Well, the photo speaks for itself. Here is Ananda waiting for the stork to arrive. She hasn’t shown any overt signs of wanting to kitten, apart from licking herself, and sleeping and investigating all the kitten boxes that I’ve improvised for her. I keep thinking that if I offer her a really nice cosy box, that she’ll settle in and have her kittens.
Not that I’m trying to rush her, of course. Just that I’m finding the waiting game nerve-racking. The previous times she’s had her kittens near dawn, or near dusk. Last year I rushed home from work and she had her kittens almost immediately, as though she had been waiting for me to get home. This year I’ve taken time off work, and I think she’s got used to the idea that I’m around so there’s really no rush. Just yesterday we took an amble in the garden (photos in the flickr album) and she was so laid back you wouldn’t have thought she was due to kitten.
The average gestation period for cats is 9 weeks plus 2 days. There is a handy calculator in http://www.pandecats.com/due_date_calculator.htm which enables you to type in the date of the first day when your queen was bred and the due date is calculated for you. While the average term is 65 days, some cats can kitten several days earlier, and up to 5 days later. I’ve heard that if a mating is carried out over several days, then the gestation will last as long as it takes the kitten produced by the last mating to mature. But this is not a confirmed fact, so don’t quote me. Kittens born too early are not always strong enough or mature enough, so better late if ever, is what I believe. But who knows the ways of nature?
I checked through my kittening kit again yesterday, and good thing too because I plugged in my weighing machine and it wouldn’t fire up. I finally tracked it down to the wire to the plug – there were teeth marks on the wire! This from someone who prides herself in using cable tidy to stop cats from biting on wires! I was shocked/surprised/scandalised – I honestly can’t remember how it happened, I was just grateful I hadn’t lost a cat to electrocution. I tried splicing the wire, but I didn’t have any insulating tape, and not surprisingly it didn’t work. So I had to buy some batteries from the local corner shop, and very exhorbitant they were, but what choice did I have?
Here is a photo of the weighing machine, an Ultraship 50.
It’s a digital machine and designed to weigh post, and I like it because of its sensitivity – it measures in increments of 2g for the first 2 kg. This is far more accurate than a lot of digital kitchen scales. I once tried out the kitchen scales in John Lewis – I got a bag of sugar from the baking department, and measured the same bag on about 4 different scales. They all gave different readings and not one of them gave the exact weight. Also, they tended to measure in 10g-50g increments, and when you think how small a kitten is, and how little the weight gain can be from day to day, you really want accuracy. I did look into postal scales as used by the post office, but they were horrendously expensive. As for professional vet scales, I think the cheapest was several hundred pounds! Anyway, I got my Ultraship 50 from e-bay and yes, it was more pricey than ordinary digital kitchen scales, but wayyyy more accurate.
I think what I’ll have to watch out for is a tendency to be overzealous in weighing the kittens. I think if you have runt, it’s important to keep track of how it’s doing so that you can top up if necessary before it falls behind too much. But for one of the litters I was weighing twice a day, and getting weird readings. In the end a seasoned breeder whom I consulted told me to stop weighing and get a life.
Here are some photos of the two kittening boxes I’ve got ready for Ananda.
One of them is in the bedroom – it’s a purpose-built cardboard box from Purrsonal Touch which cost about twelve pounds. What I’m not comfortable about is that in order to take off the lid to do housekeeping, the front comes off as well.
The second is a vacuum cleaner box placed in a Kalven Kitten Pen. Notice the blankets. I’ll cover most of the pen with the blankets to create that dark, cave-like effect cats like.