The Five are Three

The kittens are three weeks old today! Well, technically tonight…but close enough.

Clearly they won’t fit in this basket much longer. They are all in the 12 ounce range now, some are 12.5. All gained weight last week, and that’s what we like to see.

Our little girl with the icky eye, Buffy, is looking much better, thanks to her eye drops.

And these two, the orange boys, Spike and Oz,  are often together. When they’re not they often cry for the other one. Might have a bonded pair here…too soon to tell.  (And yes, there’s the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme with these three.)

Our explorer extraordinaire, Pixel, continues his journeys, and is first to try anything new out.

And Jagger, our little buff boy…such a sweetie.

They are nursing well, though they don’t all fit at mom’s belly at the same time anymore. We will be trying to start them on some KMR (kitten milk replacer) soon, mostly to try to wean them so mom can be spayed and freed. She’s quite tired of being cooped up and she’s not quite friendly enough that we can let her roam in the cat house. So we’re trying to push the weaning by a tiny bit…may or may not work. And if not, momma is stuck with us a bit longer. She’s not terribly interested in the kittens, though she does what is required of her. But anytime she’s not nursing, she’s up on her shelf away from the kittens. She’s quite ready to go home!

In the meantime, the kittens are starting to look like cats, and developing their own personalities. Those unsteady legs of last week are steadier each day and climb over siblings without any problem. They are a bundle of adorableness on their way to being a bundle of mischief any day now. Our goal, in Derry Township Community Cats, is to NOT have kittens that need care, to get everyone possible spayed or neutered. But realistically there will always be some kittens. Last summer we were buried in them. Hoping this summer our ongoing work pays off and there are many fewer. And in the meantime, we’ll enjoy the little ones, who are just too cute for words.

Our Eyes Are Open: Two Weeks Old

I was out of town for a week and so much changes with kittens of this age. At two weeks old, they doubled in weight. They’re around 10 ounces now, headed to a full pound soon I suspect.

Their eyes are open, and they are able to stand, though they mostly wobble on those legs. Gotta develop a little muscle tone still!

One of the babies, the only female (we think) has a bit of an eye infection, but saw the vet this week and is on some nifty eye drops to help her with that.

But they can get themselves around now, even if it is a bit unsteady. Our tuxedo kitten, however, is the great explorer. He’s going to get himself over every barrier we can erect pretty soon.

Some of them are pretty vocal at times too, especially when separated from the rest.

 

They still sleep a lot, and huddle in a mass for their naps, which is just so stinkin’ adorable.

That’s the story of two week old kittens. They spend their days sleeping, toddling, and being adorable. Works for us.

Now We Are One (Week Old)

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.

Twelve Hours Old

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.

 

Derry Township Community Cats Updates

I know I shouldn’t say this, and it is too early to say with any confidence…and I’m sure the phone will start ringing just to prove me wrong…but our Derry Township Community cat phone line has been incredibly quiet so far this year. Usually by this time we have lots of requests to trap/spay/neuter/vaccinate cats, but this year you could grow moss on the phone. (And yes, the phone is in fine working order.)

It may be that after “fixing” 930 cats in the last four years we are reaching a maintenance level…one can hope anyway. While walking a dog the other evening one of our faithful Derry Policemen was sitting in his car doing paperwork, and we had a chat about the program in passing. He said in the past when the police patrolled the Township cats were everywhere, and now he hardly ever sees them anymore. (Before our program started the police department had to go capture and try to deal with all the cat requests, so they pretty much love us for taking this task off their hands.)

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As I said…just in case the universe if wanting to punish me for hubris…it is too early to call right now. But if we’re still this quiet by the end of the summer, I’m going to do a little happy dance.

Some updates for those of you who may be wondering how some of the cats we have trapped are doing. Sam, the cat I reported on most recently, had been sick for quite a few months before we got him. I think I mentioned that he was FIV+.

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That’s not a big deal many times, and we’ve been able to find homes for FIV+ cats when they are friendly and not too far along. Sam, however, was unpredictable, and swatted hard with claws out when he wanted something. He managed to nail all who were caring for him, including his vet. He was probably used to fighting for what he needed after living outside. He was also very sick, and probably has an immune system that’s beaten up. Even on good antibiotics he doesn’t really get well.

So Sam is now living in a hospice situation for cats with FIV+ and FELV+. He doesn’t have to be caged there, and he has indoor space galore, with as much food as he wants. And a screened large catio if he wants to be outside. He has good days and bad ones, but at least he doesn’t have to fight for resources, and he is warm and cared for. He will live out his days, whatever they are, in a comfortable and safe place.

You might be wondering about Beck as well, the sweetheart of a Persian trapped awhile ago.

 

After his neuter surgery, and a complete shave of his severely matted fur, he is still with us being cared for.

 

His favorite thing is to give people bear hugs…total lovebug, this guy.  His coat is starting to come back, more in some places than others, but it will get there eventually. He is not completely well yet. His bad eye is still causing some difficulties and we’re trying to sort those out for him.  That doesn’t stop him from begging pets, pretty much 24/7, and I suspect his fosters, who are in love with him,  are going to be foster failures.

And that’s what’s cooking for us right now. We have a clinic date in 2 weeks but only 2 cats on the list for now. Not that I’m complaining! I just hope all the cats aren’t hiding somewhere with a plan to all appear at the same time. And we are starting to hear about newborns litters, so we’re not counting any successes yet. Stay tuned.