I want to contribute

I want to adopt a kitten!

If you are interested in one of these kittens or other cats and dogs please go to http://www.homewardtrails.org/ and complete the application process. Once your application is approved and you have met your future buddy you will be required to have a home visit. All adopted pets must be spayed or neutered by the age of 6 months and we have a strict NO DECLAW policy. Kittens must be adopted in pairs.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ten Days Post Parvo - All is Well! w/ VIDEO

We are ten days post Parvo and our six kittens are doing well. I, on the other hand have been so exhausted that I can barely keep up. So forgive the lack of posts...all is well. Five of the crew are fat as sausages, naughty as...well as kittens and I couldn't be happier! Our little Peege (Prince George, aka PG) seen here is recuperating from the very worst of the parvo infection. We have determined that Peege will be a special needs kitten as the parvo has left him with a neurological deficit called cerebellar hypoplasia. Basically it means he will always be a bit clumsy...his forelegs don't communicate very well with his back legs and his balance and coordination is terrible (what an indignity for a cat...but don't tell Peege.) He looks like a drunken sailor but this kitten has HEART! He can climb the stairs and find his people and he tries his best to play in the little reindeer games with his siblings. Our awesome veterinarian, Dr. Kenneth Ostroff, confirmed the diagnosis and offered a course of laser treatments. He used a cold laser, set to a frequency specific for central nervous system tissue and bathed our baby in the healing red light. So we are on the cutting edge here...the idea is that the laser stimulates the neurons to kick back into gear. We shall see, but in any event my sister, Nancy is committed to adopting Peege...she is a research nurse in neurology and my nephew, Nick, is studying physical therapy. Nick is already designing a PT regimen for our Peege! He will be fine in their household, and I will get to see him all the time.

The others won't sit still long enough for pictures so I have some video clips of the constant game of chase and hide!

Just for giggles, check out the picture of Uncle Gus...don't you hate it when the hot dog never fits the bun?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The KICU is Closed

Everyone is doing so well that it made sense to close the KICU and move everyone back to the kitten room. Even our little Peege was hungrily sucking up a wet mixture of food. He was such a mess that Talbot licked him clean as a way of getting more food. The kids were all happy to get back to familiar territory and went about exploring every nook and cranny as though their salary depended on it.

Above: Uncle Leo keeping a watchful eye on a sleeping Wicomico.
We buried the kittens today and in a sad twist of fate, my sister Nancy's senior citizen cat, Sarah, at 17 years old breathed her last. So we included Sarah in the burial and all had a good rememberance and a few tears. Sarah was an old friend ans she will be missed.

Sarah had been needing nursing care for the past week and after helping me out with the kittens Nan would go home to treat her old friend. We knew that Sarah wasn't ready, but she would let Nancy know when it was time. That time came on Saturday morning. Nancy said she was going to try to adopt Peege and I think that would be a great idea, She has become a fairy godmother to this litter, so it is fitting that she take one of the kittens.

Above: Uncle Gus sharing the cat tree with Cecil.
Some one asked which kittens survive from which litter. We have four of the older litter, Peege, Talbot, Kent and Cecil. Frederick and Wicomico are from the second litter. The mamas have aways done double duty, nursing which ever kitten is wanting to, regardless of the litter of origin. Miss Maryland has been the more conscientious mama, but her mothering instict extends to both litters.

Left: Uncle Harry staking claim to the kitty playground.
Note that the pictures all show my staff cats interacting with the kittens and plotting to hog all their food. The video below shows a very hungry group of kittens eating, Peege is eating with the others and holding his own.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting Back to Normal - Crazy Cat Lady!

What can I say? I have become the crazy cat lady that I always giggled about. Perhaps its lack of sleep, anxiety or the natural progression of the cat foster. But folks, I am having some questionable moments. I nearly put a kitten in the fridge yesterday morning. OK, I was stressed, did not have enough time and I had to administer two injections and two oral meds to six kittens and confirm that each of the six were eating. Rushing to leave the house, cleaning up the KICU and putting the meds back in the fridge...poor Freddie nearly ended up in the egg container.

Its all good news...very good news. This morning Prince George (PG) "Peege" was hungry and lapped at my kitty milkshare concoction along with his siblings. In the picture you see Miss Maryland tending to the babies and there in the middle, the white kitten with the jaunty black cap is Peege, soaking up the love and comfort of his 5 siblings. We will continue the aggressive treatment of all kittens through this weekend and then will have quiet time (HA...who am I kidding?) as recuperation.

Those of you who have not experienced parvovirus are fortunate. It is nearly always fatal in kittens so we have beaten odds in ways most veterinarians will not believe. "This is the stuff that journal articles are written about," one vet told me. So these are super kittens for sure. I was so excited the other day talking to the vet, telling her that we had some guarded optimism that I had to pull over (I can't talk and drive in my crazy cat lady condition.) I finished the conversation and continued on my way to the grocery store when I looked down and realized that I had put my shorts on inside out! OK, no problem...except that these black yoga pants have that lovely white cotton crotch on the inside. YIKES!

A Fitting Memorial

Some of you have expressed a desire to participate in a tangible memorial to our awesome kitty angels. To that end I have asked for the Chip In goal to be increased (as we had nearly reached our previous goal.) The Chip In donations were designed to defray costs such as these...those of you with pets know how very costly any kind of veterinary care can be. Your donations will be appreciated by the organization for which I foster, Homeward Trails and, of course, by me as we work to pay off the medical care bills. Kittenpalooza will directly benefit from your kindness and Homeward Trails will make good use of the remainder funds to save other homeless pets. Another tangible memorial to our sweet kitty angels would be to make certain that all domestic pets in your care, in your communities, and in our greater shared community are vaccinated against the host of common, preventable diseases such as parvovirus that affected Kittenpalooza. Thanks...jane

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In memorium...in celebration...

It has been an awful week. As you know from previous posts the amazing Kittenpalooza super litter has been decimated with feline distemper, panleukopenia...also referred to as parvo. Sommerset was the first to succumb, followed on Sunday by our dear sweet Annie (Anne Arrundel) and Ally (Allegheny). At that point we knew that we were dealing with parvo, we threw a Hail Mary pass and vaccinated everyone on the off chance that it would give some immunity. Monday was just horrid...we lost four more kittens. Tuesday morning the eighth kitten died. I thought my heart would simply cease to function with each passing. The most I could do was to hold the dying babies, sing to them, coo at them and encourage them to go. I have given tummy kisses to each little one on both sides of their crossing. I have bathed them with my tears.
Kittenpalooza is a super litter, but now it numbers six. Six who are, at this moment, survivors and while each has been sick to greater and lesser degrees...they all seem to have turned a corner. The super litter is now Prince George (Peege), Frederick (Freddie), Wicomico, Talbot, Cecil and Kent. Both mamas, Miss Maryland and Miss Caroline, are fighting it off as well. We think we may have our miracle and this may be the most super thing about this litter...nearly all kittens with this disease die.

As late as Tuesday noon, we had to consider the awful step of euthanizing the litter. We agonized over what to do. Many experts, in rescue, the veterinary consultants, neighbors and friends have given advice and comfort and unwavering support. Your kind comments to my sister, Nancy's post on Sunday meant more than you can imagine. In the end we decided to treat everyone aggressively with anti-nausea medicine, subcutaneous fluids, Karo syrup, and force feeding. Perhaps it was time for them to turn the corner anyway...but we got our miracle last night with all six babies and two mamas looking so very much better. Most are eating on their own and the uncontrollable poo (my nurse mother and sister insist I call it stool...but kittens make poo!) seems to be on the down swing. Even our sickest guy, Peege, dipped his head to the water bowl and ... yes... he is going to...yes! He drank some water on his own!!! We did the HAPPY DANCE.

There are probably some hurdles left to cross, some tears left to shed, lessons yet to learn and certainly more stories to tell you all. For now, I wanted to catch you up...share the sad news and look forward, with you, to the future of these six little survivors. I am so sad to have lost so many precious babies; but, I was honored to be the human representative in the lives of Sommerset, Anne Arrundel, Allegheny, Calvert, Montgomery, Carroll, Garrett and Howard. I hope that all rescued animals will know that there are many humans waiting to be their forever friends, for as long as that forever shall be.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Allie and Annie have been called home with Somerset

It has been a very sad day today in Kittenpalooza Land. Our fiesty Annie and her "Ewok" sidekick Allie joined their sister Somerset in Kitty Heaven. Annie was the first to show signs of illness, and was rushed to the Emergency Vet for immediate care. The vet and their staff lovingly tried to save her, but there was nothing they could do. Annie tested positive for the Parvovirus also known as "Kitty Distemper." She passed peacefully away in the early afternoon.

At home, Allie began to show signs of the same illness. Mommy Jane, Auntie Nancy (writing today's entry), and Nannie Alice set up a KICU (kitten intesive care unit) to care for our baby Allie. She was a real trooper to the end, but the virus was too much for her to conquer. She took her last kitty breaths cuddled in Mommy Jane's gentle, loving hands. We all cried as we wished Allie a safe trip home to join Annie and Somerset. Our baby, swaddled in pink tissue paper and wrapped in pink silk bows, was laid to rest in the garden. We cried some more.

Although their kitty lives were short, all three of these babies were loved and cherished. They brought joy and laughter to all who met them. We will remember Somerset for her boundless energy and robust stature as the biggest kitty in the Kittenpalooza litter. Annie was the fiesty one who liked to do EVERYTHING first. First to eat solid food, first to use the cat box, first to climb the stairs. You will all remember that it was Annie who had the shoulder abcess and was also the first of the kitties to visit the vet. Ms. Spunky could hold her own!! Allie (Alleghany) was the only long haired baby in the bunch. She always looked a little dishieveled, but knew what she wanted and got it too. Like her sister litter mates, Allie was a ball of energy, playful, and very mischievious. They all touched our hearts and we are grateful for the time they spent as part of our family.

Parvovirus is a very serious illness that can wipe out a litter very quickly. Populations of cats in parts of the world have been known to be wiped out by this virus too. Fortunately, all of the rest of the kitties were immediately vaccinated after Allie and Annie died. This was to be vaccination week for the entire litter. We are hopeful that the remaining kitties and their mommies will be okay. Your thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated as we keep a watchful and vigilant eye on the group. Please, please remember that it is vitally important that you vaccinate your own feline family against this potentially devastating virus. Distemper is preventable!! Vaccination is the key. Just so you know, the feline house staff (Sophie, Gus, Harry, and Leo) are all up to date on the vaccinations.

Allie, Annie, and Somerset: We love you. We miss you. We wish you a safe voyage home!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kitty Taco

First of all, to all of Kittenpalooza's kind followers...my sincere thanks for your notes of encouragement. Yesterday's loss was very tough. I had just been thinking we had made it through the vulnerable period unscathed. I was dreading having to tell you all about losing Sommerset, I thought I had failed at raising the super litter. But this is so NOT about me. What I do is about the amazing little kitten lives that we save to become life long furry companions and friends. In any event, your kind understanding made my fears totally unwarranted. Sommerset was, indeed, a sweet baby girl. Feisty, and independent and very smart. All the characteristics of calico cats...but her agenda in this life was short. I have a great video clip of Sommer wrestling with one of her siblings...I'll post it soon.

Right now I'd like to share the kitty taco with you. This is how we transport groups of kittens from the kitten room to the upstairs family room for some play time.
We will get back to posting the Kitten of the Day soon...we still have a number to go!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's a Sad, Sad Day

We lost our sweet Sommerset today. When I found her this morning she was limp and lethargic. Fearing something infectious I isolated her, got some water into her and asked mom to keep an eye on her. By mid-day I knew we needed a visit to the vet. She was hypothermic and hypoglycemic...we thought we revivied her at the vet. They called me about an hour later to say she had respiratory arrest.

It was very quick. She was very loved and I feel very sad, very, very sad. I am so sorry to have to share this sad news with our Kittenpalooza friends. Jane

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hey, Who's the New Kid?

Annie wants to know who the new kid is and how did he get in here. No one else seems to care. I don't mind he doesn't eat much.
Michigoose guessed Friday's kitten of the day correctly. It was our Garrett, a gorgeous deep red tabby with white boy. Garrett is one of the younger kittens and loves to cuddle in my neck.

Let's catch up on milestones. Annie was our first baby to go up and down the stairs. Poor baby girl going down the stairs was kind of traumatic. She worried over the big drop, but true to form she just went for it...unfortuneately her backside had greater momentum than she bargained for and she sommersaulted down several steps. Once we both caught our breath, our intrepid Annie tried again...and this time she very carefully controlled her bottom half, and successfully managed the stairs. The next day Annie led a group of kitties up the stairs...that herding thing, one leads and the others all follow. The group did a few steps each, but our Annie made it all the way up the hill. She was just about to gloat, when little Howard (from the younger litter) joined her at the top! Go Howie!

Kitten of the Day!
Can you guess who this precious baby is? The right guess earns a contribution via Chip In!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Our super litter is one big bunch of happy, joyous kitties. They have the entire kitten room to explore, a cat tree to conquer and lots of kitty cups (comfy beds) to curl up into. It is pretty typical to see a group playing, some eating, somebody concentrating on toileting skills and one loney kitten catching up on a nap. Individualism may be the milestone for this week.

We seem to have already gained some benefit from the tummy meds. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I only did one load of laundry last night so things are looking up! And most importantly, I figured out a better dosing system...catch a kitten, give it the meds and put it in the bathtub. An empty bathtub is a kitten fortress right now. That way I get to control who has been dosed. Brilliant!


So we did not have a guess for yesterday's kitten of the day. Our tabby boy with a white face (muzzle really) is Kent. Kent is from the older litter. He is a super napper and an absolute expert at fending off the siblings when mama is nursing. That boy WILL get his share. As a consequence he was not interested in eating solid food at all until Wednesday when he marched into the center of the dish and growled at everyone who got in his way. We have to work on our table manners, Kent.

The kitten of the day today is featured in these photos (and in one of the video clips). Just look at that sweet little face. And aren't those whiskers just to die for? Submit your guess and I'll make a donation in your honor through the Chip In widget.

Please enjoy the video clips below. You get a sense of the kitten room from the clips from a kitten eye level. There are lots of places to hide and things to explore. Best of all there are many, many playmates to chase and tease and fight, then when its all over nothing beats a gang nap in one of the kitty cups!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Medicating Kittens and Kitten of the Day

Everyone got an initial dose of Albon last night. We are trying to beat the tummy upsets and soupy poopy syndrome before my washing machine goes on the fritz. Now that means 16 cats getting treatment every day for the next 10 days and this is a logistical nightmare. Here's how it works: bring all the kittens into the family room and 1) put them in the kitty condo, 2) measure out a dose of Albon, 3) extract a kitten, 4) with my mom holding the kitten, squirt the liquid into its mouth, 5) place kitten back into the condo and repeat...13 times. All the while the babies are hollering to get out of the condo, escaping and wandering the family room and the frantic mamas are trying to drag them back to the kitten room. I'm hurrying, I'm frazzled but...I'm an idiot! I know them all well and can tell everyone by sight, but in all the excitement even I got confused. Especially with the tabbies (see Kitten of the Day below). I had to check their mouths and whiskers to detect telltale signs of medicine so I could determine if that kitten had already been dosed. We will figure out a better system tonight.

Here is today's Kitten of the Day

SpinKitty got yesterday's kitten of the day correct. That was our Allegheny, I call her Ally. She is a tiny girl from the younger litter. Ally is a tortie and has the prettiest markings on her face. Additionally, Ally seems to have longer hair than the others. Poor girl, she always looks a bit disheveled as she hasn't got the grooming down to a science yet. She looks like a litte Ewok baby!

The kitten of the day today wasn't very happy about having its picture taken, but we managed. Now as a hint, remember we have several tabby kittens and each has a subtle distinction. Check back to an early post and you will find a kitten description. I will always make the distinctions visible...so have at it! Here is another look.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kitty Pool is Kaput!

The super litter has officially abandoned the kitty pool. We had so many escapees and those that couldn't escape mewed so pitifully (and continuously) that mamas hauled them over the rim into the kitten room. I conceeded defeat and took it away. Our lives will never be the same. In the video below you can see three of the brood making a mountain out of me.

We are having some soupy poop issues right now. While the kids had understood the purpose of the litter box was for pee and poo and not just digging and playing; diarrhea has meant for many misses. Laundry is even more frequent. Washing kittens butts (and legs, and tails) has become a regular part of the job description. Everyone is eating, but I am begining to worry that my little ones especially don't have enough reserve to handle the sick bellies. So we are going to get some meds onboard today...another part of the job description. No worries!

Kitten of the Day

Millicent guessed yesterday's entry correctly...Howard! He is nearly all black, with a white belly blaze and white toes all around. As his eyes are still kitten blue/black he has a Yoda like look to him. A gentle kitten, with a penchance for exploring.

Here is today's kitten. Can you guess? Again, I will make a donation in honor of the first correct entrant.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here is Your Clue!





These pictures were taken over a five minute period. One by one the kids put themselves to bed in the kitty cup. Isn't it delicious that they can do so with such abandon?

I've been asked for close-up photos. Let's make it a kitten puzzle. Kitten descriptions are included in this blog early on...and I will make a donation on behalf of the first person to get the "Kitten of the Day" correct. Ready, set...GO!

This kitten kind of looks like Yoda. Can you guess who it is?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How Many Kittens?

How many kittens can you find in this pile of napping kitties? Extra points if you can name them! And just to help you out below is some video of the nap...I could spend hours watching sleeping kittens. The kittens' godmother (OK fairy godmother) Stephanie, and her mom, Catherine, spent a good visit watching them with me on Sunday. The kids are eating from a plate/bowl so no more spoon feeding! They are playing with toys and very ready to be out of the kitty pool. I am reluctant but they have already figured out ways to climb out so the day is coming soon.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nom, Nom, Nom...It takes a village.

Wicomico is three weeks old today. She is a hungry girl and in this picture and video is being introduced to chicken and KMR mush. Delicious...I know, I've tasted it (and worn quite a bit!) We are introducing each kitten separately to the mixture so that we can be sure they are getting some actual nutrition (as opposed to a chickeny facial.) I had not expected the younger litter to be ready for solid food...but they surprised me. So, the task this week is to get everyone eating from a DISH nevermind this spoon feeding 14 babies. That's my mom in the picture and thank goodness she is able to share the duty with me. It takes a village to raise some kittens.

SIDE NOTE: THere was some question about the Chip In widget...it does take a day or so for each contribution to be tracked on the widget, but we are indeed getting them. Your generosity makes this all possible. To each of you who have kindly contributed...Thanks!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday Weights

  • Garrett 8.75
  • Frederick 8.13
  • Allegheny 8.13
  • Howard 8.13
  • Wicomico 7.75
  • Calvert 8.00
  • Sommerset 12.75
  • Anne Arrundel 10.5
  • Price George 10.63
  • Montgomery 11.25
  • Talbot 13.75
  • Cecil 11.75
  • Kent 11.75
  • Carroll 12.38


Some of the older litter are now eating solid food (well actually mushy food.) The feeding process requires a load of laundry, a baby wipe bath for kittens and a shower for me. I started with the introduction of food on Friday. It is a mixture of baby food (Gerber's) and KMR. I think it was 50 Kittens that described baby food as crack for kittens...I second that! They don't take to it right away though...the method of delivery (e.g., not from a nipple) takes some training. I offered it from a spoon but soon found that they prefer my fingers and once they get the hang of it will suck the slurry off my fingers with gusto. Annie, in the photo above, was the first kitten to get it and I could barely keep up with her demand! She is such a spunky little thing (Annie is very small for the older kittens, but holds her own!) When I thought she was done I put her down and tried someone else...and the others licked food off Annie's messy face and then started to lick my legs, which were dangling in the kitty pool. So I smeared food on my bare legs (hence the necessity for a shower) and let them lick it off...sounds nuts I know, but it got them to taste food voluntarily.

After Easter dinner with friends, I asked for some help doing a feeding. My guests were thankfully happy to help. I mixed up a bowl of kitten crack and gave everyone a demitasse spoon, a lap cloth and a kitten. Some of them are still not interested but Annie, Sommerset, Montgomery and Talbot are now champs at eating and will lap it up from a plate. I expect the others will show some interest soon.

The younger litter also showed some curiosity about the solid food, they get bottle fed as a supplement to mamas milk, but if they show interest I'm going to let them at it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Can we play?

Yes, we can play! The super litter has accomplished more milestones today. They play! This is without a doubt activity just for fun. Play attack mama's tail, rumble with a few of your siblings and king of the hill using my folded legs as the hill. Take a look and enjoy. Tommorrow I will share pictures of their first time eating food. I need help for that one...I already have Gerber's Baby Food Chicken smeared all over my iPhone.

News Flash! We had our first kitten poops and they were in the litter box! Happy Dancing here!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Staff Cats

The staff cats need equal time...well at least an introduction. I am very fortunate to have a house staff of extremely accepting and tolerant cats. Their job is to teach the babies about cat socialization (particularly when we have kittens with no mamas.)

Our home pride of felines consists of the elder statescat, "Sophie" a Norwegian Forest Cat. Sophie is elegant, dainty and always a lady (except when she tries to escape out the front door and then I call her a hussy.) Next we have big Leo, a red tabby Maine Coon cat of considerable size and stature. Leo is a lover kitty but only on his own terms. He divides his time equally between the human residents of the household, sleeping one night with one and then switching the following night to ensure equal time. Then along came our big goofy Gus. Gus is also a Maine Coon of considerable size but he is the clumsiest cat I have ever known. He just doesn't understand that his legs are so long and the swish of his tail so deadly. He is a black smoke with white and the white marking on his muzzle makes it look like he has been drinking milk out of the pitcher (which he probably has been doing.) Finally there is Harry, our foster failure. Harry came into my home for an overnight and ended up part of the household staff. He, too, is a red head and has medium length hair but none of the size of the Maine Coon boys.
Harry, as the house diplomat, is the first to meet the newcomers. As soon as we have passed some quarantine time for the babies Harry is busy breaking into the kitten room trying to scarf up the good food that the mama cats have (it’s a grass is greener thing...he gets the same stuff.) He is careful not to stick his head into the nest as he knows from experience that "Mama don't play that." But his constant presence eventually gains familiarity and soon the mamas are willing to have him babysit. Remember that big awkward 13 year old cousin at family reunions who would rather play with the little kids than the kids his own age, “Come on, I’ll show you how to climb the cat tree…like this see…” That’s our Cousin Harry. Uncle Gus and Uncle Leo are all about the naps. Their long silky fur is irresistible to the babies who will cuddle into them and root around looking for a handy nipple. Oops! Better try Cousin Harry, he doesn’t mind. Sophie has little or no contact with the babies but she has befriended the moms and as long as no one takes her favorite sleeping spot (a shoebox on my dresser) she is happy to share her home with an endless loop of kittens. I couldn’t do this kitten thing without a house full of obliging cats…thanks guys, extra head butts all around.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Playtime and Tummy Rubs

The kitten scrumb now usually includes a couple of kittens laying on their backs with paws boxing and feet kicking. Sometime this becomes a group activity when it leads to some adorable play fights.

Note that even at this tender age the kittens have learned to groom themselves and their litter mates. I have seen one kitten fast asleep while sucking on his paw...no camera at that moment of course.

Everyone is healthy (knock wood) gaining weight steadily, no weepy eyes, or sniffles. I am struggling to keep the mamas at a healthy weight. They are getting kitten food (for lactating moms) and canned food with NutriCal added but Miss Caroline is always very hungry. She is lean to skinny and soemtimes is desperate for something. I tired cooked chicken breast yesterday which she loved but I haven't seen any difference in her hunger level. Suggestions anyone?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Donations - Chip In

Hello all:

My sincere thanks to those of you who have made a donation to the Super Litter through Chip In. As you can imagine the expense of raising a healthy litter of this size is hefty. Food, litter, cleaning and laundry alone are budget busters. The biggest expense is the potential of veterinary bills. All Homeward Trails pets are vetted before being adopted out. These expenses are foreseeable but the onset of illness like upper respiratory illness and a variety of tummy upsets can come on quickly, go through a litter, and do much damage. Having the meds and the expertise to handle these things can become expensive. Your contributions are essential to allow us to continue to save pets like this AWESOME litter.

I understand that the Chip In widdget on the site may not be registering all of the contributioins that have been made. If you think you have made a contribution that has not registered on the Chip In widget, please let me know. If you have confirmation from Chip In and can forward that to me all the better. We will follow up and get it squared away. I have trust in Chip In and believe this to be an oversight, but one we'd like to get straight. I'll report what we find.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Toddlers - VIDEO

Miss Caroline's kittens are officially toddlers. Wow, they have gotten to this stage fast! You will see in the video clip all eight of the older litter toddling around on one side of the "kitty pool" while all six of the younger kittens slept in a pile on the other side. Their eyes are bright and they look intently at you with a curious gaze. Note towards the end of the video that everyone starts mewing in response to my call and toddles towards my voice. There are the first signs of play as well...chasing a sibling's tail or wrestling while maintaining a mouthful of sibling's ear are early attempts at play.

Miss Maryland's kids are also doing well, growing and meeting milestones, while competing with the big kids is a tough task for a six ounce kitten. The little guys do sleep much more and prefer the kitten scrum (everybody piled on top) for serious nap time. Inevitably there is at least one of the big kids mixed in and when it comes time for a mama meal, Montgomery is sure to be first in line...that kitten will not miss a meal. Miss Maryland's brood has begun to open their eyes and their locomotion is halfway between the kitten swim and the toddle. I expect that they will meet some of their milestones earlier than normal because they have to keep up with the big kids.

Our two mamas are very hungry as they are processing food to make milk for the super litter. I continue to look for ways to get additional calories into them both. Miss Caroline has begun to explore outside of the kitten room and last night she begged for (and stole) some chicken that I had been eating. She knows what she needs, my job is just to go with it.

I was in New Jersey this weekend at a scuba diving show and kitty nursery duty was under my sister Nancy's capable hands. Nancy was assisted by my mom, Alice and Nancy's friend Millicent, thanks are in order to them all!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We've moved!

The Super Litter met a milestone Wednesday night...they moved! The plastic storage container that served as their nest box was getting too small. Both mamas could not comfortably stretch out while nursing, and the two weekers were begining to need some room to toddle. Luckily, ToysRUs has its summer wading pools in stock, I bought one and set it in the kitten room, expecting that it would take a day or so for mamas to decide it was OK to make the move. Not so, they leaped into the wading pool and stretched out together. So I put the babies in with them. They seem happy with the arrangement, no one feels the need to move babies around and the big kids get to explore on tentative little legs.

Kitten development very closely parallels human baby development. As the older litter's eyes (and ear canals) are opening I have been testing their sight and hearing. I hold the kitten close to my face and make eye contact. Once I am sure the kitten is focused on me I move to the left or right continually talking and coaxing the baby. Sure enough the kitten will turn its head to follow my voice and to meet my gaze.

Up until now, locomotion has been a swimming type of crawl towards the warmth and smell of mamas body and her full nipples. The kittens then go through a period of exercising their limbs before actually testing them out by crawling, toddling and finally walking. They will lie face up, on their back and wave fore paws in the air, kick their hind legs and invite their human mom to tickle their full and satitisfied bellies. Irresistable! The crawling is pitiful. Their first attempts are accompanied by much wobbling, tentative starts and then an awkward plop followed by a pitiful cry! Of all our first litter, little Annie is the best, she is even investigating the high sides of the new nest. She will be the first to escape for sure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby's First Portraits

Above Snuggling with Mama Maryland.

Right Somerset (Female. Dark Calico)

Above Kent (Female. Golden Brown Tabby)

Right Anne Arrundel "Annie" (Female. Light Calico)

Left Kent (Female. Brown Tabby, White Face)

Right Prince George (Male, White with Black Spots)

Left Montgomery (Male, Brown Tabby with White)

Enjoy the photos! More to come tommorrow. Meanwhile for you cat people...you know how little kitten kisses are the sweetest ever? Well I have plenty to share and must distribute them equally. Last night while nuzzling one of the older kittens, I brushed a little nose against my face. Without hesitation the kitten leaned in and latched onto my bottom lip, giving it a hopeful suckle. Any port in a storm, but OMG how sweet! Do you think this means I am a kitten mom for real?

Thanks to all who are following this blog. Please share it with everyone you know and remind your friends that a small secure donation on the "Chip In" widget on this blog will go a long way towards saving these kittens and many more. Homeward Trails and homeless cats and kittens everywhere will thank you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Weights

I have supplemented Miss Caroline's and Miss Maryland's nursing. While I didn't want to start too soon, I really don't want to get behind in weights. So the little ones are taking some supplementation feeding and then topping off with mama's milk. The human helper in this picture is a friend...thanks Kathy!

Weights as of Sunday night:

Miss Caroline's Kids
Somerset (dark calico) F 7 1/4
Anne Arrundel (lt calico) F 6 1/4
Prince George (white, black spots) M 6 7/8
Montgomery (tabby, white) M 7 3/8
Talbot (golden brown tabby) F 8 1/8
Cecil (brown tabby) 7
Kent (brown tabby, white face) 7 1/4
Carroll (brown tabby, white feet) 7 3/4

Miss Maryland's Kids
Garrett (orange, white face) 3 7/8
Frederick (golden brown tabby) 3 1/4
Allegheny "Ally" (tortie) F 3 5/8
Howard (black, white tummy) M 3 7/8
Wicomico (orange tabby) F 3 3/4
Calvert "Cal" (orange tabby) M 4

Male or Female...it is just my "best guess as of today, don't hold me to it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday Chores and Open Eyes

Saturday chores mean litter box changes, bedding refreshed, floors washed and laundry done and folded. Yeah, pretty much the everyday stuff! It also meant lots of time to sit with a cup of tea and watch the super litter. Even watching them sleep is fun. Their little pink mouths suddenly erupt into a huge yawn, or they make a silent meow, or their little feet start paddling and then they hiss! Whoa...where did that come from? So let me share with you two video clips of our day...note that nursing is a full contact sport with these guys. There is a lot of pushing and shoving and kicking and scratching. And through it all the moms remain calm and serene.

We got our first opened eyes amoung Miss Caroline's babies last night...Anne Arrundel "Annie" opened one eye and glared at me as she got her dose of antibiotics. This morning most everyone in the older litter had one or other eyes opened, at least part way. We begin to see glimpses of personality...Montgomery sleeps laying on his back, mouth open; Somerset likes to burrow under her siblings to nurse on the bottom row, PG (yup, Prince George) prefers his aunt's milk to his mom's.

Overall, I am feeling more relaxed about everyone making it through this early stage. Clearly I am still on my guard...we have many hurdles yet to come, but my observation is that Miss Caroline and Miss Maryland have things well in hand...er, paw. They will let me know when they need my help and in the meantime, I'll keep weighing everyone and getting the laundry folded.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Developing a Routine

The "Super Litter" continues to do well. Everyone is growing and while weight gains were slow yesterday, everyone is moving in the the right direction. Miss Caroline and Miss Maryland are developing a routine. Both use the same nest box and nurse kittens from either litter. They will each take a few minutes to leave the nest box in charge of the sister mom and eat, stretch, dig in the litter box or just have a snooze without kittens latched on. In today's picture you can see both moms cuddled up with an assortment of kittens nursing.

I am developing a routine as well. Evenings are for kitten care. In addition to feeding and litter box, I will sometimes wash the floor, usually change and launder the bedding, weigh and check each kitten and spend some time encouraging the moms. Both Miss Caroline and Miss Maryland enjoy following me around during these duties and they are happy to get to explore the laundry room which is directly off the kitten room. It is critical that we keep things as clean as possible, little kittens have very fragile immune systems. The kitten room is quarantined from my home team and the babies will be separated from the other adults for many weeks. Visitors must wash their hands, leave their shoes outside and remove or cover any clothing that has been exposed to other animals. Once I have everything neat and tidy, meds delivered and food freshened I just sit and watch this squirming mass of tiny little lives. I could watch them all night long.

Litter Update: Miss Caroline has one golden brown tabby, one black with white chest, one tortie, one orange with white chest and face, and two nearly identical all orange kittens! I tried to use colored yarn to distingish them but it didn't work. I guess I'll go back to food color. They will get names tonight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Kitty Midwife, A Loving Sister

This short video shows an interaction which I believe to be unique in the animal world. It shows sister cats, one actively helping the other to deliver her litter of kittens. Miss Caroline had her babies one week ago. Her sister, Miss Maryland, went into labor in the wee hours last night. She insisted on having her babies in her sister's nest box. Her sister dutifully acted as midwife. Lots of licking and purring and some panting goes on. Miss Caroline licked her sister, breaking her water and ultimately licking the newly born kittens to break their sacs and stimulate their breathing. She even chewed the umbilical chords and helped Miss Maryland to eat the placentas (yeah, I know, yuck!). In between arrivals the two sisters took naps together collecting their strength and keeping the tiny kittens warm and nursing. The one week old kittens joined the crowd and by morning all fourteen were happily nursing wherever they could regardless of mother of origin. It was an AMAZING night!

Six More Babies! Congratulations Miss Maryland!

After noting that Miss Maryland never tried to enter her sister's nest box, I found her cuddled up with Miss Caroline's kittens trying to nurse on her. Hmmm...something was up. She was indeed in labor and would hear of no options other than to have her babies alongside of her sister. I had no choice but to comply and when things got going I snuck Miss Caroline's kids out to a separate warm spot to leave room for the birth.

The amazing thing was that Miss Caroline took charge of her sister's labor. A lot of licking goes on...and both mamas did their share. Caroline made sure that each baby was cleaned off and she helped to cut the chord and eat the placenta. Both mamas rested together in between kittens with the little ones nursing on whichever mama was available. This went on all night until at some point Miss Caroline's babies (they are a week old today) got hungry and called to their mama. She brought them into the nest box and they began nursing on whichever nipple was nearest. I worried about the newborns being able to compete for a spot at the soda fountain with their older cousins, but so far so good. This is truely a super litter...fourteen in all.

Note in the picture on the top, Miss Maryland is nursing her babies and her sister's in a kitten free for all. Weights will come tonight, but of the newborns I did weigh, all were over 3 ounces so well within normal limits.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weigh In - Everyday

We live by the weigh in. Weighing the babies everyday (and sometimes more than once a day) is CRITICAL! It is the most objective way to know if all is well or if there is some issue brewing. I try to weigh at the same time each day and since this litter is so large, with more babies to come, I am doing this in the evening. For any kitten I need to watch I will weigh in the morning as well. I use a digital kitchen scale dedicated to the kittens. It weighs in ounces or grams...I use ounces. Right now I am using a box top with a padded cushion to contain the kitten, later when they are larger I will use a small bowl or basket. The scale allows me to zero out the weight of the container (so no math needed.)
I record the weights on a computer in an Excel spreadsheet. The advatage of this is that I can store previous litters for comparison and I can make a line graph to show me the trends. In the second picture you can see the computer used for this purpose in the foreground.

Miss Maryland is my weigh in helper...poor thing she has nothing better to do while waiting for her babies. She is very curious about the kittens and watches her sister and the babies all the time. She does not interact with them in anyway...she does not go into the nest box and keeps a respectful distance. Note her tail...the tip is black and then she has a white section with a faint golden brown stripe in it. Very unique.