Update 1/20/19: Well, we finally got the results back from the New Hampshire Lab (they were really backed up over the holidays). The kittens died from sepsis resulting from an infection. The lab’s theory is that Tribble’s uterus opened early, allowing something in and they were infected in the womb.
The good news is that means Tribble is still okay for breeding. We can also start giving our mamas antibiotics starting ten days before delivery in order to mitigate something like this in the future. We aren’t in love with the idea of medicating a mother unless it’s necessary, but we’re even less in love with losing kittens this way again.
Update 11/17/18: None of Tribble’s kittens have survived. Two more died the next day, but one held on for another week. The last kitten did not make much progress despite supplemental feedings.
We’re awaiting the results of a necropsy on one of the kittens from the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab before we make any decisions on Tribble’s status as mother of future litters. We had already decided to retire Diggy to make space for Max when he is an adult.
Tribble gave birth to seven kittens this weekend. Unfortunately only three have survived. The three kittens are very good eaters and are very mobile. Tribble is being a very attentive first-time mama and will even hold off on eating a bowl of fresh food if the little ones are nursing.
That said, this was probably the hardest and most stressful delivery we’ve had in over ten years of breeding. Tribble gave birth to her first kitten late Saturday morning and her second one an hour later. That’s a little slow for us, but not unheard of. Four hours later we still hadn’t seen a third kitten (even after a shot of Oxytocin) so off to the vet we went. The x-rays confirmed that everything looked fine and another kitten was on the way. The third one came out at the vet and it looked like smooth sailing from there.
A fourth kitten arrived a few hours later, but there was no activity the rest of the night. At this point we were only a little concerned because it was obvious that Tribble is a girl who takes her time delivering. In fact, other breeders have told us stories of girls who took two days to deliver their litters. We set regular alarms through the night so we could check on Tribble’s progress and tried to sleep.
Finally, a little after 6:00AM out came three kittens in quick succession. Two were stillborn and the last one (a surprise, we were only expecting six) was small but lively.
We thought that was the end of it. Five kittens! But over the course of the morning two of the kittens that were born earlier died.
The remaining three kittens (including the smallest) are doing great and we’re obviously keeping an even closer eye than usual on their progress.
We don’t know how other catteries handle communicating about these things. We’ve always felt it was important to be up front about how this works, and sometimes that means talking about bad news. Things like this happen no matter how many heart tests and genetic tests we do, especially with a boy and girl who haven’t been together before: You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously we hope that these three kittens will grow up to be big and beautiful, but this isn’t a breeding we plan to repeat.
All of these kittens are reserved.