Kittens – The Birth – Tuesday, 10 July 20065 August, 2006
The kittens were born on Monday, 10 August 2006 between 7.35pm and 9.30pm.
They were due to be born on Tuesday which is day 65 and the average gestation period for a cat (actually it can be anything from something like 60 days to 74 days).
I was expecting them on Tuesday because last year their mother was spot-on day 65. But no, this year she was a day early. (not sure why she was early … maybe because there were 7 kittens? Maybe because it was a full moon and it’s a documented fact that more babies are born at the full moon?)
On Monday morning I woke up and found my girl rooting round the foot of the bed. Oh-oh … that was what she did the previous year just before giving birth. So I watched her carefully, but she wasn’t nesting or settling, so I went off to work.
I decided to play safe and left work early. Good thing too. I got home and she was restless and unsettled. For two hours I shadowed her (she probably thought I was mad and just wanted to be left alone!). Finally at about 7pm I took her into the bedroom and she jumped on the bed and started crawling under the blanket and moaning. I’d got two boxes ready for her, but of course, being a cat who knew her own mind, it was a comfy bed she wanted, just like last year. So I spread towels and Pampers Babychanging Mats, plonked her on them, and prepared to wait.
At about 7.30pm I went out of the bedroom to speak to Hubby. I was gone just minutes. When I returned to the bedroom she was gone from the bed. Oh no! Relief when I saw she’d gone into one of the kitten boxes I’d prepared.
Then I heard a squeaking noise, and I realised that she’d had a kitten in the five minutes I was away!
I looked in the box and mum was busy doing everything she had to do – she didn’t need my help at all until a few kittens on. (for last year’s litter I’d had to break the sac and cut the cord for the first kitten).
Anyway, there were seven of them. Was I expecting seven? Well, last year there were six kittens in the litter so I was hoping for six. But for me, it was more important that she have a safe delivery so six, four, three kittens – the number wasn’t important. At least two kittens would be good though, so I could at least cover the stud fees.
The first two kittens arrived in a hurry, within 10 mins of each other. Then there was a long wait of about 30 mins, and I remember thinking “two’s a good thing really – means she’ll have plenty of milk for them.”
After number four arrived there was another long break and I was honestly happy with just four. Mum did seem rather big for just four kittens, though. Maybe it had just been pregnancy fat.
Then after another long wait came kittens five and six. For kitten five I had to cut the cord because she was getting tired.
I almost lost kitten seven.
By then, my girl was (not surprisingly) exhausted. I was counting placentas and wasn’t sure if the sixth placenta had come out or not. So when she gave a throaty cry I just thought she was giving birth to the placenta, especially because she swung round and then lay down abruptly. Hubby who was watching said “isn’t that a kitten behind her?” I said “naw, that’s the placenta”. Mum just lay there looking exhausted. A few minutes later I looked closer at her and saw something sticking out under her. It looked like either the end of a cord or … a tail.
I immediately lifted Mum up and it was a kitten. I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach – it was a kitten and still in its sac. I pushed it towards Mum and she sniffed it but didn’t do anything. So I tore open the sac and cleaned the kitten up.
It wasn’t breathing.
I pushed it towards Mum and she just ignored it. So I had a dead kitten on my hands and it was all my fault.
Out of desperation I did something I’d read about but was hoping, as a novice breeder, never to have to do. I picked the kitten up and put it between my hands, head secure between my fingers, and I flung my hands down to try to shake any fluid out of its lungs.
Still no signs of breathing and Mum couldn’t understand why I kept pushing it under her nose. It was a black kitten, it was perfectly-formed, there was nothing wrong with it. Just that it wasn’t breathing, and I was probably too late to save it.
So I held the kitten between my hands and shook it again. Then massaged it with a towel, trying not to cry.
Suddenly its sides expanded. Just once. Then again. Mum nosed it.
I had a homeopathic remedy on hand, carbo veg (aka “The Corpse Reviver”). It squealed as I picked it up. Yes, it was definitely breathing! I did debate whether or not to give it the carbo veg, but decided to be safe, and gave it a drop.
I put the kitten down and Mum started cleaning it.
The colours and sexes of the kittens: Two tortie-mackrels (girls), one silver mackrel with smoke (girl), three cream tabbies (boys) and one red (i.e. ginger) tabby (boy).
To date, all healthy, breathing and suckling well.