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Monday, 28 November 2011

Food review and competition time!

Hi there, folks. Well, it seems that you'll be hearing from me sooner than I thought you would! It's for something very exciting though.

Last month, we ran a competition for attending the Supreme Cat Show, and our winner had a fantastic day out. This time, I'm running another competition, and this time it benefits both you and your cats.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a representative of NutriCat,
a new dry cat food recently released in the UK. They had been following the blog, and were interested to see what I, and more importantly the cats, thought of their new pet food. I agreed to review the food for them. Let me make it very clear that I was not paid in any way for the review, except, of course, for the provision of a bag of cat food to be reviewed. Nor has the review been censored by them in any way.

NutriCat, as I've said, is a new dry cat food, marketted as being vet approved. Indeed, their vet features very heavily on Their Website
which is quite informative and has a lot of information on there. As those of you who know me can attest, I am very, very particular almost to the point of being OCD about what I feed my cats as I don't want to compromise their nutrition in any way. I am a big advocate of feeding wet, but I do also feed dry alongside it to supplement the wet food that I give, and also to make sure that if any new owners choose to feed dry, the kittens are used to and accepting of it. That said, the dry food that I feed isn't the most nutritionally super on the market.

"But you're OCD about their nutrition", I hear you say. Yes I am, but unfortunately the cats don't share my slightly crazy tendancies. Tia came to me on Royal Canin Persian, and no matter how many times I've tried to change her onto something that has a higher meat content, she rebels, usually by way of frequent piles of sick or hair balls on the only carpet in the house which isn't stain proof. Eventually I gave in, and I now feed RC exclusively as my dry choice.

In order for me to try this new food, I examined its nutritional profile very closely, and found it to be not far off that of the Royal Canin I was feeding. "ok," I thought, "I'll review it, but feed it in small portions to avoid any bouts of sickness and rebelling from Tia... My carpet doesn't need any more abuse!"

And that's exactly what I did. NutriCat comes in 400G, 1KG and 2.5KG bags, but no bigger. I'd see this as a potential problem if breeders wanted to feed this exclusively, as 2.5 KG just isn't large enough to sustain a big cat population for more than a few weeks. However, the fact that it's easily available in trial sized bags is excellent as it gives new owners the chance to sample the food without having to throw loads away if the cat decides they don't like it. Storage is easier if it's bought in smaller bags, and you won't break your back trying to lug 10 KG of food into your house!

When I opened the bag, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't have a terribly good reseal mechanism, but this isn't a huge issue for me as I normally put bags of dry straight into air-tight containers. However, this is something you need to be aware of if you're planning to keep it in the original bags, as I doubt they would be air tight. Again though, because the biggest bag is only 2.5 KG, the chances of food perrishing due to exposure before it's eaten are minimal.

The kibbles themselves are small and round, and would be just as easily picked up by kittens as adults. They don't even smell too bad, something I normally hate with dry food as it does tend to pong a lot. I found that my cats were dropping a lot of the kibble when they picked it up, but to be perfectly honest, they do this with every dry food except for the RC Persian, and this isn't surprising as the RC kibble has been specifically designed to accommodate the Persian's sublingual method of bringing food to the mouth (something which is unique to that breed). Because of this, I don't count the kibble dropping as a negative point. It's just worth noting if you have Persians. My lot didn't mind though, because they had fun picking the bits up off the floor to eat.

Now, as for its palatability, well, I haven't one bad thing to say! The cats ate it as though it was the best treat in the universe! In fact, in the end, I just filled a treat ball up with it and they were as enthusiastic about it in the ball as they are when it's filled with Dreamies or some other treat like Temptations etc. In fact, it was so much of a treat that it was actually this particular food that convinced one of my kittens that hand feeding was a good idea. I try to encourage them all to hand feed so that their owners can feed them treats, but one little boy simply wasn't interested until the NutriCat was offered. As I was coming close to the end of the bag, I filled a jar with the remaining food, and had to physically keep my hand over the top of it to stop them shoving their heads inside it during feeding time. they absolutely loved this food!

I gave small samples of this to a few friends to make sure that my cats' reactions were fairly typical, and every one of them reported that their cats wolfed down the food and asked for more. None of mine were sick on NutriCat, although I was careful how I fed it.

NutriCat is very easily available, being stocked and sold by Tesco nationwide. Its price is around the same as Royal Canin charge for breeders, but significantly cheaper than RC can be bought for by non-breeders. A 2.5 KG bag of NutriCat retails at £12.80, whereas a 2 KG bag of RC Persian is £16 plus. However, RC does include hairball control, and the kibbles are specially shaped for a Persian's mouth, and NutriCat doesn't possess either of those traits.

In summary, NutriCat is an incredibly good supermarket food, miles ahead of Whiskas and Felix, its two main competitors as I see it. If someone insists on only buying from the supermarket, I'd recommend NutriCat without hesitation. I won't change to feeding it exclusively myself, but this is only because of its lack of hairball control and its not having kibbles shaped specifically for the Persian's mouth. For any other breed though, it is a food to consider if you insist on feeding dry. Ask the cats and I'm sure they'd plump for this every time... It says a lot when you can use a dry food as treats! I'll continue to buy the small bags of it just to treat them with, as this is a far healthier option than Dreamies or their alternatives. Over all, both me and cats are very pleased with NutriCat.

And now, what about this exciting thing that I mentioned? Well, thanks to the generosity of NutriCat, you too will have the chance to try it out! NutriCat have agreed that I can run a competition to give one lucky winner the chance to sample the food themselves.

So, what's on offer? NutriCat have agreed to provide the winner of the competition with one month's supply of NutriCat in a flavour of their choice. The competition is very easy to enter.

All you have to do is visit the NutriCat Website
and have a look around. Then come back here and tell us which flavour of NutriCat you'd like by leaving a comment on this post. And that's it! The competition will run until 12 midnight GMT till next Monday the 5th of December. Entries will then be allocated a number, and a random number generator will be used to choose the winner. Then all that remains is for you to crack open the bag, and watch your cats enjoy! Remember, folks, even if you don't want to change your cats over totally to NutriCat (I know a lot of you are set on what you like to feed), they like it so much that it can be used as a very healthy, complete Treat Food too! So this competition is really worth entering. I'm sorry, but it's limited to those who live in the UK only.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the folks at Nutricat on behalf of the cats who absolutely loved the food. Good luck to all those who enter the competition too!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Supreme and Paws

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've written on here. Time just seems to run away with me, and when you add to that the fact that my computer blew up over the weekend and my internet access has been restricted, it doesn't make it easy to post! I've actually put off writing this for another reason as well.

Paws has gone to his new home. He left on the 12th of November with his new mum, who spent most of her visit on the floor playing with everyone... Always a good way to convince me that you're a good home for one of my kittens. Paws actually put himself into the carrier when it was time to go, settled down, curled up and was quite content in there. I, on the other hand, was and still am to some extent an emotional wreck. I knew it was coming, but with him it's been particularly hard. I had him for a long time, got to know his little personality, and I miss him so much even a week and a half on that the hurt is almost physical.

I won't write too much more about him here. I'm trying to move on for the sake of my own sanity, and talking about him doesn't help that. I will tell you that he settled well, and, just like his brother, within a few minutes of getting home he was yelling to be let out of his safe room! I consider it an incredible complement that all of my kittens are more distressed about being left alone than being moved to a new home, because it shows what a good job I've done socialising them with people. Paws now has another cat to live with, and is just working out how best to interact with an older cat who isn't too impressed that her days of being the single spoilt puss are over! There's been no fighting though, and he's eating well (well there's a surprise), and settling superbly. His new name is Manny.

Saturday saw me and the remaining cats packed off to the Supreme Cat Show, and what a packing job it was! I had 2 cats, all the usual show equipment, drapes, themed items etc. Fitting it all in the car was a nightmare! We'd gone up the day before to decorate the pens, so on the morning of the show, setting up the cats was relatively simple.

The Supreme Cat Show is very different to most other GCCF shows, with cats being judged in rings rather than simply being taken from their pens and judged right in front of them. Sadly, neither of my two girls were overly impressed with being removed from one pen, shoved into another strange one, then handled by complete strangers. Millie coped well enough, but Tia degenerated quickly into one huge grump, even grumping at me when I tried to give her a cuddle and settle her. She just didn't enjoy her day at all, and by the end of it, she actually hid herself under the bed. Needless to say, as much as I'd like to, I won't be taking her back to the Supreme. I never show a cat if they give me signs that they aren't enjoying the experience, and Tia really wasn't.

Millie wasn't overly thrilled. She too hid under the bed, but more I think, because it was cosy rather than because she was frightened. She does this a lot at home, hiding under blankets, snuggling under cushions, and on the day she came out straight away whenever she heard my voice and showed no signs of fear. When she was judged in one class, she even asked for a tummy tickle! However, the day was absolutely manic, and running between two cat pens plus trying to see the rest of the show myself was simply too much. I don't think I'll take two cats again, unless I'm certain they will be penned very near to each other.

I'm very pleased to announce though that both girls got a first place in their breed classes, and little Millie's pen was awarded 5th place in the over all best decorated pen competition! Considering that there were over 1100 pens at the Supreme (I'll admit that not all of them were decorated), this is quite an achievement!

What's even better is that Cat Planet actually took photos of my pens! Do you know how long I've been waiting for a Cat Planet photo? I'm so, so thrilled to actually be up there! You can see photos of Tia's pen, pen 8, by clicking Here.">Here.>

You can see Millie's pen, number 33 I think, by clicking Here.
I'm so proud of both girls for doing as well as they did!

My next show won't be until mid December, so you may not here much from me until then. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

AWOL No More!

Hi there, folks. Long time no see, eh? All I can say is I'm sorry. I'm not going to go into details of why I haven't been around. Let's just go with the revelation that life has been, well, interesting over the last month or so, and I just haven't had the physical time or the mental want to write a blog. I think stress is my middle name!

Firstly the cat show. We did well in some ways and badly in others. Both girls came first in their open classes (these are the classes where the results really matter), but Tia's CC was withheld. A CC is a challenge certificate, and you need three to make your cat a champion. Previously, Tia had always been withheld on because of her type. Her face isn't flat enough. I'd very privately decided before I went to this show that if she was withheld on for the same reason, I'd stop showing her and let the Supreme be her swansong. I always ask to talk to the withholding judge, and this time was no different... Except that it was.

My judge on the day was perhaps the nicest judge I'd ever met, and I can't even begin to tell you the encouragement I got from her. She had withheld on Tia not for her type, but for her coat condition. It hadn't fully come back in yet after kittens, and I knew it, so I wasn't surprised it had been mentioned. The lady went on to say that I should continue to show her as it was nice to see an open type back on the show bench, and that she should do well once her coat sorts itself out again, provided I was careful to choose those judges who liked the open types. She also complemented me on my very beautiful kittens. My day turned from a resolution not to show her again to a new hope that other judges might just recognise the merrits of the open type Persian.

Paws came second in his open class, with the first and best of breed going to the most adorable little chocolate point boy kitten who was a great snuggler and just scrummy! His breeder was so lovely that I couldn't even be sorry that her kitten had won over mine. She was incredibly encouraging about my kittens and even Tia, too. Said she'd bred some cracking open types, and that I shouldn't get down because not everyone liked them. I can't tell you how much good this day did me. I was starting to question if I'd ever get anywhere with the Persians.

Millie did the best out of all the cats on the day. She got a first in her open class, the best of breed being taken by that little chocolate boy, but this is a big thing, because the judge who awarded the placing is one of the strictest Persian judges who would have withheld the first if there had been any major faults. The critique he's written isn't glowing, but nor does it tell me never to show the kitten again as she's awful, and I've seen him hint at this in other reports! Millie also beat off competition from nine cats to be placed third in a side class. How wonderful is that! I was absolutely chuffed to bits, as some of the kittens there were absolutely stunning.

I came home on a high, but hit rock bottom the next morning when Millie had the worst case of the runs I've ever seen in a kitten. I won't go into details, but she was so bad at one point over the next week that I was convinced I was going to lose her. I watched as she was too ill to even get up and vomit and was forced to do it all over herself instead. I sat by her and cried as she just put her head back down again, too sick to even move away from the pool of puke she was lying in. I gave up trying to clean her bum as the constant bathing was making it red and sore. So there she was covered in her own puke and poo, and not making any attempt to do anything about it. I held her and said my goodbyes. The next day though, while she wasn't super well or anything, she was better, and the next, she was a little better again. Paws caught whatever it was off her and they both got sick. Over the last few weeks they've had a few relapses, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm trying to reintroduce their old food too quickly or because the bug is coming back. However, they've been clear for ages now, so it's time to start moving them onto their old food again... Fingers crossed that their tummies stay solid!

Incidentally, for anyone else going through the same thing, you need pumpkin. I swear I've fallen in love with the stuff, and it works so well! If they have the runs, pumpkin bulks them up. If they're constipated, pumpkin loosens things. It's amazing! To prepare it, remove all of the innards and seeds from the pumpkin and throw away. Chop the shell of the pumpkin into roughly 2 inch squares, place in a pan, just cover with water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 25 minutes. Then drain the water and, using a spoon, scrape the now soft pulp away from the skin. Throw the skin away. Mash the pulp with a fork, continuing to remove excess water. You should serve 1 heaped teaspoonful per meal to a cat, and one heaped tablespoonful of this pulpy mixture to a dog with every meal. It can be frozen, or stored fresh in the fridge for up to a week. I swear it saved my bacon. Kittens are almost totally solid again within hours of giving it. Have I mentioned I love pumpkin yet?

On a brighter but also much sadder front, I think I've finally found a new home for Paws, and it's breaking my heart. Every time I think about him going, I want to scream, then hide him in a cupboard, and when the poor woman gets here I can say "Cat? What cat? Don't know what you're talking about!" I keep trying to convince myself that I could keep him and show him in the household pets section because his personality is just so loving and cuddly. He wants to be on a person at every waking moment. He's gentle when he plays, he'll purr for anyone, he even purrs in the vets! He sleeps on your chest rather than in his lap, he purrs away to himself even when you're not touching him... In short, he's everything I've ever wanted in a cat. He's what I've been waiting for. The only problem is that he's not a stunning show neuter. Can I afford to give him up? What if I regret it? What if I decide to stop breeding next year and discover that there would have been space for him to stay after all? What if he would have done well in Household Pets? But then, this new home is spectacular. They already have a Persian who is so spoiled that they can't even bear to leave her alone long enough to visit relatives. She has hundreds of toys, sleeps with the couple by night, and is so much queen of her house that they daren't close a door in her face even for a bit of peace! Isn't this a better home for a very people oriented cat than one where he'll have to deal with moody, hormonal queens (his mother's already smacking him about thanks to her being on full call today, and all because he wants a snuggle), fractious mums, rampaging kittens and the portion of my attention that I can give to him? The answer is pretty clear, and as much as I really do love him, and I do, I need to not be so selfish and think about what's better for him. Of course, this all implies that I continue to breed, and I do have a sneaky suspicion that if I give up any time soon, I'll beat myself up forever for letting this one go, but what if I don't? That's the question, and because I don't know, I need to proceed as though I will continue. If I could just be sure that I'd be able to produce another kitten with his temperament then I'd not feel so bad. But life gives no assurances.

Millie has learned to chirp! Up until now she's managed to Weeeeow! or Wooow! or Eo at me, but when it was food time on Monday there was a definite brrrp in there! She was so pleased with herself that that little tail of hers was sticking straight up in the air and almost quivering! I've heard her sneakily practicing to herself too... I gotta laugh every time! Their little tails are so cute though. They're all still stripey, and whenever it's food time, they stick straight up and the kittens strut around as though they're amazing!

Paws, you might remember, isn't the brightest star in the sky, but the thing he's started doing over the last few weeks still takes the biscuit. He's started getting lost... In his own house! He will go into the kitchen, then apparently forget where he is. There then follows a period of shouting and calling until I answer him, and he'll come running to my voice like there's a hoard of monsters on his tail! Of course, he then needs a reassuring cuddle, but a few hours later, the same thing happens. He gets terribly upset if you don't call to him when he's shouting, and I've seen him get frantic once when I was distracted and didn't notice. And all this in a small bungalow that he's known forever! he can see the living room from the kitchen and the hall. This is where I always am, but still he gets lost! I wonder if they have a Darwin Award for cats? If so, I'm sure he's won it.

Paws is now officially a tim rather than a tom. He had the snip yesterday, and is making it clear in no uncertain terms that his bum is sore and should be respected. He keeps smacking me if my hand goes anywhere below his ribs. Poor boy. I caught him sitting on the cool kitchen floor last night, something he doesn't normally do, so I presume it's pretty sore. Oh how I wish I could explain to them what's happened. Mind you, it hasn't stopped him playing. Within seconds of being allowed out of the carrier he'd jumped up on top of it to have a look around, bopped his mum, then jumped on his sister's head and run off to fill his face at the food dish. I've never seen anything like it. Whenever Tia has an anaesthetic, she sleeps for hours afterwards!

Paws' potential new mum is coming to have a snuggle with him on the 12th of November, and if he likes her (there's no question that she, of course, will love him), then he'll go home with her the very same day, and another little piece of my heart will go with him. I hate this part of breeding. I hate it with a passion.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Winners, AWOL and Update

I'm so, so sorry I've been AWOL. There's been quite a few reasons for this, but I'll not get into them here. You know, my head's been so mixed up lately that I didn't even realise the competition ended over a week ago! I'm really sorry to those who've been waiting on the results. My memory's rubbish when I'm juggling a lot of things at once. It's no excuse I know, but there it is.

So, off I went to find a random number generator. Everyone who entered got allocated a number and then the generator did its work. The results are in! The winning person is................ Jimmiechew! Congratulations to you, Jimmy, and apologies to all of those who entered and were unlucky. If you'd still like tickets to the Supreme, then drop me a comment or an email and I'll send you the details. Jimmiechew, please drop me an email to telling me where you would like the tickets sent to. Thanks to everyone who entered!

So, last time I wrote, I thought that my boys were going to their new home together. Sadly, that all fell through, but Porker was chosen! He left the Saturday after my last post, and he's doing just fine! I had expected him to do the usual cat thing when they get to a new home and hide for at least the first 24 hours. When my phone rang later that night, I expected it to be the new owners asking what they could do to make him more comfortable. Turns out, they were worried about leaving him alone in his safe room because he was crying so much to come out! As soon as the carrier door was opened, he came straight out, had an explore, then in typical Porker fashion, stuffed his face with food... Yep, that's one really scared kitten, don't you agree?

I'd advised the new owners to keep him in his safe room for quite a few days to let him accustom himself to the new people and smells, but as he was so upset at being left alone, he was allowed out at my suggestion. Within a few hours of arriving, he'd come bounding down the stairs, played with toys, climbed onto his new dad's shoulder, then curled up in his new mum's lap to help her write a quick message to a still crying me to let me know that things were going swimmingly. I couldn't have asked for a better result! The two little boys love him dearly too. If only I could find homes as perfect as that for all my little ones!

Hamster remains here (forgive me if I slip. We call him Paws, but i've tried to continue to use Hamster for the sake of continuity on the blog. If I use Paws, it's him I'm talking about). He and Millie play very happily together now, and he's really come out of himself since Porker, now called Bianco, left. He doesn't allow himself to be bullied any more, and there's been a time or two I've caught him walloping on Millie! He's turning into a very confident, outgoing, affectionate little boy. When Bianco initially went, I was convinced that I was going to keep Paws, but I think that was due to the grief of letting my first kitten go. Now I'm ready for him to move on, but for some strange reason, I've had no interest in him! I'm taking him, his sister and his mum to a cat show tomorrow though, so hopefully that'll generate some positive interest. The older he gets, the more he types up, and the amount of coat he has is just to die for! I suspect he's going to turn out to be a real little stunner. He still sleeps on my pillow, and he and Millie have discovered that they don't need to fight for space any more, as there's space on either side of my head. Tia sleeps at the bottom of the bed on my side, so I've had to twist myself into all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes to accommodate them. This morning I woke up with a face full of kitten belly, and an inquisitive little nose shoved in my eye... It's quite a way to start the day, I promise you!

So that's it for now. Everything's going well here. Millie weighed in at 1.5 KG at her last check which was on Monday, so she's really piled on the weight! They're all eating dry food now too. I won't write as frequently on this blog any more, but will update it to reflect any big happenings at the Moonspun cattery. Please check back often, and keep an eye on the website too, as I'll post any news up there as well.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. It's been an incredible one. I'll look back on these posts in a few weeks, and it'll bring back the marvel all over again as I read about their development. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most profound experiences I have ever had. It's also been one of the hardest, but I wouldn't change it.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Goodbye, Sweet Boys

Well, this is it, and I don't even know how to put it into words. This is my last night with my baby boys before they head off for their forever homes tomorrow.

I'm sorry that I haven't written in a while. I've been a bit down in the dumps for quite a few reasons, and just haven't been able to force myself to put pen to paper to write. Even if I had managed, I don't know how doom and gloom it would have bene, so thought it better to avoid the blog. I didn't realise how much time had passed in between when I'd last written and now, so apologies for that.

There isn't terribly much to report this week, or perhaps there is and I'm just not able to think of it because my mind is trying to say goodbye to these little boys before they leave tmorrow, and the easiest way for me to do that is to detatch from them... I doubt I'll succeed I'm afraid.

They're really enjoying sleeping in bed with me, and I'm hoping this is something the new owners will continue to allow them to do. Whenever I go to bed at night, little Millie is straight in there and up on my pillow for cuddles, and when I wake in the morning it's to find all three cuddled around my head and as happy as can be. Tia doesn't sleep by my face, so it's a rare treat that I'm really enjoying.

They had their last vaccinations just yesterday as the vet was fully booked when they should have gone on Tuesday, but as usual, they had no reaction to it other than sleeping a lot yesterday. They also had their microchips done. Poor Millie had to have hers done twice as the first one came out within about an hour of being put in there. Poor babies. They were wormed and had their claws clipped too, so they were really put through it. Millie also had her DNA test done, so I should know this time next week whether she's PKD negative or not, and whether she carries chocolate. Of course, I know she won't test positive for PKD as her parents are both negative, but I test just to be double sure.

I bought them some new toys this week. Some new, stronger cubes which they're absolutely mad about, and some other bits and pieces like small balls etc. Da Bird continues to be a massive hit in this house, and the kittens play until they drop or until my arm gets tired. It's usually the arm that gives up before the babies do though.

Ok, I can't make myself write too much more tonight. The pain of letting these babies go is immense, and the tears are just flooding from me the more I force myself to remember their last week. Their time with me is so short, and I don't even think I treasured it enough. I don't know how I could have loved them more, but when you know time is coming to an end, it just never seems enough, does it? I have to just keep reminding myself of the joy and excitement I had at bringing my first cat home, and how grateful I was that the breeder had made the sacrifice so that I could add a furry friend to my family. If I can do that for someone else, then I've done well. That only goes so far though.

The boys will both go to the same home which is just about the best I could hope for. They will go to friends of mine who are absolutely lovely people. Two little boys will most likely not get much sleep tonight as they lie awake thinking of the cats that will come to join them tomorrow. I couldn't have asked for a better home. But I'll probably not get much sleep tonight either thinking of the two little lives that will leave me for good tomorrow. I'll confess that I don't know how to deal with it propperly. In fact, I don't know how to deal with it at all.

I'm afraid that's all for now. Sorry to end on such a low note, but I just don't have it in me to be cheerful tonight. I hope this gets easier with tim,e but a tiny, very truthful part of me knows it probably won't.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

It's Competition Time!

I'd like to diverge away from kittens today, but believe me, it'll be worth it! Why, you ask? Because I'd like to take the opportunity to run a competition.

I am offering one lucky person the chance to win a pair of tickets to visit the Supreme Cat show which will be held on the 19th of November in the NEC in Birmingham. This is an absolutely amazing show which is the equivalent of Krufts in the cat world. Normal cat shows get anywhere between 200 and 300 entries, but the Supreme gets an average of 1600! All the pens are decorated, and cats have to qualify by winning a CC to enter, so it's only the best of the best that can be shown there. This is truly a cat lover's paradise. If looking at cats all day isn't enough, there are tons of trade stands there, most of which have special offers, and all of which sell just about anything you can imagine for the cat lover and their cat. you will be able to see pretty much every breed of cat that is registered with the GCCF, and maybe get to cuddle a few too! You also have the opportunity to watch them being judged, something which is usually forbidden in GCCF shows. Household pets enter too, so there is literally every type of cat imaginable there! This is an amazing prize, as tickets are quite expensive.

I will be attending the show with two of my cats, and thought this would be a nice chance to give others the opportunity to attend. It really is a smashing day out. Of course, if you win, I'd ask that you come and find me and my beautiful cats, but you would anyway, right?

To enter, please just leave a comment on this blog telling me why you would like the chance to visit the Supreme. The winner will be picked by a random generator, and the competition runs for 2 weeks. Even if you don't live in England, you can still enter. If you want to travel to the show then I'm happy to help source hotels for you, or if you'd rather not come but know someone who would love to, then you are welcome to donate the tickets to others. I would also ask that you spread the word to as many others as possible through Facebook, Twitter etc. Now, let the competition begin!

Monday, 12 September 2011

11 weeks old!

My, how time flies around here. Already, the hooligans are 11 weeks old, and it's hit home that if they all find their forever homes when they should, I only have another two weeks with them. I don't know how I'm going to cope!

The Baby now has her name. It took its time in coming, but thanks to a good friend of mine, we've found something suitable. She'll now be called Millie. Her weight gain has been all over the place this week, and I'm doing my best not to worry unnecessarily. She's a lot smaller than the two boys still, and I'm just not sure how much of that is to do with the fact that she's the only girl and how much is potentially to do with some hidden problem. I keep consoling myself with the fact that the vet did say she could find nothing wrong with any of them when they had their check ups two weeks ago.

Introducing Millie!

Millie is such a character. She's really discovered shoulders this week. Before, she'd climb on you, yes, but now she wants to get up there and stay up there. I call her a parrot, because she'll happily sit there for as long as you'll let her. She supervises the making of coffee, laundry folding, hoovering, you name it, she watches it. She's also gotten very, very attached to me and will wake out of a dead sleep to run after me if I move from the room she's in.

Millie wants to play...

Hamster is a little doll. He's the most placid of all the kittens, never playing rough, never fighting what you want to do to him even when it comes to bathing. But when it's time for a simple eye clean? Well, that boy gets a massive case of the freaks! He wriggles like his tail was on fire, and it takes twice as long to do him as it does the others. Strange really. They all had a bath today, and he was the easiest to do out of the lot. You'd think that he'd fight that even more, but nope, he just sat and took the soaking, then when it was time to be dried, even though he was quite frightened (they all start out frightened of the dryer at first), all he did was hide his head under my chin or in my hand. It was a classic case of "If I can't see it, it doesn't exist", and I laughed so hard I almost pulled a muscle. He's a real sweetie though. He just gets run rough-shod over by the others here because he's content to hang back and just wait until you have time for him rather than being in your face like the other two are. I have a massive soft spot for him, and I make sure he has his individual lap time as often as possible without the others pushing him off or hogging the attention.

Fat Boy peeking over the edge.

Porker has turned into a right attention hog. If I'm sitting down and Millie or Tia aren't on my lap, you can guarantee that within about, oh, I don't know, a second or so, there's the most pitiful, "Help me, I'm just about to die of loneliness," meow from wherever Porker happens to be, followed by him walking onto your lap and then throwing himself down for a sleep. No, this kitten doesn't arrange himself in the typical, careful cat manner. He just lifts his legs from under him when he's ready to lie down, and you get his belly flop whether you wanted it or not! Of course, I want it. I find it incredibly cute, and he always gets a belly tickle, which he loves perhaps more than anything else. He was the hardest out of the three to bathe, and I think that as hard as I try, his bathing manners are going to be an ongoing training goal for his new owners. It's not because he's malicious. He's just so, so frightened. He got in such a state today that he actually pooed himself while I was drying him. I think next time, I'll pop him in a carrier to do it and see if that stresses him less. Funny, because as a tiny baby, he was the one who needed the most baths, so you'd think he'd be used to it by now, but not by a long shot. Gone are his tough boy days though. While I'm typing, he's pawing desperately at my arm for a belly rub, while Hamster cuddles on my shoulder.

Fat Boy Staring up for attention!

Last night, they were allowed access to the bedroom for the first time. I don't let them in there until I'm 100% sure there's no possibility of an accident, as the carpet isn't stain proof. They've been totally clean now for over a week, so I thought it about time that my sleep schedule became non-existent. They loved it! Porker had a super romp, climbing onto cabinets, dive bombing the others from the bed, attacking my toes under the blankets and generally having a wonderful party. Hamster did a more sedate exploration, preferring to mostly stay on the bed with me. He didn't want cuddles, mind you, or at least, not at first. He'd much rather run at full pelt round and round the bed chasing prey only he could see. Millie ran riot as well, feeding off Porker. If she could have bounced off the walls, she would have been! This lasted just until the point where I was seriously considering booting them all out again and giving the whole thing up as a crazy, never gonna work idea, when all at once, it stopped. Porker crawled under the bed to cuddle with mum, Hamster settled down beside my pillow, but Millie climbed right onto the pillow with me, burrowed in so tightly against my neck that I was worried she'd hurt herself, and then never moved until I got up this morning. I was up a few times in the night to pull the boys out of mischief, but she never moved a muscle except to snuggle in again when I came back to bed. She's such a little treasure.

So that's it again for another week. Pictures, as usual, will follow courtesy of my friend, so keep checking back! I'll give you the weights as I always do.

Millie: 1042 grams, the size of a 10 week old kitten, so she's catching up!
Hamster: 1272 grams, the size of a 12 week old kitten. So much for him starting out as the slow gainer!
Porker: 1336 grams, the size of a small 13 week old. He still earns his name!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Ten Weeks Old!

Well, the little monsters are 10 weeks old today, and time's flying by. I realised just the other day that I only have another three weeks with these little ones, and I'm dreading it. The time has flown up until now, so I know it's going ot go in much more quickly than I actually want it to.

Every week they learn something new. This week, Hamster learned to cuddle. Not with me though, with his mum. I came upon them the other day all snuggled together on the sofa. Nothing abnormal in that except that Tia had a front paw over Hamster, and he had his paws wrapped around her neck. It was too sweet for words, and one of those moments when I really wished that I could see enough to use a camera. He's been ever so sweet with her this week, and her favouritism is slowly shifting from Porker to him. He doesn't bug her for milk as much now which is also helping this. Whenever they try to suckle, she'll mostly get up and move away a few times before giving up and letting them get on with it, although I did see her discipline a kitten the other day when they got too pushy in the search for milk. I'm glad to see this. She gives me the impression that she's about ready to be rid of them, and I can't blame her. After constant suckling for 10 weeks from things that have had teeth for 6 of them, she must be very sore!

She won't share my lap with any kitten but Porker. She just about tolerates Hamster, but if the Baby comes for a cuddle when Tia's sitting with me, she'll flounce off my knee in a real snit, and won't come back again even when the Baby's long gone which she inevitably does as soon as Tia gets off. Obviously, mum has found something much more interesting to do than have cuddles from the boring old human, so she has to go check it out. This does her no favours in Tia's book bearing in mind that she's just tried to get away from her. Yep, I think Tia will be glad when they go.

The Baby too has learned a new skill. I was cuddling her the other day when she rolled right over on her back, reached up with a paw and bopped me on the nose. I laughed but thought nothing of it. After all, kittens' paws are everywhere. But when she very deliberately did it a second time, I was forced to admit that there was thought behind it. Cheeky madam! She's ever so cute though. She absolutely will not use claws when she's playing with your fingers any more. She doesn't even like to slap them very hard, but will lie on her back and let you do pretty much anything to her that you want. I'll admit, I exploit this a little. I know she won't bite me, so I handle her all over and do things I know she doesn't like just to get her used to having them done. The vet will have no trouble checking this little lady's mouth, I can tell you! Through it all though, she just sits until I'm done.

Three Little Kittens, sharing a group hug.

She's gotten very people oriented, well, even more so than she was, over the last few days. Yesterday she kept crying for me to pick her up. She did this so much that I actually thought she might be ill! In the end, the only way she'd settle was if she could lie on her side on my shoulder and bury her face in my neck. She stayed like that for maybe 10 minutes, but of course, she waited until I was in the middle of cooking dinner to do it. Why do they always hold back until you're really busy before demanding attention! Please, someone tell me why!

Porker's tough man image is crumbling. He's purred quite a bit, then caught what he was doing and stopped, but he always forgets again. For the last two days when he wants attention he puts his two front paws against my leg and scrabbles and cries piteously until I pick him up for a snuggle. As soon as he's in my arms he turns to mush. These boys are super sweet.

Porker on the scratching post.

You know, even though I'm a bit worried about finding new homes for them, part of me wouldn't care if they were never sold. I want to keep them all for myself. I don't want to miss out on any of their new little quirks. If there are any future owners reading this, be warned, I will be blubbing before you've even got your kitten out the door!

Baby getting ready to pounce.

Kittens fighting!

Well, that's it for today I think. Pictures will be added later on today courtesy of my super friend! Check back and you'll see 'em. As always, here are the weights. The Baby has gained spectacularly! Actually, I forgot to mention that, or at least, I think I did. Another breeder commented that she's had a few fussy eater kittens in the past, and that might be the reason why the Baby wasn't gaining. I put down some hills along with the Animonda, and I've never seen a kitten eat so much! So although I hate feeding it, it's gone down every day since, and she's gaining steadily. She's still far behind her brothers, but considering she'd dropped to 780g on Tuesday morning, she's doing marvellously!

The Baby: 942 grams, but she was 967 earlier today!
Hamster: 1150 grams.
Porker: 1249 grams (He's the size of an 11 and a half week old kitten!).

Friday, 2 September 2011

Kitten Update

I don't know what's come over me lately. I just have no inclination to write, and I can't think of a reason. Every time I've thought of updating the blog, something else has happened, or I've found something else to do, or I've been too tired... The list goes on, but underneath it all, it's this lack of motivation to write. This often happens to me, but usually when I'm in the middle of penning a short story, or, more commonly, the night before an article is due and I know I have limited time. I do know it passes. I just hope you'll stick with me until it does.

I'll tell you right off that there aren't any photos this week. I've had a job offer which has necessitated an awful lot of really quick organising as they want me to start in 3 weeks. My photo snapping friend is also back at work which means he's only available on weekends, so this weekend I'll get him to take a load for me. No doubt you'll see them at the 10 week old stage.

Well, they've had their vaccinations. Vets and other breeders, knowing what a worry wart I am and no doubt wishing to avoid the numerous, panicked phone calls from me, warned me in advance. "They'll be quiet and withdrawn," they said. "They might not play or eat the same for a day," they said. "You'll enjoy the peace," they said. Really? Nobody told the kittens that! They slept for about 2 hours after bringing them back from the vets, but then going there is a big adventure for them, so no wonder they had to sleep off the excitement. After that though, they cleared a whole bowl of food, ran around like lunatics, and generally partied just as hard as any teenager whose parents have gone away for the weekend. Peace? This word means something, yes?

The Baby's weight gain over the last week has been awful again, and even with nutri-drop dosing, it's done little good. I was worried sick (yes, that's getting familiar now, isn't it?) about her when I took her to the vets on Tuesday. I was thinking heart problems, lung problems, liver shunt. They checked her though and said they could find no obvious problems. I took advice from other breeders and increased the variety of foods I set down... And I found her weakness. This baby absolutely loves Hills food. Typical really, as I've worked so hard to get Tia off that and eating something with a better meat content. I'm not giving in though. Even though there's a bowl of Hills down, there's also a bowl of Animonda, and I won't take it up even if she does prefer the Hills. I've caught her sneakily eating Animonda quite a few times though, so perhaps she just wanted the choice. Either way though, she's eating like a little piggie and piling on the weight again. It really doesn't take them long to catch up, does it?

They got wormed again this week too. Thankfully, this time they're big enough to use Milbamax which means no battle to get them to swallow icky liquid. I've noticed that it doesn't give them the same level of diarrhoea either. Thank goodness!

Well, Hamster has turned into an absolute sweety. This week, he's the only kitten who actively seeks cuddles. In fact, sometimes he'll be sleeping on the back of the sofa and start whimpering in his sleep. As soon as you talk to him, he wakes up just enough to stand, half stumbles half tumbles off the back of the sofa, drags himself into your lap and snuggles down to resume dreaming. He will quite happily come for cuddles when he isn't sleeping too, and now the Baby's following his example again.

She's such a happy, confident baby. She flitters around the place, usually chirping, tail stuck straight up in the air. And she gets so, so excited when it's time to greet someone. When I come out of the bedroom in the morning (for the sake of my sanity, they're not allowed in there to disrupt my sleep... yet), she runs like crazy to be the first at the door, then stands at my feet, that little tail quivering, purr rattling her whole body. The boys are always close behind, but she's the first to get attention thanks to her winning ways!

Porker has decided this week that laps are for girls, and he couldn't possibly ever dream of sitting in one. That is until either someone else is in it and he thinks they've got something better than him, or until he gets tired and wants a cushy, self-heating bed to lie in. He has also decided that purring is not on the agenda, although I've sneakily caught him at it when he's half asleep and forgets that he's supposed to be pretending to be too tough to purr. They really do go through stages, don't they? They've all been through what Porker is going through at the moment, and I'd be surprised if it lasted longer than a week!

And breaking news. the Baby has just come and plonked herself in my lap and settled down. Yes, you did read that right. The busy little bee made herself comfy, then clambered to lie against my chest, started purring... And stayed there, without moving, for a whole five minutes! Amazing! Of course, the boys have mastered the staying still skill weeks ago, but for her, there was always something more interesting, a spot on the floor that needed investigating right now, a toy to play with that she hadn't seen in, oh, a second, that she had to beat up right now! It was always right now with her, so this is a milestone! And she's just done it again. Amazing!

The pen is totally gone now. It stayed up as long as it did just in case the wormer gave them the runs so bad that they had to go back in there until it had worn off, but when I saw they were still managing to make it to the trays, or almost, I knew there was no need for it. So down it came. Tia has thus reclaimed her scratching post as her own, as they can't jump that high on their own yet, and were using the pen to climb onto before stealing her post as a sleeping spot. She seems grateful to have a peaceful area back all to herself! The kittens now all sleep on the back of the sofa. It's terribly nice to lean your head back, have one of them cuddle it while you get stereo purring from either side. Tia will sometimes join them up there too.

I've left her without her jacket this week just to see how things go. I've also allowed kittens to suckle when and where they want. Thankfully, her milk isn't coming back in in great supply, even though when they suckle, they do it hard!

They've also now been given access to the hall which they love. Firstly, there's more room for all their toys, and secondly it means that they have a nice long stretch to run up and down, stalk each other, and generally create mischief. They move so fast now. I hadn't got the full experience of a term that so many cat owners use, Thundering Herd of Elephants, until these kittens showed me how it goes. It's crazy to here the noise one mum cat and three tiny bodies can generate when they run!

Hmmm, what else to tell you. I think that's about it really. I feel like I've talked for ages! Hope it was worth the weight, and I promise, pictures will come as soon as they've been taken. As usual, here are their weights. Remember that these are from Monday, just for consistency's sake.

The Baby: 833 grams Hamster: 1032 grams (he gained loads!)
Porker: 1114 grams (Well, he's called Porker for a reason!)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Eight Weeks Old

Well, the little monsters are eight weeks already. I've spent over half my time with these kittens now, and it's terribly sad. There's only five weeks left for me to love them, and then they're off into the big, wide world to reek havoc on someone else's house. I'm gonna miss them so, so much.

The worming went well, except that when they did get the runs, which would have been about Thursday I think, my carpet suffered. They didn't have accidents everywhere, just near where the trays were, but when they had them, they did it in style! Poor kids. They felt pretty grotty for a few days, and the weight gains really, really suffered. I lost sleep over the Baby. She was losing steadily until I started dosing her with nutri drops, something I haven't needed to do since they were wee tinies. She piled it on as soon as I did though, and at one point, she ate so much that I swore she was going to burst. Her belly was so full that her skin was actually taught. I don't know how she did it, but she ran straight off to play on a belly that size. I think I'd be sick!

Porker and the Baby learned to growl yesterday. It all started with a toy. It's a tiny little mouse made out of felt on the end of a short pole that I won in a blog competition round about Christmas time this year. Tia loves it, but not as much as these kittens do. The Baby grabbed it first, and actually tried to drag it across to the other side of the room. She was growling so much that I checked her thinking that someone else was beating her up, but no, it was all while having the toy in her mouth. Her solitude didn't last for long though. All the noise woke Lazy Porker who came to investigate what all the fuss was about. As soon as he saw the toy, he took it off the Baby, and then copied her, except that he then added hisses. I can't tell you how hard it was for me not to burst out laughing listening to him running around the place with the toy in his mouth and hearing all the moans and groans coming out of him. At one point, he got so into it that he sounded almost like he was choking! I did grab my dictaphone and hit record, the closest thing I have to a camera, but for some reason it didn't do it. I'm going to try again tonight and then I'll upload it to Youtube. You might not be able to see him, but in this case, it's the listening that's the fun bit anyway.

Tia's jacket came off last night, and as soon as it did, Porker was straight in there and attached to a nipple. He's so greedy. Every time Tia lies down he's on her like a magnet. I know he's not getting anything because I've started her on the Urtica again and she's got no milk in her teats, but he just won't give up. It's not comfort suckling either. He's too voracious for that.

Hamster is slowly learning to purr. It's taking him time, but I've had him purring for me twice now when I've picked him up. He did exactly the same as the other two when they started. They begin by purring away contentedly, then it's almost like they realise that it's the big scary human who's making them feel so good. At that point, the head comes up, the legs go in four different directions, and the kitten struggles frantically until it has all four feet on the ground again and can run away. He's going to be a very special cat though, because when he does purr, he turns into a huge puddle of mush. He goes so limp you'd swear he was boneless, and his head snuggles right in against your neck. I know when it clicks for him as it has done with the other two, the results are going to be spectacular.

They've discovered how to climb onto the top of the pen now. This week saw the changing of their large PVC pen for a smaller mesh and wooden one. I actually had to move this away from the wall because it took them about two seconds to work out that they could climb it, and another nanosecond to figure out that from that height, a jump to the window sill was child's play. Blinds have super cords for playing with and chewing, except that this here human didn't think the idea was super. So I was a kill joy and pulled it into the middle of the room. I'm sewing a quilt at the moment, so had put that on top just out of the way. Well, I'm not sewing it any more. It's turned into the favourite sleeping spot, ad I just haven't the heart to move them when they're cuddled up on top of it.

They've also worked out how to get onto the scratching post, the back of the sofa, my shelves (I'm really not happy about this), my cabinet, the TV and the little side table. Tia's at her whit's end. no space is sacred any more. They're even consistently using the covered litter tray which she's not pleased about. She tends to use the tray they use least. First it was the one by the TV, but then they decided that was their favourite one. Next it was the one by the computer, but they followed her there. Now it's the covered one which I'm pleased about as I want them to graduate to using those and nothing else in the next few weeks.

Tomorrow I take delivery of two low covered trays, and when I do, they'll be set up in the hall and the kits can have free run of that. I think they're getting bored in the living room, so I'm hoping that by extending their play area, my shelves and ornaments might just survive. Only time will tell though.

This time next week, they'll be on their way to the vets for their first injections. I'm debating whether or not to have their leukaemia done. It is typically passed by cat bites, and as these won't be outdoor cats, it's a bit of a toss up as to whether it's necessary. On the one hand, it'll keep them safe, but on the other, it's giving their tiny little bodies yet more to deal with, and I don't know if it's worth it. Any thoughts?

Yet again, the problem of naming my little girl has reared its ugly head. I had been swaying between Dora and Tillie for her, but she's definitely not a Dora any more. She's far too cheeky and quirky for sucha name. Tillie is too old maidish for her I think, so what else to name her? There was a cat called Kim in the vets the other day, and I quite liked the sound of it for a cat, but she's not a Kim either. At the moment, I'm leaning towards Ellie. Why? I couldn't tell you. It just seems to fit her.

As usual, I'll give you their weights for this week. and there's also pictures!

The Baby: 808 grams. I'm so pleased! All of that has been gained since Thursday!
Hamster: 893 grams.
Porker: 977 grams.
They're all turning into big fat lemons!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Seven Weeks Old!

Well, they're seven weeks old now, and boy are they making the most of it!

They've been running around like lunatics the last few days, sleeping where they fall, playing as hard as they sleep, and then sleeping some more. A friend mentioned today that I must have to be quite careful with the kitten herd under foot, and boy is she right. I sent her a response in an email which she's told me she found so funny that I must post, so I'll oblige!

Stalking on the carpet

Treading lightly is an understatement! I've developed an excellent Kitten Shuffle. It involves walking very slowly, saying "move, move, move" over and over again (Tia responds to that and I'm hoping they'll pick up on it and do it too), never picking your feet up from the carpet, stopping frequently to cuddle and kiss the one you've just barely nudged with your toe on the way past just in case you frightened it, stopping again to disengage the claws of another who thinks the top of your foot makes the ultimate transportation device, then just giving up and collapsing on the floor with them because the third one's crying because they didn't get any attention and the other two did! Meanwhile, the one you're cuddling is chewing on your earlobe and the one on your foot is now on your knee and shrieking because it doesn't know how it got inside the leg of your jeans, nor how to get out again! Then mum comes to see what's the matter, and she needs reassuring too... And all that just to get a drink of water!

They're incredibly cute, even if they are little ratbags sometimes. Hamster won't purr any more, and beats me up, bites me, claws my face when I rub it on his belly (I'm doing this to all of them so that if they go to little children, there's never a danger that the cat will panic and claw at their faces). The other two love this. Porker curls his body around my face, and the Baby, when she's not too excited, puts her two paws on my nose and just lets me get on with it. She beats everyone up and has to be regularly evicted from the sofa because she's hassling the other two when they're trying to sleep mind you, so she's no angel, but she's always the first to come for a cuddle.

Lap Wars!

Lap Hog

She's so funny though, and almost painfully cute. Last night she was chirrupping away to herself. She's the only one who does this actually, and has done since she was about three and a half weeks old. The others just meow and cry. Anyway, she was running around chirrupping and obviously very pleased about something, so I got down on the floor to share her achievement. It took me a while to work out what she'd done, but it turns out that she loves pipe cleaners. I was sent these by another friend in a big toy exchange package from here in the UK to America, and Tia loved them too. The Baby had found one that I'd put out for the kittens, and, as I watched, she snatched it off the floor, held it in her mouth and did a lap of honour of the living room, still chirping away. Back she came and dropped it in front of me, then waited, obviously expecting something to happen. Dutifully, I made the pipe cleaner wiggle, and as soon as it did, she was off again. She moves so quickly, and her pouncing is incredibly accurate. I have a Da Bird for them as well which I'm introducing them too, and she can now jump from the floor to the sofa to catch it. She's a clever little chicken! She's so small though that her chirp sounds more like the chirp of a bat then a cat noise! Honestly, imagine a sleepy, content bat and that's the noise! Laughing yet? I do every time I hear it.

Porker is the real lap cat this week. He wants to sleep on me or near me and just loves his grooming and his fuss time. He's mostly stopped biting now, which is more than I can say for the other two! I thought the Baby had this sorted, but she showed me she hadn't today. All of them still get a tap on the nose when they do it, but Hamster's being the most persistent with not giving up. He's also still not purring, although JP, the resident friend, says that he's had him purring for him. Perhaps he's just a man's cat. All good things come to those who wait though, right?

They all went to the vets today for their first worming. I worm with Panacur, but to measure and administer the liquid when you can't see what you're doing is almost impossible. I didn't even try it. Everyone needs to turn into an octopus to hold a squirming kitten, pull up the right amount of liquid in the syringe, pry unwilling jaws apart, squirt it in, disengage the claws from your arm, rub the kitten's throat until it swallows etc, but when you need another few to feel where the bottle is, measure accurately, locate the kitten's mouth... Well, even the thought of the carnage that would have caused makes my blood run cold. I chickened out and thought I'd ask my lovely vet to do it instead, and I'm glad I did! Even though they're tiny, it took the two of us to hold and medicate them. They all had a fine time though having cuddles from the vet and her nurses, but weren't too thrilled with the idea of travelling in a carrier to get to and from the place. Tia went too as she needed a worming, so they're all done. I'm just waiting for the diarrhoea to start now. They always get runny bums when they're wormed, but so far mine have been poo free. They've been quite sleepy today though. Let's hope they have the runs when they're locked in the pen overnight, so that my poor carpet doesn't have to suffer!

Hanging with Tia

They got introduced to a new concept today; the covered litter tray. I wouldn't have done this for another few weeks yet, but the problem is that Tia, in her usual "I'm gonna be difficult" style, has chosen to use not the adult sized tray I put out for her, but the smallest kitten tray. She likes to pee right in the corners too, but when she tries to do this in such a small tray, her bum hangs over the edge and she misses. Luckily, I'd put incontinence pads down around the trays just in case the babies had an accident (they always seem to do this right next to the tray), so it didn't get as far as the carpet. Still, something had to be done.

Cube wretsling

It was the tray they used least, so I wasn't too worried about removing it for something they potentially weren't going to be able to use. My covered trays are deep, so it's quite difficult for them to climb in. Still, when I put them in one by one, they seemed willing enough, and thanks to the depth of the litter inside, they could get out easily. So I folded a towel to give them a step up, and they loved it! It's been an adventure for about the last hour to go in there, have a dig around, come out again, run around like a mad thing, then race each other to see who can be the first back in again. Of course, Tia has now started using the adult sized tray in the other corner. Typical, eh? I don't mind though, and the covered tray will stay. The sooner they use those ones, the better. I'm going to try and find some low entry covered ones to use instead, and I think I'll use them from the start with the next litter. The open ones are so, so messy, and terribly stinky too!

I've just said not so long ago that Hamster's not much of a cuddler this week, so guess who's just come up and snuggled right into my arm? Yep, that's right. Sometimes, I love sod's law!

Face washing

I've got pictures for you too! Again, I'm relying on my usual friend to post them, but I know she will. The problem was with getting them, that's where the hold up was. you should have them later on today, so please do check back! I'm hoping she'll post some five week ones as well as some seven week ones.

As usual, I'll give you their weights. I'll give you them as of last night just for the sake of continuity!

The Baby: 674
Hamster: 770
The Baby and Porker didn't quite gain their 100 grams for this week, but he doesn't need to as much as she does. I wish she wasn't so much smaller than the other two! Oh well, just gives me something else to worry about, right?

(note from the photo-adder:  More pics at Tia's blog, Cuddles & Catnip!  There will be better captions as soon as I get straightened out which kit is who, stay tuned...)

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Day 48

I did think about not updating today, because if I do, I'll have very little to tell you tomorrow, and I'll definitely update then because they'll be a whole seven weeks old! Isn't that amazing? Doesn't seem like yesterday when I was telling you they were six weeks, and doesn't seem like a minute before that that I was whining and complaining about all my sleepless nights trying to get Hamster to suckle. Time flies, and they develop so quickly.

There's so many things to tell you about. The Kitten Attract litter is doing reasonably well. There were a couple of accidents in the pen, but not too many, and none since I changed the inco pads again. It's probably my fault. I hadn't needed to change them for a few days thanks to the litter, so I guess their little feet tracked eaux the poo from the tray and onto the pads. Natural then that they should poo there. I'm starting to think that it's associative too, as the poo is always in the same places. They've never had an accident while out, she says with crossed fingers, or if they have, they're hiding it so well that I can't find it. Anything is possible though, and I haven't seen too much usage of the outside litter trays. Only time will tell I suppose.

They've been coming out more and more frequently. Yesterday they spent half a day out, and as they coped well with it, today they've been out since this morning, and won't go back in until tonight. They're very sociable, or they are with me anyway. JP, a friend who's spent a fair bit of the summer here, is a nice guy to play with, but they purr more readily for me than for him, and will fall asleep more quickly on me too. It's a nice feeling to know that after all my hard work I'm flavour of the month!

The Baby did a wonderful thing yesterday. For the first time, she actually jumped on me for attention! Previously she'd climb, but yesterday she launched herself at my leg, hung on and squeaked until I picked her up. As soon as my hands were on her, she was all purrs and wiggles. She's a very busy little person, and even when she's loving on you, she rarely sits still for more than a tenth of a second! I've started to stop touching her as soon as she walks away from me now though, and she's getting it. Today she thought about walking away, then changed her mind and crawled onto my shoulder instead. The mood was somewhat spoiled when she attacked my earlobe, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Porker has started a trend which seems to have gone down very well in this house. Yesterday, he sat down, thought long and hard about it, then jumped straight onto the top edge of the sofa and climbed up. Then he proceeded to make himself comfortable and go for a snooze while his sillier brother and sister contented themselves with the less comfy carpet. However, it didn't take them long to realise he was missing, and once they did, they had to find out where he was. The Baby was next up, closely followed by Hamster who needed a little bit of help. They were so proud of themselves when they got there! All three decided to have a celebratory nap in the human's lap. Said human was very pleased with the arrangement until I realised that I had been sitting there for two hours barely moving, and I had things to do!

Hamster had his turn at being the leader too. He climbed right to the top of my largest scratching post. This is about 3 ft high, so when he looked down from the very top, which he'd gotten to surprisingly quickly actually, it's no wonder he felt a little panicked! He came down almost as quickly as he went up, and none of them have tried it again.

Where one door opens, another one closes. yesterday, the opening was with Porker. Somehow it clicked with him that humans are nice things that give nice tickles and tummy rubs, and that really, it'd be a good idea to purr for them. He's getting as good as the Baby now! Only problem is that Hamster has taken that as his cue to stop altogether. I haven't heard a rumble from him in days. Oh well, all in due time I suppose. Can I be blamed for being impatient? Hamster did snuggle an awful lot yesterday after he'd been groomed. It was perhaps one of the tenderest moments I've had with these kittens so far. I'd just finished doing his tummy and he was quite sleepy. I put him up by my shoulder, and he spread his paws, put the two front ones around my neck, snuggled his head in against my skin and hung on. He stayed like that for minute after minute, as calm and quiet as you like, just enjoying the closeness. Today, mind you, he fought the brush tooth and nail. He's unpredictable!

Tia's milk seems to have totally dried up thanks to the Urtica. Kits are still keen to feed, and because I don't want it to start straight back in again, I've been putting a soft cat jacket on her during the day so that they can't feed. They have a comfort suckle two or three times a day, but that's about it. This way, she can still socialise with them, sleep with them and cuddle them. They don't seem overly fussed that they can't suckle.

They're all eating from a bowl now, although I haven't seen them eat much since they've been out either. I think I'll put off weighing them until tomorrow so that I don't worry myself. They're all happy, healthy and absolutely full of beans, so I know there's nothing wrong with them, and I don't need the extra anxiety!

Right,that's about it for now. I'll tell you more tomorrow!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Day 46 and Tia Update

Well, it seems as though things are conspiring against me to make sure that I don't update this every day, or every other day even. I'm just so, so busy lately that I never seem to have the time to sit down and write. Last night, the first peace I got was at about half 12 at night, and by that point, my eyes needed match sticks to prop them open.

Ok, so what to tell. Litter training continues to be a problem. They will wee in there consistently, thank goodness, but pooing is another matter entirely. One of them is going in there just fine, perhaps two, actually, but someone would still prefer to poo on the pen floor. Thankfully, nobody has done this while out. I did find a poo right beside the litter tray, but it was on an inco pad, so it didn't matter all that much. I went out yesterday and bought some Kitten Attract litter from Pets at Home on the recommendation of other breeders. They say that this sorts all of their problems out if they have stubborn kits, so let's hope the same is true for mine. I haven't done poo check yet this morning, so I live in hope... For another 20 minutes.

They still tend to sit down when they use the tray. This results in, to put it in a straightforward way, clingons on the starboard bow. Nobody likes having them removed or indeed removing them. I've been tempted on more than one occasion to shave their bums, I can tell you! Hopefully they'll get the hang of it soon, but when, I don't know.

Tia has been kept mostly separate from them until yesterday. Kittens were desperate to feed and she was in a right tizz as she wanted to nurse them. I spoke to the vet, a different one this time, who said that it would be fine for them to nurse a few times a day. I couldn't believe my luck when Hamster latched onto the nipple that was the most affected. Tia was too busy with watching the other two as they muscled in for a drink too, so didn't notice until he was well and truly going, or else she'd have kicked him off. It must have only been sore for her for the first few minutes though, because after that, she allowed him to nurse for a full 5-10 minutes. She got very uncomfortable towards the end, but I got down with her and coaxed her to stay still. I could see he was draining it, and indeed he did. I kept her food intake low yesterday, and she didn't balloon again. Kits have been allowed to feed once since then for their comfort's sake, and will probably do so again this morning when they come out.

Yesterday was the first day that all three ate together when I put the food in. Previously, they had to be shown where the dish was, or would simply find it by ailessly wandering that way one by one, but yesterday they very definitely came for food. It was nice to see! Separating them has definitely sped up the weaning process.

I managed to buy a card reader for the computer yesterday. This means that now, when pictures are taken, I can actually get them onto the computer and upload them which means you get to see them! I hate depending on others for picture taking like this. It never seems to happen often enough, and it drives me mad. I don't often dwell on my blindness as a disablement, but at times like that, I can't help but get cross about it. If I had my way, I'd have pictures of them every day for you to see. I'm going to hassle to get some taken today, so we'll see what happens. I can't hold someone to randsome, I guess, no matter how much I really want to to get the photos!

Oh, Porker purred for the first time yesterday! It wasn't for long at all, but he did it! I'd picked him up after a mad half hour, Ok, probably more like two hours, running round the living room and attacking anything that moved, or didn't, and he just flopped on me and purred. They're all much more cuddly after they've run around a bit. The Baby is the only one who will actively seek a cuddle. If I get down on the floor with her after she's run around, she'll climb on me and settle down for a purr. I'm glad she's staying. I think I'd have a hard time letting go if she wasn't.

That's it for now I think. I'll post again as soon as I have pictures!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rough Day

Well, it's been a rough day all right. A rough few, actually.

I've been so worried about stupid things and not so stupid things lately that my sleep has been broken every night. This leaves me tired, crabby and generally pretty miserable. Last night those worries were added to.

Tia has always been a great producer of milk. If a kitten so much as thinks about suckling, she goes off like a fountain. now that they're weaning, however, this is causing a problem. They still suckle, which means that she is making oodles of milk. However, because they don't suckle that often, the milk she creates has nowhere to go. Yesterday afternoon I noticed that one of her glands was very swolen. There was a lot of milk there just waiting to be guzzled. I didn't worry. Normally it goes down when she feeds kittens. The problem was though that no matter how much I tried, I couldn't get any kitten to feed from that particular nipple. I went to bed with it on my mind, and woke up this morning to find that the gland was now massive. I couldn't express any milk from it, so I called the vet and took her up there.

My calling it was just right, for poor Tia apparently has mastitis. In typical me fashion though, it's not straightforward. While the gland is swolen, it's not hot to the touch which is typical of mastitis. Usually this stops milk flow, but they were able to express some of Tia's milk, so again, that's a bit strange. however, it could have been to do with the hot compresses I'd put on her before leaving the house. They put her on antibiotics as she had a slightly raised temperature too, and she's not allowed to suckle the kittens at all. Milk is produced on demand, so no demand should help it go away more quickly.

I've also drastically cut her food and water intake today as I'm told that can help to dry up the milk too. So far I haven't seen a reduction in the swelling though, but perhaps I'm looking at it too often and not noticing the changes. She's been as miserable as sin all day though, and it's really upsetting to see. She'll come begging for food, howling her little heart out, following me to the kitchen, to the kitten pen, climbing on my knee and crying, crying, crying. I've tried to spend most of the day out of the house. I'm too soft, and I hate to see any of my animals upset. I knew it was time to get out and do something when I caught myself getting teary as she went to her food bowl, licked the empty bottom, then came back and pawed at my leg. I'm useless! I'm not sure it's working though, so may give in tomorrow and let her eat as normal. I've asked some other breeders for advice, so we'll see what comes of that.

Of course, because kittens aren't allowed to suckle and she's not allowed any of their food, they've had to be kept mostly separate. They scream for her about three times a day which doesn't sound like a lot, but believe me, it's terrible. They are almost inconsolable during these periods, no matter what I do. They all climb the bars towards her and she cries at them from the other side. That set me off today too! I've had them out and running around in the living room so that they can have a cuddle with her, but the only problem is that when they do, their overwhelming urge is to feed. It's security for them, and it's terrible to have to pull them off and force separation again when they do it. I really wish that one of them would get so desperate that they would drain this full gland for me. I'd let them suckle if they'd only do that. They're too young to be stopped completely, but what else can I do!

They got their pedigree names yesterday, as I registered them with the GCCF. The Baby is now Moonspun Isn't She Lovely, Porker is Moonspun Mercutio (he's going to someone who studied English lit at university and Mercutio is my favourite Shakespeare character so I thought it appropriate on many levels), and Hamster is Moonspun Red Hot Gossip as he's a red point kitten. I quite like the names myself!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, pictures haven't been taken today. Nobody was in the mood. The kittens were even subdued during their last play session of the evening, and it's not like them! Hopefully people will be happier tomorrow. until then. Oh, and if any of you have any advice on mastitis, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Six Weeks Old!

Well, what a time I've been having! Kitten proofing a house causes more problems than I had thought possible, and it's the reason I haven't updated in ages. I use a wireless keyboard, and that transmission is picked up by a small USB dongle which plugs into the back of the computer. The only problem is that there's a load of other wires that plug in there too, and with kittens around, and small, hooligan kittens at that, all wires need to be protected because if they chewed through them... Well, it doesn't even bear thinking about, really. In short, to kitten proof, I had to block off the back of the computer with a load of cardboard. The only problem is that it dulls the signal pick up from the keyboard, so every time I type, half the letters are missing. It's a real pain, and the only way I'm able to type now is by sitting in a really uncomfortable position with the keyboard balanced at an angle on one knee. I'm hoping that I'm able to think of a way to combat this soon.

I've spent the last two days just kitten proofing my living room. Holes have to be blocked, and cardboard is the cheapest way of doing it, but it needs to be cut to size then taped in place, and that all takes time. Cables need to be covered in protectors which are expensive and time consuming to fit. I've spent most of today sewing insect screen onto a baby gate to keep them out of the kitchen, but allow me to still have my back door open so that I can air the house. It's been a nightmare!

I did all this because I thought they were ready to come out of the pen. They're pretty active in there now, and seem desperate to come out and explore. The only problem is that someone is still pooing on the floor, and I think it's the Baby. I can never catch her at it though as she moves too quickly, and to be honest, I wouldn't know what to do if I did catch her. I've done her bum in the tray, expressed pee that is. I've put her poo in there. I've left the tray to get really smelly so that she can smell where to go. I've also totally washed it out and given them a clean tray, but nothing I do seems to get the message across. I've disinfected the pen and last night, even taped incontinence pads down so that she couldn't associate the smell on the floor, despite washing, with pooing there. Nothing, but nothing has worked. If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them, as I'd really like to have them out now. It's about time really.

They were all fitted with bells today in preparation for coming out. In typical fashion, Porker struggled like a demon when having his put on, then gave up completely and didn't bother with it once it was around his neck. The Baby tried to fight hers as soon as it was on, then got very upset when she kept getting claws in the face for some reason. Hamster was so wriggly that I had to get my friend to hold him while I fitted his.

Every day their play is getting rougher, and today I actually had to separate Porker who was mercilessly stalking the other two, despite their screams for him to leave them alone. I watched him chase the Baby from one end of the pen to the other, pin her in the corner next to the litter tray and beat the stuffing out of her. It wasn't nice to watch. But they're all as bad as each other and take it in turns to instigate the fights.

They're eating solids really well now, and will suckle from Tia only occasionally rather than all the time. I feel sorry for her though as she's so full of milk that her glands are massive. I can actually trace the outline of her milk sacks, so the next thing I need to watch for is mastitis in her. She's been very, very clingy and affectionate today, and over the last few days, has begun to jump onto my lap again or paw at my leg which is her way of demanding a fuss. I've missed it so much and I'm glad that she's getting back to the way she used to be. She's still eating like a horse, and so are those babies! Thankfully, I have another cat food order due to arrive in the next few days. It's amazing how much they pack away, and they're not interested in dry food at all!

I've given up on the week 5 pictures, and have been so busy that I haven't gotten any weke 6 ones taken today. My priority is to get the house sorted for them while I have help, so hopefully I'll manage the pictures tomorrow. They're getting big fast though, and soon won't sit still long enough to have their photos done. It took me a whole five minuts tonight until Hamster would sit still for even three seconds for my scales to measure his weight!

That's it for now I think, but as tradition dictates, I'll give you their weights so that you can see how much they've grown. There are some humungus weight gains, I warn you!

The Baby: 594 grams.
Hamster: 655 grams.
Porker: 774 grams.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Up to Day 38

The best intentions are just that; intentions. I intended to hoover the house yesterday, friend did it instead. I had planned to make a few nice desserts, the ingredients are still in the cupboard. I had been intending to update my blog, I didn't. I think I'm going to have to do these updates in the mornings if i'm to do them regularly at all. Previously, I've done them at night so that I can give you a flavour of what's happened that day, but for the past few nights, I just haven't had the time. Not once since my last update have I been to bed before midnight for various reasons, and when you have a biological clock that wakes you up at 8 AM whether you've just gone to bed or not, then when it gets past 12, you want to get to sleep pretty sharpish. Last night I had the intentions again, was even supposed to make phone calls, but instead I got taken to the cinema, and the movie didn't let out till almost 11. I then had to walk home, feed cats, order cat food, feed cats again as mum had cleared the plate, dash off a few emails, feed cats for a third time as mum had obviously decided to make a bid at the world record for most cat food eaten in two hours to stop babies having any, put a wash on... The list goes on. I went to bed at 1 this morning and was so tired that I doubt I could have even told you my own name, let alone put together a coherent blog post.

So, what to tell you? Well, the amount of poo on the pen floor is decreasing by the day. I took the little ramp away from the litter tray that they'd been using to climb in and out, and for some reason, rather than hindering, this has really helped the litter training process. They still get mucky bums, Porker in particular, but they're gradually learning that when you poo, it's not necessarily a good idea to sit down and try to do it, because 1, it gets all over you and either you leave it not feeling very nice or you have to have a go at cleaning it off, and 2, if you don't clean it off, the big evil monster woman will come along and rub you with a baby wipe, and if that doesn't work, will actually bath you!

Solids continue to be an up and down process. They will all go to the dish now on their own except when mum is around. I had thought that Tia's milk was drying up nicely, but last night, she was so full that I could have sworn she had mastitis. I actually thought she did, so put a kitten on the affected teat to drain the milk. The best way to get rid of mastitis is to express the milk, and the best form of that is a hungry kitten. When she came out about ten minutes later, the swelling was gone. Cats will only produce milk in relation to the demand, so I'm presuming that the little piggies are feeding from her all night long which is why she's still producing so much. I don't really know whether I should start trying to dry her up or just leave them to it. At the moment, I'm keeping them from suckling all day long, and they are eaing the solids quite happily, so maybe I'll just leave things as they are.

The Baby has been the last to break 500 grams, but she did it yesterday. She's so, so small compared to the other two though, and feels terribly light. There's times when I wonder if I wasn't mixing her up with Hamster in those early stages you know. I put collars on hem all about a week ago, just a very thin, soft piece of elastic with a few beads on so that I could tell who was who. It's helped enormously!

They'll be coming out of that pen soon, whether I like it or not. A few days ago, they learned to climb right to the top of the mesh, and Porker actually managed to scramble over the top; something I'd not have thought was possible if I hadn't been there to see it myself. That pen is over 2.5 ft high and he's only a tiny little thing! I rearranged things so that the mesh now starts from the bottom and there's a solid pannel on top and that seems to have controlled the hoard for now. It won't be long though. Hamster can now jump, yep, you read right, jump to the very top of the mesh. A few more days and they'll be over, so my big push this week is litter training and eating from a bowl rather than a saucer. It's also kitten proofing my house!

We've taken them out a couple of times, and I tell you something, they run riot. In about 0.1 seconds, my living room degenerates into kittens running madly in three different directions, mum trying to round them all up and then lying on her side, offering them her teats and screaming at them to come and have a drink (of course, this is much less effective than it is in the pen, as hungry little piggies would rather go and reek havoc elsewhere), three people desperately trying to keep up with kittens and colliding with each other in the process, and desperate shouts of "No, not under the sofa!/ no, not under the TV cabinet!/No, no, no, help!" They love those forays into the great unknown though, and it's a teller how well socialised they've been, as they fear nothing. Hmmm, perhaps I've done too good a job?

All three now scream to be picked up when I come in first thing in the morning, and all three climb the mesh like little monkeys until you give in. I've had to take them all out at once now, because if I leave any behind, they shriek at the injustice so much that mum comes flying to see who's torturing the kids. It's odd though. The Baby is the only one who purrs consistently, and even then, only for a few seconds before she's off doing something else. She's a very busy little person, and is the most active out of the lot of them. I did hear Hamster purr under his breath this morning, so I have hope, but Porker, whilst being the cuddliest, and maybe the most placid, shows no signs of it yet.

This week is also the week of learning not to bite, and although it's going well, the babies aren't enjoying it one little bit. I permitted gentle nibbling when they were exploring the world with their mouths, when hands were big scary things that needed to be rationalised, when they were just learning to play. Now that their teeth are in though, they don't just nibble. They grab hold with paws and bite... hard. None has drawn blood, but that's still behaviour that I'm not willing to tolerate, and the habit needs to be broken young. Each time someone bites, they get a tap on the nose, or, if you're Porker/Hamster, several taps until you let go of the finger that certainly isn't food! The baby, as usual, has caught on pretty quickly, and although she'll test her luck with a bite now and then, she will mostly check herself just as her teeth are about to sink in, and will give you a head bump instead. And I've just been interrupted by her. I picked mum up for a cuddle, and as soon as she heard me talking, she screamed so much that mum went running as usual. As soon as I picked her up, she started purring like a motorboat! These babies are such time wasters, really they are. I've been up for an hour already and I've got nothing done!

They've got lots of toys in their pen now that they're mostly done pooing on the floor. Ping pong balls have always been there because they can be disinfected and washed, but now they have a furry mouse that chirps like a bird when touched (the irony, right?), a rope mouse that they can get really rough on, a ball with feathers sticking out of it, a crinkle ball and a ribbon hanging down from the top that can be batted. I also introduced them to dangler toys yesterday as they were watching Tia play with them and seemed fascinated. I had a Da Bird for Tia, well, a cheaper version which had fallen apart, but I kept a feather back and taped it onto the string. This was the perfect size for fraidy cat kittens, and after a bit of teasing and, yes, I admit it, judicious poking and tummy tickling with said feather, the chase was on. Nobody, but nobody, not even a feather, gets to touch their tummies unmolested, and after this ultimate insult, they vowed to kill the offender and kill it good. At one point, there was one on the feather itself, one on the shaft, and another on the string... I think they won!

I ran out of Bozita, so they've been changed to Animonda until I can get some more. It's not flavour of the month. They eat it, but aren't too enthusiastic about it. I cheated last night too. Normally, Tia cleans their plate as soon as I go to bed which means that they're starving first thing in the morning, and is probably why they're suckling so much. Last night though,I put a full tin of pilchards in a separate bowl in there for her. She gets these occasionally, and absolutely loves them. Needless to say, she didn't bother with boring old kitten food. I even caught one of the babies having a go at the fish, so it was a hit!

I'm still toying with pedigree names. They will need to be registered soon, so I need to settle on something pretty sharpish. I'm thinking Moonspun Isntshe Lovely for my girl, but not sure about it as it's a bit cliche. What do you all think? And any suggestions for the boys would be super too!

That's about it, I think. Sorry it's been so long in coming, and also sorry there still aren't any pictures, but I'm still waiting for them to be given to me. I hate these delays!