the 24 hours. The vet hasn't made up their worming liquid yet, but rather than wait until after the long weekend I gave them all a dose of Panacur paste yesterday evening. He seems very happy and active, but is fighting against his milk supplements which makes things very difficult and just makes me more anxious. I have to admit though, that they are not desperate for food by any means. I am having a terrible struggle weaning them: they just refuse food point blank, so I've had to go back on to syringe-feeds with KMR. Seven is an angel and will eat anything I give her, including raw meat, but the others are resisting as hard as they can. I said I would wean them come what may over the weekend, but I'm not managing it! I went out and bought a lot of evaporated milk and some baby cereal - I haven't used this weaning method for years, since I started weaning onto raw meat. I have also tried them with 'breeders mix' - a raw egg yolk mixed in with Carnation evaporated milk. This didn't get them interested though several of them drank quite a lot of it. Libby liked it a lot more, and since she's still obviously producing far too much milk for them to be hungry enough to get interested in food, I let her eat it.

Here's a wonderful picture of Ellis, taken yesterday afternoon. You may notice that his chin is rather large! I took one look and realised he had been stung by a wasp: closer inspection showed the sting still stuck in his chin! He seemed indifferent to the swelling, and was not choking or anything, so I left him in peace. Some people prefer to give an antihistamine when a sting swells like this - and if he was in any danger from the swelling I would do that. However, in the past the antihistamine has caused the cat a lot more discomfort than the sting, so now I don't do that unless I really have to. Stings are not that unusual at this time of year, you just have to be very careful that the cat didn't swallow the wasp or get stung in the throat or on the tongue.

25 August 2002
Eight has done much better since yesterday: perhaps the wormer has done its stuff. The weights are yo-yo-ing a lot because their bodies are needing to grow, but they're not giving themselves the right balance of nutrition to do it. Here is a quick weight chart for the last couple of weeks. I don't use Excel normally so I haven't yet worked out how to make it call the kittens anything other than 'series'! The dark blue line is Eight and you can see how it has climbed today.

I had no luck with the baby cereal/egg yolk/evaporated milk mixture - Seven ate quite a lot, and so did the others when I put it all over their noses, but it's no good having to force every meal, they have to want to eat. Instead, I have mixed the baby cereal in with the KMR so they are getting semi-solids, and that is actually going down quite well - everyone gets a full syringe full, and if anyone is more interested they get more. It's useless trying to feed them when they wake up and play, as they are too distracted. If I wait until they're hungry and start trying to suckle, then they won't take it because they want Libby. So I go down when they're fast asleep and wake them one by one to do a feed. This has worked very well, and I'm daring to think things are improving. Eight is still quite skinny, but his improvement in weight gain may have a lot to do with the wormer as he didn't get more food yesterday than he did the day before. Because I was concentrating on him though, I didn't spot that Six was losing weight. So today I've been concentrating on her more - she REALLY hates being bottle fed! The purple markings are wearing off a bit - I can almost tell them apart reliably now, but there are several pairs who are very similar, so I have renewed the purple markings as you can see from the bottom left picture.
Pooh observing the blue family who are being very undignified with a toy down there...

Libby is moving the babies all over the room, just carrying them and then putting them down somewhere else. So I have put the big carrier into the music room with them - she got the idea right away, and went all over the room retrieving them from their games and put them into the carrier. I was surprised that they just sat there while she went off for another kitten, and didn't run off and play again. They are very obedient and respectful of their mother. Much funnier was when I came back later to do a feed, and found that Libby had pushed the wire door shut, and was lying in front of it like a guard dog with all the babies shut inside. She looked so relieved! I think it worries her to see them rushing about the room as it is quite large. She would probably be a lot happier if I moved her litter upstairs to the smaller kitten room, and brought Ellie's babies back downstairs. Poor Ellie is now on her 'reducing diet' and has to stay apart out in the garden cattery. She has been very good, and is so pleased when I go to visit her. She's eating her diet and doesn't seem to mind too much being kept away from her babies for most of the day. Which reminds me, it's about time I went and got her in for a visit.

Pooh has made firm friends with the boys, but Katy still HATES him! She's complaining and hissing all the time, and also being rude to her real brothers. It's not very encouraging considering they're supposed to be bosom buddies in time for them to go to Katy's new home. I've been letting them run together, and they've slept together the last two nights without anything more than a lot of mouthing off. In fact I was beginning to wonder if this would work out at all when I looked into the kitten room and saw this... Pooh is lying on top of Katy and Ellis (who is dangling over the edge) so I think they have finally made friends!

I was surprised and pleased to get a phone call from Petra in Germany yesterday, who is very excited about Ellis coming to her. He needs a rabies jab on Tuesday, and then we have to book flights and do the DEFRA paperwork, but it looks like it's all go! Unfortunately my German is non-existent, and her English though good is very painstaking. Fortunately I have a number of linguist friends who have been communicating on my behalf. It's quite exciting to think of him going to her, and as he's so phlegmatic I know he won't be bothered by the journey one bit.

26 August 2002
Poor Ellie has decided she's had enough of kittens. I brought her in from the 'fat farm' in the garden and kept hearing growling and bad-tempered noises from her in the kitten room. When I went in to see if she was upset about Pooh I found instead that she was duffing up Dudley, who was desperately trying to suckle. It seems that overnight she's decided NO MORE MILK! Poor Dudley.... However, Pooh is now integrated well - still more demanding of attention than my lot, but Katy doesn't seem to have a problem with him and they all sleep together now.

I've tried various hilarious things to get Libby's kittens to wean, and they're just laughing at me. I've been squirting a mixture of KMR and baby cereal (plus raw egg yolk) down their throats, and all but one of them love this. However, it's dreadfully time-consuming and I end up covered in cereal. Anything offered to them to eat comes out of the fridge and has to be carefully warmed to the right temperature to feed to them - meat has to smell appetising, and cereal needs to be warm, not cold and sticky. In desperation last night I just smeared cereal mix all over all of them and let them clean it off. The mess was indescribable, but I loved it as I felt I'd got my own back a bit! At least I was planning on changing the bedding again anyway.
The Tonkinese were unusually relaxed today, and spent most of it lying on top of my cupboard with their legs stuck out in every possible direction...

27 August 2002
Time to get tough: I've given Libby's babies a hand feed this morning, and all but the same one (Five) took a lot of it - several even came to ask for more! So at lunch-time, instead of feeding them again, I put lumps of minced raw rabbit into the nest. I wasn't surprised that Seven thought this was great and ate quite a lot. Two also helped himself which was a departure. However, more surprising was Five - she has consistently resisted any sort of food, but she had a really big feed with the meat. So for now I'm going to concentrate on weaning the ones who want to wean (the others ran away in disgust, shaking their little paws), and the others will just have to get hungry enough to take an interest.

Eight, who is supposed to have a heart murmur is rampaging around the place and eating like a pig - he seems to have got over his temporary hump, and I'll be interested to see if the murmur has gone when I come to vaccinate them. Libby still has masses of milk and is fortunately also eating very well indeed, so doesn't seem to be suffering from the continuing 'stress' of feeding. I got several lovely pictures of her this morning but couldn't decide which to use, in the end I gave up and put in the two I like best:

This is the last day that all three of Ellie's babies (plus Pooh) will be together. Sally is champing at the bit to collect Dudley and will be coming round first thing in the morning to drag him from my unwilling arms. Actually I think they're all well and truly ready to go: they're confined rather a lot at the moment and though they don't seem to mind at all (see picture below!), I don't like them not having enough attention and stimulation. I'm going to miss Dudley a lot, as I will miss all of them, but the little ones are taking a lot of my time because of their slow weaning process, and even when they're weaned it's going to be a lot more time-consuming handling eight of them than just three! I will get a last chance to see him on Thursday as I have a session booked with a photographer friend who lives nearby (he took the wonderful picture on my front page) to get 'mug shots' of all of them.

Ellis went to the vet today for his rabies shot, and took it like a man. Here he is on the examining table - I didn't quite dare to ask the vet if he'd mind me photographing him doing it - he'd probably have flung the camera out of the window! I took this while the vet was out of the room checking on export forms so he wouldn't be annoyed - Ellis is busy checking out the table top.

28 August 2002

The last rogues gallery - Dudley has gone!
Well, I could get sentimental, but to be honest it's more of a relief as I'm knee-deep in cats here and worrying that nobody is getting enough attention. Ellie's babies are so affectionate now, and crowd me as soon as I walk into their room. They are definitely ready for loving homes of their own where they will get far more attention than I can give them. I had the flash turned off for this picture, so it's a bit fuzzy, but you can still see the look of delighted anticipation on Sally's face (and the look of suppressed evil intent on Dudley's) - I wonder how long she will last before she decides he's not the little innocent he appeared and I have cruelly misled her!?!
Mind you, it's not as if Dudley is a little monster underneath - as far as I can tell he's putty in anyone's hands! They weren't terribly keen to sit still due to the excitement of three visitors, so the Rogues gallery pictures aren't all that flattering!

Meanwhile, a small miracle in the kitchen (though only with four of them so far)...