21 September 2002

There seems to be no point between 'wide awake and charging about' and 'out cold' with these kittens. It's like a switch - on or off. This is pretty much the same with most kittens - they play until they simply can't play any more then just go flop and sleep very deeply for hours.

Things have not been so happy with Ellis and Ellie upstairs, who have both been ill in the last week. However, they are responding very well to antibiotics. Unfortunately, even though Ellis is now completely free of symptoms, he may still have the bacteria in his system, so it means that he can't go to Germany next weekend. We're going to have to wait quite a bit longer until I'm absolutely sure that he's completely healthy and is also not carrying the bacteria without showing symptoms: that means blood tests and swabs. I don't want to take any chance that might put another breeder's household at risk. I've been very lucky that he and Ellie have been completely separate from the other cats (because Ellie doesn't like them) and the bacteria isn't likely to have infected them. However, just in case they have been infected but are not yet showing symptoms we didn't vaccinate Libby's babies yesterday. An additional burden on their immune systems might exacerbate any bacterial infection that was there.

22 September 2002
Ellis is looking very well indeed today, and playing 'thunderfeet' around the upstairs. Ellie still feels a bit grotty and looks unwell, but she is much improved on her condition of yesterday and the day before. This infection (Chlamydia) is very fragile outside the body and doesn't survive on clothes or in the air - in theory anyway. It has to be passed from cat to cat by direct contact. Since it's a bug that I've never had in the house before (in 12 years of breeding) and I haven't been out to any shows with the cats recently, I know it didn't come from any of my own cats. Unfortunately the lab tests to find out what the infection was, the antibiotics, and tests over the next six weeks to make sure my household is completely clear of it, will cost a great deal, but I'd rather get rid of this and be sure I cannot send it out to any other households. It's not life-threatening usually, and can be cured reasonable easily with the right antibiotics used correctly, but it's a nasty, painful eye infection, and I wouldn't wish the pain or the worry on anyone.

I had sent a message to Petra in Germany to say that if she no longer wanted Ellis I would understand, but I'm so very happy that she says she still wants him, and she will just wait until he has passed all his tests. He is pleased too, as he's feeling well now and just wants to get on with it!

I'm just hoping I continue to be lucky with the little ones downstairs, who are still absolutely beautiful and healthy. In fact at the moment they are flopped-out after having visitors - Sundays are just so exhausting!

23 September 2002
It's a measure of just how noisy a litter of 9-week old kittens can be that last night, as I was just drifting off to sleep shortly before 1 am, we had a minor earthquake (yes, we do get them in Oxford, but only 4.5 on the Richter scale in Oxford). My only vague thought was - 'now what have they done?' - as the whole house shook and there was a distinct rumble. I'm so used to babies on the rampage that I just turned over and went back to sleep! So much for all those stories of animals warning you about earthquakes by howling or running about - Teddy, Reckless and Pumpkin didn't even twitch their ears in their heap on my bed. When I got downstairs this morning I was pleased to see that the piano was still standing, and it was only then that I heard the news about what was apparently one of Britain's biggest earthquakes: 4.8 at the epicentre (even our earthquakes are repressed!).

There are two carrying baskets in the downstairs kitten room, a large one and a very small one - I keep them open and with fleece inside so that carriers are not firghtening things. For some reason they prefer to squash into the tiny carrier - that is when they're not falling asleep on top of the bag of rice on the countertop!

Ellis and Ellie are so bored with being confined that I carried them both out to the garden for a bit of late afternoon sun: they tore around the garden, but it didn't take Ellie long to find her way into the cattery shed - she loves it there because she always used to live in a cattery. I still find it a bit sad, but as it will give them a nice break and some fresh air I have turned on the heating in there and a heat pad, and they can camp out tonight. I'm hoping Ellie will teach her son how to use the cat flap between the shed and the run, as he is exceptionally thick about it!

24 September 2002

Yesterday evening I decided that all the kittens looked skinny and wormy, so I have started them on a 3-day course of Panacur. They're due for worming anyway as I don't like to do this at the same time as vaccinations since it seems to cause some kittens to get upset tummies. Given the amount they're eating they should be a lot fatter, and since Libby obviously had some nasty worms I think they're probably overdue for worming.

25 September 2002
In the morning, we have Gladiator School: this starts with wrestling, followed by running as fast as possible from one end of the room to the other (not a chance of taking a photo of that!)
and then finally there is climbing. Since I don't have curtains (can't think why!) this is done on my 5-foot pole, made more interesting by draping it with some toys. This pole is also the preferred route up to the top of the piano.

26 September 2002
Hello Karen! I wonder if you're still online after your three-hour marathon going through the kitten diary? Here is the picture I promised you for today: they have graduated from the climbing pole to swarming up the drape over the piano - no wonder they have such fun with curtains when they're finally let loose on them!

I think I was right about them needing worming: they suddenly seem much larger and heavier, even the ones who are basically quite slim seem a lot more solid. I'm not supposed to get attached to them: I know from the day they're born that they're leaving me, but I have got terribly attached to these ones: they purr for me, and crowd against me when I go into the room and lean up against the piano. I'm seriously considering trying to sleep in with them tonight as I would just love to feel their warm little bodies pressed all around me purring me to sleep! Trouble is they'd probably rampage over me for at least 2 hours before conking out, and then they'd wake up again four hours later! I'm still tempted though...
Ellis and Ellie are very contented, though one of Ellis's eyes is looking pink again even though his eyes have been fine for 10 days, and he and Ellie are still on antibiotics. I just hope this isn't an antibiotic-resistant strain - that would really be the icing on the cake!

27 September 2002
Ellis is definitely having a relapse, which means the Chlamydia is resistant to one of the forms of Tetracycline available to treat it. My vet has put him on Ronaxan, which is what Ellie is on and she is doing very well. He's already looking better, but I've also been using Aureomycin eye cream which he hates a fair bit. I'm sad to say that my having to pill Ellie and also put a lot of eye treatment in her eyes has set back her 'rescue' by about 6 months. She no longer comes to me for affection, and when I try to stroke her she sits under a chair and backs away so that I can't get a hold on her if I want to. This is very sad - she had become a very affectionate cat, but now she's so suspcious that she uses all sorts of strategies to keep me at a distance. I hope it won't take another 6 months to get her back to a handle-able state once I can stop treating her. Because of Ellis still having the bacteria active, and possibly also shedding it, I've had to extend her course of antibiotics to avoid re-infection. However, back downstairs, and here I am in the kitten room (viewed from the kitchen) consulting with Libby about what to feed her kittens this morning...

Compared to Ellis and Ellie, the 'little' ones downstairs seem both very small (enough to make me neurotic!), but amazingly trouble-free. I weighed them today as I find it very hard to judge their size because Ellis is now so big. Sally (Dudley's mum) came to say hello today, and she said Ellis is a lot bigger than Duds, so it looks as though the infection hasn't set him back much in that sense. However, he doesn't like being restricted, but I still have to take elaborate care that he doesn't come in contact with the other cats, nor that they can get at each others' bedding and toys. It's a complicated life I'm leading at the moment! Here are the little 'rogues' - 10 weeks old today.

Peter, top of the scales at 1443 gms

Gill's Pickle, 1154 gms

Steven and Gary's Podge, 1196 gms

My pretty little Pepper, 1082 gms

Betty's Pandy, 1083 gms

Seven, a bundle of purrs, 1085 gms

Nicky's darling Piper, 1106 gms

Jackie's precious Piglet, 1094 gms

and here they all are together.