Archive for July, 2009

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Kitten bedding

27 July, 2009

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There was a cat breeder who walked into Boots and bought up their entire stock of bedding for baby cots.  When asked by the till assistant if it was for a baby, he replied, twinkling, “yes, all eight of them” or words to that effect!

I myself prefer to use ordinary towels.   

Some breeders don’t use towels because they say that the kittens’ claws get caught in the loop of the towels.  I have never yet encountered that problem.  Some breeders prefer to use old bedsheets or torn up duvets.

The photo above shows the pre-kitten laundry day when I made sure that all my kitten towels were clean and ready.

I line the kitten box with towels which I change daily.  I go through about two bath-size towels every day.  As you can imagine, I go through quite a few towels a week.  In previous years, I bought my towels from ASDA, from their budget range.  But it was still expensive.  This year the gym I go to donated some of their old towels, free of charge – I was so chuffed. 

I prefer white towels because if there is any staining, a soak in Milton Disinfectant before popping it in the wash, gets it out.  If the towels were coloured, they could not be bleached.  The alternative is to use dark coloured towels, which of course won’t show the stains.  But the advantage in white towels is that you can spot exactly what is going on in the world of kitten bowels!PampersBedMats

Underneath the towels is a Pampers Bed Mat.   These are a mattress protector which will absorb pee without allowing it to soak through to the surface beneath.  I prefer them to Pampers Changing Mats because they’re larger, measuring 90cm x 80cm.  As a final precaution against cat claws, underneath the Bed Mat are several sheets of newspaper.

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How to feed seven kittens

25 July, 2009

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Here is a photo of the kittens, just over a day old.  They are in a grouping called a “huddle” which helps them to conserve heat.

This is the second litter of seven kittens that Ananda has had.  The first time she had seven kittens, I had to top up one of the kittens with special kitten replacement milk because it wasn’t getting enough milk.  Or at least I thought it wasn’t.

A mother cat has eight teats, two of which are located next to her front legs, and which are smaller.  So any kitten getting one of the front teats may be getting less milk. 

If you have a small kitten that isn’t as robust or good at fighting for its place at the milk bar than chances are that kitten will not gain as much weight proportionally as its siblings.

And believe me, its like a wildlife documentary when it comes to seeing who can get the best teat.  I have seen two kittens fight over a teat, scrabbling away with their little paws, shoving the other’s head away.  The struggle is made all the more intense by the silence in which the fighting is conducted.

Opinion is divided amongst breeders as to whether topping-up is a good thing or not.  On the one hand, it allows the smallest not to fall behind.  On the other hand, some believe in letting nature take its course and letting the kittens fight it out amongst themselves.  Others feel that it is better to “feed the mother cat” who will then hopefully be able to produce enough milk to feed the kittens.

This time round I’ve decided to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.  And touch wood, there have been some monumental kitten squabbles, but so far they seem to have found their place in the teat.  Sometimes there has been more than one sitting at the table, with the kittens who missed out on the best teats getting a second chance when other kittens are satiated.

Sometimes I’ve had to smile at Ananda’s method of dealing with kittens who won’t stop fighting over who has which teat.  What she does is change her position, or even get up so that all the kittens tumble off their teats.  She then lies down again, so that the kittens start on a level playing field.  As one of my friends said, it’s like pressing the restart button on the PC.

Here is a photo of that rare moment – all the seven kittens with a teat!  A peaceful moment.  Long may it last!

Kittens Day 2.6

There are more photos on the Catswhiskers flickr album.

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Kittens Day 1

24 July, 2009

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Seven Catswhiskers Maine Coon kittens, born on Friday 25 July.

Their mother:  Mullycoonz Eowyn (black smoke tortie) (“Ananda”)
Their father:  Ch. Noracoon Vespasian (red silver and white – owned by Fiona Nicholls of Koonikki Maine Coons).  Vespa was also the stud for the 2008 litter.

Colours to be confirmed, but they look like 3 mackrel tabbies, 1 tortie tabby, 1 red tabby and white, 1 red silver tabby and 1 red silver shaded tabby.

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The photos above shows Ananda on the bed which is where she finally decided she wanted to have her kittens.  However, because the bed is so much more comfortable than the kitten box, even after the kittens were placed into their box, Ananda kept jumping onto the bed and going “ehh … ehh … ehh” as if expecting the kittens to be there.  Delightful as it would be to have kittens on the bed, I decided that it would be safer if they were in their box.  Imagine if they fell off the bed!  Or if I rolled onto them!  And imagine what would happen if these bed-bred kittens went to their new homes and turned their noses up at anything but their owner’s beds!

There are more photos on the Catswhiskers flickr album.

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2009 Kittens have arrived!

24 July, 2009

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The kittens have arrived!  All seven of them!

To say that I’m relieved is an understatement.  In my post on Wednesday it looked as though Ananda was going to kitten on Thursday.  That would have been 65 days after mating, and her usual gestation period.  So even though she was displaying all the signs of impending motherhood, nothing happened on Thursday, and I was beginning to get anxious. 

I read and re-read my notes on the delivery process – bad move.  They were full of information on what could go wrong.  But she was eating and drinking, and even going for ambles in the garden.  There was no sign of distress or undue straining.  So I decided to wait just one more day before calling the vet.

In previous years she’s always kittened in the early hours of the morning.  So when I woke up just before 6am this morning (Friday), I thought that this was another day of waiting, that it was past her usual time for kittening. 

She was lying on the bed next to me and turned over so I could rub her belly.  Apparently she finds that soothing.  A couple of days ago, I could feel bumps in her belly when I stroked it. Nothing like that this morning, just firm, smooth belly and muscle.  I even fell asleep half-way through, and when I woke up, she gave me a few grunts as is to tell me off.

Imagine my surprise when she started straining, stretching her hind legs back, and panting.  I realised that she was going into the second stage of delivery.

She jumped off the bed, into the kittening box, then out of the box and onto the bed, finally deciding that the bed was where she wanted to be.  Fortunately I’d placed Pampers nappy-changing sheets and towels on the bed for such an eventuality.

To cut a long story short, the first kitten arrived at approx. 6.30am.  Then three more were born until 7.10am.  She was a fantastic mother, and managed to clean all the kittens.  Four kittens I thought – that’s a nice number.  However, her belly still felt a bit bumpy when I palpated it.  So I decided to wait. 

In the meantime I fed her pipettes of water to help replace the water lost from bleeding.  and a liquid pick-me-up called Animal Magic.  This latter contains royal jelly, honey and ginseng.  I felt that the sugar would give her some energy.

I also re-read my homeopathic notes and decided to give her a dose of Arnica 200C.  Helios’ guide says of Arnica:

“Encourages healing; controls bleeding … .  Reduces exhaustion, gives “second wind”, particularly during long, slow, painful labours, where tiredness makes contractions weak/ineffectual. …  Give routinely after birth to speed recovery.”

So was it a coincidence when barely 5 minutes after I’d given her Arnica Kitten no. 5 popped out?  Followed by Kittens no. 6 and 7 within the next 20 minutes?

I don’t know … was it the Arnica?  The only other thing I have to add is that Ananda has made a remarkably quick recovery this time round, even though she’s had seven kittens.  She’s not been as tired as on previous occasions.

Kittens and mother are, at this time of writing, still doing well.

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Waiting for the Stork …

22 July, 2009

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 Here is Ananda, my Maine Coon queen, waiting for the arrival of the stork sometime later tonight or tomorrow.  Knowing what cats are like, the kittens will most likely arrive sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

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Here is a close-up of Ananda’s belly, to show how, 24 hours before delivery,  a queen’s nipples get swollen and engorged with milk in preparation for the kittens.  Ananda has been restless today, occasionally panting, and very clingy.

The kitten box is ready with the bedding and the rest of the pregnancy kit.  I’ve re-read my kittening notes, I know it’s not the first time, but each time has been different so I’m feeling anxious.  All I can do is wait … .

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Credit Crunch Catnip 2

6 July, 2009

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This is round about Day 30. 

As you can see the catnip seeds I planted in the Jiffy Pot have grown and I have placed them in a larger pot.  I’m not sure why the seedlings have gone floppy.  Maybe because they’re grown indoors?  Here they are soaking up some outdoor sunshine.

Maya the Bengal caught a whiff of the seedlings and started sniffing round.  I had to put the catnip on top of a wheelie bin for safety.