Archive for the ‘Maine Coon kittens’ Category

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How to feed seven kittens

25 July, 2009

Kittens Day 2.1

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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This is my human …

7 August, 2008

 This is my human
This is my human …

I’m a firm believer that cats and kittens choose their owners.  That’s why I always insist that prospective kitten owners must visit in person so that kittens and owners can size each other up and bond.

Yesterday, that magical moment took place again.  A young couple visited.  She was a cat lover, he was more of a dog person.  Anyway, he sat down on the floor cross-legged, and the boy clambered onto his lap and lay down.  They locked eyes and suddenly, in that split second, something passed between kitten and human and a bond was formed.

The eyes of the kitten say it all in the photo:  “you may think I’m your kitten, but really, I’ve chosen you … you’re my human.”

Later, both kittens clambered onto the man’s lap and fell asleep.  Photos speak louder than words … enjoy.

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Things kittens do that make me go awww …

5 August, 2008
Kittens for Sale
Kittens for Sale

AWWWW Number 1:  This morning I heard a little mew.  As I was surrounded by five kittens I couldn’t be sure which one was mewing.  So I mewed at them (yes, I’m quite sane!), and one of the little girls (the mackerel tabby) looked up at me and gave an identical mew.  Then she tapped me on my ankle.  As I’d already fed them, it couldn’t mean she was hungry.  So I picked her up and gave her a cuddle.  She lay in my arms trustingly and looked up at me, purring.

AWWWW Number 2:  Last night I was tap-tap-tapping away on the computer when I felt a tug on my trousers, and the next thing I knew, the silver boy with white socks was pulling himself onto my lap.  He sat there, watching me type away and then, tired of not getting any attention, he proceeded to walk all over the keyboard until I plucked him off and gave him a cuddle.  His purrs sounded like a little engine!

They’re all special, this litter of kittens.  They’ve been a joy to have and handle and have cleverly (without any help on my part) litter-trained themselves.  They tumble out of the living room every morning, eager to play and be with me.  Who could help but return the love they give?

Two of these purr machines are still looking for a loving pet home, somewhere where they can love and be loved.  Do contact me by posting a comment either in this blog or on my website (www.catswhiskers.uk.com), if you would like to offer a home to a silver boy with white socks or red silver girl with elegant stripes.  The kittens are currently 11 weeks’ old and ready for new homes at 13 weeks.  All my kittens are raw-fed for optimum health, but will be transitioned to commercial cat food before they leave for new homes.

[6 August 2008 – sorry if this has turned into a kitten-for-sale ad, but I need to reach as wide an audience of cat lovers as possible, and this is one way.  As of 6 August 2008, the little boy has now found a loving pet home – yayyyyy! – photos in next post]

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Kittens 2008 – their first meal

25 June, 2008

Here is a photo of the first meal I gave the kittens.  As mentioned in my previous post, even though the kittens were just 4 weeks’ old, Mum Cat kept bringing them chicks to eat.  Of course they were too small to even attempt to eat them, but I felt they might be old enough to attempt solids.

I wean kittens onto raw meat.  In this photo, they are tucking into wild rabbit mince gound with the bone, mixed with pureed offal (lungs, heart and liver) and little kitten-mouth-sized chunks of rabbit.  I got it all from Woldsway Rabbit who this year have started doing offal packs – many thanks!  Into this mix I add egg yolks, taurine, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-complex, kelp and psyllium husk.

It is a labour of love – it is more time-consuming to have to put together a home-prepared diet rather than just open a bag of cat biscuits and pour into a bowl.  From reading other breeders’ experiences, I do believe that kittens take more readily to raw food.  Certainly, as you can see from the photo they seem to recognise what food is. 

Not all the kittens ate the raw meat in that first encounter.  In the photo are Mum Cat who’s setting them an example – she frequently calls them to their food – the two boy kittens and one of the creams.  I don’t try to force the kittens to wean if they’re not ready.  All of them are still suckling from Mum.  And the littlest cream kitten isn’t eating as much raw.  However, to date all the kittens are now eating some raw.

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Out of the kitten box …

14 June, 2008

Out of the kitten box …

… and into the kitten pen

… and a larger kitten pen

As the kittens grew they started getting adventurous.  The first photo was taken when they got to 3 weeks’ old and their eyes were fully-opened. 

I knew it was only a matter of time when they got out of the box and started wandering.  So to stop them from getting into trouble, I erected some mesh panels around the box and draped them with blankets.  Then I remembered – in previous years the litters had proceeded to learn how to climb up the blankets very quickly and escaped from the pen.  Nothing like seeing a little 4-week-old kitten perched 3 feet high at the top of a pen to give you a heart attack!

So I got some whiteboards from B&Q and made a makeshift pen.  The smooth white sides meant that the kittens couldn’t claw their way up.  I do hear a lot of scrabbling though.  Mum likes the roomier pen too.

They are 4 weeks’ old today.  I’m seriously considering moving them downstairs into the living room because Mum cat is getting skinnier from having to nurse five kittens.  Two nights’ ago, she brought a chick for them to eat.  Of course they didn’t eat it but I think she was trying to tell me something:  Those kittens need weaning!

Of course, weaning means pooing which means litter-training which means I need to take them downstairs where it’s easier to clean.