Our Betty is pretty clearly a first time mum ….. the look of shock on her face as she went into labour said it all. She gave birth to them and cleaned them and sorted them out, but then quietly confided in me that she hadn’t really been looking to start a family yet. She’s only young herself and was hoping to go to college and follow her dream of studying creative arts.
Her first challenge was to be able to get into the bed with all 5 of them without sitting on one of them. She’d clamber in, settle herself down only to find one or two of them squealing and trying to wriggle out from under her. Standing up and weighing up the situation, she’d turn round a bit, then settle down again, this time squashing the other kits. She was clearly flummoxed by it and decided the best plan was to stay out the bed most of the time, and just pop in occasionally to feed … but stay sitting up …so she didn’t crush anyone.
I was a little concerned because when I went into her bedroom she was never with the kits. Nevertheless, they were always clean (I imagined her diving in with a handful of baby wipes, then making a swift exit), were clearly growing, and mostly seemed contented and sleeping. Nothing really to trigger a referral to Kitten Protection.
If I’ve picked the kits up she’s had a quick look to make sure they’re ok and then got on with eating her supper. It’s ok that she’s not a mumsy sort of mum. In my limited experience I’ve found that the mums who start by being quite detached often go on to care for and feed their kits quite a long while after the more involved mums have started packing the kittens sandwiches in a map and showing them the door.
This evening was quite different. They’ve opened their eyes, but one eye on a ginger kit and another on black kit was still glued together. I got some cooled boiled water and cotton pads and went in to bathe their eyes. Betty was on my case, wanting to know what evidence there was that this was helpful, what possible side effects there could be, exactly what my future care plan was going to be. I explained that a possible side effect was that the kitten could have a damp head for a few minutes, and that we may be repeating the treatment in the morning. Bless her.