We have babies! Do you know that song in the commercial, “We are farmers!”? I sing it to that tune: “We have babies!”. Six of them! All healthy and suckling at mom’s teets! The first thing I did this morning was check the cat cam. I was awake at 5 am and woke Wim up, saying: “We have babies! We have 6 tiny babies!!” We can’t believe it… SIX! That is a big number, especially for such a tiny cat! So I was right about the contractions last night!
Looking back, this explains the previous days’ unrest… I checked the cat cam. We have most of the deliveries on video. Not, as I had expected, in full view via the cat cam in the Nest, but right in front of it. Exactly in the place where I put the heatpad under a blankie yesterday, on instinct. It might have helped with labouring pains… I can see some blood on it, but nothing too grimy. The video is in Infrared, so, black and white, which is probably good when it comes to deliverey, what with all the blood and other colourfull tissues of afterbirth and umbilical cord…
The first 2 kittens are bigger and have darker coats. Number 1 even looks pretty much black or a very dark shade of brown, with just hints of striped markings on the legs. I suspect they are male and the offspring of the meowing male we have seen a couple of times in our yard. Both are born within half an hour.
Then there is a pause in the action for a good hour, before number 3 is born. This is a smaller tabby kitten with wide stripes and markings. It is followed, after 15 minutes, by numbers 4 and 5, that look like tabby-twins.
Thirty minutes later number 6 arrives, close to midnight. Another kitten that looks to be largely black or very dark brown. It is a small kitten and the only one that comes out with the birthing sack still in tact. It is a much smaller creature than the other ones.
The cat cam makes them look bigger than they actually are – their heads are smaller than Mitsy’s feet. Except for the two first borns, those look monstrously big by comparison!
One of the smaller kittens quickly earns a name: Drake for short, Count Drakula for long. Or, when this is a female, Vampie, short for Vampire. Or perhaps a more European sounding version: Femke or Famke… Why?
Because it holds on to Mitsy like a bat from hell. Little dark claws and feet and determined to stay connected to the tit.
Even when Mitsy walks off, it holds on for dear life. The other kittens are in the box, but this one, with trembling legs, is trying to stand and walk and be with mom. I think she might be the Bambino. Not sure. There are 2 small dark ones and 2 grey ones of normal size and then the two giants… they make sure they get their milk and I think they will turn out to be as big as the suspected father who has some Norwegian Bush-cat or Maine Coone in him, if my guesses are right.
Late afternoon post script
Well, it has been quite the day!
Our new little family is settling in nicely, but it is very clear that the two big first arrivals are tyrants! They terrorise the tits!
An hour ago or so I helped 2 kittens that got stuck outside the carrier to get back in. They were just lying there, on the heated blankie and not moving. I read about that: six is an awful lot of kittens for a single mom and sometimes the ones that are not on the ball right away will be left to die. I also read that, when you use a heating pad, the kittens may think they are near their mother. And that they are not triggered to go look for her because of that warmth. I am not sure that this is what was going on, but I decided to interfere.
I manoevred a thin metal rod under the blanket and used it as leverage to move them. It happened right under Mitsy’s nose and she had no idea that I was doing it. The rod lifted them up and helped them to get back into the Nest. And it did not take them long to find food! One of the cat cams captured my action, so have a look at the video below. 🙂
The basement was pretty frigid, I thought, in the past few days. We are having lousy weather, so it is not warming up much. I switched on a small heater to make it more comfortable in there. If the kittens had been born in the Nest it would be different. Mom would be able to keep them warm. But they are right there, in front of the Nest, out in the open. It is a lot warmer in there now – I opened the side window for 30 minutes for some fresh air.
For tonight all that remains is seeing if we can get her a fresh bowl of water, but that is not the priority. She is drinking a lot of water, which is good for her milk. All food and water can be refilled from the outside with our home-made feeding system, so no sweat. If I cannot get at the litter box, I will just add a bit to it, to lessen the smell.
She looks relaxed and frankly, quite tired. When the kittens are fighting for the teets, she pays no attention to it unless it gets too loud. Their sounds remind me of those squeaky toys that they sell in the pet store.
I barely got work done today but that is OK.
Here is the full birthing video. It’s 2.5 hours long, the full process lasted from 8:30pm to just before midnight.