Tuesday, October 31, 2006
One dose of Flagyl to go. I don't know if you remember Lotus demonstrating the kitty wrap and med administration a few weeks ago, but that is not what it looks like with these three. Sheila is starting to get it, but with the other two it's a fight the entire time. I'll be glad when we don't have to do this anymore.
Now that the diarrhea is better I'm letting the kittens explore the house. This is a hoot. The littles own the floor and the bigs stay up high to observe. And when a kitten is learning, everything is a toy. I have skirted chairs at the dining room table. See how much fun that is.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
OK, not a disaster. Minor catastrophe, maybe. I was gone all day to attend a workshop by Susan Kempter on childhood development and targeting music teaching strategies. I left the kittens in the office with the door closed. Unfortunately, while they were playing they also managed to close the door to the Nursery. AKA the bathroom. AKA the room with the litter box and food. Poor kitties. They were starving and thirsty. There were two pools of urine on some bubblewrap on the floor. And a small pile of feces in the "canyon" of computer wires. Yuck. That was a pain to clean up. The good news is that the stool had really firmed up since starting Flagyl for presumed giardia on Thursday. The potentially bad news is that I can't imagine that is all the excrement in eight hours from three kittens who would usually fill a litterbox in that time. And I haven't found any more yet. The very good news is that they were ravenously hungry, and their weights today reflect their improved appetites since Thursday. Always a silver lining.
This photo is of the three imps where I often find them sleeping upon my return to the office. It's the chair I sit in while working at the computer.
Friday, October 27, 2006
We've reached a number of milestones in the past few days. Seamus and Charlotte can get out of the tub, though they still haven't figured out it's easier to jump up on the back where the seat is a little lower. Seems like Group 1 got that in no time. All can jump up onto a chair, and I see that Charlotte has made it up to the window sill and discovered the pulls for the blinds. And as of last night all can pull themselved over the box barricade at the door, so the office door has to be shut until I'm ready to let them into the house at large. We are heading up to the shelter shortly to have their persistent diarrhea checked out, and they'll get house privileges after that has resolved.
D loaned me a popular cat toy that consists of a ping pong ball enclosed in a plastic track. It's been sitting out all week, but they finally figured out how it works yesterday.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Socialization is proceding well. The amount of biting is decreasing. Everyone has a nice relaxation response to being picked up. Seamus finally purred, quietly, not to be confused with the rumbles his sisters produce. And there is definite lap-seeking behavior when they get tired, my favorite part.
Group 3 is still confined to the Nursery and adjacent office. I thought about getting a baby gate, but instead rigged up a make-shift barricade of boxes and a wooden stool to keep them confined while allowing access to big cats and people, as well as visual access to their space. Seeing Cricket swoop over the wall is a thing of beauty. John, on the other hand...
Monday, October 23, 2006
These kittens have a bit of an oral fetish. When they are either tired or overstimulated they bite my fingers - hard. And they rootle each other, trying to nurse. If they clamped down on Mom like they do on my fingers, no wonder they were found alone! The good news is, I have usually been successful at stopping this behavior with enough time and consistency. What I do: when they nip, I take my hand away. If they keep pursuing, I set them down. My verbal cue that this is about to happen is "Ouch." Eventually, when I say Ouch they stop. Really. The behavioural term for this is negative punishment: removing something the animal values (petting) in order to decrease the occurrence of an unwanted behaviour. The most important part is the consistency. No mouthing, period, or you end up with an intermittent reinforcement schedule, which will make the behavior even harder to eradicate.
As to the rootling, that is not uncommon in kittens who have been removed from Mom at this young age. However, D assures me that early removal can also be a good thing, making it easier to socialize kittens who have not had previous human contact.
And OBTW, the other human member of my household thought Shariah was too feminine-sounding, so tkfkas (the kitten formerly known as Shariah) is now named Seamus.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
|M 10/30||31.5||28||32 |
|W 11/1||33||31||36 |
Kittens are much like people. Each has a unique personality, and it doesn't take long to figure out the basic bent. Here are my first impressions:
Sheila (calico): the littlest, is very sweet. She is generally the first to the dinner dish, and to check out something new. She's a little uncertain about petting, but has already relaxed and turned belly up on several occasions.
Charlotte (tortie): the shyest, but also the first to purr. She is a true middle child, following Sheila's lead to dinner, or Shariah's to play.
Shariah (tuxedo): the biggest, and a bundle of energy. She is the most uncertain about handling, doesn't like to be picked up by grasping around the middle, and when cuddled prefers to climb on my shoulder.
Here is a clip from our first play session last night. You can see why I call them the Hop 'N Pops. You can also see at the end how they reminded me I needed to get them a scratching box post haste.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Group 3 consists of three females, turned in as strays. They were reportedly found sitting by someone's garage without mother in sight. They are a little longer than short haired, but they have rough outdoor fur, not really medium length. There is one tortoiseshell, one calico, and one black and white. I discussed names with my 7 year old neighbor last night, who specifically requested that one be named Charlotte. So, the torti is Charlotte, the calico is Sheila, and the tuxedo is Shariah. More news tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
My next door neighbor is 9 years old (I think she is 9... if not she will correct me) and has just started cello lessons. Tonight we had a very nice visit. She showed me her new 1/2 size cello, and all the songs she can play with A and D. Also, F#, a note she learned from another neighbor who is a year ahead of her. I showed her all the A's you can play on the A string. She showed me how to make sirens, and how to do a cello bow strum on the open strings. I showed her how great a cello bow strum with chords sounds. How cool is that?
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I wonder if it's always going to work out that the kittens go back to the shelter on Sunday afternoon. Might that get to be depressing? We seem to have started a new tradition, now two groups strong. That is the "couch potato" Saturday night before the Sunday afternoon return. What could be more important than to train the kittens to enjoy laying around and watching TV or a movie? So far, both of these groups have been naturals.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Today looks like more of same. Lots of nasal secretions and mouth breathing, but energy and skin turgor is decent and Buster is still drinking formula. Took the kittens into the bathroom during showers for a steam treatment. I don't know if that helped, but it made me feel better. We did have some play time this morning, where parenthetically Buster learned that a flippy cat tail may look like a toy, but it's not if the other end is growling.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Update on Group 1: All pictures have been removed from the shelter web site. That most likely means that all have been adopted.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
We're not going to have any wild action videos from these two. They have sedate little personalities, play gently and quietly, and sleep most of the time. But I was so delighted to finally see some appetites this morning that I took this video. They like this Wellness cat and kitten food, preferring the cat formula turkey to the kitten, and I'm happy to report that stools are firm and formed. They've also been eating the DM kibble, which is good because that's what they'll get back at the shelter. They're also easy to medicate, and I followed the doxy dose with 0.2 cc of magic calorie drops. Sneezes are definitely less than yesterday, and weights are finally up. Hopefully we'll have quiet progress from now until they return on Sunday.
I drove the little fluff balls into the shelter yesterday during the early snow fall. Their sneezes continued to increase, along with nasal and eye discharge, though still clear, and they were a little dehydrated and still not eating well. So they got some fluids and I brought home more doxycycline (10 days, through 10/20) and some magic calorie drops. I am happy to report that soon after returning home they were already playing and eating. I think it's the hydration that's magic.
While I was waiting for them I ran up to the adoption floor, just to check. There were Tempest, Angus, and Precious, looking sleepy and a bit dazed, but no Lotus. Turns out both Lotus and Tempest have already been adopted. I guess Tempest was just waiting to be picked up. I wrote my blog address on the foster description, and harbor the secret hope that their new families will check in to tell me they are doing fine.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I opened the shade for her to discover - what else? - Chippie TV (hello, Byron). The chipmunks here seem even more active with the change in the weather, and my cats love watching them on both sides of the house. This little rodent was busily popping in and out of what appeared to be a subterranean chamber under my sidewalk, and was active long enough for me to get the camera. No, you can't see him, but John and Cricket can. (Bye, Byron.)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
These little fluff balls are not going to make weight in a week. Picky little eaters, they are, and a little sneezy, too. Motor skills are coming along, though. They can both hop up onto the stair by the tub, and from there over to the toilet, another 8 inch leap. Took about 30 minutes to learn how to climb over the cat carrier strategically placed in the doorway. A wall of pillows worked for the rest of yesterday, but was easily climbed today. That's all good, but it does mean that they are playing with the Nursery door closed today. I think they're a little too small to have the run of the office yet.
John has been very interested in kitten goings on, greeting us at the door when we arrived, visiting the tub the first night, and chirping at the nursery door every few hours, wanting in. I really think that he is looking for the other kittens when he does that, though. He misses his little buddies, and so do I. DH and I were sorting through how attached we got to that first crew. We decided that the reason we bonded so much and so quickly was that those four kittens were exactly the kind we would have been looking for to adopt. Bad luck, in a way, that they were the first, which has its own kind of specialness. I'm refraining from asking how they are getting along on the adoption floor until the weekend, not wanting to be a pest, but I'm thinking about them lots.
Monday, October 09, 2006
When I returned the chunky monsters yesterday, I asked L if there was anyone with a short-term need. One of the shelter rules is that no one other than a spouse can care for the kittens when the primary foster person (that's me) is out of town. Since I am planning a short trip next week, I have only a week before any fosters would need to go back, anyway. She had this pair of brothers who are the last of their litter to make weight. They were treated for roundworms and fleas last week, and will benefit from a week of TLC. I told them when we arrived at home that they were at the Kitty Spa.
After we got settled I found that they are a few ounces lighter than I had expected, and not much interested in eating. The shelter sent me home with some diabetic kibble and canned food, chosen because stools had been loose and this is low residue and calorie dense. Well, I guess your stools will firm up if you are not eating. Even John turned up his nose when he checked it out. Had a little better luck this morning with some Royal Canin kitten kibble and Friskies, but took some coaxing and belly rubs. I'll get some Wellness kitten food later this morning, a favorite of Gp 1. I figure I'll feed them whatever they will eat, and keep an eye on those stools.
One more opportunity for a maternal moment. Their coats felt dry and dusty, so I treated them to a good "grooming" with a barely damp washcloth. Oh, ecstasy. That was our bonding moment. Byron got a little brushing to smooth out that fluffy coat, and is looking quite the handsome fellow. They both have squeaky little meows, Buster's a little more robust.
On motor assessment, neither kitten can get out of the tub yet. Buster can jump up onto the step outside the tub, about 8 inches. Byron can't quite. When they first were down on the floor the most interesting thing was to run as fast as they could back and forth the 4 foot length of the bathroom, chasing each other. Dust bunnies in motion. I suspect they haven't had much room for running around. Very good. Exercise builds appetite, as well as strength.
I finally caught a good clip of John grooming Tempest on our last night together, during Couch Potato time. Tempest was the only kitten he wrestled with and groomed. See what you think.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Saturday, October 07, 2006
As I am putting my four chunky monsters down for their morning nap, I am amazed at how well they have adapted to my routine. Of course, the routine is devised to take advantage of the natural ebb and flow of daily kitten energy. Their day goes something like this:
* Wake up and play in the Nursery until Mom gets up to let them out. Snack on kibble and water that was put out the night before.
* Dash out into the office when the Nursery door opens. Sometimes they get breakfast right away, and sometimes they play until "kitty kitty" calls them to breakfast.
* Morning play time, the most energetic time of the day, exploring the house and providing amusement for the big cats.
* When energy flags, a little lap cuddle time then nap in the Nursery, usually for several hours.
* Afternoon play time.
* Antibiotics. (No more! The last dose was last night.)
* When activity level paradoxically increases interspersed with more frequent requests for hugs, it's time for bed in the Nursery.
My big cats sleep whenever and wherever they want to, but kittens need enforced quiet time. Otherwise they are like cranky toddlers, without the self-discipline to rest when they really need to. We have a very gratifying routine before the Nursery door is closed. First, I carry whomever is in my lap into the Nursery, and cuddle them while sitting by the tub. Any stragglers soon follow (Look! Mom's giving cuddles!) and I close the door. Sometimes a snack or drink is necessary, since it's there waiting. (Oh, yeah.) Then each gets a hug as I put him or her into the tub, still padded with towels and polartec blankies. What amazes me is that they plop over onto their sides, do a little grooming, and fall asleep.
I have two more naptime cuddles left. These kittens are due to return to the shelter tomorrow afternoon. Spay and neuter procedures will be Monday morning, and by Tuesday they'll probably be on the adoption floor, waiting for that perfect someone to choose them to take them home forever. I hope I have prepared them well.
Friday, October 06, 2006
It seems like it's always been this way, but it's not even three weeks. I didn't weigh them yesterday, and today Angus is over two lbs. Tonight is the last antibiotic dose. The sneezes are rare. Our minutes are limited. I hope that the people who adopt "my" kittens love them as much as I do.
Here is another cute clip. I missed a good one of John wrestling with Tempest because my battery was too low. But DH caught this one of John partly wrestling, partly grooming, and I think partly showing affection to Tempest and a couple of sibs. John is a great cat, too.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Check this out. It took about 4 days to train these kittens to come running for chow time when they are called. I started by calling "kitty kitty" while they were already eating. Then, just before I set the dish down in front of them. Next step, holding it high over their heads and setting it down while they were dancing under the dish. Waiting until they were playing but in eye sight. And finally, I can call when they are in another part of the house. I'm so proud of us! And look - Cricket came upstairs from her nap this morning.
Isn't this a cool "cat dish"? It's actually a designer appetizer dish from Target. Breaks into two parts for cleaning, or when you only need two dishes. It's small enough to handle with one hand, and large enough to keep kittens comfortably spaced so they graze less into each others' territory. And it was on sale for 5 bucks. I have had several people look at me askance when they notice that I use people dishes to feed my cats, and yes, occasionally I use them for people food. Come on folks. Have you seen how dedicated "pet dishes" are often treated? They sit in some dark corner of the kitchen or mudroom getting groatier and groatier as new food is added each day. My dishes go into the dish washer after each meal, and everyone gets to eat off of clean plates. I think that's a far better plan.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
We all went to bed late last night and got up early this morning, so bigs and littles slept most of the day. I wish I could sleep during the day. Why did we get to bed late? Well, D got a litter of new kittens (6) yesterday with an emaciated, sniffling, dehydrated mom. She called me late for information about current emergency instructions for the fosters; mom was hot and the kittens were cold and they really needed to be seen in the middle of the night. But I was still up anyway, because Cricket had climbed up on the roof from her upper deck and wouldn't come in even though we were having a thunderstorm.
Why were we up early? Because John and I were up every couple of hours through the night calling at all the doors to see if she had managed to get down to the ground during the night. He was really upset that she wasn't inside. He even sat outside on the deck in the dark and the rain looking for her for awhile. That's a good buddy. We finally stayed up when she wandered in about 6am, through the second floor door. Dry. I have no idea where she found to stay dry on the roof, but deck privileges are currently suspended.
Something else I have been doing lately is some minor photography and editing of cat photos for another of the local cat rescue groups to put up on Pet Finders. So I've learned some very basic PhotoShop editing. I was fooling around with this photo today. No, not a cat, but my other love, the cello. I'm always delighted when I figure out how to do something new. And this is just to warn you that, as these kittens will soon be going to return to the shelter and I'll have a week or more until I start over again, I may be talking a bit about playing the cello here.
Yesterday afternoon I woke the kittens from their afternoon nap a little early so that they would have time to play before dinner and confinement to the office while I attended an evening engagement. I have discovered the key to getting good kitten pics is to have the camera with you always. Compare the size of these monsters with the shot from 2 weeks ago (Day 1). Clockwise from the kitten on the blue polartec are Lotus, Angus, Precious, and Tempest. Then enjoy the clip of the sleepyheads waking up.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
With the kittens now spending several hours each day in the house at large, it is time to address some general house training issues. House training doesn't just mean that they should use a litterbox when they need to eliminate. That part is usually easy if they have had a litterbox and a Mom available in their first few weeks. Now comes the learning of the house rules.
I thought my rules were pretty simple, until I started writing this. Then I realized there are a number of things I like my cats to do that I don't usually think much about. Here is a list:
1. No rough play. Claws in for tickles and belly rubs, and no biting.
2. No scratching furniture.
3. No climbing curtains would be a rule, but I don't have any (partly because I have cats.)
4. No cats on the kitchen counter or dining room table.
5. No kittens on the desk.
6. No cats go outside on ground level.
7. No kittens go out on the upper deck where the big cats are allowed to enjoy the short part of the year when there is no snow, rain, or hail.
8. Cats should enjoy cello playing, or at least refrain from rude comments.
Cats of course means anyone of the feline persuasion, while kittens applies specifically to the young fry.
What brought this to mind? Well, first, Tempest got up on the kitchen counter twice. We'll talk about that some other time. Also yesterday, John demonstrated how he uses the scratching post downstairs. In my house I have multiple horizontal scratch boxes, mostly used by Madeleine and demonstrated by Tempest in an earlier video (Scratching Box). I also have two scratching posts under the stairs downstairs, a rather simple set-up which my vertical scratchers, Cricket and John prefer. Cricket likes the sisal, and John stretches all the way up to the second carpeted area. When Madeleine uses it, she prefers the lower carpeted part of the pole, horizontal scratcher that she is.
Evidently John made quite an impression. One of the first places the kittens went today was the scratching posts. A great place to have a good time, work out those little claws, and stay away from the furniture!
Monday, October 02, 2006
Angus, Lotus and Tempest visited with L. This purse looked like an ideal place for a nap! Precious visited, too, but was occupied elsewhere.
Madeleine watched the kittens with great interest, but stayed out of reach.
Tempest climbed up the couch to look out the window like the big kitties.
John watched the kittens on the stairs. Actually, John was where the kittens were most of the time, except when he was sneaking back into the Nursery to snack on kitten kibble.
Cricket watched the kittens from around the corner. She still hisses and growls when they get too close, but is always around somewhere when they are out.
D visited, and the kittens showed off all of their fun games for her. This is Precious with a mouse.
The whole house was a playground, but Lotus and Angus found a cozy spot on a couch to curl up together. Is this where the big cats sleep?
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Wow, did we have fun today. Energy off the meter this morning, bouncing off the walls in the office, and no more than 1+ sneezing all around. So when they rushed the door after church, I let them have the run of the house. They headed downstairs, where the floors are carpeted and they don't slide so much. Plus, I have open stairs that do a 180 as they go down, a veritable jungle gym. They raided the big cats' toy box for mice, then you never saw such running and jumping and wrestling and climbing.
All of the bigs were greeted in due course. Madeleine sniffed noses then hid under the bed. Cricket hissed or growled anytime there was a kitten near. It was pretty funny, seeing the four of them change course in tandem when they got too close. Then, she came downstairs after the kittens had set up their playground, and was charged by Angus, who proceeded to chase her in a circle completely around the downstairs. She finally settled in the closet doorway guarding the bedroom from the interlopers. So who do you think defies her? Little Angus prancing by with nose and tail in the air. Hilarious. And of course, John just joined in the fun, a great big kitten himself. Here is a clip of what happens when little cat surprises big cat.
So, my husband (DH) asks when they are out taking over the house, how do you catch them to put them back in the office? No problem, I reply. When they get tired they'll come looking for my lap to take a nap in. And so they did. While they were sleepy we took the advantage and clipped some toenails. Ahh, much better.
I got e-mail messages from the shelter today looking for foster homes for a total of 18 kittens and one mom. I figure I've got another week with these four. The antibiotic course ends on Friday, and the way Angus is finally eating he will surely reach 2 lbs by then. I sure hope they can find enough good homes for all these little guys. I'm going to miss these ones a lot.