Starry’s kittens come out swinging…

The Swing State litter is doing great! They learned how to use the litter box with minimal fuss (yay!) and are eating solid food. Getting them interested in wet food was a bit of a struggle at first. Usually after a few days of putting their faces up to the food they get the idea, but only a couple of them were really going for it. (Nevada and Georgia. They weren’t shy about eating. Something about torbies, maybe?)

Eventually (based on their weight and the amount of poop they were producing) we figured out that they were also eating the dry food and coming back to the wet after their mom, Starry Night, had her share. They just didn’t want to eat when we were ready to watch them eat. Maybe they weren’t confident about their table manners.

They’re hitting all of the usual milestones: Climbing to the top of the scratching post, sleeping as a group in the cat tree, and playing with their toys, They are a curious and playful bunch, and if they aren’t sleeping they run to the door to greet us when we enter the room.

All of these kittens are reserved.

Nevada (girl)

Michigan (girl)

Wisconsin (girl)

Georgia (girl)

Pennsylvania (girl)

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Too Much Information

Butterball is getting plump! The magic of night vision.

Too much information running through my brain
Too much information driving me insane
– The Police

Butterball is growing quickly after some concerns that he wasn’t growing fast enough at first. He wasn’t interested in formula but he’s been gaining weight  steadily for more than a week, so no worries.

Part of our concern came from using the Kitten Cams in the nest and kitten room. We originally got them to keep an eye on Lily and her kittens as she moved them around the room. She would get up to greet us every time we walked in, so the camera was useful for checking that the kittens were safe and warm without interrupting their nursing. It has proven useful since then in checking in on mothers who are about to give birth.

After Butterball was born and  we watched the camera in Sara’s nest we (okay, I) became worried that she wasn’t spending enough time with her baby. It seemed that every other time I checked the cameras he would be alone and Sara would be just outside the nest or on the other side of the room. I wondered why she wasn’t with her kitten constantly except to eat and use the litter box.

In the end we realized that before the cameras we weren’t with the mothers 24/7 (we’d just check on them every hour or two or when we woke up at night), so we had nothing to which we could compare this experience. We had no idea exactly how much time other mothers were spending in or out of the nest relative to Sara. Also, with a singleton there just wasn’t as much nursing going on so she probably didn’t need to be there all the time. Other mothers with more babies were probably in the nest more because all of the kittens weren’t nursing at once, or the kittens were tag-teaming her teats.

So, all in all, we were probably worrying too much about nothing. Certainly, it’s better to be safe than sorry, but the next time we use the cameras I’ll try to be a little less obsessive.

This kitten is reserved.

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One for Queen Sara Saturday… “Nice placenta!”

About a minute after birth. After she gave birth. Not afterbirth. Ew.

Queen Sara Saturday gave birth to a single kitten yesterday afternoon. She was a few days late so we were a little worried and considering a caesarean section, but she did it all on her own!

The kitten is very active, squeaky, and is very good at nursing. We’re calling him or her Butterball since he was born the day before Thanksgiving. (For the purposes of this post I’ll call Butterball “him” but we may change that determination when things develop more fully.)

Sometimes Butterball wanders away  from Sara to a different part of the nest and starts squeaking  to find her. Rather than get him, Sara growls in response. Squeak. Growl. Squeak. Growl. It’s a game of Marco Polo until he gets close enough for her to put out a paw and pull him close.

We originally didn’t even know Sara was pregnant.  We put Sara and Max together on a date, and she was certainly interested, but Max seemed to be having geometry problems and couldn’t find the right angle. (Watching cats mate has to be the weirdest part of this whole thing). After a day without success we decided to try again the next time she was in heat. And maybe send Max back to sex education class in the interim.

Well, apparently they figured it out at least once because a month later we noticed Sara getting a bit of a belly. An X-ray last week confirmed it. One kitten!

I had to be in the office yesterday, but both Marie and I were keeping an eye on the Kitten Cam in the nest. Sara had decided to hang out there so we knew she might be close. Here is how it went down:

Real time commentary

I’ll have to put “Nice placenta!” in my book of Phrases I Never Thought I’d Say If You Asked Me Twenty Years Ago. In my defense, it was a really nice placenta, as placentas go.

We’ll get some better pictures when Sara will allows us (she growls when we handle the kitten to weigh him).  But in the meantime, here’s a cool night vision picture. Sara and Butterball are in the bedroom with us, and when they wake us up with a squeak or a growl it’s nice to be able to see what is going on without bothering them.

This kitten is reserved.

Night vision! Butterball is nursing, of course.

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Squeaky Kittens

Little sausages

A few days after her kittens we born, Starry Night decided to start moving her kittens onto our bed. Well, it’s better than under the bed. Most likely she wanted to be close to us but didn’t want to leave her babies behind.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the safest place for kittens, so we had to move Starry, her kittens, and the nest to the “kitten room” just off of the bedroom sooner than planned. Luckily, we anticipated that something like this might happen so we had the room sanitized and ready to go.  Do this for more than ten years and you learn a few things, I guess.

A few days later one of the kittens (the red and white boy) started to lose weight, and despite our best efforts (he  was insistent that he did not want formula) he passed away.

The remaining five kittens are getting plump! We think they are all girls. Twice a day we weigh them to keep track of their progress. They don’t like it and they make their displeasure known in no uncertain terms, with loud squeaking! Starry is curious about what we’re doing but doesn’t seem to mind us touching her kittens on occasion. It doesn’t hurt that we bring her wet food when we weigh the kittens, so she might be a little distracted.

All of these kittens are reserved.

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Timing is everything

Quickly, while Starry is distracted… pictures!

Starry Night gave birth to six beautiful kittens last night (and early morning). In the evening we started making dinner and when we checked on Starry it seemed like she was starting to go into labor. Dinner Abort! (Later we got to eat some carrot cake Marie made earlier in the day as part of our “dinner.” Oh, the sacrifices we make for our mamas!).

We hung out with her but it wasn’t several hours later that she started to push out kittens (almost every fifteen minutes, like clockwork). The only exception was a particularly eager kitten that popped out while we were weighing the previous one. Hey, there’s an extra kitten here…

Night vision view of contented mama.

Starry is a very attentive mother and is doing a great job of keeping the kittens close without letting them get under or behind her. She’s good that way. Also, with some mothers we have to trim some fur near the nipples to make them easier for the kittens to find. Starry actually groomed around her nipples in the days before she gave birth so they exposed. It’s actually quite the nippleriffic site when she shows you her belly.

A couple of the kittens are on the small side but they are eating almost constantly and made great gains over the first twelve hours, so we’re hopeful. They are all very energetic and move around a lot, even when nursing.

Buster, the father, on the advice of counsel had no comment due to the pending paternity lawsuit.

All of these kittens are reserved. 


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They’ve got faith of the heart

Lily’s litter has been doing very well! Since our last post about them they quickly progressed from needing formula (because Lily wasn’t giving them all quite enough milk) to eating solid food. They’re growing fast, climbing over everything, and run to greet us when we come in the room.

Thankfully, they all adapted to the using the litter box very quickly.

We put velcro collars on the three red-silver boys because we had a hard time telling them apart. As they’ve gotten older we’ve figured out which markings differentiate them, but we’ll leaving he collars for now, just to be sure.

Around when they were born we had just finished up a Star Trek: Enterprise rewatch. Since there are seven main characters and there are seven kittens in this litter, it worked out perfectly.

All of these kittens are reserved.

Jonathan Archer (boy)

T’Pol (girl)

Trip Tucker (boy)

Malcolm Reed (boy)

Travis Mayweather (boy)

Hoshi Sato (girl)

Phlox (boy)

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Goodbye, Gizmo

She loved to drink out of the faucet.

Our beloved Gizmo passed away in Marie’s arms today at the age of fifteen.

Gizmo was the matriarch of the cattery and the mother of our first litter. Her lines are still active in our cattery via Starry Night (her great, great granddaughter).

She was a wonderful mother to her kittens (her daughter, Blush, is still with us) but she made it known with teeth and claws that she did NOT want to be a show cat (or get a show bath!). But if you didn’t try to show or wash her she was the sweetest cat you’d ever meet. She had to get her daily time in Marie’s lap, no excuses.

Gizmo had the face of a grumpy cat (before there was a Grumpy Cat)  and huge walrus-style whiskers that would have made her look distinguished if she wasn’t a girl. Her fur was so thick that you could brush her out daily and get a Munchkin-sized pile of fur out of her, day after day.

She had some health problems in the past year, but right up until the last day or so she was still playful, carrying around a toy mouse and making “Giz noises,” proudly displaying her prey.

Pretty girl, She’s preggers in this picture.

Gizmo was a great at cuddling

Gizmo was a very chill kitten.

She looked grumpy, but she wasn’t.

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Nums in your tums


Lily’s kittens continue to progress and are doing very well with their supplemental feedings. We haven’t had to help out many mamas like this over the years, and certainly not ones this big, so we’re learning a lot!

We feed the kittens on a schedule, but you never know if any of them just finished eating from Lily’s milk bar, so it’s a roll of the dice whether each kitten will be interested or not.  Some or more consistent than others. The blue boy, the torbie girl, and one of the reds (it varies which one) are almost always ready to chow down. The black and white girl and the silver boy are usually not hungry, but sometimes they can’t get enough.

It’s the same thing with weights. We weight the kittens twice a day to check their progress. Often some will have huge gains only to lose some of it at the next weigh-in. This is probably because they were weighed right after Lily fed them.  You never know. The rule of thumb is that if there are two losses in a row that you should take a closer look, but otherwise as long as the trend consistently up things are fine.

Meanwhile, the kittens are walking, mostly. They started out with the usual walk-swim where they walk with their front feet and drag their legs behind them, but now are starting to use all four feet and have begone to explore. They wandered off into the corner where the radio cabinet used to be, behind the stand-up mirror. This seems to be the new official nest location.

All of these kittens are reserved.

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Tales from beneath the radio cabinet

Dinner time!

Two weeks on Lily’s kittens are doing well, but she’s making us work for it!

First, we decided to see if we could convince Lily to move into a proper nest instead of keeping the kittens under the antique radio cabinet. Thinking maybe it was the location, we moved the radio cabinet and put the nest where it was, and placed the kittens inside. No go. She moved herself under the radio cabinet but didn’t take the kittens with her. So we moved the kittens under there with her.

Next we thought, “Well, if she insist on being there, let’s put the cabinet inside a big nest so at least the kittens aren’t right on the floor.” We kept putting fleece under her but she would push it away.  We constructed a big cardboard nest with low sides and lifted the radio cabinet into it. Of course, she had no interest in going inside, even though her kittens were there.

What Lily wants, Lily gets. She just wants to be right on the floor, under the radio cabinet. So all we can do is keep the heating pad there, keep the room warm, and check on them often. Maybe we’ll re-arrange things for future litters so that the radio cabinet isn’t in that room anymore. The nest or nothing!

Meanwhile the kittens were growing, but not as fast as they should, and a couple were lagging behind the others. We checked Lily’s teats and everything was functioning, so we surmised that she wasn’t producing quite enough milk for everyone and the smaller ones were getting pushed out of the way. We began feeding the kittens formula four times a day to supplement and it now they are growing well! The smaller ones are not as interested in the formula as the larger ones, but they still seem to be benefiting. Maybe they’re getting more nipple time because the larger ones are satisfied.

Whatever the reason, it seems to be working so we’ll probably keep it up until they are eating solid food.

All of these kittens are reserved.

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Sitting for their portraits

As you know, we take a lot of pictures of kittens for posts like these. It’s usually pretty difficult to get them to stay still, look at the camera, or generally cooperate.

Not Pixel’s kittens! Once they got into a pose they just kind of stayed there. They were just very chill. It was actually difficult to get them to pose differently. This is especially surprising for a litter we decided to name after famous explorers.  At an early age they would just wander away from Pixel (who refused to keep them in a nest) and drive her (and us) crazy. We expected this photography session to be rather kinetic, but they just rolled with it.  But we’re sticking with Explorers because “Famously Laid-Back People” just doesn’t sound appealing.

All of these kittens are reserved. 

Amelia Earhart (girl)

Marco Polo (boy)

Ferdinand Magellan (boy)

James Cook (boy)

Sir Francis Drake (boy)

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