kittens

disciplinary proceedings

We’re having a bit of a staffing crisis in our working from home office at present.   You may remember that following the death of our first office manager Jango in May this year, Flipper took up the post.  It was a rather left field appointment however she’s worked surprisingly hard and with dedication, sometimes working well into the night and sleeping at her desk.

 

She’s become so much of a fixture that colleagues expect her to be present at meetings, and clients have even asked after her  by name.

So it was a shock last week when she suddenly didn’t turn in to work one morning.  I found her sitting downstairs in Henderson’s favourite igloo.  That’s a whole other issue which needs to be dealt with outside of work.  Long and short of it is that I washed the igloo, and maintain that I did this with good reason, however it’s upset the whole eco system of the house.   Despite it having been one of Henderson’s favourite hang outs, second only to the heat pad on the sofa, he now refuses to set foot in it.  Turf wars between Rowan and Flipper have ensued.  Anyway, I digress.  She claimed to be off sick with hairballs.

The following day she was simply absent.   She didn’t call in sick, she just wasn’t there.  She wasn’t in the igloo, or on her perch in the bedroom window, or out in the garden, or nudging Hendo off his heat pad on the sofa.  She wasn’t on the shelf near the treats waiting hopefully, she wasn’t on the bed with Honey.   She wasn’t even under the bed, which is favourite spot for coughing up hair balls.  I’m not sure what made me think to open the wardrobe door … but …

To be fair, she’s aways had a bit of a thing about wardrobes.  I put it down to us watching The Lion the witch and the wardrobe when she was a kitten.  If I leave the door open she’s in there dreaming of Narnia.    When I raised the issue of work she simply said she didn’t want to.   I reminded her of the number of days I’d said that I didn’t really want to go to work, but had gone anyway.  She couldn’t get her fluffy head around why on earth anyone would do something they didn’t want to do.   Anyway, she said, she’d been to work nearly a hundred times now and was  getting bored with it.   I began trying to work out how many hundred times I’d been to work since starting in the early 1980s … but quickly realised the futility of this.

Obviously we then had to get cover in at short notice.  No one felt able to cover a full shift, so it was a bit of a patchwork.  Henderson put in a couple of hours, snuggled on my lap so I couldn’t move to reach anything.

Henderson

Rowan came in later but unilaterally declared it was “bring your kitten to work” day.  He then crashed out in his nest, leaving his kitten to run riot around the office.

There were limited options after that.  Kevin & Dasher were engaged in re enacting scenes from DH Lawrence

Dasher & Kevin

Rolo and Amber were in the garden doing semi feral things.

 

Honey, being “extremely upper management” was hardly going to drop everything to cover a shift at short notice.

Honey

So we were left with the only option of calling in a temp.  Becky had only been with us a few days and had mainy been self isolating in her bedroom.  [Unbeknown to us at that time she’d been struggling with gender issues … or at least our perception of them ….. and later that day revealed herself to be a boy cat …. and changed her name to Beckett … but again I digress]

S/he wasn’t entirely pleased to be pulled away from her nap

Becky / Beckett

and didn’t really understand anything about the job or what she needed to do.  However she set about trying to organise my diary

took over supervising Rowan’s kitten

and then gave him a telling off for his negligence

The situation will need to be discussed with Flipper ahead of her appraisal.  Her behaviour may have scuppered her chances of promotion to extremely upper management.  It may even result in disciplinary proceedings.  Take a guess at how bovvvered she is by this.

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In which we experience stress, fame, hope and some ordinary-ness

Some weeks in cat rescue there is a very clear “headline news” kind of story.  Mostly though, it’s moving from day to day, doing our best, watching how things change and thinking how to respond.

In some ways the most imminent stress this week has been about vet appointments and perusading anxious cats and kittens to attend them.

First up was Hissy & Spitty on Thursday for their second vaccinations.  Thankfully when the time came to round them up for their appointment, Spitty was snoozing in their carrier (which stategically doubles as a cosy bed) and Hissy was easily picked up and popped in with her.

This photo shows their different purrsonalities sooo clearly … those flat anxious Spitty ears x

Slightly more stressful was the Friday appointment.  Kevin, Rolo and Rowan were all due their boosters.  They’re all timid kitties … very loving if they approach you, but if you approach them it’s a different story.  To be fair, Rowan has blossomed in recent months and was less of a worry.  His sister Rolo is very timid still though, and Kevin, though bolder than Rolo, is huge!  … and couldn’t easily be folded into one of our usual carriers.

We booked Rowan and Rolo in for this week, and Kev in for next.  The plan for making that happen was well stressed about … but also a bit vague.   The plan included:

  1. a very large, very sturdy carrier which was donated to us after someone moved to the UK with a couple of cats.   We set this up in the lounge back in June, with a comfy bit of vet bed and regular spinklings of cat nip … so it could come to be seen as a cool place to hang out.
  2. their favourite fishing rod toy, an exciting game with the toy ever so casuallly landing at the entrance to the carrier, and then a little further inside it … and then …
  3. my foot … carefully positioned by the door to the carrier …

Kevin fell for it, so after a quick call to the vet it was Rowan and Kev on their way and Rolo booked for next week in what had been Kev’s space.  Two down, one to go!

We like to encourage all our cats to live their best lives, and reach for the stars … if that’s their ambition.  So we were utterly delighted when Howard messaged to say he’d become famous.  The step from scruffy street cat to most pampered foster puss in the history of 8 Lives simply wasn’t enough for him and he needed to go on to be Susan Calman’s cat of the day with over a thousand likes!  Has it gone to his head?  You decide.

 

Henderson has managed to rollercoaster us through the whole spectrum of emotions over the last week.   Thursday last week he had a quick check up with the vet and we felt he was doing fairly ok.  He’d put a little weight on and his glucose level was fine for the time of day it was taken.  At bedtime he was sick and collapsed in a heap.  Fearing he was hypo we checked his glucose … but again it was fine for the time of day.  I sat up all night with him fearing he was dying.  Traumatic memories of losing Jango still very fresh in my mind.  He was a tiny bit better in the morning but not much.  We made a vet appointment and cancelled work, fearing that this was the end.   This kind of appointment is agonising at the best of times, but since COVID and being unable to go in with them it’s even worse.  Sitting baking in a hot car on the car park, waiting for that call, and the news of what’s to happen next.

What did happen next took me totally by suprise.  The vet admitted him and put him on fluids for 24 hours and started him on a steroid.   More blood tests confirm anaemia as the next serious health issue he’s added to his collection.  So now, in order of diagnosis, we have “weird blood results that we’re not sure what’s going on”, hyperthyroid, chonic kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and anaemia.   That said, since this little episode, and starting the steroids, he seems better than he has been since before lockdown.  He’s cuddling again,  interacting with the other cats more and generally seeming more like the old Hendo.

Things settled back to ‘normal’ after that episode.   The kittens got over their vet visit … eventually … and went back to playing.  The others went and flopped in the garden in the sunshine.

 

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Happy New Year!

As I start to write it’s early evening on New Year’s Eve. It’s dark outside and we’ve been doing the usual pre-firework preparations – curtains drawn, lights and radios on. The younger kittens are kicking a ball around, watched and coached by the older kits. Some of the residents have already gone up to bed, others are snuggled in their Xmas igloos. Henderson is perched on his chair by the radiator and Howard (who is new to sharing the whole house) is pottering around trying to work out which spots are most comfortable.

No kitten photos .. they just rush past in a blur. I do hope Howard doesn’t decide the keyboard is his happy place. If there are no blog updates for a while you can guess why.

Inevitably New Year thoughts turn to memories of the felines we’ve had here this year. We’re a small enough rescue to remember each one of them very clearly.

January started with the residents plus little Dasher, older stray lady Cloe, and the infamous Norton 4 (Nancy Dodger Fingers & Bandit). It was wonderful over the New Year holiday to have some help from several random facebook people with socialising the Nortons and getting them used to someone other than me. The other brilliant thing that happened was that Cloe found a loving foster home where she could be the “only cat” and have lots of love and attention”. Soon as Cloe moved out we took in Skye who’s human had sadly died.

February saw the arrival of Dexi as a potential friend for Dasher … and that relationship just not work out. Dodger & Nancy (half of the Norton 4) went to a lovely new home, and so did Skye. Into the space created Howard arrived. Initially complaining just of a sore toe, Howard was diagnosed with renal failure and anaemia.

March was the month from hell. First Howard was admitted to the vets because he was dehydrated and not eating. Then we noticed that Henderson (our long term foster) wasn’t eating either and he was admitted for an urgent dental surgery which was risky given his age and health conditions. A couple of days after they’d both been discharged, Jango (one of our residents) developed a urine infection and also had to go to the emergency vets.

Here they are … somewhat later …. and looking much better.

The redeeming feature of March was a message one Saturday morning from Stanlie’s foster carer .. saying that Stanlie who had resolutely lived outside her house and refused to come indoors had just followed her in the previous evening after work and settled himself down as though he’d always been an indoor cat.

Stanlie

This had been a loooooong saga starting over a year previously …. check out the back posts on this blog for more. Couldn’t have been happier x

April had to get better. Dexi went off to her new home (without Dasher!), the second half of the Norton 4 (Bandit & Fingers) also found a fab new home. Howard found himself a long term foster home. Into that space came Fynn … a gorgeous, affectionate stray … who was just soooooo noisy!

Also .. in the quest for a pal for Dasher we ended up with Ailbhe and her 7 kittens … well they weren’t all hers but she’d been looking after them in an over crowded house and brought them all with her into rescue.

May was busy as you might imagine. Lots of routine vet runs for vaccinations, chips, neuter. Plus a couple of non routine vet runs when Fynn had a very very rare complication following his neuter. Numerous homechecks for kittens. Fynn went back to foster care with the lovely couple who had found him, and then to a new home. Aric & Archie also found a new home.

Aric & Archie new home

June Ash & Arran and Ailbhe & Alix went to their new homes.

Ailbhe & Alix new home

The remaining two of Ailbhe’s kittens – Alice & Arnold – moved downstairs to live with the residents and get more socialisation as they were very timid. Dasher became very involved with them.

He took great care of them until they too were adopted.

As the Ailbhe team were moving out, Alice & Arnold were downstairs, and the rescue bedrooms were free, we had a message asking for help with A LOT of cats. We were able to help with fewer than half of them but took in Raven & Squiggle who had 7 young kittens between them.

Only two of the kits were Squiggles, but Raven wasn’t big into parenting … so Squiggle looked after them all.

Jette gave birth to 6 kittens on 16 June … sadly one of them didn’t survive.

Jette with kits a few hours old

Alice & Arnold … the last of the A team went to their new home

July was pretty much like April with lots of routine vet runs. A couple of the kits went to their new homes, and thankfully Raven & Squiggle found the purrfect purrmanent home.

Raven & Squiggle new home

I’m so happy for these girls … they’ve had a hard life caring for kittens since they were kittens, one litter after another. So lovely to see them happy and settled.

Meanwhile … with it being a little quieter … and still in search of a pal for Dasher … Kevin arrived. Kev had been living rough in a garden like Dasher had .. they quickly found some common ground … and got on very well.

Dasher & Kevin

August Ringo & Scruff … Raven & Squiggle’s most confident kittens went off to their super new home. Jette’s kittens had their vaccinations and the first two, Jade & Jemima went off to their new home.

September at last, thank goodness was a bit quieter month. Jaffa & Jellybean (two more of Jette’s) found their new home.

Jellybean & Jaffa

Delighted that also the old lady Cloe found her new home after nearly 10 months in rescue.

Into the space made available we had Rosie & Mabel arrive

October Rosie & Mabel had a very swift journey through rescue. They went into a fab new foster home and were adopted within a week or two.

Still here were Jette, her remaining kitten Jethro, Squiggle’s remaining kitten Smartie, and Rowan’s remaining kittens Rowan & Rolo. Jette landed a fab new home … all to herself ..

Jethro & Smartie teamed up and also found a lovely home.

Rowan & Rolo were the most timid of Raven/Squiggle’s kits … and to make it worse Rowan had a persistent tummy upset.

They’re lovely young cats though … and to my delight once Rosie & Mabel left their foster home, these two moved in. They’re growing in confidence and we’re doing our best to sort out the tummy.

November was planned to be quieter because that was our holiday time. Nevertheless .. we mananaged to take in Betsy & Benjamin, orgaised from Laos with the help of our amazing cat sitter.

Here’s our first proper glimpse of them courtesy of web cam from Singapore. I’m not sure if they’ve gone through the house like a breath of fresh air or a dose of salts … but … um … you sure know you’ve got them!

betsy & benjamin

Here they are being calm for their adoption advert. Don’t be fooled!

December thankfully another relatively quiet month as I was ill pretty much from getting on the holiday plane in November to a couple of weeks ago. Sadly (or happily … depending on how you view it) Howard outlived his foster carer’s interest in caring for him … and he returned to rescue when I got back from holiday. He’s back here trying to make the best of it .. and to his credit isn’t making a bad job of it. If it wasn’t for the renal diet complications of communal living … we’d be rocking it!

We’re at the stage where he can mingle without fights. The older kittens escorted him on his first trip round the (cat secure) garden. He’s a lovely old boy x

So that’s us .. settling down to New Year’s Eve. Apologies (huge apologies) to anyone I’ve missed out.

The gorgeous Stanie was adopted by his amazing long suffering foster carers in June this year.

He now shares a home with the equally gorgeous Harold who was adopted last year.

Not to be forgotten … but so easily forgotten … and that’s possibly intentional … because he’s trying to creep up onto the table to steal food … Oscar. He’s our other long term foster cat who lives with the fundraiser without whom 8 Lives simply woudn’t survive. He’s been with 8 Lives well over a year now … skulking under the radar … looking for anything tasty.

Best wishes for 2020 to you and especially to your felines x

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Season’s Greetings from 8 Lives

Tis the season for climbing up into the loft and gettting the Xmas decorations down.   Tis also the season for being a little smug and thinking “blimey, its cold up here … the insulation must be working well”.

I suspect Dasher remembered the boxes and the excitement of the tree last year .. judging by his reaction:

Who would have thought when he arrived 18 December last year he’d still be here this Christmas:

 

dasher xmas tree (5)

Dasher Xmas 2018

That’s a long story we’ll not go into right now. However for Dasher’s best mate Kevin, it was the first Xmas anywhere. Kev could hardly believe his eyes when we set up the biggest cat toy he’d ever ever seen, or imagined in his wildest fluffy dreams.   He walked into the lounge and stood in amazement …

He went to fetch Dasher to come see it .. because that’s what Kev does – if he’s not sure about anything, absolutely anything at all, he goes to find Dasher to ask his opinion.

Dasher thought he’d seen it before, but needed to touch it a bit just to be sure.

Yep .. he’d been there, done that … and wandered off to find some supper.

Kev however was transfixed.

The gingerbread man, who has survived several generations of kittens, realised to his horror that he was the focus of Kev’s attention. He tried to just dangle calmly but suitably fesitvely ..  however it was too late .. Kevin just couldn’t resist.

 

 

At first it was just a tap, and although gingerbread man swung dizzyingly … he regained his balance and composed himself.

Unfortunately this just whetted Kev’s appetite for more .. and before he could say “don’t eat me” .. Kev had launched a vicious attack.

We last saw him laying face down on the kitchen floor …. with the shadown of young Benjamin hanging over him.

is this the end for gingerbread man?

Wishing a Merry fun filled Christmas to you all!

* Please be assured that gingerbread man (and snowman, angel and a random apple) will be offered appropriate support before being returned to their boxes/loft.

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Holidays … ? (in praise of cat sitters)

It’s been a long haul through the summer … and autumn.    Ailbhe and her 7 kittens, Squiggle & Raven and their 7 kittens, Jette and her 5 kittens, plus several others who aren’t part of these huge families.   I’m not complaining – they’re all very lovely cats, and we’ve had some awesome adoptive parents joining our 8 Lives family.   However it’s meant homechecks / visitors /takings to new homes almost every weekend day for the last 6 months, vet trips after work one or two evenings every week … plus vet trips before work too when they’ve gone to be neutered.  And the cleaning! OMG! The hours of cleaning!

I’ve watched all my colleagues and friends going off on summer holidays but been happy to hang on knowing I have MY holiday coming in November.   A visit to my lovely friends in Singapore and a few days exploring Laos … what could be better?   It took a lot of planning, making sure everyone had enough medication and food, checking all the cats in foster had sufficient supplies, timing the cleaning so things were at their best ready for cat sitter to take over.

Freyja: one of my best friends in Singapore

At times it seemed like it would never all come together, but finally, finally I was at the airport, on the plane and settled into watching more films than I’d watched in the entire year to date. I was a bit hot and cold through the flight but put it down to the air con on board. Arrived in Singapore feeling spaced out and disorientated … but you know … jet lag and all that. Still feeling like I was on another planet, but embracing it, we set off to Laos the following morning … and finished the day with a beautiful sunset cruise on the Mekong river.

Followed by the first taste of amazing Lao Beer

Woke the following morning with the cough from hell. But hey …. we’re on holiday. So off we went to explore the city and temples. It was a long climb to the top of Mount Phousi, but we were rewarded by this sight:

 

The world is an utterly fascinatingly varied place – so many different beliefs, traditions, ways of living out our lives. One thing is constant the world over … cats just don’t give a f@ck about the rules.

Annoyingly the virus got worse … and so did the news from home. Jango had initially been fairly compliant with taking his meds, but realising that mum was away longer than he was happy with, started to rebel. He’d been my main worry for the holiday – he’s elderly, possibly suffering some dementia, and a complete b@astard with anyone who isn’t me (and occasionally with someone who IS me!).  Without his painkillers he obviously got more uncomfortable and more grouchy and more difficult to medicate. I panicked and started googling flights home. Our lovely cat sitter stayed calm and came up with solutions. Jango was persuaded by tuna water and took his meds disolved in that.

Jango – scourge of cat sitters … and vets

Once back in Singapore I stopped trying to be ok and just flopped. Not quite though, because late one night (early here in the UK), there was a post on a local (local to S8 that is)  facebook group about two small kittens found under a car not so far from our rescue. Several people tagged me personally, or mentioned 8 Lives as being the people to help. For security reasons we didn’t want to say we were on holiday, and of course wanted to help the kits, so went ahead as though we were round the corner rather than nearly 7,000 miles away and in another time zone. Jess our cat sitter offered to go and collect the kits and bring them here. We’d done our best to reduce the numbers of cats here so far as possible before the holiday … so at least we had space here for them. It was strange to see them for the first time, in my house, from so far away, on our webcam.

Betsy & Benjamin

They’re gorgeous kittens, very loving and full of crazy kitten energy.

Sorry to grumble but I got more and more poorly through the holiday. I think I can honestly say that I don’t remember feeling more poorly in my entire life. That may be a memory issue … but I don’t think so. Nothing like two 8 hour flights home to help with a head cold / sinus infection.

I got home and immediately crashed on the bed. Jango emerged from his cave in the wardrobe for a cuddle. It was sooooooo good to see him. Then I realised I was seeing twice as much of his face on one side as the other.  Naturally I panicked.  Of course it was Sunday and vets were closed.   If I’d not been so poorly and taken time to read the note from the cat sitter I’d have read the legendary notice “Don’t Panic!”.   He’d had a swollen face on Friday night (early hours of Saturday morning in Singapore) and she’d managed to bundle him up in a towel and get him to the vets, who diagnosed an abscess.

Cat sitter must have been counting the days and looking forward to signing off from this awkward squad … but was kind enough to continue coming in for a few days after I got home, until I was well enough to manage to care of them again.

Many thanks to Jess from 3 Strings for caring for them … and to our lovely vets at V4P Millhouses who coped with me in various stages of poorliness whilst trying to sort cats out over the last few weeks x

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“just stuff”

Not sure how this blog is going to turn out.  It’s been a while since we posted anything and feels like time we should .. no … not “should” … would actually really like to.  However there hasn’t been a “story” really to share, nothing obvious to talk about.  Don’t get me wrong .. its absolutely not that nothing is happening … we’re so busy its crazy  … but it doesn’t arrange itself conveniently round a blog post.  Texting a friend a few days ago about having not been in touch because I felt overwhelmed, she asked “by bad or good stuff?”  Having pondered on it a while … I replied “just stuff!”

In our last blog we talked about Jette’s kittens growing up … and they still are!  The coloured collars we put on them allowed us to begin to see them as individual people rather than just the amorphous mass named “Jette’s kittens”.

Whilst Jette’s kittens were growing, Raven & Squiggle’s kittens were growing even bigger!

Then Kevin arrived.  We weren’t going to take in any more cats until we’d sorted this lot … but Kev is about the same age as Raven & Squiggle’s kits … and also we’re still trying to find a suitable pal for Dasher to be rehomed with … and Kev was a baby living on his own in a garden.  How could we say no?

Then Squiggle and Raven found a lovely new home.

Once the mums had moved on we decided that it would be best for the two most timid kits (Rolo & Rowan) to move downstairs so they could have more contact time and build their confidence.  But then, probably with the stress of it all, little Rowan was poorly with a nasty tummy upset.

poorly rowan

So instead of putting them in a large crate together, so we could start stroking more often and building confidence, we needed to separate Rowan and barrier nurse him to avoid passing on the tummy upset.  Only in order to do that we needed to order a second large crate.  Then were was a mess up with the delivery and we had to go to Rotherham to the depot to collect it, but only found out that we’d need to do that about 40 minutes before the depot was closing.

Managing several separate groups of cats in one house is hard work.  Just for context, we live in a small 3 bed semi.  There are the 6 residents who kind of share space and Dasher (and now Kevin) too, but Henderson needs some degree of separation to have his renal diet.  We also need to try so far as possible for most of the other residents to have senior food, Rufus to have adult food, and Dasher and Kevin to have kitten stage food.  Except Dasher for some reason loves renal food, and Henderson loves to eat buffet style taking a few mouthfuls from each bowl.

Then there were the Squiggle/Raven kittens, being kept separate from Jette and her kittens in the two spare bedrooms.  Except on opening either of their doors we were met by an avalanche of kittens onto the landing, down the stairs and into the bathroom.   Collecting them up, posting them back into their bedrooms without the others getting out was starting to be impossible … so we ended up with a combined group.

Add to that two separate crates to manage with litter trays, food, water bowls, and in Rowan’s case meds (to add to the everyday long term meds that Henderson & Jango need), without the kittens getting out and it gets very complicated indeed.  We have an awesome cat sitter who comes in on the nights I’m working late and sorts the cats for me.  I normally get a message from her just as I’m doing the last of my paperwork to say she’s finished and passing on any updates I need to know.  The other night I’d heard nothing, finished my admin, drove the half hour back from work, stopped at the shop, and arrived home to find cat sitter only just leaving.  It had been a two hour ordeal to get around them all.

It was all so stressful that when aunty Jenny invited young Rufus to spend part of his summer holiday at her house I jumped at the chance.  He’s a precious little boy who we hand reared from 10 days old between us.   He’s very loved, but out of all the cats here, he’s the one who taken out of the equation would make the most difference.  Despite living around other cats all of his life, the fact that he’s been hand reared seems to have impacted on his ability to socialise properly with other felines.  Amber is terrified of him.  He must have upset her at some point …. but now he only needs to walk into the room and she’s stressed.  Honey (Amber’s mum) understandbly is angry with him for upsetting her daughter.  Old Uncle Henderson is intimidated by him too.  He’s an amenable old chap … but I’ve been horrified to see him cowering infront of Rufus, looking like an elderly gent being mugged.  I miss Ru terribly and feel awful that I missed his 3rd birthday … but its made things a lot easier around here.

Dasher & Kevin fell in love.

Rowan started to feel better, Rolo became more confident.

Then all four kittens were chasing around happily in the main part of the house along with the residents.

With Rufus out of the way, Amber ventured downstairs for the fist time in ages.  So long that one of the cat flaps had forgotten her.  We had a bit of a saga getting her scanned in again because she won’t go near the cat flap whilst I’m standing there … she’s semi feral and I’ve touched her only a handful of times in the years she’s lived here.  We had multiple instances of me putting a peg on the flap to wedge it open, setting it to scan a new customer, getting out the way so Amber felt safe to go through it, and then Dasher rushing through instead.  The flap says it has the capacity to scan and recognise 30 cats – 20 of them are Dasher!  Finally though it was done and Amber was out enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

The next event was that Ringo & Scruff found a lovely new home.  Our house has become much calmer and quieter since they left.  I guess their adoptive parents’ home has suddenly become rather more noisy and chaotic.

So then the next thing is the dilemma of how to manage the remaining kittens.  Ringo, Scruff and Smartie had been upstairs sharing space some of the time with Jette and her kittens.   Smartie was now the only one of the Squiggle/Raven kits upstairs.  Should we leave her in a room alone? (no .. that’s not really an option)  Put her full time with Jette et all? (Maybe … though she and Scruff had been a bit hissy with Jette and kits)  Bring her downstairs to join the others? (Possibly … though that might just be the last straw for what the residents will tolerate .. and I can cope with.  Five kittens running wild through the house like a whirlwind)  Put some of the others back upstairs to join her?  (Again this could be an option … but which ones … who are we going to pair with whom?)

We’ll leave you with that cliff hanger 😉

You might have noticed that some of our photos are of considerably better quality than usual!  The rogues galleries of kitten photos are gorgeous.  That was the other big exciting event here.  We had a visit from Isobel from Steel Rose photography last weekend.  Absolutely delighted with the lovely photos she took.

 

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tempus fugit

It seems only a few days ago that I was watching Jette’s kittens taking their first breath … but today they’re chasing around their bedroom, and I know from experience that in a few more days they’ll be climbing and causing absolute mayhem.  What I DON’T seem to learn from experience is just how quickly this happens.

They were 4 weeks old last Sunday and desperate to be allowed out of the nest. Jette and I reluctantly decided to drop the drawbridge on the “very useful box” and allow them out.

Jette found it hard at first … needing eyes in the back of her head to keep track of all of them:

It wasn’t easy … but once they were out there was no going back.

So we enter the period of very steep learning curve for kittens. Moving from fighting over nipples to perfecting table manners …

Just what DO you do with your feet whilst eating?

And then there’s a minefield of litter tray etiquette to learn. Hint! Pooing right behind the door so that when its opened your sh1t is smeared across the floor is not generally regarded as good manners! Neither is peeing right at the door opening and just where I step sock or bare footed into the room. Other handy tips: don’t go to sleep in the litter tray, don’t wee on your siblings, don’t kick litter in other people’s faces.

The intermediate course covers the ability to wee & poo quietly without having to announce to mummy and everyone else in the house what you’re doing, and expects that if you go into the ‘grown up’ litter tray you’ll be able to get yourself out again. Also: NO FIGHTING in the tray! For some reason it brought to mind an image from childhood swimming baths days:

Some of the little Riggle (Squiggle/Raven) kittens have been to visit aunty Jette and haven’t been made entirely welcome. However one little J toddled off to see aunties Squiggle & Raven this week and was given a much better reception ….

…. if you regard having your bottom washed as a positive sign of hospitality! We’re not judging … It’s one thing to have a tiny kitten intruder when your kits are twice her size … its quite something else to have ninja kits bouncing into the nursery when you’re feeding tiny kittens.

They’re 5 weeks old today. Ninja kittens in training, and starting to emerge as individuals. We don’t usually use collars but we have two black kits (Jellybean & Jethro) and two tabbies (Jaffa & Jade) who look very similar … so decided to go for colour coding. Little Jemima as the only black and white kit doesn’t need a collar, but we don’t want her to feel left out.

Jemima

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Kitten season! part 3 – Jette and kittens make two dozen

So we’ve told you about Raven & Squiggle’s kittens, but Jette’s kits arrived here undercover … hidden inside mummy’s tummy.   She looked ready to pop when she arrived.

 

Then again …  we’ve had enough experience to know that when they look like they’re about to pop there could well be another week or more to go.  Perhaps because she was heavily pregnant and in a room on her own, she seemed to be the most stressed and anxious of the new arrivals.   Raven & Squiggle had each other for support and had to be ok for their kits.   On the one hand I wanted to take it slowly with Jette, on the other I was concered that if we didn’t establish a good relationship before the kittens were born it could be more difficult in many ways after the birth.

Jette – anxious and very pregnant

You may remember Hecate who arrived here with 4 x 3 day old kits almost exactly a year ago.  She was very scared and reluctant to allow us to interact with the kits, and her anxiety rubbed off on them.  It’s all good now … mum and kits all in loving homes and confident and settled .. but it was hard work and ideally not something we want to repeat.

Jette hid at first, but over a few days made friends thanks to some chicken.  She quickly became very friendly and affectionate.  We created a nice little cot with the “really useful box” that has served for all births here since Betty’s kittens.  Jette refused to look at it.  She alternated between her bed on a chest of drawers and perching on an almost ceiling height shelf.   I anxiously watched her on the webcam from work, though I’m not sure how I was going to help from miles away, or what I thought I’d tell my manager as I rushed out the building.

hopefully not in Jette’s birth plan

She was unsettled for a couple of days coming up to giving birth, moving from bed to shelf to widowsill to my lap and I spent hours with her thinking the kits were on their way.  However on Sunday 16 June, it was clear that things were starting to move.  Thankfully the high shelf went off the list of places to sit and she switched between my lap and her bed on the chest of drawers, and finally (thankfully) the cot.  As the birth got closer she settled herself in the cot, and I laid down on the floor at the other end of the room so I could give her some space but still be able to see some of what was happening and check she was ok.  I used one of the blankets she’d been snuggling on my knee on as a pillow since the floor was hard.   To my surprise, at the very last moment, she rushed out of the cot, threw herself onto the blanket I had my head on, and seconds later gave birth to the first kit within inches of my nose.

Kit number one born

 

She clearly felt safer with me than I’d hoped to imagine.   Things started to get a bit more complicated then though.  For one thing, it was just after 8.30pm when she started to give birth and the light started to fade.  I didn’t want to move and put the big light on, and didn’t really want to be shining phone torch at them either.  The other thing was that the babies were coming quicker than she could sort them out …. and as they weren’t in the confines of the cot they could go anywhere.  So whilst baby number two was being born, baby one had set off across the bedroom floor, dragging the remains of his placenta behind him.

I always avoid touching very newborn kittens unless absolutely necessary so was wary … but once off the blanket the floor was cold (hard to believe on the hot night I’m writing this … but a couple of weeks ago the room was chilly).   I didn’t want to stand up and scared her, but managed to reach a spare fleece from the shelf.   Jette seemed happy for me to sort him out and get him back on the blanket close to her.  As kit number 3 was born, I was left with the responsibility for kits 1 and 2 … and so it went on.   I gradually gained confidence with coralling kittens in the dark, and cheerfully managed 5 little ones as number 6 was born.  Sadly the happy mood evaporated when it was clear that number 6 was not ok.  Jette worked on him for some time, licking him and nudging him …. but he didn’t respond … and after a while we had to accept that however much love he’d been born into … he just wasn’t going to make it.

Once it was fairly clear that she’d finished we gathered them up an put them all safely in the ‘really useful box’.

In the morning I sobbed as I went up the garden to dig a small kitten sized hole.  Dasher came with me to comfort me.   Jette looked distressed to see her kit go … but was soon enjoying a clean fleece and getting to know her remaining five kittens better.

Apart from nipping out for a wee she never left them for the next 10 days.  I’d check in her several times a day, and watch her on the web cam from work, and every time I looked she was there snuggled up with them.

Her hard work has paid off as they’re clearly much bigger by one week old.   Kittens will normally double their birth weight in the first week and I’m pretty sure she’s achieved that.

Ps.  I’ve just realised I didn’t end the post by clarifying the title.  These little ones brought the total number of cats in our home to 24 … which is a record number of cats at 8 Lives … not to mention the few we have out in foster homes.

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Kitten Season! part 2: And mothers make 9.

Even here where we’re used to running between multiple cats it was a challenge to know where to go first with all the new arrivals.  We needed to check that Alice & Arnold were settling ok downstairs with the other cats, work out which of the 7 kits was which in the Squiggle/Raven family and make sure they were all eating for themselves or getting fed by one or other of the mummies, and then try to put anxious very pregnant Jette at her ease not least so if she needed help whilst giving birth we’d be able to get close to her.

Initially when I went into the kindergarten with Raven & Squiggle both mums would run at me all fluffed up and hissing.  Their attempt to intimidate intruders worked to some extent … I was certainly wary.  Very soon though they’d be purring and enjoying a snuggle, until I left the room and returned and we’d be back to fluffed up and growling.  It took a couple of days until I could confidently identify each of the kittens and the mummies could equally confidently identify me and not need to growl when I approached.

Thankfully Dasher took over with helping Alice & Arnold.  I’m sooo impressed with and grateful to him.  He may be so anxious that he hides under the sink when anyone new comes to visit but he’s turned things around for these two little ones.  Maybe it was because of his own fears that he was able to tune into theirs.  They’ve very quickly come to adore him and the purring starts as soon as he comes in the room.

Dasher with his kits

I was anxious about Jette .. on her own in the nursery.   Of all of them she was the most stressed with the process of being caught and put in the carrier to come here.  She hid at lot.  First in the walk in cupboard in her room, then on a high shelf.  I seriously hoped the high shelf wasn’t part of her birth plan.  A couple of days after her arrival she was happy to take chicken from me.  A day or two later she was very keen to have cuddles and I was less anxious about how we’d manage when the kits arrived.

Jette – anxious and very pregnant

Raven & Squiggle sorted their kits out.  Despite only being biological mum to only 28% of the kittens, Squiggle appears to have done about 95% of the work.

Raven does help with washing and will investigate if any of the kits appears to be distressed, but mostly it seems to have been Squig who sorts them out.  Despite still being heavily involved in mothering, Squiggle came back into season when the kits were only 6 weeks old, so if she wasn’t safely here there would be another litter of kittens on the way by now.  Raven has since come into season too.  Thankfully they’re both off to be neutered tomorrow.

There’s a bit of a feel of deja vu … it was only 6 weeks previously that Ailbhe and her 7 kittens arrived here, her kits born mid March, these  7 born end of April.   There are many similarities …. not least in the amount of mess they create in their bedroom!  Of course they’re all unique but the combined Raven/Squiggle family is now affectionately known as the Riggles thanks to their reluctance to pose for photos.   Ailbhe’s kits were supermodels and gave us some lovely photos.  This little gang are equally adorable … but models they are not 😉  Not yet 🙂

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Kitten Season! part 1

As the photos of the A Team in their new homes began to come in, so did the requests for help with other cats and kittens.

With the rest of the family gone, we didn’t want to leave little Alice & Arnold on their own in their bedroom.  It felt important to give them more opportunity to socialise and gain their confidence … and to be honest …. we needed their room!

So they packed their bags and moved downstairs.   It was scary at first and they were happy to hide in a large dog crate.  Uncle Henderson did his best to reassure them … but they weren’t convinced.   Surprisingly quickly though things started to change.   Arnold realised that if he could stay with his fear of being touched he actually really loved a tummy rub …. he simultaneously found his purr.

Alice has starting thinking of her future … and has decided that hair styling is her thing.  She’s certainly keen …. I’ll give her that …. she spends ages sitting on the back of the sofa, purring loudly and grooming me.  I’m kind of hoping she’ll refine her technique and not cause quite so much pain to future clients.

hair by alice

One of the main factors in making things better for these little ones is ‘uncle’ Dasher. It’s a bit of a delicate situation. You may remember that Dasher has been with us a while, waiting to find a pal to go to a new home with. He’s now found the love of his life in Alice … but she’s attached to her brother too. Arnold is also attached to Dasher … though not so much. He’s being very sweet and generous as this awkward love triangle plays itself out.

Anyway … I digress. A couple of days before Ailbhe & Alix went off to their new home, we had a message asking if we could take in 25 cats from one home! We said we couldn’t possibly take that many but had a pregnant cat/nursing cat space and/or room for a group of kittens. We were a bit shocked by the reply which said that there was a heavily pregnant cat, two mums nursing 7 kittens between them and 4 five month old kittens. It was one of those rushed-in-between-appointments-at-work kind of email exchanges. We couldn’t take them all … and were aware that even then these were only 14 of the 25. It’s the nightmare game of Lifeboat that rescues are regularly asked to play. Pregnant cat v mums with young kittens v older kittens who may be pregnant soon. We agreed to take pregnant puss, plus the two mums with their 7 kits … but then started trying to get help for the others.

alice & arnold much more confident

On the day of their arrival I was up by 6am cleaning and getting the space ready.  Ten new arrivals was daunting …. we never had such a big intake of cats. Sure … Ailbhe and 7 kittens arrived a few weeks ago … that was 8. Years and years ago when we were fostering for another rescue, on one day we took in a mum with 5 kittens 3 days old, and another mum with 4 kittens a day old. Yes … I know … that makes 11 … but at the time we just had two or three other cats in the house, and 9 of the arrivals were very tiny. The recent ten were coming to add to a household of nine. And of course one of the ten had several more small cats inside her.

We took a deep breath … what else can you do? Drove up the motorway in the pouring rain, and yet again suffered the misery of sat nav crashing off the dashboard. Seriously … WTF! … how does anyone stop the suicidal plummet of sat nav mid journey? And finally arrived at the house. It was a strange experience. It’s rare (acutally never … unless I visit a bigger cat rescue) that I go somewhere that has more cats than we have here. A real insight into how friends/ neighbours/ tradespeople might view my own home … a cat on every surface … mega size food boxes piled high. This owner clearly cared about their cats … but sadly hadn’t been able to get them neutered before they multiplied exponentially.

We got the carriers loaded up … Carrier 1: Jette the pregnant puss. Carrier 2: Squiggle plus 4 kits Carrier 3: Raven plus 3 kits. It’s not exactly a fair share. We understand that Raven gave birth to 5 kits, and a few days later Squiggle had 2. It seems that Squiggle has taken them all on as her own while Raven has stepped back .. other than a few bath times. At their vet check we found that Raven has very little milk whilst Squiggle is full of it. What we’ll never know is whether Squig took over because Raven had no milk, or whether Raven has no milk because Squiggle is feeding them all. Perhaps what matters most is that its one big happy family.

Here they are arriving in their rooms and starting to settle in

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