Sunday, 19 July 2015
Update at last!
with horrible illness in my family which took the heart out of me for
blogging for weeks. Then kittens got sick and I was too busy looking
after them to blog. Then I had events to attend so didn't have the
time. Then I looked at it and realised how much time had passed and
what a massive post it was going to have to be to catch you all up,
and I've been so tired and just couldn't face it. And the longer I
left it, the longer that post would have to be. And that brings us to
3 whole weeks. All I can do is apologise and try and bring you up to
When we left off, they were 2 weeks old. Now they're over 5, and such
a lot has changed.
The visitors came and fell in love with the kittens. Unfortunately
though, mum continued with being unhappy. Once again, she stopped
letting milk down and kitten weights suffered as a result. I made the
difficult decision to restrict all visiting by people Gabby didn't
know until kittens were eating solids and were much less dependent on
mum. This meant cancelling a lot of people, most of whom had made
plans to travel from the other side of the country to see us! But as
always, mum and kittens come first, and she was clearly telling me
they were unhappy with strange people.
Not much changed over the next week. Babies continued to grow fatter
and learn to walk. By the end of that week, they were all able to
stand fully, walk well, and only sometimes fall over!
At 3 weeks old I introduced food. Normally I wean straight onto raw
weaning paste, but unfortunately, as I've changed suppliers, I don't
have any any more. Instead, I used baby pate which they absolutely
loved. I normally wean by mixing food with a little water to make it
mushy, popping it on a glass saucer and warming it in the microwave.
Warming makes the food smell extra nice and for a kitten so small,
it's really important that all food they get is at body temperature as
anything cold will chill them and upset their stomachs. They all went
at the food like pros. Normally, i have to finger feed, then gradually
lower my finger towards the plate to teach them that they need to put
their heads down to eat. With these guys, all I mostly had to do was
pop food in their mouths, then just show them where the bowls were.
Left knot unsurprisingly was the most difficult. He's very very quiet,
and it's normally the quiet ones, in my experience anyway, who resist
food the hardest.
The very next day, I found my first tooth. That came from little 1
knot who is the biggest of the bunch. It didn't take the rest long to
follow suit though, and now, at 5 weeks old, they're all in nicely...
And very, very sharp!
Then things took a turn for the worse. Little one knot started to
vomit. He lost a 10th of his body weight overnight, and the next
morning was listless and disinterested in play despite my force
feeding fluids all night long. It was off to the vet for an emergency
trip. Poor little lamb needed fluids putting into him and then
supplementing with milk all through that day. Unfortunately, he's a
fighter and hates, hates, hates formula, so it was a struggle to get
it into him! By the end of that day he'd gained 10G so I decided to
see how he'd do overnight without interferance. Thankfully he hasn't
looked back since, and although he went from the biggest to the
smallest almost overnight, he's now fighting fit.
It was at this point that I decided I needed to order more baby pate,
so took delivery of 60 trays of the stuff... It was also at this point
that kittens decided that mum's food, and only mum's food, was good
enough for them. I swear, I'd be better off just going outside and
throwing money down the drain sometimes.
So, mum's food they got, and loved! There's been one more incidence of
vomitting with a couple of different kittens this time, but thankfully
I managed to force fluids straight away, and so that didn't require a
trip to the vet. I used Manuka honey diluted with water, and would
recommend that all breeders keep some of the good quality stuff in.
Not only is it good for the humans on toast, but it's great for
settling baby tummies, providing an energy boost, killing bacteria and
stopping hypoglycaemia, one of the biggest killers in newborns. Again,
fluids should always be fed at body temperature, and only drip fed.
So where are we now? Well, over the next few weeks, kittens learned to
eat for themselves. Originally I'd just put one at the plate at a time
so they could eat without being disturbed or distracted, but 3 days
ago I started just putting it into the pen with them and showing them
where it was. They still need a little help to find the dish and some
need coaxing to eat occasionally, but I suspect that this is because
they're helping themselves to the food when I'm not there and are just
not hungry when I want them to eat. They've graduated from a small
saucer to a big one, then to mum's bowl which is fab as the mess is
so, so much less! They've gone from tiny baby litter trays (old
chinese food containers are amazingly good for first litter trays), to
very low sided ones, to the big boy trays which are just slightly
higher sided, about half the size of a normal height one. They are all
using the tray consistently at 5 weeks old. Well, they were from about
4 and a half weeks actually. This litter is incredibly advanced.
normally it takes until about 5 or more weeks for them to find the
bowl on their own, and about 6 or 7 for them to be accident free.
They've graduated to the big pen in my hall instead of the newborn one
at 3 weeks, something which normally only happens at 5, because they
wanted the space and were busting out of it. They're able to jump and
cling to the top of a foot high barrier across the door, and push over
the top, so that's had to be reinforced, something i wasn't expecting
to have to do as I thought they'd be out of the pen long before they
were big enough to scale the barrier! They play with toys and can run
after a moving ball without falling. They're now fighting with each
other so much which is good for them as it teaches them to be gentle.
4-7 weeks is a crucial socialising period where they must learn lots
of skills. It's in this period that they will learn to have their
faces cleaned (today was the first day and none of them liked it at
all), their claws cut (dreading that one as they're so fiddly), their
bodies bathed (next week) and their manners with humans. We're working
hard on bite inhibition this week, so my fingers are covered in tiny
pinpricks. It's very hard to teach them not to bite whilst also
teaching them that humans want to play with them. All they seem to
want to do is eat me, and one has to be very careful to strike the
right balance between play and teaching. I'm using toys to give them
something to bite other than me, and if they pester, they get picked
up for a cuddle instead, something which they really, really love.
Little red boy, 1 knot, no knot and left knot will all purr now when
they are cuddled in their pen, but only right knot has purred when
picked up by me, and red by housemate.
They came out yesterday for the first time to have an explore in the
hall. It was bedlum! 6 kittens ran in 6 different directions, and poor
mum just sat down forlornly in the middle and cried because she
couldn't be in 6 different places at once! Kittens had a cracking
party as there were 2 humans to bite and play with, 1 massive
scratching post to climb (even though you're not supposed to cuz it's
very, very high and you might fall off), 3 litter trays to kick sand
out of all over the floor, and 5 other kittens who all have tails that
must be chased, caught, then bitten, very, very hard! After half an
hour, I don't know who was more exhausted, mum or me! But now they
know there's a world outside their pen, they are ever so curious to
get out and explore propperly. Over the next week their time out will
be gradually increased. I don't know how quickly they'll be allowed
out full time as normally they're only starting to explore at 6-7
weeks (nobody comes out until they're accident free), so I'm in
uncharted waters with such young babies.
Thankfully, now that they're all so good on solids, I can have
visitors in again which is fab as they really need that contact over
the next few weeks. My goal for this week is to introduce them to the
brush, the bath, the claw clippers and break the biting habbit. I'd
also be happy if they would tolerate face washing without a massive
fight, but that might come later. I'm also going to stop weighing them
daily and move to weekly. I hate this as I'm almost OCD about record
keeping, but to be honest, they're all so good on solids now that
there's little point unless one of them looks a little off, in which
case I'll weigh immediately. They're all well over the 400G mark now
and almost 500G, so although they're a little light, most of that has
been put on on the solids, so I'm not concerned. All my babies do
this. They stay so light that I worry sick when they're suckling. Then
when they wean, they pile it on and become big fatties!
Anyway, I'll leave you with some photos of them at 4.5 weeks old.