Mitsy’s spaying has gone well and she is now recuperating at home in the cat room. She is resting quietly most of the time, but when she is awake, the cone is really in her way. That was to be expected. She is also quite restless, especially when we are not with her and we think this is because she is looking for the twins…
Stipke and Sipke have arrived at the Adoption Center in Burlington, at Pet Smart on Brant. They are doing well, still a bit nervous adjusting to their new condo, but that was to be expected. It was sad having to say good bye to them, but because it happened on the same day as Mitsy’s spaying it was very different from the first 4 kittens. It is as if you have to divide your feeling between the twins and their mom. Their mom needs out attention most, right now. We are sure that the twins will charm their way into many hearts as we speak, so I worry less about them. Still don’t like the idea of them being in a store but the whole objective of this project was to get them all off the streets and give them a loving home and a bright future. I think we succeeded!
A new cuddly Mitsy
When we went to the vet to pick Mitsy up, we were flabbergasted to hear that she was very easy to handle for the vet technicians. Wow. I think we can stop referring to her as a semi-feral cat. I think she is well on her way to have more trust in humans and be a, well, indoor housecat! Isn’t that fantastic?
Once home, she stumbled out of the carrier and was of course fighting the cone and getting used to navigating the room with it. But she was extremely interested in cuddles and attention and she was hungry as well. Not so much in solid food, but the kitten milk went down well. And that is just perfect. It had a lot of nutrients and it brings hydration. She had a good cup full of it and after that jumped on the window bench and installed herself there for the night. We were as exhausted as she was, so it was an early night. We both woke up often, checked the cat cams, but all seemed well.
Yesterday was her first full day back and we let her sleep as much as possible. Every 2-3 hours we fed her some kitten replacement milk and at noon she got her first dose of painkiller (Metacam). This is not a remedy that makes her drowsy and in a way I regret that. When our resident cat Suzi had all of her teeth pulled because of a very painful condition called stomatitis) she got an opium based painkiller, that basically knocked her out. It took away all pain, so that, despite the dental surgery, she was able and willing to eat. And that is what vets like to keep these painkillers for: for the more painful surgeries.
Well, as a fellow female I understand that, but I am not so sure that there is no pain involved in a ovariohysterectomy: the removal of not just the uterus but the ovaries as well. The incision is a good hand long but it has been stitched up on the inside, no loose hands hanging out. Because Mitsy had kittens, we don’t really see the incision – her teets sort of hang over it. But from what we can see, it all looks clean, not swollen or red. So her recovery seems to be progressing nicely. Her eyes and nose are clear and when she wants out of the room to look for her kittens she even meows quite normally. Considering that (I think) she was intubated for surgery I think that is very positive.
About cones and feeding dishes:
Vets, there is big business here! Do something!
She is not interested in wet food at all, nor in the juice of it. Besides the milk she does eat kibble though and she has now found the water bowls as well. We thought that our raised feeding bowls were good with her cone, but it turns out they are not. After some improv I have now ordered two other raised feeding bowls. I don’t understand that vets don’t carry stuff like that. There is money in those things (if it turns out they work). There is also money in the cone-business I would say.
I think that the cone is mainly a pain in the neck (pun intended) because the cat cannot see its surroundings. I was leafing through old photographs and found the ones with Sammy, one of the cats I had when I lived in Australia in a previous life. To my astonishment her cone after spaying was completely transparent! The vet put it on her after surgery. Why is that not the default on this continent? I think it would be easier for the cat to deal with if her vision was not impacted. It would still be uncomfortable that she cannot groom herself, especially after coming off the litter box, but it would minimise her discomfort by 50% is my guess. The old photos below also show that the incision was a lot smaller, with visible stitches. How times change… Maybe this was a laparoscopic operation?
Anyway, it is what it is for now, but if I ever run into those transparent ones, I will stock up!
At night Mitsy gets restless and I still think it is because she does not understand where the kittens are. Much is written about a cat’s memory and much of it is contradictory. In general, I read that cats have good memory, but it is trigger mostly by scents and specific circumstances, rather than by emotion. And that makes sense to me. Cats live in today’s day and accept whatever is going on. They are much better at surrender that humans are. Lots to learn from that, I may have mentioned that in previous postings. If a cat lived with a foster family from its earliest moment, and if the foster family had a clear routine and pattern to the day, then that experience is stored in the long-term memory. The cat will not forget about it, but it will also not dwell on it when circumstances change. If there is a close connection between one owner and a cat, there can be serious grief when that connection is broken. The routine is no longer there and the cat feels lost.
The one time in my life when I had to rehome 2 of my cats, the one I was closest to did not deal with it well. In fact, she only survived for 2 months and then died. I think she died from grief in my heart of hearts and it still makes me very sad. It seems Mitsy is now bonded with both of us, each for our own specific actions and character. I cannot imagine surrender her to somebody else. I still am her foster, but if things go well with our resident cat Suzi, we will keep her, that is for damn sure! I don’t think she is the type of cat that will do well with yet another change in her life. Although, maybe I am over-humanising things. It is just how I feel, though. It still makes us wonder about her past.
Philosophising about Mitsy’s history
We philosophise about the possibilities. It is a totally hypothetical exercise because the simple truth is that we will just never know… But just for the fun of it, here are our thoughts…
Cats can get pregnant at the early age of 6 months and male cats can become sexually active even earlier. Cats with a litter can also get pregnant again before the kittens are weaned… All good reasons to have them spayed and neutered no later than at 6 months of age. If a cat is pregnant and you don’t see yourself caring for the litter, they can still be spayed if the pregnancy is early. This will make for a more intrusive surgery with a longer recovery time, but it is still better than chucking the cat out of the home and forcing them to live in the not so great outdoors.
A cat pregnancy takes roughly 2 months. We first noticed Mitsy in March 2021, when she was pregnant with the litter we never saw. So if she was a precocious cat, she was born at the earliest in mid summer of 2020. She did not look like such a young cat to us. In fact, we found her a savvy outdoor cat, that was already cautious with people, but definitely also recognised them as a source of food and shelter. So it is more likely she was born in early 2020 or in 2019. That makes her a Covid cat. And it makes us think she was born in a human home.
The rescue vet thinks that Mitsy is roughly 2 years old so her last name indeed is Covid.
If her owners allowed her to go outside, she could have escaped without being able to find her way back home at as early an age of 3 weeks. Looking at how small our kittens were at that age, it is almost unthinkable. But literature about cat development tells us that the mother cat already regularly leaves the kittens to their own devices at that age and that by 6 weeks of age, they fend for themselves. This, of course, is a scenario that is most true for kittens born outside to a feral or stray mother.
The other possibility is that she was born and bred in a human home and that her owner was not pleased when she turned up pregnant. And decided to leave her to her own devices. We have seen that she had an interest in our basement windows. They were never open, because of the risk of pests such as mice. But it makes us think that it is possible she lived in someone’s basement. With or without being fed.
Or it is possible that her owner moved and she got lost. We posted her image on multiple websites for lost pets, but never got any feedback. The fact that she was not micro-chipped either suggests that she was no longer welcome at her owner’s house.
You never know other people’s circumstances
On bad days, a lot of these scenarios make me feel angry at whomever it was that ‘cared’ for her in her early years. But of course we do not know the circumstances. Maybe her owner has in fact looked for her. Or maybe her owner passed away. Or had to move to a home or hospital, with nobody to care for her. Maybe the owner got pregnant and did not trust a cat with the baby… Or was not able to financially cope with lots of kittens… You just never know what goes on in other people’s life, I realise that. And not everyone is a crazy cat lady like myself… All I can hope is that people who are in circumstances like that, find their way to a rescue organisation such as Ninth Life Cat Rescue Ontario, that will take in any cat so that it does not end up living on the streets.
During her current recovery we can see that she is very different from other neighbourhood cats and strays, in that she has reached out to us from the very beginning, as opposed of us just trapping a random stray. Wim and I both remember the deliberate eye contact she made, when she first came begging for food. Looking right at us, climbing the back yard steps…
Now that we have seen her roaming our house in the weeks preceding her spaying, we know that stairs are not new to her. She walks around quite confidently. When she was in our kitchen, we were both wondering if she remembered the sliding doors to the yard. Just to see what would happen, there was a moment where I opened and closed them as she was watching. The sound of those doors used to be her trigger to come and eat her food on the terrace. It for sure awakened a memory in her and she took off quickly, back to the cat room! So the indoors life seems to agree with her. She likes looking out of the window but has never so much as looked at the part of the window that is opened, with the screen in place.
The power of music
And as a final note, here is another fun fact about Mitsy. She loves singing and music! It is really quite adorable. I sing a nursery rhyme and within seconds she settles down, starts to purr and falls asleep. Of course, I cannot stay in her room hour after hour so today I set up one of our mobile devices with a bluetooth speaker and this is now on a YouTube channel with baby nursery songs. And it works! Mitsy sleeps like a baby and we can sneak out of the room! It really is a vast contrast with her unrest. Literature says that mother cats do miss their kittens, but that this is less as they get older and are weaned. Our twin babies were technically weaned, but they did still nurse on and off with Mitsy, for comfort, I think. It did not look like she was still lactating, but who knows? The music seems to put her at ease and that is what counts. And now we don’t have to rely on just my voice although I still sing to her. My sister had a career as a singer/composer in Europe, and we share the musical genes. I have never used them as a career, but I am happy that they help Mitsy!
And just as a by the way… I finally took some time to clean the basement. I now have my studio space back but it feels really weird. No cats to be seen everywhere, everything organised and clean… It is like a new world… Inspiration is not here yet… first I need my last two kittens to be adopted and Mitsy recovered and do well in the same household with Suzi… What do you mean, I am putting conditions to my art and happiness…? 🙂