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Friday, 19 June 2015

The drama continues

Well, it's been a very eventful day in the nursery.

Last night was marginally better than the night before. I was able to
get 3 hours of unbroken sleep at one point which is some kind of
record for this week I'm sure! However, every time I got up, Gabby was
not in the box with her babies. In the end, I pulled the bed out and
just plopped them all straight onto the vetbed on the floor of the
pen. This meant that wherever mum was, kittens could be there too. In
terms of weight gain, it had no effect whatsoever.

Gains remained poor, and when Gabby stopped responding to even the
cries from her babies, enough was enough. I rang the vet first thing
and got them to come straight out to see her. unfortunately, we were
all worried that she might have retained a kitten, and because her
bladder was very full, the only way they could check for this was an
xray. This meant that she had to be taken to the vets for a quick
trip. Simple right? Wrong.

I had to move the kittens into a bed to stop them crawling all over.
Big mistake. As soon as I did, they started shrieking for their mum.
I've never seen 6 day old kittens so mobile before. They were crawling
everywhere and literally throwing themselves out of the bed to look
for mum. I tried putting vetbed over them. They climbed it upside down
like monkeys and clambered onto the top side. I tried holding them in
my hands but they shrieked more.

I've been considering for some time now whether I should top these
babies up to help mum with the feeding. It's a 2 edged sword though.
On the one hand, it eases the load on mum and promotes big weight
gain, but on the other, it reduces the demand for milk.

A mum's milk flow is determined by the amount the kittens drink. She
adjusts this accordingly. If I top up regularly, I will effectively
reduce the kitten demand for milk, and rather than creating an
abundance, it will simply dry up to the right level. Once you start
that, it's very difficult to stop, because once you do, there's not
enough milk for everyone any more.

However, with 6 very distressed kittens, I thought it was worth a shot
to make them sleepy on full tummies.

Only 4 out of the 6 took the bottle, but I've never seen kittens drink
as quickly in my life. I let them suck it through a teat and out of a
syringe. Normally, I have to press the plunger for the syringe to help
the milk flow. These kittens sucked it straight out themselves and
took down 2.5 mls in about 10 seconds! I've never seen anything like
it and was actually very worried that it was too quick for them.
However, it was all done at their pace and controlled by them, and
there was no choking or spluttering afterwards. Interestingly, as soon
as the 2.5 was done, none of them wanted a second lot despite gulping
so fast.

I've never had syringe feeding so easy, but then I've never used the
Miracle Nipple. Breeders, they are welll worth the investment.
normally my babies fight the syringe like it's poison. With this, all
I had to do was smear the teat in milk and it was straight in without
a fuss at all. You can get a normal one and then a short one for flat
nosed breeds like mine. I'd probably use the short one on everything
though. The nice bit about it is because it doesn't go very far into
the mouth, they can very easily spit it out. Milk drops directly onto
the tongue reducing the risk of choking as they then have more time to
swallow before it potentially feeds into the lungs.

Even on full tummies, the kittens remained incredibly distressed, to
the point where I called my vets twice, the second time stating that I
was coming to get her and would talk to the vet at another point, no
matter what. Thankfully though they were finished their testing by
then. Strangely, Gabby showed no signs of a retained kitten, no
infection and completely normal blood work. So nobody knows what the
problem is. I'm shuddering at the likely cost of xray, blood work and
a call out at 8 in the morning, but I'd rather be very safe than

So, home she came, and straight in with her kittens she went. After a
good feed they were all happy. Gabby even ate some food without too
much of a fuss. However, the next drama was unfolding.

She hadn't done a wee since Wednesday evening and it was now mid
morning on Friday. The vets knew her bladder was full, but didn't
express it as it wasn't at bursting point yet.

I decided to close everyone else out of my bedroom and give her free
access to come and go from her nest as she pleased. Normally I don't
allow this as, if mum moved a kitten, I'd struggle to find it. This
could be fatal. Left unattended, kittens chill very quickly. This is
not good news. I was also worried that, now that they'd learned to
throw themselves out of their bed, they would simply crawl out of the
nest along with mum! I grabbed my baby monitor (yep, I have a baby
monitor for kittens...) and listened closely, praying that this
privacy and freedom would mean that she'd use her tray and not be used
as an exercise in relocating the nest.

She did use it, but not for a wee. I got more worried. Normally she'd
just go in and do both straight away. Why wasn't she weeing! She must
be desperate by now. it had been almost 2 days!

I tempted her with all sorts of delicacies. Blended food with added
water, chopped chicken in broth, water with probiotic in (normally a
massive favourite) in an attempt to increase her fluid intake and
force the issue. She sampled all but didn't commit to any.

At 5:30 I could take it no longer. I called my vet again, asking for
advice on the best course of action.

I'm sure my vet thinks I'm mad. Actually, scratch that. I know she
does because she's told me. If I'm at all concerned, my cats go to the
vet. Their health is my absolute priority, so if I can't fix it at
home, off they go. My normal vet regularly says that my guys are the
healthiest cats she's seen all day! But again, I'd rather be safe than

They advised that we wait, but only until tomorrow. If she still
hadn't gone, we'd have to manually express her.

The phone must have been set down for all of a minute when I heard the
best noise ever. Someone was scraping in the litter tray. I ran in
there like my life depended on it, and with anxiety mounting, I
checked the tray. Thank goodness, there was a wee there! The biggest
wee I'd ever seen, but who cares! Today was another first for me. I've
never kissed and cuddled a cat just because she'd done a wee before! I
felt like I'd won the lottery.

So, again, it's a waiting game. Gabby's eaten well today and appears
perkier. Interestingly, she's much more content to lie with her babies
when given free access to come and go, so I'll give her as much of
that as I can I think. I'll carry on with occasional topping up and
hope that it doesn't progress to anything more regular. Hoping for big
weight gains tonight though!

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