It’s time to introduce you to Callie’s kittens! They are named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I have to admit at first I thought it was great they were named after Renaissance painters not really being up on the TMNTs, and suddenly feeling very old when Michelle told me who they were really named after. But she softened it by saying, “well, they sort of are…” when I said I thought it was cool they were named after Renaissance painters. So we both win. Here is a gallery of all six, five boys and one girl, in no particular order, and below is an update on what’s happening with them and their mom.
While Callie has been giving us a big runaround, Michelle has been taking awesome care of her six kittens. Bottle feeding kittens is no small chore. Neonatal kittens, these younger than two weeks when found, are delicate creatures. They have to be kept warm because they can’t regulate their body temperature; if too cold, by just a few degrees, mind you, they will not eat, and can suffer hypothermia and die, and this means regularly taking their temperature. They have to be fed actual formula, not any homemade substitutes, in a certain physical position and in a certain way so they don’t aspirate their formula and choke or develop pneumonia. They also have to be stimulated to eliminate, which mom cat generally does with her tongue and we do with a soft rag or cotton ball, until they pee and poop, and then we clean it up and clean them up, which their mom also does with her tongue. And this is as often as every two hours early on, extended an hour or two each week. And you really should track their intake and weigh them daily to see that they are gaining weight. It’s a lot of work! And worry!
Kittens should really be with their mom, if at all possible. Nurturing in any species goes way beyond feeding, and nice as we are, we are not cats. Bottle fed kittens don’t become like little humans, but still have to learn cat things, and the best way is from their mom, even if she is feral.
The kittens were brought in last Tuesday, Callie was trapped on Thursday. Callie hadn’t responded to kittens behind the trap as we usually trap a mom cat, only to food, which was surprising since she’d been so vigilant of them and kept watch by the abandoned van, possibly hoping they’d return.
When Michelle and Philip tried to release her from the trap to the crate with her kittens she got loose in the garage for three days, apparently avoiding the crate with the kittens. Michelle took them into the house to feed and stay overnight. It could have been that Callie was just frightened. She was trapped in the garage on Saturday and held for spay surgery on Monday.
We weren’t sure about reuniting them. She was acting as if she was in heat and not coming to her kittens, and then avoided them, and nearly a week had gone by. But Tuesday she was pretty quiet in her trap. We put the kittens in the crate and had her in her trap pressed up next to the crate where the kittens were so they could see each other, and covered them but for a place for us to watch. The kittens could smell her and went over to the side of the crate and looked for her and mewed. She looked at them but didn’t make any move toward them, but she also didn’t growl or hiss or make any aggressive moves.
She would still have milk, and kittens would still benefit from being with her. We plan to try to carefully reunite them because the kittens really want her, and we’ll see if her reaction is receptive. I hope it is.
The kittens are very healthy and active, which is fantastic. A litter of six from a small mom might potentially mean problems, but none here.
A note about the blurry photos: I took my DSLR over to get some nice artsy photos of the kittens and Callie. The light wasn’t the best in the garage and kittens constantly move, still I’ve gotten tons of good kitten photos! But I know that’s in part because I can move, bend, twist, crouch whenever I need to in order to follow a kitten’s progress, and I am often hard pressed to stand without leaning lately. It’s hard to explain how physical is the life of a creative person, even just in photographing kittens. I can’t wait to be back to normal!
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