Wednesday, 12 August 2020
After waiting a week, the birth announced itself on Wednesday June 24th. Phèdre clearly already had contractions, but wasn't in labor yet. So I just checked on her every half hour. Sometimes she lay sprawled dozing, sometimes she walked back and forth. She had no rest in her body, but that was to be expected. In the evening about 9 o'clock she suddenly ran down and dove in the nursery box. She had a kitten in her mouth. "Okay, don't panic! Everything is within reach. Now just wait for the second kitten .... Eh....previously she was with Robbyn in a basket. Let's see how it looks there." There lay a kitten as well. So I picked it up and took it back to the mother.
All this happened in a period when the temperatures jumped toward the tropical. Heat is good for these kids, but this wasn't healthy. The two smallest ones got in trouble. At the moment I wanted to bottle feed the smallest, I found him dead in the nursery box. After the grief that followed, I began to bottle feed the another one with a syringe. He appeared to do very well at one time, other times he lost weight again. After more than a weeks this brave warrior died too.
I will not try to tell what went through me in the form of grief, frustration, disappointment and despair. It is indescribable. Luckily I had many dear people sending very dear emails, cards and phone calls to support me. It was like being given a warm coat on a chilly winter's day. That helped me to give a place to at all that had happened and to focus again on the remaining 5 kittens and their mother.
The five grew well and developed quickly from worms into mini cougars crawling around. Before I knew it, it had seemed that the nursery box became too small already. They could hardly walk properly or they wanted to explore the world. Ideally outside the box. Phèdre became quite nervous. She began to search for places where her children could be deposited safely. She found some. Unfortunately for me that was, for example, behind a cabinet on the ground. See if you can find them there (if they do not beep) and then see if you can get them back. Eventually a bench proved to be the answer. In it they could walk around outside the box, without getting away. Phèdre like it very much.
Of course that was only a temporary solution.
Once I had a day off, I made a kind of box of acrylic glass and hinges. So I could corner off one square meter. When it was finished, mother and children moved downstairs. Phètje did not like it at all and ran back and forth, calling her kids while they just sat in the box looking around. When she found out that there was no danger, she went to her kittens and let them drink. Then an unexpected problem announced itself. The cats were unable to see the acrylic glass. They simply ran in to it and then surprisingly shook their heads. An edge of window film at eye level and a white strip on top solved everything.
Sometimes the children were already urinating outside the box. It was therefore time for the introduction of the litter tray. Now all what was left to do was to teach them what it was for. Within a week they were bright enough to understand. Besides milk and meat baby kibble was introduced and soon they ate it well. And so the kids were already becoming pretty big.
The more the kittens became mobile, the more room they became to walk around in. Soon they had almost one third of the living room at their disposal. They amused themselves perfect there. Phèdre found it difficult to accept that her kids ran so freely. Especially that she could no longer see them all in one glance. Yet she gradually got used to the freedom of her children. By letting the kittens walk freely in the whole living room first for half an hour, then an hour and then a few hours, she was also given the time to get used to that. When the separation was removed, there was no reason for panic behavior anymore.
Two weeks later they worked themselves over an 70 cm high barrier into the back room with ease and great determination. They climbed over it as fast as I could put them back. So that separation was useless now and could disappear. And so they nailed that as well.
For the adult cats that had some drawbacks. Especially Zohra and Robbyn loved to pull themselves back to take a nap in peace. Without one or more kittens dangling on their tails. But in the back room is also the window that can provide access to the garden. With five roaming crumbs the window remained essentially closed. Unless they happened to be in the living room all at once. Then the door was quickly closed so the adults could go outside.
In no time the kids knew something was going on and it was no longer so easy to close the door with the young ones on one side and the grown ones on the other side. Even sliding a kitten through a crack to the other side of the door wasn't easy. There was almost always one ready to take the opportunity and slip through the crack back into the room.
Ultimately it was time for me to choose which of the girls would stay. From the beginning I had a preference for a red daughter. But you should always wait to see what may be born and how they develop. So the red female I had reserved for myself with the cream female as a reserve.
Choosing proved to be far from easy. In terms of build, coat and character they were awfully close together. Where one had a plus here, the other one had one there. Even in negative points they were almost equal. The sum of all pluses and minuses brought no clarity either. So then I observed their behavior a whole weekend. It showed that one was a bit quieter and slightly less dominant than the other. It was really close, but it turned out to be different. Given the composition of my cat gang with all their different characters, I opted for the slightly quieter lady to be. Fortunately this also proved to be the red kitten. Her name is Charo and I hope that together we may have a bright future. We will keep you informed!