Twelve weeks ago I woke up at 5 am and found 6 kittens in the birthing shelter in our basement… A mere 3 days after trapping Mitsy in our backyard… Amazing how much has happened since and a bit sad that 4 of the kittens are not longer here. I wish I could say good birthday to them. I do it in my thoughts…. When they were born they were no bigger than their mother’s paws.
Our cat cams caught all 6 kittens come into the world, albeit not from the best angle. But the whole process is on film, including the contractions and the biting through of the umbilical cord and the eating of the placenta. Check older blog posts to see it all. It’s a long video but it is worth watching (it’s in Infra red so basically in black and white, so not too much goriness).
It was interesting to see that Mitsy stayed in the birthing shelter during labour, I think it was comfortable for her to be able to strain her legs against the side of the shelter (a pet carrier). But the actual births happened in front of the carrier. And that is where we found them in the morning: on the birthing blanket in front of the shelter we had named ‘the Nest’. Mitsy was still panting, probably there was some remaining pain after pushing out 6 kittens. They were born between 8:30 pm and midnight, so she already had 5 hours to get used to them. She did a stellar job! It was only later on the first day that she retreated into the shelter and that became the safe space. What a journey we have made with each other!
If there is anything this project is teaching me it is to live in today’s day. Nevertheless, many people ask us what our plans are for Mitsy and the two remaining kittens. Tough question.
We have a resident rescue cat with fragile health and that makes integrating another adult cat in the household complex. It needs to be done gradually and experience has shown that two females may not be able to become friends that easily. The complicating factor of course is that Mitsy, although she has come a long way, is not your average domesticated cat. She has lived outside, probably for most of her 2 years, and is cautious with people, even if she now trusts us in large part. She will retreat rather than attack when she is nervous, and lifting her up or carrying her therefore is not something I dare to undertake right now. It is not required either. But it does mean I have limited control over her, should she go somewhere in the house where I do not want her.
Wim is currently involved in a big project, so the care of the cats lies on my shoulders for the coming two weeks. I am not going to do any big experiments other than keeping the door of the catroom open at regular intervals. The babydoor in place; a second one at the end of the landing; and a third one at the top of the stairs. Catcams on all of these ‘intersections’ so I will know if a barrier is crossed, while working in my upstairs office. My idea to get control back should Mitsy jump all three fences is simple: switch on the vacuum cleaner downstairs. It’s a loud device that she is still afraid of and I think she is smart enough to know to get herself back to the cat room pronto when she hears it. It does not seem that she interesting in leaving the room, though. She happily sleeps in the window, looks at the street and the people and animals passing.
The kittens at this time only know their mother, no other cats. I think they can smell Suzi, and they may have seen glimpses of each other a few times, while Mitsy was eating and Suzi sauntered onto the landing. Babydoor in between for safety. I am not sure Mitsy saw her, I think we would have known, for sure she would be protective and would have hissed, at the very least. Such is my expectation.
Looking for an experienced foster for Mitsy
So, coming back to the questions: Mitsy is a cat that requires an environment that offers her safety, routine and lots of patience. She only trusts us, at the moment. But we would love to find her a home like ours, with an experienced foster that can continue the process of socialisation.
Help and suggestions welcome…
If you have suggestions for a good future home for Mitsy, please do contact us using the contact form on this website. Our perfect foster is caring, patient, has appropriate space. No kids or dogs. Other cats might work, but no cats would be better. It would make it easier to bond with Mitsy. Our preference would be to make her an inside cat. She enjoys watching through the window, but up to now we do not have the impression that she is desperate to go outdoors. This might change once she is the only cat around and after she has been spayed.
Another option is to find a barnyard situation where she is fed and cared for, but allowed to go outdoors after an initial adjusting period. In this scenario she could even be placed with her two kittens although we believe they would do really well in a lovely family as well.
Fostering and adoption will require an application via Ninth Life Cat Rescue Ontario but feel free to contact us directly and we will refer you.
Sipke and Stipke are closely bonded, so for them we will be looking for new adoptive ‘parents’. They are probably normal size for their age. The other 4 are a lot bigger, taking after their father (a long-haired type of Norwegian Bushcat housecat that is not fixed (unfortunately) and allowed to roam freely in suburbia). Both of them are tabbies, Sipke is a girl, Stipke is a boy. They are very lively and they talk a lot. No, really. They welcome us with a small tinkling sound that they also make when they run to their mother. And sometimes they try to meow. It is adorable. They will develop into great mouse hunters, I think. I am hoping to find new ‘parents’ for them by the end of this month. That will also be the time to have Mitsy spayed and move her to another foster address.
But, as I said: we live in today, because there may be other things in store for them. We won’t be able to keep them indefinitely, but with the good-bye of the others being so painful to both Wim and I, we don’t mind having them around and trying to integrate them in our 1 cat household. Who knows what will happen…
It has now been a week that their 4 siblings have moved out to the Adoption Centre. I hope to soon hear how they are doing. I don’t have the courage to go see them. Or do I? If they don’t remember me it will be good for them but maybe a bit sad for me. If they do recognise me, it might give them the idea that I am coming to take them home. And I don’t want to do that to them. I might go to the Adoption Centre and just take a peep. Not sure. It is a bit of a catch 22. As a first-time foster I am not sure what to do and a saying from my home country says: when in doubt, don’t do it. Stay still and wait. So that is what I will probably do.
Mitsy is looking really good right now. Right before we split the litter, she looked tired and whatever she ate, was metabolised immediately. She did not have a single moment of peace or privacy. If she was not being assaulted into nursing, the kittens bumped into and onto her in wild play. There was no escape. But now I can see that she actually has a bit of a round stomach and sleeps alone for long hours. She calls the kittens to come nursing a couple of times a day. It happens on her terms. Never long, maybe 5 minutes of drinking. And then she simply rolls over or walks away, leaving the kittens happy an full with milk. When I pat Mitsy, there still is not a gram of fat on her bones. But there is a healthy glow on her coat. Both Wim and I get the feeling that she has grown a bit, is higher on her feet. It is possible, she still is young. We have been feeding her the good stuff since early March of this year, so who knows, she might still have some growth in her. We have only ever known her pregnant, really, so she now is a new cat coming into her own. Or it might simply be that she walks with more confidence, more upright.
The kittens are now a bit higher on their feet, and do a lot of sleeping (a.k.a. growing) between feedings. Yesterday it was a delight to play with the whole family. Mitsy does not often participate. But I found a game that she really likes. I push a stick-toy in between the two trays on the ground so that she can see it move, but cannot get at it. This really exposes her hunting instincts. The trays belong to the big crates we used in the beginning. They are now on the ground and we have put the litter boxes and the food bowls on it for easy cleaning. There is a small space in between and I can totally imagine that this is how she would hunt a mouse that is trying to get away. No chance in hell, is what I think. All three of them are developing into good hunters. Quick and smart. I think we played for almost an hour, which is a first. They say that unhappy cats (or cats that do not know that they are cats) do not play. So Mitsy must be feeling good.
One of the little ones has developed a fascination with the contraption I have built to keep them away from the window and the screen. Slightly worrying. Luckily there is not much to see but today Stipke (I think) was hanging onto it again, so I sprayed some water in his direction to chase him off. It worked. For as long as it works… Let’s hope that it is a temporary fixation because if he preservers it means I won’t be able to have the window open unless I am in the vicinity.
I read this article in a magazine we get through our cat insurance; it was talking about raising kittens and how to get them used to ‘the world’. It described the process of introducing the vacuum cleaner as if they saw me do it. So that’s good. They also suggested to switch on a radio, first at low volume, so that they hear new sounds. I still have an old radio and to my surprise it still works.
Nothing much to report otherwise…