Hand-raising 8 kittens…

When I look at them now at 10 weeks, I cannot believe that I’ve really done it. They look and act like any other kitten – shiny coats, nice and sturdy bodies, playing, purring etc.

But let me start at the beginning. On the 25th of May we took mom Twiggy to the vet for a caesarean. She had a lot of growths and the vet decided to spay her as well. Maybe the operation was too much – she was long “under” She wouldn’t eat or drink and Lallie ( hubby) and I had to force feed. The next day we took her back to the vet but she sadly passed away a day later – kidney failure. We were devastated!

Now I had eight babies to raise. It meant feeding them every 2½ hours and of course doing the bottoms as well. The whole expedition took an hour to complete and the clean-up ( syringe, teats, swabs etc) another half hour! For the first couple of weeks that was all I did. I never left the house. Lallie did all the shopping and even had to go alone when his sister invited us for lunch in Hermanus.

By the fourth week I managed to skip the night feed and they were on five feeds 7 am – 11 am – 3 pm – 7 pm and 11 pm. Now it became easier and I didn’t feel like a zombie during the day any more. I also started giving them baby porridge. Everything went very well and the kittens were very good. They seldom cried and I had to wake them for their feeds.

The only problem was that they were a bit constipated. We decided to take them to the vet for a thorough check up and also for de-worming. Each had to have an enema and that helped a lot.

At five weeks they started on solids and also began nibbling on kitten pellets. And drinking milk out of a saucer!!!!! I was over the moon.

To hand rear a litter is off course no joke and I have the utmost respect for a female cat with kittens. But it has a lot of compensations. The kittens are so used to be handled from the start that they become very friendly towards humans. One of the characteristics of the Burmese breed is that they love people. With a hand reared litter is so much so. Whenever I came into the nursery all of them jumped up to greet me purring their little heads off. These kittens were also not so naughty and mischievous than previous litters. Their toys had a longer lifetime and even the house plants survived. No curtain climbing at all! A strange thing for me was that not one of our other girls took any notice of them. I pleaded, warned, begged. If only one of them could lie with them. But was no use. When they saw one of the kittens they spit and growled at them. I thought that maybe the girls would take to them when they are older, but no luck. No one accepted them or helped in any way!

I keep thinking how proud Twiggy would have been of her bonny babies – six girls and two boys- six brown and two blue kittens. Some of them the split image of their mother. I am so grateful that all of them have made it and will always be thankful that I was given the opportunity to try to save their lives.