Warning: Extreme Cuteness Ahead
First things first: the Nanos. Whitey and Nickel are both back in forward gear, after stutter-stepping us a bit the last two days. They’re chowing liquid meat from a bottle (actually, slurry) with big-cat enthusiasm. Let’s hope they’re headed for a rendezvous with weaning later this week. And maybe because of the menu upgrade from milk to slurry, the poop is starting to flow again. Life is good in the 50K nursery.
The big news comes from the 50K villa (our just-invented name for our downstairs guest bedroom, which has now been annexed to the 50K empire.) As of 7pm last night, the villa is now inhabited by an adult female cat named Julia and her five 17-day-old kittens: Samara, Shilo, Sonet, Sumner and Sylvia. (They came to us already named.) Only Sumner appears to be a male.
Our contact at the shelter called us yesterday afternoon and said the fosterer who had been planning to take Julia and her brood couldn’t do it, since her dog was sick.
We’ve never fostered kittens with a mom (or as the Brits say, a “queen”) before, mainly because I work at home, which makes us capable of fostering kittens who need round-the-clock observation and feeding. When you foster a litter with a mom, the mom does 95% of the work for you (feeding, poop/pee stimulation, cleaning, warmth maintenance), and does a much better job than you could ever do. So we usually let someone with less flexibility than we have take the litters with queens.
But this time there were no other foster homes available, and the shelter vet had decided that Julia wasn’t generating quite enough milk for her kits, so we picked up the gang last night, brought them home, and stashed them in the villa (where a queen-sized bed takes up almost half the floor space.)
We set up a nest of towels in a low-sided cardboard box in the corner, then opened the carrier and put the kittens in the nest (as Julia fled under the bed.) Since we didn’t want the kits following her, we used sleeping bags and pillows to block the routes leading under the bed, then used the carrier to block the exit from the nest. We left Julia one narrow passage out from under the bed, on the side opposite the nest, then closed the door so she and her kits could settle in.
Naturally, when we came back to feed the kits a bit later, Julia and her whole brood were under the bed. She had diligently carried each kit out of the nest, over the top of the carrier, and around the bed to the access passage. Now that’s a dedicated mom!
We extracted the kits and fed them formula from our bottles, which they took fairly well. Julia weighs less than six pounds, and a few of her nipples are blocked or abraded, so feeding all five kits must be more than she can handle.
As of this morning, everyone was back under the bed, but we were again able to extricate the kits and feed them. And Julia seems a little less apprehensive, approaching us from under the bed so we could pet her. We’ll see whether we can convince her that the nest is safe enough for the kits today. At least she’s eating the food we’ve left out for her.
The kits in this litter resemble each other, but compared to the Nanos, telling these guys apart will be a piece of cake. We’re already focusing on featherweights Samara and Sylvia as the kits who may need the most help.
filed by: TS