Kittens – the second week – heatwave5 August, 2006
(pix is of my neuter boy, Teddy, cooling off under an ice pack)
All I can remember of the end of the first week and most of the second week is the heatwave.
Daytime temperatures hit 30 to 32 degrees Centigrade. I had all the windows open, and a fan in the room, but it was baking.
Newborn kittens are unable to regulate body temperature automatically, and tend to form a huddle with one kitten piled vertically on top of the other. When the bottom one gets too hot it will wriggle out and crawl to the top. In the Arctic, I’ve heard that flocks of penguins do the same, only they form a ring, taking it in turn to circulate to the cold outer perimeter.
In the second week, the kittens stopped huddling in a pile. They just lay at the bit of the kitten box where the entrance hole was.
As for Mum, feeding time must have been uncomfortable, with seven fur coats wrapped around her.
So I tried what some breeders recommended, and got some ice packs, wrapped them in towels and put them around the edge of the pen.
I thought it would be too cold for the kittens, but when they started lying next to the ice packs, I knew that they appreciated their cooler temperature.
I think all of England must have had a run on ice packs because I went out to get some more, and you wouldn’t believe it – I went to ASDA, Marks & Spencers and a large Sainsbury’s and nada. There were coolboxes and coolbags but not ice packs. It was most bizarre. In the end the only place that had ice packs was a hardware store, and they only had mini ice packs, the sort you put in lunch boxes. So I bought some of those. I also had some gel belts and together they were just about enough.
By the time I managed to find some more ice packs (my mother-in-law kindly donated hers), the heatwave broke. Thank goodness … I never thought I would pray for rain in this country, but this country is just not built for heat. I’m going to save up to buy an airconditioner.