Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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
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
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Right Somerset (Female. Dark Calico)
Left Kent (Female. Brown Tabby, White Face)
Right Prince George (Male, White with Black Spots)
Sunday, March 21, 2010
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 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
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
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
Monday, March 15, 2010
This lovely girl is Miss Caroline. She is a brown tabby with white. She is long and sleek and has a very long slender tail. Miss Caroline delivered 8 healthy babies on March 10. The next day they were dropped off at the Caroline County Animal Rescue where they faced a very sad fate. The awesome folks at the shelter reached out to Homeward Trails to rescue their charges and they were genuinely pleased that we could help. We honor them by naming their girls Miss Caroline and Miss Maryland...all the resulting babies will have Maryland county names (to be determined.) Miss Caroline is an incredibly trusting cat...especially for a queen (mama cat with kittens). She allowed me to handle her and her babies right away. She accepted the nest I created for her and hasn't moved the babies at all! She is calm and generous with her litter and seems to trust that I mean to help her raise her babies. Miss Caroline needs to put on some weight...octuplets can take it out of a girl! She is eating well and gratefully eats off a spoon when I offer it to her as she nurses the brood (breakfast in bed.) She will soon need help supplementing her nursing and I am prepared with bottles and KMR (reconstituted kitten milk formula.) This gentle mama cat is sharing the kitten room with her sister Miss Maryland and she allows her sister to peak into the nest box and even lets her sleep on the cover of the nest with her face inches away (picture to follow soon.) How sweet. It is unusual to raise two litters together like this. Ordinarily we would quarantine them, but these circumstances were unusual, the girls were bonded, and it seemed right!
Miss Maryland is a beautiful mac tabby, with green eyes and areas of golden brown in her fur. Her black stripes are very defined and she has a very proud tail with a distinct white section about two inches in from the tip...unusual! She would be long and sleek except that she is ready to pop with her babies. Her imminent pregnancy gives her a rather cow shaped belly which looks uncomfortable. She is extremely good natured and has bonded very easily with me. She puts up with my touching her swollen belly to feel the babies and gives me frequent head butts. I hear her calling to me when I leave the kitten room and she is already playing with my resident cats through the crack under the door. Miss Maryland is sister to Miss Caroline and she is curiously attentive to Miss Caroline's babies, watching from a respective distance. I wonder if she knows that is what she has in store for her soon?