Thursday, 28 July 2011
Day 31: Lots of Firsts!
Well, over the last few days, there have been lots of firsts! I can't remember exactly how many days ago it was when I last updated and I'm too tired to go back and read, so sorry if I tell you something more than once!
As you know, Hamster was the first to poo, but when I checked the bedding last night, I found the first real, solid poo. Who did it I don't know, but whoever did produced a lot for such a wee kitten! They've all been going in the tray to do wees though. It's sweet in a weird sort of way when you see the size of their teeny tiny clumps compared to Tia's massive ones. They haven't mastered pooping in there yet, or if they have, I haven't found it. But the litter tray has become a fun place to play and romp and beat each other up!
Today there were quite a few new things. It started this morning with the Baby. I've taken the bedding out of the day pen and just left a bedded bit at the front for them to snuggle up in. This was because when they were fighting, they were throwing the bedding around the place, knocking it into the water bowl, burying the food dish, getting stuck underneath it. They also couldn't manage to play with the ping pong balls I put in there for them because they wouldn't roll on the bedding. They're much steadier on their feet on the solid floor, and the ball rolls better. When I put them all in there this morning, the Baby ran around like a mad thing. She dived into the litter tray, then threw herself out of it again... Right on top of the ball! What a shock she got when it rolled away and dumped her onto her little fat belly on the floor. This simply wasn't on, so she chased it, then beat it into submission with a paw. Except that it didn't submit. it moved again, so she had to run after it and whap it a second time. This is the first time I've witnessed toy play with this litter.
Once this was done, I was interesting again, and she came running to the front and squeaking. When she climbed the bars and screamed at me, I knew she wanted a cuddle. But as I picked her up, she purred a little! Again, it didn't last long, but this is the first time any of them have purred when anywhere but their safe, cosy bed. She kept it up for a good few seconds too, and groomed me like mad when she was done. She's also pretty much stopped biting when she's playing with me now. She'll bat my finger with her paws, but when she grabs hold with both and drags it in towards her belly, it's almost like she checks herself before biting, then just licks instead.
They're all learning to put up with kisses. The boys fight it. Well, they're boys, so that's understandable, right? the Baby just puts her face up, then snuggles it against mine for a second. Don't worry. I don't kiss my cats on the lips! Too grosse, even for me! But when that little face lifts, it's awfully cute. I'm so glad that I know she's staying, because I think it would be very hard to let go of this one if she wasn't.
Their weights have been all over the place recently. I know it's time that they should begin to wean, but they just aren't interested in food since Porker's choking episode. Today though, myself and JP, a friend of mine, took them out of the pen one by one so that they wouldn't have the distraction of others to contend with. Surprisingly, the Baby wasn't the one with the first in this department. Porker was the quickest to catch on when I put a saucer of fresh, stinky food in front of him. After about five minutes of coaxing, his face was in the dish and he was sucking up that food like a little piggy! Only problem is that he almost needs to be held down when at the dish. He still thinks he's suckling, and for him, he's used to fighting others off. his strength was in pushing up tall so that the others couldn't climb on top of him, but when he does this at the dish, he loses where his food is and has to be guided back. Once he got started though, he seemed to love it! He hasn't been back to the dish on his own though.
Hamster was the next quickest. JP started him off, and he did have a small go at the dish, but he preferred just to eat straight from his fingers. The Baby was the hardest. She point blank refused anything, even a lick of food. In fact, she ran away from it like it was something horrible! She's the one I'm most worried about, as her weight is all over the place, so I opened her mouth against her will, and slipped my finger in at the side where, even to push it out, she had to lick it. I knew that that first lick was all it would take, and I was right. As soon as she got a taste, she was off, but she too wouldn't eat from the dish. She wanted nothing to do with it, and in fact, it seemed to scare her. Whenever I sneaked her closer to it while she was licking and wouldn't noticed, she'd lift her head, look down, then scuttled backwards as though it was chasing her. She was only happy when her back was pressed up against my leg.
It's important that they wean soon for their own health. Tia just doesn't have the milk supply any more, and even with a dose of urtica last night, it hasn't stayed flowing. She fed them last night, but today they're back to how they were before; feeding for only short periods, disinterested even when she's in there with them. I'm going to give it another day or two, and then I'll separate Tia from them for a good few hours and feed them the food. This speeds weaning considerably, and provided the separation is only short-term, will not cause any lasting damage. If they were still gaining weight then I'd not worry, but as they aren't, they need to move onto solids whether they want to or not!
So as you can see, day 31 has been quite an eventful one! I wonder what's around the corner for tomorrow?
In closing, I'd like to answer questions left on a comment. Kittens will poo from the moment they're born, but they will only do this when mum stimulates them by licking the lower belly and bum areas. By about four weeks, they've developed the muscle control to do this on their own. This is the time that breeders will normally notice their first poo piles in the bedding, and it's then when the fun of litter training starts. Thankfully, mine have been very easy so far!
They're confined to the pen until they are totally continent in the tray, and steady on their feet. The pen provides a safe area for them to romp, play and learn about staying on all four feet, and it also provides a small, contained place so that they can learn to remember where the tray is, and use it! Cats are clean animals, so do not like to poo in the bedding. Kittens, even when they do it in the bedding, will do it at the edges of the cage and try and hide it. They will eventually learn that the tray is the correct place though. Cats originally came from thedessert, so when they find a place where they can dig, instinct takes over and says, "Hey, this is sort of like sand, and you can bury poo in sand". They will come out of the pen only when they are all the way convinced that it's a good idea to pee and poo in the tray.
I'm not going to keep all of the kittens, no. The little girl is definitely staying, and if one of the boys turns out to be an extreme cuddler, then he'll probably stay too, but otherwise, the two boys will be sold. here, it's a given that the kits will be registered before sale. Paperwork is held back until proof of neutering is sent to the breeder, but under the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy rules, cats need to be declared or registered before selling. If a cat isn't registered, then the new owner can put them on the register themselves, and could place them on the active, which means they could be used for breeding. That's something I don't want to happen without my knowledge, as breeding cats need to be of outstanding quality to be considered for this.