28 September 2002

Although it really is Autumn here now, there are some lovely warm sunny days. I decided that a little walk on the grass in the sunshine while I was cleaning out their litter trays would be a good way of blowing away some cobwebs, and possibly improve some appetites a bit. They've recently gone off raw meat which is a great pity as it's this that really builds bulk on a kitten. Some of them are quite narrow in the body, but don't seem bony at all, and they're heavier than you expect when you pick them up. Even so, Old-style Siamese should be a bit more solid and hefty in the body than show Siamese, and I'd like to see a bit more weight on these ones. If they were indeed wormy last week, I should see some bulking out in the next few days as a result of having got rid of the parasites.

29 September 2002
I'm a lot more relaxed today than I have been for a while, partly because everyone seems to be eating well (though Ellis and Ellie don't seem to want much at the moment- perhaps the anitbiotics making them a little uninterested in food), but probably mainly because we STILL haven't got any further cases of Chlamydia. This is one of the best reasons I know for keeping kittens apart from the other adults in the house (apart from the fact that the other adults don't like kittens!), and also for having a significant quarantine period if I bring in a cat from outside, no matter where from. I live and learn. Here is 'kitten world'... I can see seven of them, but that's because I know there's one in the wicker basket in the foreground!

30 September 2002

We did the dreaded vaccinations this morning - Pickle was last in the queue, and kept trying to steal her syringe and run away with it - she was a big hit with Gillian, the nurse. Podge, on the other hand, promptly lay on her side and said that nasty vet had made her very ill and she couldn't walk any more.
Since she was in my kitchen at the time, we just stood around and couldn't believe it. The vet smirked knowingly and I could see him thinking 'typical Siamese', then I picked her up and put her back with the others, whereupon she lifted her head up and gave a hollow cough - honestly, 20 seconds is just too quick for a vaccine reaction. Anyway, Peter promptly mounted her: that certainly snapped her out of it! Poor old Peter got a smack in the chops for his presumption, and Podge waltzed off to the food for a faceful. Honestly, what a drama-queen! Today's pictures are of Podge having a severe attack of the 'stupids' and trying to cuddle up to the two bronze cats who live on the top of the piano. She just couldn't get comfortable enough, but went to sleep eventually.

1 October 2002
Some Queens decide that they've had enough of their kittens, particularly if they are rowdy (and with eight, they can get pretty monstrous!), but Libby is as attached to her babies as ever - she cries to be with them even if she gets caught on the wrong side of the kitchen door for a few moments. I don't know how she's going to cope with the separation when they have to leave home, though by then they'll be a lot bigger and she may have had enough of them. I think I'll have to start separating her from them for short periods before they go so that the change isn't too obvious. Once they've gone I can integrate her with the Tonkinese and that's when the real fun will start.

2 October 2002

Considering their age, it's surprising that doing a poo still seems to cause some of the kittens discomfort. It always makes Libby very anxious when one of them starts shouting 'I've got a big one coming!' and she has to rush over to make sure the kitten is all right, and so do the other kittens! This is the biggest of them in the tray, Peter Padfoot (he has huge paddy paws!), who was trumpeting to announce the imminent arrival of a not-very-impressive poo. At least Libby doesn't feel the need to drag him out of the litter box by the neck any more, which she used to do when one of them started shouting.

3 October 2002
Pickle is turning into a master thief - there's nothing she won't steal! Not content with running off with the washing-up sponge, she stole the vet's syringes; then yesterday night she got hold of the green beans that I couldn't sqeeze onto my dinner plate, and when I came back into the kitchen the room was full of kittens draggin beans about the floor and growling. This morning I came down and looked through the glass door to see her stealing a whole cat bed and dragging it off the top of the piano and onto the floor via the chair - it's bigger than she is, but she just can't resist stealing things and hoarding them. I can't understand why she doesn't do it with toys...
Pumpkin is miserable at the moment as Teddy has spiked her in the eye with one of his claws AGAIN. I think this must be about the 6th time he's done it, and one of her injuries resulted in about £1800 worth of complex eye surgery, ending in a large opaque graft in the centre of her left eye. We're elaborately careful of her now, but either Teddy or Reckless keeps getting her again. If only I could bear to rehome one of them I would do it, but they love each other as much as I love them, and it's just occasional spats that result in these unusual injuries. Anyway, her right cornea now looks pretty unpleasant, though not infected as I'm doing antibiotic eye-drops. What is most upsetting is that one day an injury like this will blind her. She's getting older and her ability to regenerate is lessening. If only we could persuade cats to wear goggles!
Today is a fun day for me with Libby's babies, as they're having their photographs taken by a professional photographer. Like everyone, I think my kittens are amazingly beautiful, but they look even better on a blue background and with proper lighting so there's no red-eye. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to see the pictures: I'm used to getting them off my digital camera in short order. (no pictures today, but lots tomorrow!)

4 October 2002
Today started very early indeed at about half past midnight. I had pretty much drifted off to sleep when there was the most appalling screaming and howling from downstairs - it sounded as if everyone was screaming at once. In the few seconds it took for me to leap out of bed and grab for a dressing gown, I wondered if it would be safe to go into the kittens with so little fabric protection, then I thought maybe one of the Tonkinese had somehow got shut in there by mistake, but they had come pounding into my bedroom and emerged from under the covers as distressed as I was by the appalling noise. I went down the stairs so fast I don't think I touched more than three steps, all the while thinking a) could a tom cat have got in somehow (even though I know it's impossible) or b) maybe someone was trapped like Katy had been... I wasn't much wiser when I got down there. When I opened the door several of them tore out, but Libby seemed to be in the process of attacking Peter Padfoot (or he was attacking her): they were both completely fluffed up and growling and howling. The other kittens were making a terrible noise and also howling and growling and tearing about the two rooms, but Libby and Peter seemed to be at the centre of it.
I know what happens if you try to pick up a cat doing that, so I didn't, but I did try to herd Peter into the kitchen. He seemed to listen to my voice and allowed me to stroke his back, but the instant I put my hand under him to move him he tore into my hand with his claws. Much to be expected in that state, but at least I got him through the door and the door shut. However, he and Libby were still howling at each other through the door and the other kittens were continuing to panic. I tried putting Libby into one of the carrying baskets, but she just went berserk, so in the end I let her out and took the smallest basket into the kitchen and tried to calm Peter. It took some time, but thank goodness he understood who I was from my voice, though every time he sniffed my hands he spat at me. The saddest thing is that he had soiled himself in his fright: his back end was covered in poo. Things weren't being helped by Libby growling from next door, but I eventually got him into the carrier and took him through to my lodger's bathroom and put him in the bath in the carrier, turned off the light and closed the door.
I have never been so grateful before for Valerian compound. This is a herbal mother tincture sold by a veterinary herbal company and I always have a bottle to had for emergencies. Libby got some on a paw first, then one by one, all the kittens were caught or pulled out from under or behind things and put into the big carrier with a few drops on their paws. With Peter in the bathroom, I should have had seven kittens, but there were only six still. It took me quite a while to find no.9 (Piglet) who had squashed herself between a kitchen unit and the wall. I couldn't leave her there and had to drag her out.
Since the source of all the growling was now removed, the kittens seemed to take comfort from being confined together in a familiar place. Their little eyes were still very round and dilated, but they were beginning to lick their paws. Valerian compound is ideal for emergencies as the smell has an immediate tranquillising effect even without it being ingested. Taken internally it takes maybe 20 minutes to work. Libby was still growling at the kitchen door, so I let her out to take a look around and finally things went quiet. I was worrying all the time though about what had happened to start this and how I was going to get Peter back where he belonged.
With everyone calm in the kitten room, I retrieved Peter from the bathroom and brought him back to the kitchen. He had been given Valerian compound when I took him through, and was now sitting down and had stopped growling. He had clearly decided that I was OK, but there was something horrible somewhere in the house. He came out to me very cautiously and I washed his back end in the kitchen sink (I know that's disgusting, but he was frightened and he seemed to like this as it finally got him purring again!) and then sat for 20 mins with him in my arms while everyone had a chance to unwind. I wrapped him in a small nest then and put him back in his basket. Back in the kitten room I let the kittens out of their carrier, and they seemed ok apart from a couple who were very wary and didn't want to come out. That was no problem - they could sleep the rest of the night on the fleece in there if they felt safer that way. The ones who came out I put onto a heat pad as they all seemed shocked. Then I carried Peter in and sat for another 10 minutes with him in my arms. He was very tense and watching the other kittens very carefully. Now that he had calmed down he was able to see that everyone was as they should be, and since the growling had stopped there was nothing to be worried about any more. A few minutes later he was snuggled up with the others, and Libby, after another inspection tour, was also OK again.
I have no real idea what happened but I can guess. If I look in on the kittens from outside in the garden they usually take fright, even if I've only just gone out through the big garden door. This morning I looked through the glass at them and Libby arched her back and I could see she was fuzzed up instantly - all the kittens skittered off the piano in fright, so I guessed she was growling again. It's pretty obvious that someone came around the side of the house just after midnight (a short time after I had turned all my lights off) and either tapped on the glass or (more likely) tried the door. The cats were so spooked that they went crazy. I think I was lucky that Libby and Peter didn't end up hurting each other, as Peter was so terrified that he would have attacked anything that went near him, and Libby is a very protective mother. This morning they are all a bit jumpy, but otherwise fine, and Peter just wants to be cuddled and held.
I don't know why they get so spooked about seeing people in the garden; it wouldn't happen at all if they were upstairs in the small kitten room. However, it's too small for a big family like this, so nobody is moving. I asked the builder four weeks ago to fix my side gate and he keeps finding excuses, so tonight he's going to get it in the ear, and he'll have to do it tomorrow.
Here are the weekly portraits. These were taken without flash with the sunlight behind the kittens, so I had to adjust the pictures a bit so that their faces weren't just in darkness. At least they don't all look like aliens with glowing eyes!