26 Aug 2011
While we were in Boomtown we asked Vicky to housesit, as we thought Rusty might have had kittens while were away. Thankfully she didn’t, it took another week for it to happen, and by then she was huuuuuuge! On the Sunday (21st of August), when she gave birth, she spent most of the day lying down, very quietly. As if somehow sensing she might have them, I started watching a National Geographic documentary on cat gestation/birth – for both domestic cats and lions. It was fascinating, and I learned a few things. Including that cats lick their kitten’s waste for the first few weeks (until they move to solids). Amazing. I sent you a link but you seem to have no internet access right now. Well, right now you are camping with Adam and Ray, but back then you had no internet at your dad’s.
So, at around 6:30, Rusty gets up suddenly and comes to me on the sofa, pulling a funny face. I clicked and there was some water on the carpet, and a mucous plug right next to her. Textbook stuff really. It’s disconcerting when you read about things and then you actually see them happen for real, it really is. She was in the first stage of labour. She kept moving around the room looking for a place to settle. She didn’t want to go in the box we made for her. She spent the next minutes moving around the floor, having contractions. And then she sat on the soft, on her favourite spot, and started pushing!!! So we scrambled to get some towels/tops under her – and off she went.
We were told to count the placentas and make sure they all came out and to encourage her to eat them, so Jeff made this spreadsheet: 2 of the blacks later on turned out to have some tortoiseshell markings, and are both female.
|Kitten 1, black||19:45|
|Kitten 2, black||20:20|
|Kitten 3 – black, breach||20:36|
|Can see placenta for kitten 2.||20:44|
|Placenta 2 eaten||20:55|
|Placenta 3 out and being eaten||21:03|
|4th tortoise shell kitten||21:13|
|5th kitten, ginger is born! – breach||21:40|
|6th kitten, breach, ginger||22:16|
|7th kitten, black and white||22:36|
So that was pretty amazing and fun and scary. I had to give her the first two placentas for her to eat, after that she ate the others. She knew what she was doing, but at times seemed scared and wanted to be stroked. The breach one (legs first) seem to hurt her a lot! Made a video for you to watch… Everything was going well, we set up a webcam on Tuesday, so I could watch them from work, and some of our friends were watching it too.
Until tragedy struck on Weds. The most tortoiseshell of the the torties, who looked like Rusty the most) was very vocal in the morning, she was crying a lot and I started thinking she might be dying for some reason. After reading up stuff on the internet, I somewhat concluded Rusty hadn’t been licking her and she wasn’t feeding. She surely wasn’t feeding, I tried to get her to the nipple, and she would just go limp and slide off. Never in a million years did it occur to me it could be what it was. Of course if a cat ever has kittens around me again this will be the first thing I’ll check! But you’re not meant to handle them, and it never occurred to me to check their mouths… Or even that I should be doing a simple check on all of them like the vet did once we got there that afternoon.
I phoned the vet, as something wasn’t right with that kitten and got an apt. for 5:30. In the meantime I was stroking her, to try and stimulate her sucking reflex, giving her a few drops of water, but her condition deteriorating. When I went to check on them at around 3 she was no longer breathing. All 7 kittens together…
Mini-Rusty, just after she died 🙁
The vet said we had to bring them all in, luckily I had put them in a suitcase already (the box wasn’t big enough), so it was easy to close it and move it.
Once there he checked them all (inside their mouths, mostly). The cause of death was a cleft palate, it stopped her from swallowing milk, so basically she never got to eat anything! He showed us and it was a large membrane covering both sides of the roof of her mouth, with a small gap in the middle. Basically she never ate anything since she was born, although at first I did see her latching on quite a lot. I guess as she didn’t absorb anything she got weaker and weaker…
Kittens set (will add all their photos here, so it will grow over time)