After the adventurous day yesterday, today Stipke was not doing so well. Mitsy has been weaning the twins for two weeks now and the last few days things got serious. She would allow the twins maybe a minute of nursing (if that) but then she either got up and left or chased them off. It is a natural process that most kittens adjust to pretty quickly. Not that they agree with mom’s decision…
Nursing is not just for food, it is also for comfort and a confirmation of the bond between all members of the litter. Of the two twins, Sipke, the male, knows how to take care of himself. He simply takes over when he wants to nurse, or to eat, for that matter. Stipke (in the background of the image below), the smaller twin, is more reserved and for her the transition into solid foods only, without mother’s milk, is harder. In this picture she has a look on her face that reminds me of her sister Cheetah, by the way!
I don’t know when it happened, but this morning I discovered that she puked up some fluff from the cat’s play tree.
Cat tongues have spikes on them, that are pointing backwards. This helps them get the food and water into their throat. It also helps with raw meat from prey. If something gets onto that tongue, half way, it is really a road without return. So if Stipke, in play, got some fluff on her tongue, all she would be able to do would be to swallow. Although the fluff from the tree is not dangerous in itself (the material is felt), it is not meant to land in the digestive system. So my thoughts are that it sat there in her stomach and caused her to be unwell.
I had attributed her poor appetite in the last couple of days to the effect of weaning. She had plenty of energy in play and looked happy enough. But she did appear hungry to me and yet she refused any kind of food. I supplemented her diet in the past few weeks with some KMR kitten milk, but today she did not want to drink that either. She licked her lips when she saw the container, sniffed the contents eagerly, but then moved away. After seeing the puke, mostly yellow bile, I made the decision to take her to our vet. She was kind enough to squeeze Stipke into her busy schedule.
She found the kitten had a bit of a temperature, but that could be related to the stress of going to the vet. (I took Sipke along for the visit, by way of moral support. He never got out of the carrier: he hissed at the vet and she decided to leave him alone – good decision. He did not need any work done anyway.) Stipke’s abdomen felt normal, but she did lose 0.3 lbs, which is a lot in a little kitten.
It is in moments like these that I wish we could communicate with cats. Our best guess was that her stomach was probably upset due to the fluff and the vomiting. Maybe produced too much acid. She got an injection to fight the excess acid and within the hour she was back home.
I gave her some time to recover. Both kittens were exhausted from all the new impressions. It was their first time flying solo. Mitsy was uninterested in them, I noticed. The kittens called out to her when they got back, but she just stayed where she was, on one of the cat tree benches.
Another sign that she is done with the nursing process. No need to feel pity for the kittens: they have had a good run with 14 weeks of nursing… Two more weeks that the other four that have now been adopted. Not many ‘in the wild’ get that much. It should make for extremely balanced and healthy cats! But Mitsy is now ready for the next stage – spaying. Good thing she is not aware of that being in her nearby future! The kittens did a nice nap and I checked on them a couple of times. I made some warm kitten milk and to my delight, after an hour or so, Stipke lapped it up eagerly. And… she ate some kitten kibble! So I think the worst is over now.
I played with them tonight, not as long and hard as normal, but they seemed to do well. Such a relief! And a confirmation that getting a kitten in the house means being aware of little things that can go wrong so easily. The cat tree is a fantastic model but maybe the six kittens wore it out a bit.
All of this makes me ready for the next step too: adopting out the twins and finding a solution for mom (see yesterday’s blog post). It will still be emotional to say good bye to all of them, but their future is bright and they will bring lots of joy to their new owners. It will be very silent in our home, by contrast…