When I first posted about becoming the caregiver for an orphaned kitten four weeks ago, some of you expressed an interest in periodic updates. So today I want to let you how the kittens are doing.
There’s plenty to tell. Most of it is good. Some is not so good.
How the Kittens are Doing
The original three kittens are getting along famously. They’re all now too big to weigh on my husband’s triple-beam balance. They’re eating solid food on their own, and wandering pretty much all over the house (and work desk.)
Translation: Kitten 2 says hello!
Since that post, two more kittens were rescued from the tree where the mother cats were keeping them. Both had eye infections and flea infestations, so both got warm baths first of all, then warm food and warm beds.
Kittens 1, 3, and 4 are litter mates. Their mother started having them under the hedge in front of our house late in the afternoon of May 4. Fortunately, she allowed us to move her to safer quarters before kittens arrived, and she let me check them over and towel them if necessary as they were born.
That’s probably why she brought them to the front door when they fell ill. She had five in all. I have three of them, and she is caring for the fourth (the only surviving female.)
The other two kittens were born to the sister of the first mother cat about a week later. The only ones I’ve seen of that litter are Kittens 2 & 5 (now in my care,) and one kitten I found deceased.
Almost All is Well Health-wise
All of the kittens have been to the vet for initial checks, and four of them spent time on antibiotics for respiratory infections of one degree or another. One or two were worse than the others, but none were life-threatening. All have recovered.
They all had eye infections, too. That seems to have been the status quo with this group. We wonder if the mothers’ washing didn’t pass that along from one kitten to the next, especially since both mothers took care of both litters from the start.
The One Less than Ideal Situation
Kitten 5 was in the worst condition when he was rescued. Both eyes were infected and he had dirt and tree debris stuck to the left eye. The vet wasn’t sure if the kitten had been born with a defect or had been injured. The only thing that was clear was that the kitten couldn’t see.
After two weeks of twice daily treatments with Terramycin, the right eye is doing much better. It’s still not normal, but Kitten 5 can see.
The left eye, however, has sealed over. We still don’t know whether the problem was a deformity, injury or infection, but things appear to be settling down and healing in a way that hopefully will not cause further problems.
Kitten 5 runs and plays with the others, is just as fierce in play, and is eating well. The only thing he’s not as confident about is jumping down from heights. Climbing is okay. Getting down? Not so much.
Other Than That….
Three of the past four weeks have passed in a cycle of 3 to 6-hour feedings around the clock.
In the last week, the older kittens (six weeks old this past Friday) began eating solid food. The younger kittens (five weeks old this past weekend) also began eating solid food. Most of them still drink formula sometimes, but in decreasing quantities. So Foster Mother Cat (me) has fewer duties and can now sleep through the night.
They’re all using a litter box (hooray!) and they’re all more than just a little active. We’re having to watch where we step now, and Max, my last raised-by-hand project, isn’t quite sure whether to play with them or avoid them like the plaque. For the time being, he’s opting for avoidance.
(Although I have seen him watching them from the back of the couch or across the room. He wants to play, but doesn’t want to “get involved.”)
Naming Five Kittens Hasn’t Been So Easy
The fact of the matter is, I decided early on not to name them. Sooner or later, I thought, names would come to mind. And it was—and still is—my hope to find homes for these guys before they outgrow their cute.
So the kittens are Kitten 1, Kitten 2, Kitten 3, Kitten 4, and Kitten 5. Named in order of entrance into the household. That’s even how their files are labeled at the vet clinic!
Kitten 2 explores and wanders more than the others, so I sometimes call him Admiral Perry. An interesting name that seems to fit him, but it hasn’t stuck so far.
Kitten 5 is sometimes Fiver.
All of them are sometimes Hey You or You Guys.
So much for imagination!
That’s how the kittens are doing as of this weekend. If all continues to go well, they’ll be getting their first shots as soon as all of them are old enough, and then I’ll start the process of finding adoptive homes.
How lovely, Carrie…!
You are doing a good job. Too bad I live too far away…, otherwise there would be a home for at least one of them.
How far is too far?
God Bless you for taking them in! Is the mother cat still around? This is the first time I have heard of a cat taking her kittens up a tree. I’m surprised they didn’t fall.
Thank you for all of the excellent articles you write on colored pencil techniques!
The five kittens are from two litters, but are related. The mothers are sisters.
Both of the mothers are still around and they’re taking care of the only surviving female from both litters. When I went out to water flowers this morning, all three were sleeping in the flower bed, so watering will have to wait.
These two cats aren’t the first to have kittens in that tree. Two or three years ago, another mother had her babies up there. They all survived and we still have two of them.
The tree is pretty big and old. The main trunk separates into three or four branches about six feet off the ground, and it’s hollow at that point. The hollow is about three feet deep and continues up into at least two of the branches. That’s where the kittens are always raised.
I’d never heard of cats having kittens up in trees, either, but it is safe from prying eyes and predators.
I also think you are doing a wonderful job, Carrie.
The Fortunate Five!
Thank you, Kathleen.
The Fortunate Five. I like that! Sounds like a comic strip or something.
I live in the Netherlands… 🙂
Okay. Yeah. Too far for a road trip!
Hi Carrie – great job you are doing. I help at a refuge near my home in France and we are currently inundated with kittens! I can’t take any at the moment as one of my own cats is poorly and into his first of three weeks of antibiotics. But my friend has taken 3 black kittens home and 1 mixed colour long hair. The latter was found in a barn hanging by it’s back leg on wire which it had got caught up in. I have been pastel painting small cat silhouettes to sell to raise money for the refuge. So far I’ve made 80 euros.
Good luck and keep up the good work.
Pauline (Plein air group)
Thank you so much for your encouraging story. I’m delighted to see I’m not alone!
Our local shelter is very good, but the last time I talked to them, they had more kittens than they knew what to do with. They foster as many kittens and moms as they can, but I was told they’re short of foster families, too. The man with whom I spoke thanked me for what I was doing, even though he couldn’t offer much assistance!