Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kittens, Kittens, Kittens

I know, I know, it's about time for a kitten update.
They're three weeks old now.

Zoe couldn't make up her mind where she wanted to to build her kitty nest so it was fun waking up every few days to find them somewhere new.
Or, being woken up in the middle of the night:
"No Zoe, you can't keep your babies in Kim's sweater cupboard. Quick Kim, close the door when I lure her out with this crying kitten."
And realizing that cats really don't have any spatial sense as Zoe rudely wakes us up to rescue the squealing bundle she dropped into a tiny space behind Kim's bedside table before realizing that there wasn't even room in there for her, let alone 5 more kittens.

She's now made a full circuit of our bedroom, starting at the back of our closet for the first few days.
one day old

After being locked out of the sweater cupboard she found a space in the corner beside the cupboard, behind a bin which we had to move out to make enough room for them to (barely) fit.
6 days old

The morning after the midnight rescue mission we found them squeezed in behind my bedside table, which we then pulled out another foot so they wouldn't have to sleep stacked up even higher than their usual sleep-clump.
7 days old

After experimenting with trying to feed the kittens under an armchair that she could barely squeeze herself under, she finally settled on the space between that armchair and the last corner of our bedroom. We placed a box (that nice cozy one we had prepared that she kept rejecting) across the opening to enclose the space and tucked rolled-up blankets into the crack under the chair to prevent any wandering. This is where they've been for the past 2 weeks but it won't last much longer.

10 days old

Now that their eyes are open & they're walking...
Tiger-face and Number Six at 17 days old

(I'm being generous by calling it walking- they lurch, stumble, stagger & teeter around like a bunch of 4-legged little drunks, although to give them some credit, lately they haven't been falling over onto their backs quite as often) they're soon going to outgrow the nest & we'll have to try and convince their Mom to let them move downstairs into their own pad. With their own 'sand-box' to play in even!
Then Kim & I won't be woken in the night to kittens squealing "NO NO Mommy, I don't WANT a bath right now". She pins them down & washes them so vigorously we can hear her tongue rasping across their fat little bellies from across the room.

Here are some newly-open eyes:

This is Number Five but since he opened his eyes we've taken to referring to him as "the little bear cub" Not one white hair on him. (that's someone else in the bottom corner)

Here's Tiger peeking out from under the pile of his sleeping siblings. 12 days old and still half asleep

11-day-old Tiger-face.

Before you think "OMG they are SO pathetic at coming up with names" I should explain that Shea won't let us name them because we won't be their final home (except for the one we keep, which I will choose... some time... later... I have lots of time to decide so stop bugging me) so we call them by descriptions, or their birth order.

Silver and Number Six at 12 days.
Silver, who was first born (first to do everything, that rascal) was first to open his eyes and Number Six was last, still not fully open here.

The only one missing from this line-up is Mittens, aka The Squealer.
Before the kittens were born Shea said that if one of them had white front paws like Zoe we would have to call it Mittens, so there you go.
We could have come up with something more interesting if one of them had had tall white "stripper boots" on his back legs like Mom. (I mean the kittens' Mom, not my Mom)

Oh, and we still don't know who's a boy and who's a girl.
I've tried, but I can't tell the difference between an "exclamation mark" and a "semi-colon".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cuteness Overload Alert

I certainly didn't intend this blog to be "all kittens, all the time" but certain out-of-town family members have already been clamouring for kitty pics so I'm giving advance warning that it may be just that for the next little while.

Monday March 8th, 7:30 am. (there, now I have a record of the date)
"Shea, get up or you'll be late for school"
"I am, but Mom, come here."
"OK, what is it?" (which excuse this time?)
"Just look in the closet."

There was our Zoe on the floor of Shea's closet with two soggy little mice-like creatures nuzzling up to her.
I'd been telling her all weekend she better hurry those kittens along because I was starting a new job on Tuesday & I'm sure she wouldn't want to have them alone. At least someone still listens to my advice.
I checked around her just in case there were any more and my heart sunk when I found a 3rd bundle, still encased in its placenta. Poor Zoe, so overwhelmed she missed this poor little lost one.
Then it moved.
I quickly ripped open the sac and put it in front of its Mama.
"Quick Zoe, those two are clean enough for now, this one needs your attention."
She licked and loved that little one back to life. Another black kitten.

Once that crisis had passed this new family needed something more comfortable than the floor so I brought up the cozy box we had prepared for them. Now how best to transfer them? Of course, move the babies & Mom will quickly follow.
I shooed my own offspring off to school - at least they have an interesting excuse for being late today - then turned back to count the little line-up to make sure all three were settled and eating.
"One gray plus one, two, THREE?! blacks. Where did that 4th one come from? Boy, you're fast Zo, wish it was that easy for us humans to give birth.

While giving her a congratulatory pat I thought her stomach felt a little lumpy so wasn't very surprised when Number Five arrived with a little shriek.
This one was all black from head to toes, with not a speck of the white markings that distinguished his siblings. Feisty, too. He just couldn't find what he was looking for, even with two juicy nipples right in front of his face. I nudged & pushed him in the right direction, even resorted to bumping his little nose into the nipple but no go.
He was positive his siblings were hiding the best ones & plunged right into the row of contentedly suckling kittens, burrowing under them.
Little silver must have been the first born, being the cleanest, and was an old pro at latching on, not interrupting dinner to smack away pushy little brother (sister?)

First picture of the rather rumpled new family.
Bet you're glad my camera battery was re-charging so I missed all the gooey, just-out-of-the-wrapper parts.

A Six-Pack!

A full 2 hours after the first ones, we had a big surprise: Number Six.
A funny-looking little black & white clown.

I scooped up the first five and put them in a basket to give Mom room to look after Number Six, who also had to be rescued from the placenta.
Five kittens in one handful:

I put #5 back with Mom & #6 before the rest to make sure they both got a chance to get the knack of this latching-on thing before they had to fight with the older four for some nipple time.

Take note of this, one of the only times you'll see Silver not latched on to Mom. That one has a voracious appetite.

There are six in there. Click on the picture to see if you can count them all.

And you have to click on these two to get the full adorableness impact of hours-old kitten ears (above) and little tiger faces(below).

The Case of the Disappearing Kittens

After a day spent in Shea's bedroom with adoring admirers peeking in, we brought the new family downstairs to a nice quiet room of their own. We re-considered this move when we realized that Zoe was obviously torn between her need to be with the kittens and her desire to be around her human family. I wondered if we would have to pack that box of kittens around the house with us so Zoe wouldn't feel neglected but decided in the end to leave them downstairs for the night.
5:30 am Kim woke me up. "The kittens are gone! Zoe's downstairs alone, I've gone through the house and can't hear them anywhere."
"Zoe will lead us to them. Won't you girl? Where are they? Show us where your babies are."
Right on cue, off she trots - straight to her food dish.

After checking out all the hidden nesting places Zoe had been test-driving the past few weeks, and out of ideas, I made it back to our bedroom, and there, way in the back of our closet, I found a tangled little pile of peacefully sleeping kittens. (that's #6 bottom left, with the pink nose)

Resourceful Zoe found a way to be with her kittens and still keep her old habit of sleeping near us.

Wonderful, now I come home to find my small walk-in closet crammed full of teenage boys (one even brought his girlfriend, is my closet now a date destination?) trying to see the new kittens.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Back-To-Work To-Do List

Looks like my days of sitting in a bubble bath reading trashy novels and eating
chocolates all day are coming to an end. (Ha, I wish. Although I will admit to taking a lot of long hot baths recently but that's purely medicinal - I've been working hard turning over sod & digging up weeds - and buried construction garbage - to prep our front yard for landscaping)

I'll be starting a new job next week in the office of Robert Held Art Glass.
And yes, this is a much more suitable place for me than the excavator parts and generator places I've been hanging out at the past ten years.

Having been unemployed for almost five months though, I have a few things to do to prepare for my re-entry to the workforce so I've started a list:

1. Shop
For some pretty specific items. You see, one of the drawbacks of having a fabulous new large-capacity washer & dryer and not needing to do laundry as often is that you start running out of certain items of clothing. This hasn't been an issue for the males in the house since Santa has a policy of filling stockings each year with socks and underwear but for some reason his policy has never extended to me (aside from a few interesting pairs of..... wait, we really don't want to get into that here). No problem with me at home, able to throw in a load when I need it but now that I'll be back on a weekend laundry routine I'll have to load up at Costco's "accessories" department.

2. Get a Kitten to Keep Zoe Company
Oh wait, scratch that, she's already taken care of that one on her own, the little.... oops sorry, we've already established that she's to be referred to as a 'Queen' now. (see previous post)
Her little companions should be arriving any day now, hopefully this weekend when we're around to offer some moral support and maybe have some say in where she decides to drop her load.

3. Re-establish "Boys' Cooking Day"
Tuesday is my yoga night & since I can`t eat before class I had, years ago, decreed Tuesday as the night that the males in our household get to practice their culinary skills on each other. This had fallen by the wayside with me at home but watch out boys, it's making a comeback. (I'll stock up on frozen pizza & Annie's mac & cheese)

4. Do Some Baking
Ironic that when I had lots of time on my hands for doing things like baking I avoided it.
That's because I also had lots of time on my hands for eating and didn't need that broken scale I got for Christmas to get any more broken. (Kim & I both agree that it's about 20 pounds out of wack. Cole agreed it was broken but, nasty skinny boy, said that it was 15 pounds light.)
Now that I'll be packing a lunch again I'm going to need some tasty home-made treats to go in it. The boys should be pleased.
I do realize that by avoiding baking it seems like I've been denying the rest of my family baked goods but the reality is that if I had done any baking while at home all day they probably wouldn't have seen any of it any way.
Willpower? What's that?

4. Re-Introduce Some Daily Chores
Alright boys. That's right I'm looking at you two, you know who you are.
You've had it pretty easy the past 5 months but we're going to be getting back on the program. You remember the one? That one where you have the dishwasher emptied and then re-filled with all the dishes you've dirtied with your after-school snacks BEFORE I get home from work. It's going to happen every day from now on. You have your assignments, now don't mess it up.
That is if you want to eat dinner at dinner-time and not at midnight-snack-time.

5. One More For the Road
I must remind Kim to add one more to his daily sandwich production line.
And make sure he's well-stocked, we don't want any glitches to hold up his routine.

I must thank Kim for his patience in not insisting that I "get a job, any job" and allowing me the time to wait for the right job to come along.

And to Cole and Shea: You can start growing again, we'll be able to buy you new clothes now. Poor Cole, only had two pairs of non-flood pants these past few weeks. I knew I should have stopped feeding them so much.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We'll have to learn to curtsy

I learned something new this week.
The process of a cat giving birth is called "queening". And it naturally follows that a pregnant cat is called a Queen.

So that means that no more Fatso, Tubby, Little Mama or You Little Tramp.
Now we'll have to address our little teenage unwed mother by her proper title: "Queen Zoe".

Counting from that New Years Eve that she spent out partying all night, escorted home in the wee hours of the morning by a handsome long-haired brown tabby, I'd guess she's ready to start queening any day now. She certainly looks like she's ready to get rid of that bowling ball she swallowed.
The best way to see the full expanse of her girth is from above when she's standing, but you try to get a picture of a cat on her feet from above. If she's on her feet she's moving. the second she stops she flops over into a rather undignified sprawl for a queen.

Get your name in now to reserve a kitten, they'll be popping out any day now.