Sunday, 24 July 2011
Day 27, Less Than Happy
Even if I'd had the time yesterday, which I really didn't, I don't think I could have brought myself to write anything. I was too wrung out, too upset, feeling too guilty and exhausted and not up to the task any more that it wouldn't have been a good post.
I've learned a few hard lessons over the last few days which I'm going to share with you. Warning, this post is not a happy one, but it does have a semi happy ending, so do bear with me!
It started on Friday when my mum and the family friend, hereafter called FF, came to see the kittens and stay overnight. During this period of their lives, it is important that kits are socialised extensively with humans to ensure that they are comfortable and unafraid when around them. As long as people take propper precautions, i.e, hand washing, and arriving in clothes which haven't been exposed to any other animals, then I'm fine with them being handled. When my mum and FF arrived, I instructed them on the safe way to hold kittens, then passed them each a very sleepy, placid baby. My mum did fine with Porker until he started to wriggle, but she told me as soon as she didn't feel confident any more and I was able to take him back. However, FF wasn't so good. Hamster wriggled out of his hands and fell from his chest to the sofa. As if that wasn't bad enough, and really, it wasn't as the sofa's soft, he slipped off the edge of that and fell to the floor. I thank god that I have very thick carpets all through this house. He had a soft landing, and didn't even squeak when he did land. Of course, I checked him over straight away. He was just fine. Moving around, licking my finger, cuddling up to my hand. I was livig though. It's not hard to hold a kitten. You just keep them in your hands all the time and you can't drop them. I carry all three at once when I move them from bedroom to living room and back, and never have I dropped one. I didn't say much. The poor guy was so shocked himself that he was speechless, but I didn't offer him another chance to hold a kitten. So, the first lesson I've learned is that people will sit on the floor when handling kittens at this age. They will also hold them intheir hands and not do things like put them against their chests.
The next day I was pretty tired. As usual, the cats had got me up quite a few times throughout the night, so sleep is still a luxury that I don't have much of. I was leaving for town with my mum and FF, but thought I'd feed Tia first. While waiting for the other two to be ready to go, I noticed that Porker was very interested in Tia's food. I'd been told by another breeder that kittens should be Ok with soft, small chunks of meat, as even at this age, they have teeth, so when he went to Tia's chunk bowl, I wasn't too worried. I watched as he ate a chunk, feeling proud that he had managed it when the others only wanted patae, then I did an awful lot more than watch as he began to choke and gag, and finally stopped breathing.
I can honestly say that I've treated human patients in cardiac arrest with less panic than I felt. I've resussed more calmly, but as I snatched up that little body, my brain just started screaming! I think I yelled at my mum and FF to phone the vet, but I really can't remember. I held Porker upside down and tapped him until, thank goodness, the food came back out. But now there was a new worry. What if he'd aspirated some of it and it was still in his lungs?
Immediately, I dosed him with glucose to stop him going into shock, then rang the vet in a right old panic. She commended me for what I'd done. I'd even listened to his chest and was able to tell her that breathing sounds were increased. She said I could bring him if I liked, but that she'd be able to do no more for him than I already had. I was to watch him until Monday, and if he went downhill, I was to get him in straight away.
For the rest of yesterday and all last night, I watched. His meow sounded wrong, bubbly almost. His chest sounded louder than it should have done. But he wasn't lethargic, and he certainly wasn't going without food. As usual, he was the most greedy at the milk bar.
This morning, his meow still sounded almost as though he had a sore throat, but this evening, he beat up his sister so thoroughly that she had to actually be rescued, so he can't be feeling that bad. His weight gain is still super too. So, second lesson: No matter what others say, always go with your gut instinct. Kittens should never be given chunks until they are much older and know how to chew.
Speaking of fighting, it's like they've all learned to do this overnight. When I put them to bed on Friday, they were sweet, gentle little things, but when they woke up yesterday, they seemed to have learned in a few short hours how to bite, and how to do it good. Yesterday evening they discovered how fun it was to bite and wrestle with each other, and from then on, it was carnage. I've taken the bed area out of the pens today too, because they've also learned to explore, well, the Baby and Porker have. I came back today to find Hamster on his own in the bed, crying and crying for mum who was happily lying in the back of the pen feeding the other two. To level the playing field a bit, I took the pen out, and they now happily follow each other around. They've started climbing the mesh at the front of the cage now, and whenever I go over, one or more can be found with front paws on the bars, mouths open as they scream for me to pick them up. The Baby even purred today when I was stroking her, and she knew it was me too, because she looked! The purring lasted only for about half a minute, and it was broken in between, but this is major progress.
Such a lot has happened in this last weekend, and tomorrow, they reach another milestone. They'll be four weeks old. I didn't think all three would make it to that point. After yesterday, I thought it again, so it'll be quite the little celebration tomorrow! I'll have pictures for you. I may even have video!