The kittens are doing well. All are gaining weight – up to 5 ounces at one week old. The eyes aren’t yet starting to open, but they are moving themselves around, dragging mostly but they are starting to stand a little. They prefer to be touching each other and utter little cries if they get separated from everyone. They still sleep and eat mostly, but here and there they are a little active. The tuxedo kitten, in particular, is the great explorer and climbed up on mom’s food dish one day. With their pudgy, full little bellies, they are an adorable group. Four boys and one girl, we think.
One of my Derry Township Community Cat colleagues sent me this picture this evening. A cat trying to get IN to our cat house. Now, most cats work real hard at staying out of our traps so they don’t have to come to the cat house. So this guy is confused. Either that, or he’s looking for a hot date with our single, nursing momma. Too bad, buddy. Momma’s busy.
Sometimes you make plans and things go more or less according to what you expected. Other days, the universe has something entirely else in mind. Friday was one of those days.
We have a TNR clinic coming up Wednesday and the two cats to be trapped were supposed to be trapped sometime between Saturday night and Tuesday morning. We try not to keep the cats in traps longer than need be, but one of the caretakers trapped her cat Friday morning. We weren’t going to tell her to let the cat go, and try again in 48 hours, so in the cat came to our cat house.
She’s a pretty dilute torti, and we checked her in case she was lactating. No, but she did have clear nipples underneath, and she looked, well…round. Really round. As in, probably pregnant, though that’s difficult to determine with a cat you’ve never seen before who is crouched in a trap.
Because she was very docile with us, and since she was going to be trapped longer than we usually like, we put her in a dog crate instead of her trap. Some nice fleece, a litter box, food and water. A little easier stay than in the traps.
After my last pet sit of the day I decided to stop for a minute and just check on her. She’d used her litter box and eaten some food, so I was getting a litter scoop to do a quick clean for her when I started to hear a small chirping sound. It wasn’t coming from the female cat. Instead there was a little head popping out with a couple claws, and a constant bit of chatter from…you got it…kitten #1, who popped out of mom a minute later. Given the cold and rain outside, my irritation at the cat being caught early instantly changed to gratitude that she had a warm, dry place to deliver her kittens. Because my presence was stressing her out, I left her to the task without disturbing her.
This morning, mom and five babies were all doing well.
Mom isn’t totally friendly, but she hasn’t been mean or difficult yet either. She’s okay with us caring for her and the kittens if we do it carefully. And she’s ok with us touching the kittens, which will be a big help. These little ones are going to be socialized to the hilt over the next three months! They will stay with mom for 6-7 weeks until weaned, and then they have a foster home waiting for them where they will get introduced to the sounds of a real home until they are 12 weeks old and ready for their surgeries. Mom, if she is very nice, may go into an adoption program, but if she isn’t comfortable with people, she will be spayed in 8 weeks, and go back to her caretaker. We’ll just have to see.
In the meantime, these little ones – all of 12 hours old here – are so entertaining. They do two things…eat and sleep. Well, actually, three. They climb all over each other in order to belly up to the bar. They are just a tangle of bodies at times.
They are so used to a much smaller space that crawling all over each other out in the open is no big problem!
Eventually everyone finds a space at the bar.
And once they’ve had their fill, nap time is next.
When nap time is over…start climbing, eat, and back to sleep. Repeat. That will pretty much be their first week. Eyes won’t open for about a week, and they’re not terribly mobile either. They can’t control their own body temperature yet, so they are glued to momma for now. She takes a break here and there to pee/poop and get a snack, but she’s basically their bed and breakfast for the next while.
It is truly amazing that Derry Township Community Cats has TNR’d around 930 cats and we’ve never had this happen before. Wouldn’t want to have this occur every day, but I think we’re all going to have some fun with it while the kittens are with us. And though I don’t venture into politics here much, I have to say that the kittens are a lovely corrective to the hate and mean spirit flying around our country, and others as well, right now. I’m glad to have something positive to focus on in the midst of so much that feels negative.
Stay tuned for photo shots over the next three months! Should be fun to watch the little ones grow.
One of the challenges in providing a good life for a blind dog is the need for enrichment. That’s true for all dogs (and cats and people and…) but a sighted dog can at least look out the window, people watch, bark at the mail and package deliveries and such. Bodhi can’t look out the window, and I guess we are really blessed that he seems to not care much about mail and deliveries, or barking for that matter. But the problem is that his days can be ones of crushing boredom if we don’t help out with some enrichment.
Our arsenal of enrichment activities continues to grow. The bells on walks and for guidance in running have been great; we play hide and seek with them in the house too, where Bodhi has to come find us when we ring the bells. We usually get him out for walks four times a day, and when there’s time there are field trips to new places, or to the accountant’s office where he can raid the treat drawer. But we keep working on other new and interesting activities that not only use his body, but also his brain. When I worked with a local trainer recently, Bodhi came home from our hour-long session TIRED, as in trashed, and rested until the next morning. So I’m working on some of the things my friend suggested with Bodhi to add a little more zest to his days.
Betsy, my trainer friend, noticed what I had seen too…Bodhi never really learned to use his nose much. So I’m working on helping him to use that to have some fun with games and food puzzles. “Find it,” the game of searching out a smelly treat in a relatively small space is pretty challenging for him still, but we’re working. As often as not he finds the treat by stepping on it, instead of sniffing it out, but he’ll figure it out eventually.
The food puzzle, however, is going a bit better. I put all of his dinner kibble in a puzzle, and he goes to town getting his food out. It slows down the eating, which never hurts, but it also makes him think and work to get what he wants, and you can tell from the photos that he’s having fun.
Little by little we’ll find fun things for this guy. If nothing else, he forces us to be more creative, and in the process, we’re all learning new things and having some fun together. Seems that enrichment is good for all of us.
I know this is off-topic, but our lilac trees are blooming and I couldn’t resist some photos. (And it was a good excuse to break out my Zeiss lens which I use less often. Such pretty bokeh!) Our trees have not always produced a full crop of lilacs but they are bursting with them this year. Wish I could package the smell and post it here too…glorious.
Lilacs mean spring is really here, at least in the Northeast.So do the flowering trees.
And so do these little darlings, all over the lawns.
Can’t forget the dandelions. Happy spring!