Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An eventful week

Felines have most definitely been forefront in our lives this week. First, we came home on Thursday to discover that our cat, Cosmo, was 40 feet up a pine tree in the green belt next to our house. BIG SIGH. I had hoped that a night in the tree might encourage him to come down, but based on the yeowling coming from the tree, there was little chance he would make it down on his own. Plus, the *entire* neighborhood could hear him, poor bugger. We could hear people talking and worrying about him throughout Friday. Finally, we put a sign on the tree saying,

This cat has loving owners.
His name is Cosmo and he's 16 years old
We know he is in the tree.
We are taking steps to get him down.

We called Dan Kraus from He says that he gets about two calls a week for cats. He charged us $75 to get Cosmo down. He was patient and kind with our terrified cat, and he was worth every penny. Thank you Dan! You are our angel this week.

We also had to take the kittens back in to the shelter to have their ears rechecked and their first round of shots. I was feeling kind of uneasy about Dolce. She was getting very rough with the kittens - much more than Delilia ever did - and I was hearing squeaks of actual pain from the kitten room quite regularly throughout the day. Plus, Dolce has leapt at our younger daughter, Theona twice, scratching her and scaring her. I talked it over with my husband as we took the kittens in, and we decided to mention it to Ashley. She asked if the kittens were getting much at all nutrition-wise from Dolce, to which I said no. Ashley agreed that it was more important for the kittens to be safe than kept with Mama. So, with sadness and trepidation, we said goodbye to Dolce, and brought just the kittens home.

I am very glad to say they are doing amazingly well. They all come tearing up to us when we enter the kitten room, clambering up to get to the bottle first. I have to laugh at how often the kitten I am nursing has to fend off his or her sibs! Quite the ill-mannered little things! But they are so fun to watch playing now. They wrestle and tussle, jump and pounce, kick and run constantly.

I will post more pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smart boy!

When I was feeding the kittens this morning, I looked over to see Ivan climb into the litter box and go pee! All the kittens have climbed in and out of the litter box, but it was the first time I had seen one of them actually get the purpose of it. Now, if the kittens can stop leaving poop deposits all over the room, I will be very happy. I must admit, I'm not surprised that it was Ivan that did it first. In spite of his early leg deformity, he has proven to be the most advanced of the kittens. Last night I watched him stalk his mum while she was eating, and I see him fight back when Dolce is in a playful mood. He's also the one who has started trotting. So instead of calling him 'Ivan the Terrible', we've nicknamed him 'Ivan the Loveable'.

Ivan investigating...

Zyra looking pretty. She has the most gorgeous markings.

Ivan playing hide and seek. All the kittens love the cement blocks.

Cuddle of playful kittens

Theodore the HUNGRY boy. He can suck down half a bottle!

Shayla the beautiful. You can see that her markings are quite striking. I think she looks a little like a lynx. Theodore is using her tummy as a pillow.

Ivan the loveable getting pets and snuggles.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Well, it's official...

Evanee is actually Ivan . I was right with the other three, though. I had to take all of them in to get their ear mites treated - YUCK. The amount of crap that got cleaned out of their ears was quite revolting. But they are much happier now. Ashley and the other shelter workers were ooing and aahhhing over my babies - they are clearly lookers. I had several of them tell me that the kittens would be snatched up in a second as soon as they are put up for adoption. I have to say, I would prefer to meet the prospective adopters myself, but that is mostly because I get so attached to my babies, and want to make sure they have happy homes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Developing individual personalities

Each of the kittens is really becoming distinct and individual. It is amazing to have my relationship with each of them grow and change, particularly since they are much more attached to me than the last set (bottle-feeding is the way to a kitten's heart).

Shayla has surprised me by becoming more tabby than I expected. She looks very much like a tabby point siamese, complete with a perfect "M" on her forehead. She is quite a beauty. I usually feed her last because she rarely complains or climbs up into my lap when I am feeding another kitten. Plus, she loves to snuggle in my arms after she has eaten her fill. I noticed the other day when I was feeding her that she has 6 toes on one front paw, and she has *7* on the other paw. One is only partially developed, but still: SEVEN TOES!!!

Evanee (or Ivan, as we suspect that she is actually a he) is the most attached to my husband and I. It is rare to enter the kitten room and not get noticed by him. I love the markings on his face: one tabby stripe above each eye, and one on the left side of his face by his eye. He is also the most adventurous, which is ironic since he was the one born with club feet. He seems to have grown out of the deformity completely; it certainly doesn't slow him down.

Zyra is quieter than her two brothers, but still makes her presence known. She has learned to climb up my leg when I am sitting feeding one of the other kittens. She is also the one who latches on to the bottle most efficiently. She is quite a beauty with her striking black and white patches. She also loves to snuggle and play with her sibs. It's rare to find her sleeping on her own.

Finally, we have Theodore, the 'runt' of the litter. I thought originally he would develop into a classic siamese, but he has surprised me by developing a brown 'saddle' on his back, and a brown face with a white blaze on his nose. His tail and ears will be dark brown/black, but the rest of him looks like the color of cafe au lait. He has quite the voice, and tends to share his opinions without reservation. He always wants to be fed first, and he loves to hold the bottle with his paws as he eats. Once he has gotten past his first few chug-a-lugs, he will start to purr while nursing. Plus, he will continue to suckle long after he has filled his belly. About half the time he will have one helping, and then ask for another one after his sibs have finished nursing. It's no surprise that he is now around the same weight as his sibs.

I love them all dearly. More pics very soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Growing and playing

All the kittens are growing at least half an ounce a day, and are eating almost a full bottle each feeding. When I enter the room and sit down, at least one of the kittens will crawl over and start climbing up my leg onto my lap.

The kittens are just starting to play as well. If they are full and happy, they tend to spend a bit of time climbing over each other and starting to bat at each other. Usually they will bat, then lick each other.

Shayla is still the most laid back of the four kittens. She is happy to hang out on her back in my arms. Evanee seems to be the most bonded to me. She is the first out of the nest the minute she hears the door, and she loves to snuggle up against my leg after eating. Zyra is quick to start nursing on the bottle, but she often needs a couple of turns with breaks in between. Theodore can suck it back! Despite being the runt, he can out-eat his siblings nearly every time. His face is more lion-like than the others. I often think we should nickname him "Simba" and start singing "Hakuna Matata".

Unfortunately, the kittens seem to have caught ear mites from Mama. :-( I checked after Theo was shaking his head more than normal. Little brown dots in the ears of at least two kittens, so looks like another trip to the Humane Society.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kittens growing and Mama got an earful

Dolce has been spending quite a bit of time shaking her head and scratching at her ears, so today I took her back to see the vet at the Humane Society. Yep - I was right. She got a treatment on her ears (which she thoroughly HATED), but hopefully the kittens will not catch them now that she's been treated.

The kittens are all doing wonderfully. We have two bottles now, since the kittens can be quite vocal about getting fed, particularly Evanee and little Theo. I am filling up the little nursing bottle twice a day, so each kitten is eating between one and two tablespoons of formula within a 24 hour period.

The best time is right after they have eaten their fill. Evanee loves to lie on her back and get her tummy rubbed. She will bat at my finger and purr. Theodore has taken to falling asleep in my arms, as has Shayla. Even Zyra loves to curl up and sleep against me if I lie down near them. And I can't count the number of times the kittens have pushed their little faces into mine and given me milky kisses. It's delightful (although messy).

Theodore sleeping in my husband's arms after a huge lunch

Another cute sleeping Theodore pic

Dolce curled up with her family

Kittens competing for the coveted spot next to the warm belly of Mama

Shayla rarrrs
Theodore getting a bath.

Theona and her friend with a pocketful of sleepy kitten

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monday morning feeding time

I went in to feed the kittens at 5 a.m. this morning and discovered all four kittens curled up with Dolce. She seems to have really caught on to the motherhood gig. What surprised me, though, was that at least two of the kittens seemed to be nursing on her. I have no idea whether she has any milk left, but it certainly is a comfort for them at least. When I run Dolce's tummy, her nipples feel soft and flaccid, so I doubt the kittens are getting much. Anyway, they were all fast asleep, so I went back to bed for another 2 hours, and fed them all around 8 a.m.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Continuing to thrive

The kittens have all finally caught on to the whole process of nursing from a bottle. I think that they now recognize my scent and have associated it with food, because as soon as my hand goes into their nest box, the meowing begins. Theodore is the worst. He has a piercing Siamese meow, and he is more than willing to let me know that he is *not happy* when I choose one of his sisters for the first feeding. I am still concerned that he may be constipated, because his poor little anus looks redder than the others, and it seems to be protruding. I have tried stimulating him, but he has only peed for me so far.

All the kittens are gaining, and Shayla has regained her heavyweight title. Theodore has probably gained the greatest percentage, though. He is now above 6 oz.

I am particularly enjoying the time after they have been fed when they are fat, satisfied and cuddly. Shayla seems to love to curl up in my hand and purr. The knowledge that these kittens would have died if I had not taken responsibility for feeding them is rather overwhelming. I keep being reminded that I am actually making a difference. It's a really good feeling, particularly because there was a point just a few days ago where I was very frightened I would lose one or all of them. Seeing their little eyes opening, and the few tottering steps they are taking on their shaky legs reminds me daily of how precious they are to me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quick Friday update

All the kittens are finally eating AND gaining. I really think they are going to be OK. I was quite concerned I might lose them all. If I can get them all over 8 oz, I will breath a HUGE sigh of relief.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Over the worst (I hope)

After a tiring night, and a shift at work, I got home and fed the kittens again. None of them had lost weight (thank goodness), but no gain yet, either. Zyra chowed down, taking in about 10 ml of formula, but the other three were not so accomodating. After talking to Ashley, I also gave the kittens some fluid under their skin, and I will also be adding doses of Clavamox to their daily regiment.

At four this afternoon, I fed them again. Both Shayla and Theodore (after some coaxing) ate well - 15-20 ml between them. Zyra ate a little, and once again Evanee refused to eat. I have been wondering if perhaps she is getting some from Dolce, since her weight has not gone down. But she is being quite stubborn. Even if I feed her with the syringe, she spits the formula out onto her paws. Grrrr.

My daughter got some great pics of the kittens:

Shayla eating voraciously.

Zyra making a mess.

Theodore after some coaxing.

Our little yin and yang with full tummies

Shayla looking cute.

2 and 4 a.m. feedings - groan

I was up every two hours or so, feeding the little ones. Dolce seems happy to hang out with them, but it has been at least 48 hours since I saw any of the kittens actually nursing on her. I'm kinda stumped as to what is going on.

Theodore, the littlest one, is a champion nurser from the bottle. As soon as the nipple is in his mouth, his ears start vibrating back and forth and he sucks down as much as he can. Given that his stomach is probably the size of the tip of my little finger, that's not much. The girls seem much less consistent with nursing from the bottle. I managed to get each of them to eat something, but there was definately more resistance. Evanee is the worst. She squeaks, pulls her head away, and chews on the nipple rather than sucking. Shayla went to town nursing at the 2 a.m. feeding, but resisted mightily at 4 a.m. I can only hope that she got enough the first time and just wasn't hungry. Zyra has been good both times, although she can take a bit of convincing at first. I'm just glad I seem to have the technique down finally.

I am keeping a small space heater on in the room (on a shelf away from the floor) since I am concerned that the kittens may get cold. Dolce does seem to spend time in the nest with them, but they don't always sleep in a pile. I have come in to find one kitten in each corner.

I could really use some reasurrance from the Humane Society about how they are doing. I did read online that kittens with a birth weight less than 3.2 oz have a mortality rate of 59%. All my little ones were nearly an ounce less than that. I just want to know I am doing *everything* I can. I really don't want a repeat of little Tag. She faded away so quickly.


I am trying to feed the kittens every two hours, even if they refuse. I am more and more convinced that Dolce is simply not producing enough milk. All of the kittens except Evanee ate more this feeding than they did at 10 p.m. I hate having to shove the nipple into their mouthes, but they seem to get the idea once it's in there. Even so, only Theodore seems to have a strong suck reflex.

It worries me that Dolce will lie down in the correct position for nursing, but will get up the minute I leave the room. I can hear her meowing for me right now. She seems so much like a kitten herself.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Not sure what to think

In the last 48 hours, Shalya has lost 0.2 oz, which is worrying. But the thing that concerns me even more is that twice we have come into the room to find Shayla out of the nest and under a blanket beside the nest. My fear is that Dolce is rejecting her. So I am redoubling my effort to get extra food into them all.

This morning, when I came in, all four kittens were in the correct place, which helped allay my fears. I tried feeding Shayla, and got her to take a bit. Dolce was quite curious as to what I was doing. After a few minutes, she came over and I put Shayla on a blanket next to her. Dolce promptly started grooming her (whew). Of course, when Dolce nipped Shayla's paw, she jumped and squeaked! I think Dolce was after the taste of the kitten formula.

I have sat in the kitten room for about 45 minutes now, and I have discovered that the kittens are capable of getting out of the nest on their own! Both Theodore and Evanee at separate times have made it to the edge of the carrier. It seems more likely that Shayla got out while searching for her mama, then got stuck.

I have also learned that Dolce is not fond of the washing machine. I turned it on to wash the nest bedding, and as soon as I left the room, she started finding her inner Siamese! I could hear her clear across the house! I would come in, and she would be fine - she wanted to get out of the room, but she didn't seem scared. Just irritated at the noise. LOL. She will have to cope - we really don't have another space suitable for her and the kittens.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Monday morning

I got up early to head off to work, and spent a few minutes with Dolce. Her fur is noticibly softer, and I have seen her grooming herself more often. Her nose, which had been dry the morning before, seemed soft and damp again. It was particularly nice to have her come sit on my lap and snuggle. I think we have turned the corner with her dehydration and cold. She is also eating and drinking much more. We are filling her water dish every couple of days now, which is much better.

The kittens are still gaining weight, but slowly. I am starting to try and give them supplemental feedings, but I don't seem to be having lots of luck. Either they are not hungry because Dolce is providing enough for them, or there is a technique that I am lacking. I will keep trying so that I am certain they are getting enough nutrients.