31 August 2002
I had to go out to a committee meeting today, so though I have played with the babies am and pm, I haven't had a chance to phone the new homes for the older kittens to find out how they're doing. That will have to wait until tomorrow. Nine is still resisting weaning, and when I got home SHOUTED at me until I could warm up some of her cereal and feed her. I wish she'd get hungry enough to find her own way to a plate! Here are two of them checking out their reading list...

Meanwhile, Ellie has been brought in to be with Ellis, who has been coping fine with being alone as long as he gets regular cuddles. He and Ellie are tearing around the upstairs at the moment which should help Ellie's weight a bit. Unfortunately he has caught Dudley's tummy bug, so I will treat it herbally (with probiotics, nutribiotic (GSE) and slippery elm/charcoal/acidophilous and other goodies in my tummy mixture). If he doesn't improve then I can head back to the vet for the sledgehammer solution.

1 September 2002
After all her bad-temper with Dudley, Ellis seems to have won Ellie over and she is treating him like a baby again. Earlier today I could hear a muffled chirruping and it was Ellie trying to talk to Ellis at the same time as trying to drag him across the floor in a baby-carrying grip. I'd like to put him and Ellie with the younger kittens, but because they've been separated for so long, they hate each other and there is hissing and snarling which Libby won't stand for, and that makes her attack Ellie. Better to keep things as they are I think. They're tearing around upstairs at the moment like a couple of kittens, and Ellis has several times managed to sneak a quick suckle without any real objections from Ellie. It's nice to see them so happy together again.

Libby's babies are pooing nicely in their litter trays (most of the time) and also peeing where they're supposed to quite a lot of the time, though for some reason they often get in the tray and dig around, then get out and pee just beside the tray. They're not the most precocious bunch I've ever had, what with that and the late weaning! I'd also say they're very slow becoming more social. They let me pick them up as long as I'm sitting down, but they scream blue murder if I stand up as they say it's *too high*. New people are also ignored quite a lot, and screamed at if they attempt to cuddle, though I don't really think this is a serious aversion to people, just a sort of adolescent stage they're going through. They really hate being plastered against someone's chest, as this confuses them - they think that the floor has suddenly gone the wrong way. Most people pick them up and hold them this way, instead of giving them a horizontal surface such as an arm to sit on, where they can look around and not feel as if they're hanging off a high wall. I'd say they're behind on handling compared to other litters and probably compared to other breeders, but I've also seen how roughly some breeders handle their kittens (consciously or just thoughtlessly) in order to get them to a 'don't care' attitude about being handled. I find they tend to end up a lot less gentle if they're handled this way, and I'd prefer that they make a later acceptance of being picked up in favour of them developing at their own pace, as they end up just as cuddly (Dudley seems to have proved that).

Since they seem to be showing a preference for cuddly places to sleep that are more kitten-sized than the big nests I've been using (to fit them all in together), I have brought out the individual nests that were made for weighing or taking to the vet, even though they have really grown out of the smallest ones. What a picture ... there ARE eight there if you count carefully->>>

Nine has been keeping me on my toes. If left alone she would get thinner and thinner, dropping behind the other kittens in size and activity, eventually becoming lethargic and possibly dying unless she decided for herself to start eating before she was too far gone. I'm not prepared to let her work it out herself as I see no reason to allow a kitten to fade away just because it is going through a bad patch. Even if a kitten like this is left and eventually decides to wean, it has still lost a really vital phase of growth, and would probably always be a runt.
Although my way means a lot more work for me (and a lot more washing as I get covered in cereal!), I know that she's not going to lack for nutrition, and also that she's not going to die just because she goes anorexic. Most breeders I know would do as I'm doing, but for some a kitten who 'fades' is not worth fighting for, and it's better if it dies now as there could be someting wrong with it. Years ago the majority of breeders probably thought this way. Nowadays with better veterinary care and a more caring attitude to our cats, there are fewer and fewer breeders who would not make any effort to help a kitten, though there are still some who are not observant and by the time they notice a problem it's too late.
Three would have died at about 10 days old if I'd left him, and at that point I didn't know there was a problem that would prevent him from reaching adulthood. Even knowing he would die I would still have treated him as we just can't second guess what might happen. Eight has already proved that it is worth helping a kitten who is having difficulty as he is now healthy and normal to all appearances. This afternoon my time with Nine seems to have come to fruition: I've been giving her as much as she will eat at close intervals during the day, and then she has to go all night with no feed. This should keep her nutritional levels in the safe band, it expands her stomach and educates it to expect a lot more than she can get just suckling, and the hope is that, given time, hunger will drive her to food and she will be strong and energetic enough not to suffer from her late start.
This morning when I went in she SHOUTED AND SHOUTED for food, so I stuffed her, and then fed again at 11.00 and again at 1.00. Then some time mid-afternoon I noticed she was looking round instead of skinny, so I didn't feed her, and by 4 pm her tummy was enormous. I have no idea what she has eaten (there is fish, raw meat and biscuits down for them), but she has eaten a LOT of it! In fact I was a little worried by how bloated she was. I watched her try quite a long time to use the litter tray, and was relieved that she clearly doesn't have diarrhoea, but also a little concerned that she is too constipated to relieve some of that pressure. (Like most breeders, I'm a poo-watcher, the best way to monitor general health, so I keep popping back downstairs to see if she's done it yet!) Mind you, not having eaten solids in any quantity until now, I think this may be her first real attempt to poo!

2 September 2002
Getting behind with the diary again, but at least I have an excuse!
Ellis and Ellie seem happy, but I think Ellis needs more attention than I can give him at the moment. I've toyed with the idea of fostering him with a friend until it's time to take him to Germany, but I don't want him to 'lose touch' with me, so I think he'll have to stay here. I also need to get him used to travelling in the tiny carrier he has to have in order to come in the cabin with me on the flight!

Meanwhile, the battle for weaning still goes on downstairs. They're very active, and weights look fairly good, if a little erratic. Nine is still determined that only I can feed her and only with cereal, whch probably isn't doing much for her growth. She now seems noticeably lighter than all the others, who are feeling quite hunky and heavy.

The excuse for my late update was that I wormed Libby in the afternoon as I have been worming all the babies over 5 days. By 7:00 she was staggering around as if drunk - her back legs seemed to have gone all weak, though her eyes and behaviour indicated there was nothing seriously wrong, and if I picked her up and held her she purred as usual. The vet asked about whether she was going into the 'praying' position, or if there were any muscle tremors ('no' to both questions) and we just had to sit and wait. By 10:30 pm the wobbliness had gone, and she seemed completely back to normal.

3 September 2002
Libby is still fine this morning but a long chat with the vet about the wormer may have answered what happened to her:
What was most interesting was that everyone I asked about this suggested eclampsia: something I'm completely ignorant on (not any more!). I had wondered about hypokalaemia (HK), as this makes cats stagger about, but they also hang their heads and she wasn't doing that. Also, HK seems to be confined to Burmese and breeds derived from them, not Siamese. I'm glad that I now know about eclampsia, even though it evidently wasn't the cause (live and learn). The vet asked if she went into
the 'praying' position at all, evidently because of eclampsia as that would be an attempt to relieve the cramp.
The following is not for the sqeamish!
The vet reckoned that she must have had a bad worm infestation, and that there was probably a big patch of them with their mouth parts stuck on the gut lining: when the wormer paralysed them they dropped off, leaving an ulcerated patch that caused a bad colicy cramp - hence the staggering and weakness in her back legs. Poor little thing! Given that she's fine now I think that's what it must have been - it would also match up with the vomiting a few hours after I gave her the pill.
Libby came to me as a rescue with Ellie after their owner died, having had diarrhoea for two years. It took a lot of months to calm her gut down. I did worm her during that period, but didn't repeat it just before she mated as I normally would, and it's likely that she has had pretty bad worms most of her life and my 'normal' worming proceedure wasn't sufficient to clear them. The vet has now suggested worming monthly for about the next six months to prevent an infestation getting bad as that would give her stomach a chance to heal properly and protect against it getting ulcerated again. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
For those who've asked how they can sex their kittens, here are some little furry bottoms! I have to admit that at this age it's easy to tell them apart as the boys' testicles begin to show a bit. Until they're 3 weeks old they look very similar and it's really only the distance between the top and bottom bits that gives you a clue. I once managed to get it wrong right up to 6 weeks of age with one kitten!

Male

Female

On a happier note, Reckless (my Tonkinese) who hasn't called for over a year following a dose of Delvosterone (which 'puts the ovaries to sleep') to prevent her from calling when it was too soon for her to mate, finally called - or at least, Teddy, my neutered boy, decided she was far more interesting than normal. Though I'm frankly shattered with being knee-deep in cats, I have rushed her off to stud as I daren't look a gift-horse in the mouth. Reckless is 4 generations of my breeding on both sides of her pedigree, and she is the one way of keeping alive those cats who have gone before her and are no longer with me. It makes losing them tolerable to know that part of them stays with you in their children. So I hope she is fertile now, and pray for kittens - four people have been waiting for over 2 years for a kitten from her (including me)! Here's the hopeful husband-to-be, a brown Tonkinese. He's a really lovely cuddly boy, and I hope there will be lovely loving babies from him if Reckless obliges.

4 September 2002
This must be the first quiet morning for ages, when NOTHING has happened overnight and everyone is well! Wow, maybe I'll get some work done!!

even mummies get to play sometimes...

however, they don't always want to play with the babies.

Nine (on the right) being very fierce!

getting down to that reading list again!

fortunately all that activity really
works up an appetite. Here are the
three carnivores. I wish the others
would learn from their example.

5 September 2002
Ellis ran smack bang into a door yesterday and has given himself a spectacular shiner and grazed the cornea. It looks very sore and red as he's been rubbing at it, so he has to have antibiotic cream in it. It looks pretty awful, but fortunately he's not showing it off to the camera!

I wish I had better news of the little ones to report today: Nine has been looking a bit scrawny, but at weighing this morning showed a good gain - better than the last few days. I had been quite pushy about feeding her with the chicken/cereal mix yesterday and it seemed to pay off. However, today she seemed very shaky, her back legs trembling. I didn't pay much attention to this as kittens can be shaky if they're over-excited or just woken up. However, as the day progressed she stayed a bit shaky, and seemed increasingly hot. By the evening I was fairly sure she was running a temperature and not just hot from being snuggled up asleep. Just before 8:00 pm she sat on the litter tray and shouted, but instead of pooing there was only a tiny bit of pee.
I managed to get her in at the last minute with the vet's late surgery. She had a temp of 105 (normal is about 101), though it may have been higher - we had a little trouble keeping the thermometer in! She had a shot of Synulox and flaked out in the little nest I carried her in. However, she perked up a bit by the time we got home, and seems a bit brighter now (9:30 pm). Her tummy was clearly tender, and there were signs of diarrhoea, but her kidneys (which is what I'm concerned about after Sam) seemed to feel OK. Fingers crossed for the night - she's suckling now. I'm hoping the diarrhoea is just from having milky food when she should have been weaned off it, but I don't know why she should have a temperature. I am giving her rehydration liquids as she is thirsty, and this will help her tummy if it is colicy. It was certainly gurgling a lot when I got her home. Here they all are shortly after we got home - a sea of ears!

6 September 2002
Thank goodness for antibiotics! This morning Nine (now known as Piglet - you'll see why in a second) came galloping across the floor to me and SCREAMED for food. Fortunately I had some mixed up from last night in the fridge, so I heated the plate and stuck a whole lot under her nose and she ate the lot and demanded more. Then we trotted off down to the vet: slight temperature but otherwise no other problems; even her heart was stomping away with no suspicion of a murmur. She was marching about all over the examination table and purring when stroked - a completely different animal to the rather miserable one yesterday evening. By the time we got home she was hungry again, and ploughed through another plate of cereal mixed with liquivite (liquidized chicken), no milky food at all.

Somehow, I think we've turned the corner with her eating! Just to prove she feels better she is rampaging about the room beating up everyone, and did a beautiful big puddle for me in the litter tray.

Here are some extra pictures - the ones that didn't make it into the rogues gallery!

IT'S

JUST

SO

BORING!