We Interupt This Blog to Bring You the Birth of Kittens!!! (Oops!)
We’ve been a little slow getting things done the last week or two because of baseball, baseball, baseball (our son plays on two teams) and kittens, kittens, kittens (a big oops of a science experiment) and boy are we worn out from it all!
Before I get onto the matter of kittens I will interrupt this “interrupt post” with a blurb about baseball. We LOVE baseball around here. I just changed my ringtone to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” if that gives you any idea. Our son plays Little League baseball in the 12 year old division where Aaron helps as an assistant coach on his team, and I serve on the Little League board. He also plays on an 11U travel team (where we simply cheer from the sidelines.) This means sometimes he can play up to 8 games a week…so please be patient with us this baseball season! We have a lot of fun projects and posts in the works, but this is definitely our busiest time of year. We also would like to point out that Greer had his first two homeruns last week- one for each team. Anyway, enough bragging on baseball and back to the kittens, kittens, kittens.
Way back last May we took in a new tiny, tiny baby kitten that had been abandoned and bottle fed. (It was actually May 30th to be exact.)
Clara has been an awesome cat. She loves her people and she also loves to run critters out of our barn. We live on 3 1/2 + acres so we let Clara come and go as she pleases. She often snuggles up with Greer during daytime hours because he is the most still when awake of our two children. However, when the sun goes down and Ella Rose crashes she climbs into bed with her for the night. She also loves our dogs and her BFF is our little fluffy dog Homer (baseball reference.)
A few weeks ago we had an appointment set up to get Clara spayed because that’s what all responsible pet owners do (cough, cough.) However, in the weeks leading up to the appointment Aaron began to grow suspicious of Clara’s growing belly. I didn’t think she looked any different and promptly told him he was crazy. I just didn’t think she was old enough yet to become pregnant and we have never even seen another cat anywhere near our house in 12 years. We went out of town a few days and when we came back I promise you the cat had tripled in size! It was crazy. So the kids and I took her to her spay appointment the next day and had the vet check her out. Sure enough! Kittens were on the way. The kids talked me into forking over the $70 for an xray so we could see them. It was adorable!
The vet thought there were 4, the vet tech thought she saw 6 and they both thought they would arrive in a couple more weeks.
We read all the “how to” websites and came across information on helping the momma cat set up a “nest” in a private location. So, we chose our ideal location, a room that we call the parlor because the previous owners called it that, but it is really just a second living room/guest room because the couch folds out into a bed. Aaron cleared out a big plastic tub, we lined it with nice warm fluffy towels and kept taking Clara to visit the nest. Just like we read online and everything online is accurate! Have you ever had a cat? Do they ever do what you want them to do? Of course not! Why we thought we could “show” Clara where to have kittens I have no idea (foreshadowing.)
We also started up a litter box and stopped allowing Clara to go outside. We certainly didn’t want the kittens born outside! We suspect this may be how we came about owning an abandoned kitten in the first place. We came home from school a week and a half after our vet appointment to find Clara delivering kittens, not in the nest, not in the bathroom, not even on the pleather couch, nope she choose right in the middle of Ella Rose’s bed. She was delivering the last kitten when we got home. We stayed back to give her space and just peeked in the room to make sure all was well. However, Clara loves her people and she was super excited to see us. She wanted to show off her work. We gave her space and peace to finish her task and let her take care of her new babies and checked in every so often. We weren’t sure she was finished delivering yet so we waited and waited and waited. (Greer had baseball practice so Aaron took him and left me and ER to make sure the rest went well- no pressure.) Cats have been having kittens for as long as people have been recording history, so I decided the best thing I could do was not worry and wait. Ella Rose was sooooo excited! I almost had to tie her up to keep her out of there. Which is totally believable if you know our Rosie.
One thing I learned observing this beautiful circle of life (Warning: gross fact ahead) is that each kitten has its own placenta attached and the mother cat eats each placenta (it gives them vitamins and nutrients) and separates the newborn kitten by biting through the umbilical cord. I noticed after a long while that the last kitten (she had a total of five by the way) had not been cleaned up by Clara so I began to inspect and discovered the placenta and cord were wrapped around Clara’s leg and she couldn’t get to the placenta, cord or kitten. So I felt I needed to intervene. (That’s my girl! -Aaron) I brought the “nest” we had made upstairs into Ella Rose’s room and carefully moved the first four kittens to it and then unwrapped the placenta. Clara quickly took care of the rest and then cleaned up the last kitten. Then I moved the last kitten to the nest and Clara joined them inside. They happily stayed there the rest of the evening. We stripped Ella Rose’s bed and I tried to send Aaron to the store to buy birth remnants stain remover, but to my surprise no such product exists. Clean up of the mattress was later handled by a borrowed Bissell upholstery cleaner which did a fantastic job.
We thought all was well until we were awoken at 5 a.m. to a meowing cat and kittens nowhere to be found. After a pre dawn search we discovered Clara had moved the kittens to the dirty laundry hamper in our laundry room right next to where her bff dogs sleep at night. We didn’t think that was such a great idea (Homer once killed a baby chick of ours by trying to play with it) so we moved them all back to the nest and moved the nest to the parlor. However, that is not what Clara wanted and she promptly moved them right back to the laundry basket. It was like she was telling us, “Back off! I got this!” We decided to listen this time and they have been happily hanging in the laundry hamper ever since. We now crate Homer when we’re away- temporarily. We’ve since decided this is a genius place because the dogs can be close but not actually reach the babies. It’s also right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of our home and that really is the kind of cat Clara has always been. She likes to be front and center and she likes to be involved in whatever her people are doing.
We’ve read many different opinions on the handling of kittens. Some “experts” say don’t handle them at all for a couple of weeks and some “experts” say that handling them early helps them become people friendly. We’ve settled somewhere in the middle. We have decided to listen to our own “expert”, Clara. She clearly likes it when we’re all close and admiring her work. She also seems to like it when we pick one up. We never pick them up when they are eating or when Clara is snuggling them. We watch her body cues and respond to what she is telling us. We do it carefully, in short spurts and most of the time hold the kittens in pairs to keep them feeling secure. Clearly the cat is the boss of this house!
Here is an adorable video clip of Clara feeding and cleaning her kittens. If you turn it up loud and listen carefully you can hear Ella Rose call it the “happiest day of her life.”
Although we will be spaying Clara as soon as her kittens are weaned we feel like this experience has been a classic example of a blessing in disguise. A sometimes gross, but always precious blessing.
P.S. On a related, but not really note…here is a flashback to one of our kids’ favorite YouTube videos of all time! They’ve probably watched it hundreds of times over the years. And, well, kittens have inspired a resurgence of it in our home! Enjoy!