Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kittens (Days Zero to Three)

We were recently adopted by a local stray, who we quickly realised was pregnant. So over the next four weeks we stuffed her with food and won her affections forever.

We were a bit worried about her having her kittens outside, so encouraged her into the house. This paid off... unexpectedly well.

A few hours before giving birth. Jess was having contractions and being super clingy, complaining loudly if she wasn't getting stroked right that second.

Here you can see a video of her contractions.

She disappeared under the bed and settled down silently, only for me to be woken by what seemed to be a bird at about 4.30am as the first kitten was born.

The Birth
You can hear one of the newborn kittens crying in this video (literally newborn. The mother hadn't even started washing it yet).

It was pretty dark under the bed, so I had to use the flash, so I only took occasional pictures. The whole thing took about two and a half hours, each kitten popping neatly out about 20-40 minutes apart, followed by the placentas (which I never saw).

Jess is expelling the placenta while the first kitten snuggles into her and the second rests between her hind legs.

Washing the third kitten, while the others get confused about where their mum is (I managed to sneak more newspaper in, not that it did any good).

The third kitten, all pink and patchy snuggles up with its siblings.

Four kittens! 

Day Zero

Later in the day, the kittens are already looking more like kittens.

And the mother is very happy.

And even happier to see food.

She stayed in here for over a day.

Jumping up for food, to the dismay of her babies.

Then settling back down with them.

Day One

She actually comes right out looking for food, though she kept checking on her kittens behind her, and wouldn't let me stroke her.

The kittens are sleeping, and didn't really notice.

Back in to lick them clean some more (and eat the kitten poop).

The evening of the second day, we moved the kittens. I scooped them all into a basket (after lifting up the whole mattress!), and walked them slowly down to their new spot, letting their mother see them - but not grab them back!

She was a little confused, but pretty good about it. The basket was the minimise the disruption and reduce the risk of getting human scent all over the babies.

After a brief escape with one kitten before we had them settled (easily fixed, as I just went and picked it up and it mewed its mother back down the hallway), Jess decides that her new home is perfect. It's a small table covered in blankets. 

She settles right down to feed her babies.

Purring the whole time.

And then she realised that her babies were trapped in a basket and promptly went wandering around the house begging for attention, and made her first trip back outside (to poop, presumably).

Day Two

The kittens are doing well in their basket, and the mother is very much enjoying her new freedom and a steady supply of food and water. 

But she's being very good about feeding them regularly.

Carefully sitting down and sort of wiggling and rearranging herself while the kittens move out of the way.
And then lying down and purring happily as they figure out how to find the nipples.

Feeding usually takes around ten or fifteen minutes, as the various kittens manage to drink.

And then they go to sleep.
(I actually picked up the basket to put it under the window to get a better photo for this one. Jess was quite happy about it).

Poor old Moss (who's been feeling a bit rickety) has been hissed at a couple of times, when she went to poke her nose in to see what the kittens were, and half the house is off limits to her now.

But she's coping with it pretty well. 

Day Three

The kittens are a bit livelier and don't spend the whole time burying their faces in each other now, so I managed to get a few photos of them.

I even got this video of them burrowing into each other.

Kittens in motion!

Snuggled up against the side of the basket

Whoops! The dark grey tabby just fell right off the pile!

Here they've lined up nicely. So we have two calicos (almost certainly female) and two mysteriously gendered greys.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Cat Was Hyperthyroid

One reason I stopped posting photos of my cat here - oh, I still took them - was because it was depressing me that she kept getting thinner.

Well, she got a lot thinner this year, and it turned out that she was extremely hyperthyroid, and I'm pretty sure the fact that I dedicated a month to getting as much food into her as possible actually kept her alive. But I got her to the vets, and treated her, and after two months of vet visits and medicine and being hyperaware of the cat, and finally losing her for a week to isolation after a radio-iodine injection, I can finally say that she has gained all the weight she lost in the last three years back - in three weeks.

Hyperthyroid cats have overactive thyroids, which means faster metabolisms, which means that they need to eat a lot more than usual or starve. It appears in old cats and comes with a charming array of other problems.

If you think your cat might have hyperthyroidism, you may benefit from reading the article I wrote up about it and my experiences: Feline Hyperthyroidism: Why My Cat Started Starving to Death (even if you don't read mine, I strongly recommend doing some reading around before talking to the vet).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

July and August, Random Cat Photos

This pile of cushions is not enough! I can still feel the pea!

Must. Be. Cleaner.
Admire my beautiful clean paw.

....CATNIP. Catnip and scratchy toy!

Stop. Oi. Hey. Look at me. Up here! STOP LOOKING AT THE PUZZLE.
Right, that's it.
Mwahaha. I shall now wriggle and scatter these pieces everywhere! Fetch me another cushion.

Basic Tips for Caring For A Cat With Arthritis

If your cat is getting old (or even if it isn't), then sooner or later you may notice that it starts limping, has trouble climbing steps, avoids jumping down from anywhere, and gets upset if picked up or handled roughly. Possibly upset in a 'suddenly turn around and take a couple of fingers off' way.

Arthritis gets a LOT worse in the cold. My cat Moss started limping in winter, every winter, from around six or seven years old (she is now over thirteen). It got gradually worse, and finally was making her very unhappy - and very difficult to brush, because her joints were so painful. And then summer rolled around, and suddenly she was tearing all over the house and playing happily again.

The cat asleep next to the oil heater.
She makes a great footwarmer.
1. Warmth. Arthritis gets a lot worse in the cold. Give your cat somewhere warm to spend most of the time. I posted about the cat bed I was given before, which was great. Sadly, it was ancient and has since died, but it's now cold enough to light the fire and run heaters around the house, so she spends a lot of time trying to merge with those.

2. Glucosamine tablets can be fed daily in food (it's also used to treat arthritis in humans). It can be a bit pricey though - and it's a long way to a pet store from where I live, so - while I do see improvements - tip 3 takes up the slack.

3. Fish oils. The omega 3 fatty acids in cold water fish (e.g. salmon and tuna) help with arthritis. I share a can of tuna with her once or twice a week (we get half each - works out well, as I'm only cooking for myself!), and I saw a huge improvement once I started doing this.

You can't cure arthritis in your cat, but you can make the symptoms go away. This last winter I've been treating her with the tips above - and nothing else, and she's been happy and bouncy all through (occasional limping moments and she hates going out into the cold, but otherwise very well off).