Tuesday, 5 July 2011
My queen, pet name Tia, was mated on the 23rd of April with a magnificent imported stud cat, which meant that, if she carried exactly to term, she would be due on the 27th of June. I had made all my preparations; gathered the kittening things together, and boy were there lots of them! Set up the pen for her to get used to, got the emergency vet's numbers... In short, I was ready to go. But it seemed that Tia wasn't.
I had been routinely taking her temperature for about a week before birth. The temperature of a queen will drop to below 100F when she has entered first stage labour, so if one doesn't notice her dropping her mucus plug, this is a sure indication that labour has begun. Starting on Friday the 24th, her temperature dropped, then rose again, then dropped. However, on Sunday it went down and stayed down. This was it, I thought, but Tia didn't.
By the time Monday morning rolled around, she was in evident distress, but had not dilated at all. She was also leaking a creamy, blood-tinged fluid, so I thought it best to call the vet. She took one look at her and recommended that if I wanted all kittens alive, then a C section was th esafest way forward. My mentor who was also staying with me agreed, so off she went.
An hour later I received the call that the first litter of Moonspun kittens had been borh. We had two boys and a little girl. The girl had been in the sack with the fluid and was much tinier with the boys, so would bear careful watching. With fuuttering tummy, I made the trip and brought the babies home.
All was quiet that day as far as kittens were concerned. They were pretty lethargic after anaesthesia, and in the end, I had to help them suckle to get them started. Mum was quite distressed, attempting to lie on them each time they cried, probably in some attempt to hush them up in case they drew predators. But the only predators around were the soft-hearted human type who just could not believe that at last, here were the little people she'd been waiting on for well over a year.
As it so happened, one of those little people lost weight that day. We expressed some of the colostrum from Tia and syringed it to him to ensure that he got a healthy dose of her antibodies, but he wasn't impressed. The next morning, he had still gained no weight, and so was tube fed to boost his strength to enable him to keep fighting.
My mentor had to leave me to it at that point, and so followed many, many sleepless nights. The little one, Hamster as he is now known (he reminded me so much of one when he was newborn), just didn't have the strength to fight off his brother an dsister and hold onto a nipple, so I sat up with him, attaching him and holding him there every half an hour or so for the first five days of his life. The others continued to gain weight steadily, but Hamster was hit and miss.
Day five saw the first concerted weight gain he was able to make, gaining 6 grams in a day. By day six he was able to do this with less help.
Weights at birth:
Kitten 1: The only girl, nicknamed the Baby. 71 grams
Kitten 2: Now named Porker, 92 grams
Kitten three: Hamster, 101 grams
Pictures were taken shortly after they were born. you can just about see them against mum's belly.
The next set were taken at three and a half days old. Isn't the baby tiny compared to the others? She's a fighter though.