All about Breeding
active cats, breeding, pregnancy labour & behaviours
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Active Breeding Cat
* Labour & Delivery - Kitten Care
* Persian Kitten Growth & Development
* My Personal experience ( updated regularly )
A lot of information below on well being of kittens, different conditions & how I treated them.
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The Active Breeding Cat
With the onset of Spring and the advent of warmer weather, comes the instinctive desire in female kitties to mate! What we will discuss here is feline female mating behaviour. To begin with, here is a little information about what heat or the medical term, "estrous," is all about: Estrous ("heat") is the mating period of female animals. When estrous occurs, animals are said to be "in heat" or "in season". Female cats normally have their first estrous cycle between 5 and 10 months of age, with the average age around 6 months. The female cat has 2-4 estrous periods every year, each lasting 15-22 days. If she is bred, estrous seldom lasts more than 4 days. If successful mating does not occur, a heat cycle may last for 7-10 days and recur at 15-21 day intervals. It is possible for an unmated female to cycle every 3-4 weeks indefinitely. Cats also have an estrous period 1-6 weeks after giving birth, so a female may be nursing one litter while pregnant with another.
Please be very aware that a kitty in heat is very vocal, calling and calling for a male cat. Female cats also exhibit many strange behaviours when they are in heat. Here are signs and behaviours to look for:
Rolling on the floor and rubbing against objects with intensity. Flexing the claws and stretching may accompany the rolling. Also rubbing of the head or neck on objects as well.
As the heat cycle progresses, female kitties will start howling and this can go on for several minutes at a time.
Some females can even spray urine in the same manner that is usually associated with tomcats - lifting the tail and squirting urine on a vertical surface.
The female cat may adopt postures suggestive of a desire to mate - tail raised, rear end held high. A strong desire to escape the house may develop.
The cat is usually described as being seasonally polyestrous and a long day breeder. Queens cycle repeatedly during a breeding season unless interrupted by pregnancy, pseudo-pregnancy (false pregnancy), or illness. Estrous cycles will occur at intervals ranging from four to 30 days, but typically 14 to 21 days. Cats housed indoors, but largely under the influence of seasonal light, will cycle according to the season. Increasing daylight (i.e., January and February in the northern hemisphere) will increase the frequency of cycling. Queens housed together may have synchronized estrous cycles. Longhair cats seem to be more sensitive to the amount of daylight than shorthair cats. It has been said that only 10% of longhair cats show regular estrous cycles during breeding season, compared to 60% of shorthair cats. Over 50% of all shorthair cats will cycle year-round. Inadequate intensity or duration of light is one of the major reasons for cats kept indoors to have infrequent estrous cycles. It has been found that queens kept under a minimum of 10 hours (12 to 14 hours is better) of artificial light per day may cycle all year round. Cats kept in eight hours of daylight (and 16 hours of dark) will virtually stop cycling.
Stages of the
The queen has four stages in her estrous cycle. The stage just before estrus is called pro-estrus. In this stage, many queens begin to rub their head and neck against convenient objects and display affectionate behaviour. Occasionally, queens in pro-estrus have a slight mucoid vulvar discharge and increased frequency of urination. This stage may last only one day or so, and the signs may be subtle, so it is often not detected. During pro-estrus, toms may be attracted to the queen but she will not be receptive. Estrus is the behavioural receptivity to mating. This stage may last from as little as one day to as long as 21 days, with the average duration being seven days. The queen will crouch with her front legs pressed to the ground, with her back in a position of lordosis (sway back), and her tail turned to one side to present the vulva. Queens in estrus often call or vocalize to attract the attention of males. They may be restless, have a poor appetite, and show increased affection to their owners.
Occasionally, queens with prolonged estrus are seen. In some cases, it is thought that this is due to the maturation of overlapping waves of follicles (and, therefore, prolonged high levels of the hormone estradiol). Other such cats, however, are having normal distinct patterns of follicular growth. Why these queens show prolonged estrus rather than distinct estrus periods is not understood. Persistent estrus can also be associated with cystic follicles.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) produced by the pituitary gland in the brain initiates the development of ovarian follicles. An average of three to seven follicles develop and start producing the hormone estradiol-17b (a type of estrogen). It is the estradiol that causes behavioural estrus, which occurs as the follicular activity peaks, with blood estradiol levels reaching a high of 20 to 50 pg/ml (or higher). The estradiol levels stay high for three or four days and then abruptly fall.
Traditionally, queens are described as induced ovulators. Ovulation should not occur unless it is induced by mating or a similar stimulus. The length of estrus is not affected by whether ovulation does or does not occur. Some queens who have timid and shy personalities or who are at the low end of the social scale in the cattery may not show behavioural estrus even though their estrogen levels are increasing (silent heat). Some queens who fail to show behavioural estrus in one breeding season may show normal estrus behaviour in the next one. The period between one estrus and the next in queens who have not ovulated is called the inter-estrus. During this time the blood estradiol level is low (under 15 pg/ml) and no sexual behaviours are seen. The time of inter-estrus can range from two to 19 days but on average is eight days.
Like lions, once a female is ready to mate, she will often do so, with more then one male. Outside, fights between males my occur, because a female in heat very likely makes Toms violate each others territory. Although it has been reported that in city areas with a dens cat population, no such fights occur because Toms don't claim territories. It is very common for a female to act aggressively during mating. Only if she does mate with a very familiar male, like one from the same household, it has been seen that mating proceeds without any aggression, even with licking each other before and after coupling. The fighting among the males however, has no impact one which male is allowed to mate.
The queen chooses the male by presenting herself to him in mating position. She is laying down, but holding her hindquaters up, possibly tippling with her hindlegs and with the tail aside. The male will approach her from behind, grapping her neck to make her hold still. Now the male will be pushing the female into position using his fore and especially hindlegs. This also is to keep the females hindquaters up. Some females, especially inexperienced are likely to lower their hindquaters again, so it's difficult for the male to penetrate. In such situation, he will start trusting to find his belongings. If the Tom is inexperienced, too, that can last a while. Once the position is correct, the male is most likely to ensure he has a good love bite of the females neck before he penetrates. In many cases he will ejaculate immediately or rest for a few seconds without trusting. It is believed that the cat's anterior vagina will contract strongly, once stimulated. Maybe because of the barbs causing pain to the female, humping is not so common among housecats. Although it seems to be necessary for the Tom if he is to deliver a second, third or even fourth load. Very much unlike lions housecats do not have that kind of stamina. It would be unusual for a tom to mate more then two to four times a day. But the female surely will, if there are enough males present. In fact, the kittens of any resulting litter may well have different fathers.
When a queen is bred, the tom's penis stimulates the anterior vagina and causes changes in brain chemistry via neurological and hormonal reflexes. A surge of luteinizing hormone (LH), produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, occurs within 15 minutes of each breeding. The maximum LH levels are reached after eight to 12 breedings. There is a minimum amount of stimulation needed to induce LH release, and this threshold level varies from cat to cat. Only about 50% of queens will ovulate after one breeding; however, most will ovulate after at least four breedings. By one day later, the LH level has returned to normal. The more times the queen is bred, the higher the level of LH, and a sufficient increase in LH is necessary to cause ovulation.
Ovulation typically occurs 30-50 hours after copulation. The eggs are viable for only about 25 hours after ovulation. Some queens do not release adequate levels of LH despite repeated breedings with fertile tomcats, but mating the queen several days later during the same estrus may result in ovulation. So the timing of breeding in the estrus cycle is important to achieve ovulation; either too early or too late may not achieve ovulation and fertilization (the best days to breed are days two to five of estrus). Following ovulation, progesterone levels rise within 24 hours, reaching 20 ng/ml at the end of estrus and a high of 40 to 50 ng/ml by 15 to 25 days post-ovulation. If the breeding is infertile, progesterone declines to under 2 ng/ml by day 40 to 50. Throughout a pregnancy, progesterone is maintained at levels over 40 ng/ml until approximately day 50, when the level drops back to under 1 ng/ml by term. Progesterone is not needed during the last 10 days or so of a pregnancy. As for other induced ovulators, the CL is the primary source of progesterone throughout pregnancy in the cat. The placenta produces little or no progesterone.
Fertilization occurs in the oviduct and then the fertilized eggs pass into a uterine horn by day four or five. Implantation in the uterine lining occurs 10 to 12 days after ovulation. Before they implant, the embryos space themselves out along the uterine horns so the developing fetuses will not be crowded. They may migrate from one horn to the other. In this process, some embryos are lost. The rate of implantation varies from 50% to over 90%, depending on how many eggs are ovulated. The average litter size is reported to be 4 to 4.5 kittens, but this is highly variable. The largest litters come from queens with the most ovulations.
The reproductive tract of the tomcat consists of the penis, two testicles, the scrotum, the prostate gland, two bulbo-urethral glands and the ductus deferens (also called the vas deferens). Sperm produced in the testicles is carried via the ductus deferens into the urethra. The prostate and bulb-urethral glands play a small role by contributing secretions found in semen. Cat owners occasionally are surprised to find that tomcats also have nipples, but these are non functional.
An intact male cat's penis showing prominent spines. A neutered male cat's penis showing no spines present.
The penis is covered by a protective sheath called the prepuce. During licking and grooming, or sometimes during stimulating play, the penis may protrude from the prepuce. The tip of the penis is called the glans, and it is covered with 120 to 150 penile spines that are directed backward, away from the end of the glans. These penile spines start to appear at about 12 weeks of age and are fully developed at puberty. They are absent in neutered male cats, disappearing by six weeks after castration.
Sperm production by the testicles starts by the age of five to nine months. While sperm may be present in the testicles, the actual age at which mating begins will vary with physical condition, body size, and season. On average, the onset of puberty is at eight to ten months of age and at a body weight of 2.5 kg; however, significant variation among breeds is seen.
In addition to sperm, the testicles also produce testosterone, which regulates secondary sex characteristics, such as development of jowls, and male sexual behaviour, such as mating and spraying. Testosterone levels in the blood vary widely (from 0 to 5.9 ng/ml) in an episodic fashion. It can be normal to find an undetectable level, especially in a single blood sample. Castration causes an almost immediate drop in the blood levels of testosterone, but viable sperm may still be present for up to six weeks.
A tomcat may be unable to complete a breeding attempt if he is inexperienced, if he is nervous in his environment (it may take up to two months for a tom to settle into a new home), if he does not learn how to grasp the neck of the queen properly, or if he releases the queen too quickly. Toms with dental problems may not be able to grasp the queen's neck properly. Any painful condition, such as arthritis or other orthopaedic problems, can impair breeding performance and reduce libido. As well, hair rings around the penis make penetration of the female difficult, so that the tom may display long bouts of unsuccessful pelvic thrusting. Mal-positioning can occur if there is a significant size discrepancy between the two cats. With time and experience, most toms will learn to adjust their position to overcome size differences.
Successful stud cats must be physically, socially and sexually mature, so that it is usually best to wait until they are close to one year of age before breeding. A young tomcat may need to be bred to an experienced and patient queen to train his mating behaviour. Young, inexperienced toms can be discouraged by an aggressive or dominant queen. Exercise restriction in a cage environment also may not allow the tom to feel comfortable enough to attempt to breed a female. In addition, stresses such as being shown can adversely affect a tom's libido.
Giving testosterone to toms with low libido will not help increase their libido. It appears that giving supplemental testosterone to tomcats actually lowers the level of testosterone within the testicles (despite increased blood levels), which will deprive sperm cells of adequate testosterone needed for development and cause sterility. Increased testosterone secretion in the tom can be stimulated in a meek or subordinate male, however, by an injection of GnRH (Cystorelin®, Factrel®, and others) about one hour before breeding.
Normal tomcats may also attempt to mount and breed queens not in heat, spays, other male cats (neutered or intact), kittens, or inanimate objects such as furry toys. Mating behaviour usually disappears when a tom is neutered, but tomcats with much experience may continue to display mating behaviours for years after neutering.
Some catteries routinely use vasectomized tomcats (teaser toms) to help bring queens out of estrus when a pregnancy is not desired. Vasectomy can be accomplished by surgically removing a section of the ductus deferens through an incision. Live sperm may be present for up to six weeks after the procedure is done. Vasectomy does not alter libido or mating ability in adult toms.
(I do not
Semen evaluation is not commonly performed in the cat outside of research and zoo settings. It is difficult to collect semen and the volumes obtained are small. There are two methods for collecting semen from tomcats: training to an artificial vagina and electro-ejaculation. Occasionally, a very docile tomcat can be trained to mount and ejaculate into an artificial vagina in the presence of a female in heat. It may take a few weeks of training and patience, but it has been reported that 20% of toms can be trained. Electro-ejaculation must be accomplished under general anaesthesia and the equipment is not commonly available, which makes it impractical.
Most tomcats have less than 30% structurally abnormal sperm in an ejaculate. In lions, it is known that inbreeding, decreased testosterone levels and increased numbers of deformed sperm are interrelated. In the domestic cat, higher testosterone levels are associated with lower numbers of abnormal sperm.
A less invasive method of examining the sperm from a tomcat is to perform a vaginal flush on the queen immediately after a natural breeding to collect ejaculate. Interpretation of semen samples collected by this method, however, is difficult. When cats ejaculate, some sperm are discharged retrograde into the bladder. Another possible method to confirm a tomcat is producing sperm is to examine a urine sample from the tom just after he has bred a female. The simple presence or absence of sperm may be determined by these methods, although no information about the numbers or quality can be found this way.
Queens who are timid or low on the social scale of the cattery may have the hormonal events of estrous cycles in a normal fashion, but may not display estrus behaviour. The same effect may occur in queens living in crowded conditions. One way to detect these cats is to use vaginal cytology. Also, blood samples may be analyzed every seven days for estradiol levels. A low estradiol level (under 15 pg/ml) indicates no hormonal estrus, therefore no silent heat exists; however, the estradiol level only stays high for a few days during estrus, so several blood samples may need to be taken over time to evaluate the hormonal events properly. If a queen is experiencing silent heats, it may help to remove her from the group of cats with which she has been living and house her separately or in a much smaller group to elevate her social status. Using a regime of 14 hours of daylight and 10 hours of darkness is also helpful. Conversely, the queen who is housed alone (such as a family pet) may not show estrus behaviour until she is exposed to other queens in estrus. Exposure to a tomcat may also increase the chances she will display estrus behaviour.
Queens have a lower chance of ovulation if they are bred too few times. Observing the behaviour of the queen and the tom is also important. All the stages of mating should be observed – did the tom mount the queen successfully, did the queen give a coital cry and show the typical post-coital behaviours? If the coital cry and post-coital behaviour did not occur, then a mating did not take place; however, some queens will display the typical post-coital behaviour even if ejaculation did not occur. A vaginal swab or flush can be examined for the presence of sperm in order to verify intromission and ejaculation. It is important to know whether the queen appeared to be successfully bred or not, as different conditions apply to each situation. If it is difficult to observe breedings (some cats will not breed if they are observed), it can be very helpful to set up a video camera for surveillance.
If the queen returns to estrus about 35-45 days after breeding, then a pseudo-pregnancy should be suspected – the queen ovulated but did not conceive. Pseudo-pregnancy can be confirmed by checking the queen's serum progesterone one to three weeks after breeding. Canine ELISA kits for serum progesterone (ICG Status-Pro®, Canine Ovulation Timing Test, Synbiotics) have been validated for use in the cat. Queens who ovulated but did not conceive should be suspected of having cystic endometrial hyperplasia. The fertility of the tomcat should be examined, however, if several queens he breeds are experiencing pseudo-pregnancies. If the queen does not return to estrus for 60 days after the breeding, ovulation and fertilization likely occurred; however, the embryos or fetuses may have been resorbed, and all the causes of abortion and resorption must be considered.
Care of the
Most queens display no significant changes in behaviour for about the first three weeks of pregnancy. There is usually no increase in appetite, no change in activity levels. Very rarely, a form of morning sickness may occur which is short-lived. There is no need to restrict the queen's activity due to the pregnancy; however, it is best to avoid unnecessary exposure to other cats to reduce the risk of the queen contracting an infectious disease. Pregnant cats should not be exhibited, and trips away from home should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. If a queen has been shipped by air to be bred, the optimum time to travel home is during the first two weeks after breeding, and the pregnant queen should never be sedated for travel. Once the first few weeks have passed, the stress of travel could be detrimental to the pregnancy. We do not fully understand the effects of high altitude and pressure changes on animals travelling by air.
By about the end of the third week pinking of the nipples may be noticeable, especially with a first pregnancy. Gradually the hair around the nipples tends to recede as the nipples enlarge, becoming more prominent and making them easier for the newborn kittens to find. Longhair cats may be best kept clean by clipping the hair around the perineum and on the abdomen around the nipples.
By about the fifth week of pregnancy the fetuses have grown significantly and the queen's abdomen has expanded. She may require more food at this point and feeding small, frequent high quality meals is important. The queen's appetite during pregnancy may increase from 25% to 50%. Many breeders will feed a kitten or growth type diet to pregnant queens during the last two to three weeks of pregnancy. This diet is especially helpful during nursing, when the queen needs to produce large quantities of milk and therefore needs more calories and protein in her diet. Many nursing queens eat twice as much food as when not nursing. It is not necessary to feed this type of diet from the start of the pregnancy unless the queen is underweight or not in optimal condition. Unnecessary weight gain from excess nutrition during pregnancy should be avoided as it may contribute to difficulties during labour and delivery. Some queens will develop digestive upsets, such as diarrhoea and/or vomiting, when fed growth diets. In these queens a high quality adult maintenance diet is best. Dietary supplementation should be avoided.
Stages of Labour
Stage One: The first stage of labour may pass largely unnoticed. During this stage, the cervix dilates and the uterus starts contracting. It can last for a few hours or for as long as 24 hours. Queens may be restless, over grooming, pacing, panting, or even vomiting during this stage. They may not eat for up to 24 hours before active labour, although some queens eat normally right up to stage two. No visible contractions are seen, although there may be a clear mucous discharge from the vagina. As the end of stage one labour approaches, most queens will settle in the birthing box, purring loudly and scratching around to prepare their "nest." It is important to ensure that the location where the queen will give birth is warm enough for the neonatal kittens.
Stages Two and Three: During these stages of labour the kittens are delivered (stage two) and the placentas are delivered (stage three). The delivery of the litter is actually a series of stage two and stage three labours. Strong uterine contractions help deliver each kitten from its uterine horn into the uterine body and through the cervix and vagina. Once strong labour starts the entire litter may be born in under two hours, or it may take as long as 24 hours. Most commonly, kittens are delivered every 30 to 60 minutes, although they may be delivered more rapidly. Both head first (2/3 of births) and hindquarters first (1/3 of births) presentations are normal in the cat. A true breech birth is when the tail and rump are presented before the hind legs, and this is a more difficult delivery. The time from the start of active labour to the birth of the first kitten is usually less than 60 minutes. A queen who is in active, hard labour for two hours without delivering a kitten must be assumed to need veterinary attention.
As each kitten is born, many queens will pause to break open the amniotic sac if it is still intact and clean the membranes away from the newborn, stimulating breathing. The amniotic sac is often ruptured by the queen during licking at her perineum as the kitten is being delivered. Not all queens show interest in eating the placentas and there is no evidence to show that it is necessary. Queens will sever the umbilical cord with their teeth. In some cases the kittens arrive too rapidly for the queen to clean each one and sever the umbilical cord.
The breeder should be prepared to dry off each kitten to prevent it from chilling and to stimulate breathing if 10 minutes has gone by without the queen attending to the newborn. It is preferable to tear the umbilical cord with clean fingers, leaving it about two to three inches long, rather than to cut it, as there will be less bleeding and less chance of infection. It is acceptable, however, to tie a piece of thread or dental floss tightly around the umbilical cord about two to three inches from the kitten's abdomen after "milking" the blood in the cord away from the placenta and toward the kitten. A second tie is placed just beyond the first and the cord is cut with a pair of sharp, clean scissors (preferably swabbed with alcohol) in between the two ties.
The stump of each umbilical cord should always be dipped in 2% tincture of iodine to prevent infection. It is important to avoid having kittens crawling around the birthing box while their umbilical cords and placentas are still attached. The cords of the kittens can become entwined and cause tension on the umbilical area, which may lead to a hernia, or the cords can become entwined around a kitten's leg causing trauma. Sometimes, kittens are born with the placentas already detached, so it is important to count the number of placentas when labour is finished. In most cases, there is one placenta for every kitten, although twins and triplets sharing the same placenta do occur.
Occasionally queens may pause during labour and rest without having uterine contractions. This may be for an hour or two or, rarely, it can be for up to 24 hours. She may nurse the kittens already born, giving the appearance that delivery is finished. Queens are more likely to interrupt labour and delivery if something disturbing occurs in their environment. In general, the queen should be monitored but interfered with as little as possible. Labour and delivery can be made longer by inappropriate intervention by the breeder or curious onlookers. That having been said, there are queens who will be very restless unless their owner is present. Maiden queens need to be watched most closely as they may neglect to clean kittens adequately, especially if the time interval between kittens is small. In this situation, it is best to care for each newborn and remove it from the birthing box to a separate warm box until the whole litter is born.
Labour & Delivery - Kitten Care
The time has come... Are you available for that wonderful experience? Would be ideal if you are available during that time otherwise you may risk loosing all your kittens. Some cats & kittens need no help but others will need human intervention...
Hopefully your Queen will have milk & will nurse her babies normally. Below some usefull information on Kitten care.
Raising an orphaned kitten
Raising an orphaned
kitten can be a rewarding experience. However, kittens are very fragile, and
raising them can be difficult, time consuming, and not always successful.
Which kittens need to be hand reared?
Normally kittens have their environmental and nutritional requirements met by their mother. However, a number of different situations may lead to kittens requiring extra care, eg, death of the queen (female cat), rejection of the kittens by the queen, ill health in the queen, or the production of too large a litter for the queen to care for.
When the queen is only temporarily ill, the kittens may only need to be hand fed for a few days, while in other situations the kittens may need to be fed by hand until they are weaned. In the case of a very large litter, where the kittens are gaining some milk from their mother, they will only need supplemental feeding.
Should any kittens not be hand reared?
In some circumstances the breeder may be faced with a decision to have kittens euthanased at birth. Apart from agonising decisions over sheer numbers, or where the queen is unwell or unwilling to look after the kittens, there are some cases where a kitten needs to be euthanased to prevent a crippled existence. No list can be exhaustive, but as soon as possible a check should be made with the following defects in mind:
* Severe hydrocephalus
as shown by enlargement of the skull.
* Anasarca or generalised oedema (water-logging of the tissues).
* Cleft palate. If severe this will lead to the inability to suck and dribbling of milk down the nose.
* Imperforate anus. This may be obvious with the entire absence of an exit for the bowel, or occult (when the exit leads into a blind sac within the body). An affected kitten may live some weeks but will fail to thrive and will never be seen to pass a motion. In the occult case, the true condition can only be found on close examination by a veterinary surgeon.
* Hernia or incomplete development of the body wall. A small ringed umbilical hernia is a slight defect, but some kittens have virtually no abdominal musculature and should not be kept.
* Spina bifida or incomplete development of the back.
* Gross deformity or absence of limbs.
Many serious inherited abnormalities are not obvious at birth, and abnormalities of sight and hearing fall into this category. Suspected abnormalities of joints and limbs should be viewed with caution unless utterly self-evident, such as severe shortening of a limb. Joints at birth are very incomplete structures and most apparent double-jointedness or rotation of limbs right themselves by the time the kitten is really mobile.
The most difficult decision usually concerns the kitten persistently rejected by its mother, despite its apparent normality to the human eye. The choice in this case lies between hand rearing, fostering or euthanasia. The decision can only be made by the breeder after full consideration of the circumstances. An additional consideration is that the rejected kitten may well be a defective kitten (mother may know best) in which case hand rearing may not be successful.
Do hand reared kittens develop normally?
A kitten reared in total isolation from other cats is at risk of developing psychological abnormalities, including nervousness, aggression and a reduced ability to cope with strange surroundings, people or animals. Kittens hand reared in the presence of other cats are less likely to be affected, since they can develop by watching the other cats. Because completely hand-reared animals are at a behavioural disadvantage they should not be used for breeding. It may also be more difficult to find them suitable homes.
What are the basic considerations when hand rearing kittens?
There are several basic functions to be addressed when hand rearing kittens. These include the provision of a suitable clean, warm environment, a suitable feeding regimen, attention to urination and defecation (emptying of the bowels), and attention to general health. The major problems encountered when trying to hand rear kittens are chilling, dehydration and starvation (resulting in hypoglycaemia - low blood sugar levels). These three conditions are interrelated and close observation is necessary if they are to be noticed, and if occurring, for prompt action to be taken in time. Kittens are very fragile, hence they can become ill and die very quickly.
Total dedication and commitment is required by the carer at all times.
New-born kittens need up to 10 feeds in each 24 hour period.
Carer's life-style will need to be flexible. Kittens like babies need to be with you at all times, wherever you may be.
Carers should not exceed the allotted interval between feeding times.
Kittens when hungry, will move about in search of milk. If left they will soon get tired and fall asleep again. This is undesirable and certainly not to be recommended. It is important they are fed on time.
Where should I keep the kittens?
If the kittens are being fed by their mother then they should be kept with her. If no mother is around then for the first three weeks of life it is useful to use a small cat-carrying basket with lots of cosy Vetbed plus a soft toy to snuggle up to. As they grow and become mobile, use a kitten pen or convert a baby's travel cot/play-pen. Use a velcro safety net to stop young kittens climbing and falling out.
How should I keep the kittens warm?
Warmth is a primary essential for the new-born. A kitten cannot react to cold by shivering and cannot control its own body temperature. In nature, warmth is obtained by direct body contact with the mother and conserved by the enclosed kittening bed. A new-born wet kitten loses heat very rapidly, hence it is important that they are dried quickly. Kittens can be kept warm by lying them in contact with a warm, well-covered hot water bottle, an electric vinyl heat pad or a microwave heat pad. Heat can be conserved by covering them with a blanket. Great care must be taken not to inflict contact burns by having the bottle too hot.
Acceptable alternatives are veterinary heating pads, and infra-red lamps. The disadvantages of the lamps are that many cats dislike the open bed required for their use, and they may overheat the kittens.
The rectal temperature of new-born kittens ranges from 95-99 °F (35-37.2 °C) in the first week, to 97-100 °F (36.1-37.7 °C) in the second and third weeks, and reaches normal adult levels of 100-102 °F (37.7-38.9 °C) by the fourth week. If the rectal temperature drops below 94 °F the kitten is likely to die. It is important to warm up kittens slowly, since too rapid warming can be fatal.
The temperature in the kitten box (with no queen) should initially be maintained at 85-90 °F (29.4-32.2 °C), but the box should be large enough for the kittens to move away from the heat if they become too hot. If the litter is large, the temperature can be reduced since by huddling together the kittens generate extra heat. The temperature can be gradually reduced to 80 °F (26.7 °C) by 7-10 days and to 72 °F (22.2 °C) by the end of the first month.
Try to maintain room ambient temperature of 75 °F. Kittens' bodies should be relaxed whilst asleep and feel pleasantly warm to the human touch. You should notice gentle body jerks as they rest. Keep control by using a maximum/minimum thermometer in the kitten(s) nest. Remember adjustments must be constantly considered throughout the day as nest temperature is directly affected by the room's ambient temperature.
Does humidity affect the kittens?
When a low environmental humidity is combined with a lack of regular liquid intake the kittens are at risk of dehydration. An environmental humidity of 55-65 % will prevent the kittens' skin from drying out. Signs of dehydration include loss of skin elasticity and sticky mucous membranes (gums).
What makes a good nest for the kittens?
The easiest way to provide a clean, safe and warm nest is to take a cardboard box, line it with Vetbed, use either hot water bottles or a heating pad for warmth, and placing it away from draughts. Vetbed can be easily cleaned, is warm and comfortable. If this is not available terry nappies or old towels can be used. Some people use plastic plant propagators as incubators; however, care should be taken to ensure the temperature within them is adequate.
I have heard that kittens cannot urinate or pass motions without assistance, is this true?
It is necessary to stimulate kittens of less than two weeks old to urinate and defecate. The voiding reflex is normally initiated by the queen licking the kitten's ano-genital region (the area under the tail). Where the queen is not available, urination and defecation must be maintained by the carer for approximately four weeks or until the kitten is independent. It is quite normal for a distressed cry to be heard prior to defecation; on evacuation the cry should cease. It may be useful to use fragrance-free wet wipes for new-born babies and soft tissue. Stimulate the ano-genital area gently both pre- and post-feeding, as they feed better with empty bladder/bowels.
From three weeks of age the reflex should begin to be triggered while the kitten is placed on the litter tray. Leaving a small amount of soiled litter within the tray will serve as a reminder to the kittens of where to perform.
What signs might indicate that the kittens are unwell?
Normal kittens should eat or sleep for 90% of the time for the first 2 weeks of their lives. If they cry excessively, or fail to suck, they are usually ill or receiving insufficient milk. Since kittens can die very quickly, they (and their mother, if still present) should be examined by a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible to ensure nothing serious is going wrong.
What should I be feeding? KMR by PetAg is the best
Available mainly from
USA, amazon, ebay or similar web sites, order months in advance the liquid
pre-prepared one, is the best one to use.
Do not use cow/goats milk as protein and fat levels are too low. Only use a replacement queen's milk formula, eg, Cimicat (PetLife) or similar, available from veterinary surgeries or pet shops. Useful to have in hand, for kittens which have not received any natural colostrum within the first eight hours of life, is Kitten Life Line Pack for new-born kittens.
(Nutri-drops plus a tub of first life kitten colostrum). Available from Net-Tex Ltd, Priestwood, Harvel, Nr Meopham Kent DA13 0DA, telephone 01474-813999, fax 01474-812112, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.net-tex.co.uk
IF nothing is available, Carination milk from Tesco, pre-evaporated milk, diluted 1 portion to 1/3 with sterile boiled water. I used that & so do a lot of breeders can be a life saver for your beloved kittens.
How much milk
replacement should I be feeding the kittens?
When the milk supply is inadequate, supplemental feeding is recommended. Where the kittens have been orphaned or the queen is unable to feed them, they will need total replacement feeding. There are several commercial formulae available which are designed specifically for kittens. Make up milk replacement solution as directed using a level measure, not heaped. They should be made up and used as per instructions, but a reduced volume is needed if the kittens are still gaining some milk from their mother (give perhaps 1/2 to 1/3 the volume). The amount on the label is usually given as 'per 24 hours'. The quantities should therefore be divided into a number of feeds. Kittens less than 2 weeks of age should be fed every 3-4 hours, while kittens of 2-4 weeks of age can usually be fed every 6-8 hours. The milk should be warmed to 95-100 °F (35-37.8 °C) before feeding (about the same temperature as the skin of the human forearm).
Check the warmth of the milk on back of your hand. It takes just a few seconds to warm milk to blood heat.
How do I get the milk into the kittens?
Bottle feeding ( i used 1 ml syringe)
Kitten Baby bottles can be bought which are specially designed for kittens. The size of the hole in the nipple is critical. If when the bottle is turned upside down the milk drips from the nipple, the hole is too large, and you risk drowning the kitten. If when the bottle is turned upside down the milk only comes out after considerable squeezing of the bottle, the hole is too small, and its use may result in the kitten becoming discouraged and refusing to nurse. The correct size hole allows the milk to drip from the nipple with minimal squeezing of the bottle. As nipples are used the holes tend to enlarge, so new ones must be introduced. Kittens tend to become fixated upon one particular nipple, so when changing from an old one to a new one they may show reluctance to feed. As the kittens grow the size of the hole in the nipple can be gradually enlarged.
Spoon feeding and dropper feeding
Spoon feeding is slow and requires great practice. Each spoonful must be gently poured into the kitten's mouth. The kitten's head must not be elevated since new-born kittens do not have a well developed gag reflex, and the lungs can easily be filled with milk.
Dropper feeding is similar to spoon feeding, but a little quicker and cleaner.
Syringe feeding may be considered but must be done properly and with care as it can be potentially lethal. The problem arises when the plunger sticks and then gives way suddenly, squirting a large volume of milk into the kitten's mouth, risking drowning.
If using a syringe, practise first using water - you need to feel confident at dispensing milk into a kitten's mouth. Fill a 10 ml syringe, place the index and middle finger each side of barrel wings and the plunger head into the palm of your hand. Gently depress the plunger with the palm to give drip-by-drip. This allows the kitten time to swallow and breathe. It is good practice always to check the smooth running of a syringe this way.
Placement of the syringe is important! The hub of the barrel should be uppermost and inserted into the roof of the kitten's mouth. This allows the kitten's tongue to 'wrap' around the hub. This emulates the sucking of a nipple. This way the kitten does not take in unwanted air.
With the other hand hold the kitten over the back and raise the kitten under the fore-limbs at an angle of approximately 45°. This is comfortable and secure for the kitten and is a good natural angle for it to take the milk from a bottle/syringe.
Each kitten will naturally cease sucking when full and will pull away from the teat/syringe. Do not force a kitten to take extra milk: it would be at risk of lung inhalation resulting in drowning. Remember consumption guidelines are a guide only. Often kittens will consume more; like us they all are individuals, and will let you know when they are full.
Tube feeding is perhaps the cleanest and most efficient method of hand feeding. However, it requires proper equipment and technical skill. It is a particularly useful technique when a kitten's 'suck reflex' is poor, or when kittens fail to suck properly. Some breeders tube feed kittens routinely but there are several dangers in this. Firstly, as the kittens have no control over how much they are fed, they can easily be given too much or too little. Secondly, kittens with a strong suck reflex, if deprived of nursing, may suck on each other, and this can lead to the development of large sore areas of skin.
Stomach tubes must be soft, flexible, blunt-ended and not more than 2-3 mm wide. A premature human infant feeding tube is ideal, but short, soft canine urinary catheters can also be used. The tube must be measured to the correct length (from the kitten's nose to just behind the point of the elbow), and a mark made on the tube at this point. The tube should be lubricated with K-Y jelly before use.
To place the tube the kitten's mouth must be opened by pressing gently at the corners, and, keeping the head flexed downwards, the tube is slid along the roof of the mouth and down the back of the kitten's throat into the oesophagus. The tube is passed down until the mark on the tube is level with the nose. The other end of the tube will then be in the stomach. A syringe containing pre-warmed milk can then be attached, and the milk can be delivered slowly to the stomach.
If the kitten's head is kept flexed forward, it is quite difficult to miss the oesophagus and so pass the tube into the airway by mistake. Many kittens mew loudly throughout the whole procedure, and it is useful to note that they cannot do this if the tube is in the airway. However, anyone unsure of the technique should ask their veterinary surgeon to demonstrate it for them.
0-2 weeks: 10 feeds in 24 hours at 2 - 2.5 hour intervals.
2-4 weeks: 7 feeds in 24 hours at 2.5 - 3.5 hour intervals
4-5 weeks: 5 feeds in 24 hours at 3.5 -5 hour intervals.
What hygiene precautions do I need to take with the utensils?
Hygiene is of the utmost importance, both in terms of all the kittens' feeding and measuring equipment and the carer's personal hygiene in preparing feeds and toileting kittens. Orphaned kittens are very prone to infections so they must always be kept clean, and utensils used for preparing or administering the milk must be sterile.
Should kittens be weighed regularly?
It is advisable to monitor the kittens' growth rates by weighing them regularly. It is best to weigh the kittens daily at the same time, as in all cases daily increments will vary from kitten to kitten. It is good practice to keep daily records. They should double their birth weight in the first 7 to 10 days, then continue to gain weight steadily.
What are the signs of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)?
Hypoglycaemia results from inadequate or infrequent feeding. It can cause severe depression, muscle twitching and occasionally lead to convulsions. If a kitten ever refuses to feed, do not delay; prompt action and veterinary care is required. Kittens have no reserves and will go downhill rapidly. Quick response can save a kitten's life. Use your intuition: an hour could mean life or death!
If a kitten is showing signs of hypoglycaemia, a few drops of glucose syrup placed on the tongue can be life saving. This should then be followed by feeding a small amount of glucose solution, and increasing either the amount and/or frequency of routine feeding.
When should the kittens be weaned onto solid food?
Weaning should begin at three to four weeks of age. Initially the kittens should be offered milk replacer diluted 1:1 with water, in a flat shallow dish. At three weeks introduce either moistened dry growth diet or tinned growth diet mixed with a small amount of milk solution. Again holding the kitten, use a very small spoon and introduce the semi-solid food to the kitten, using the spoon tip only. Gradually lower the spoon to encourage and tempt the kitten to eat from a shallow dish. Only try a few very small mouthfuls at first until the kitten gets established on its own. This is continued until the kittens are taking just solid food. They can be fed either wet or dry diets, but it is best to feed only diets designed especially for kittens. Dog food and human baby foods should not be fed since they are deficient in nutrients essential for cats.
What do I do if a kitten becomes constipated?
Constipation is a very common problem in hand reared kittens, due to the difficulty in stimulating defecation sufficiently frequently. Normal faeces have the consistency of toothpaste. If the faeces become very hard, making the kitten strain excessively, or if a kitten does not pass any motions for 2-3 days, small doses of liquid paraffin or 'Katalax' should be given (about 0.5 ml per feed for 2-3 days should have the desired effect). Severe cases require veterinary attention.
What do I do if a kitten gets diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is a serious condition. It may be caused by overfeeding, giving too concentrated a solution of milk replacer, or result from infection (usually caused by poor hygiene). Treatment must be swift as dehydration can then develop very rapidly, followed by collapse and death soon afterwards.
Mild cases respond well to dilution of the milk 1:1 with boiled water, which should be given until the diarrhoea stops. Severe cases should be given no milk at all. Instead they should be given 5-10% glucose, glucose-saline, or isotonic electrolyte solution (eg, 'Lectade'; Pfizer), all of which can be obtained from a veterinary surgeon. These solutions should be given until the diarrhoea stops; milk diluted 1:1 with water, and finally full strength milk can be resumed 12-24 hours later.
If kittens become collapsed and dehydrated they need immediate veterinary attention if they are to survive. Kittens in a collapsed state become chilled very rapidly. They will usually be given subcutaneous fluids by the veterinary surgeon.
Once they have been warmed up and given fluid therapy they must be allowed to recover quietly. Feeding can only be begun once the kitten is warm and able to suck. Stomach tubing is not helpful here, since when a kitten is cold and collapsed its intestines stop functioning, so stomach contents can be easily regurgitated, and then aspirated into the lungs.
As soon as the kitten is able to suck, it should be given isotonic glucose or Lectade solution (at about 1ml per 100g body weight), given every 15 minutes until the kitten is rehydrated and can urinate when massaged. If all goes well, diluted milk can then be introduced after 24 hours, and full strength milk 24 hours after that.
Should kittens be given antibiotics to keep them well?
Unless a bacterial infection is known to be present, and antibiotics have been prescribed by the veterinary surgeon, they should not be given. Antibiotics severely disrupt the process of normal colonisation of the gut by harmless bacteria, and can, because of this, produce diarrhoea. Antibiotics cannot be used as a substitute for colostrum. If hygiene standards are good, antibiotics are simply not needed.
When do kittens' eyes usually open?
At birth the kittens' eyes are closed; they usually open within 1-2 weeks. If the closed eyelids become swollen or matted with pus the kitten should be taken to a veterinary surgeon for immediate treatment. In some breeds, eg, Siamese and Orientals, the eyes may be partially open at birth and open completely within a few days.
Should kittens be wormed regularly?
Since intestinal parasites ('worms') are common in kittens, all kittens should be treated with drugs to kill the parasites from about 3 weeks of age. Before each dosing the kittens should be accurately weighed, since if too little wormer is given it may not be effective, and if too much is given it may make the kittens ill. In many kittens the worms cause no clinical signs, while in others they can result in poor body condition, soft or bloody stools, loss of appetite, a pot-bellied appearance and weight loss. Some worms can be transmitted through the stools of infected cats, while others are carried by fleas. Good hygiene and flea control are therefore essential.
(I recommend Oko's Best
Cat Litter, made from biodegradable plant fibber that is harmless to kittens if
swallowed Kittens tend to play with litter & will swallow some)
Supply a small litter tray at first from about three weeks. It is safer to use wood-chip type litter as opposed to bentonite type to start with whilst learning as some kittens will try to consume the litter. Stand the kitten in the tray and then massage the ano-genital area with a wet wipe. They very soon get the hang of things.
When should kittens be vaccinated?
Kittens gain some protection from disease in the form of maternal antibodies passed in the queen's colostrum (the milk excreted in the first few hours after the birth). To ensure that the queen has sufficient antibodies to pass onto her kittens, it is important that she is well vaccinated prior to mating. The protective effect of maternal antibodies lasts for only a few weeks. The kittens' vaccination programme should therefore start from about 8 weeks of age, although the exact timing and content of the vaccinations can be tailored to the needs of the particular cattery, as determined by the veterinary surgeon. If the kittens were orphaned, and hence never received colostrum, they will have gained no protective immunity from their mother, and so may need to be vaccinated early, perhaps from 2-3 weeks of age. Most cats are vaccinated against feline enteritis and the viruses that cause cat flu. Others are also vaccinated against feline leukaemia virus infection and/or chlamydophila disease.
Socialisation is extremely important for well adjusted kittens. Introduce the kittens to other animals as soon as possible. Obviously never put any animal at risk of danger. Remember, when other animals are present, you must talk to and where possible touch them as much as possible. This scenario is the same as bringing the new baby home to the existing toddler. Do not create your own problem by causing a jealous situation to arise.
Above all enjoy the experience while it lasts. It is an extremely intensive and demanding time condensed into a short period of your life. The rewards of your labours far exceed your sleepless nights!
Persian Kitten Growth & Development
When deciding to home a Persian kitten and anticipating your new arrival, learning about the stages of development is very important. Usually, Persian Breeders denote that their kittens for sale are ready for their permanent residences around eight weeks old. At this age, the majority of the crucial developments are completed and they are equipped with the skills necessary to separate from the mother and littermates. However, the eighth week does not mark the end of growing and changing. The kitten will not only continue to grow physically, but will carry on maturing and developing mentally. Although each week, even each day, comes with changes and growth, the developing characteristics make it easy to group the developments into five distinct sections.
The first stage is the neonatal stage and spans from birth to about two weeks old.
This will involve crawling and the beginnings of standing. The kitten will display characteristics similar to that of a newborn baby at this age, predominantly including a tremendous dependency on the mother. Though they are born with their eyes shut, they are able to hear and will begin to orient towards sound. Their eyes will slowly begin to open and will usually be fully open by the two week mark. All kittens are born with blue eyes that will gradually change and are sensitive to bright lights, as their pupils do not dilate and contract readily yet. An indication of competition for rank and territory will begin to emerge. At this point, separation from the mother or littermates could result in poor learning skills and even aggression towards people and other animals. The primary concentration of the first week is feeding and growth, as the kitten will double their birth weight in the first week alone!
The second stage lasts from around two to seven weeks of age and can be termed the socialization stage.
Sometime in the middle of the second week, the kittens will begin to test their wobbly legs. By the third week, they will be slightly steadier on their feet and venture a little further away from the mother. Their sense of smell is well developed, ear canals are completely open and sight has developed enough to locate the mother by the third week. The kittens will begin to socialize now: with other kittens, the mother, and even humans. By the fourth week, interaction with the littermates will dramatically increase and teeth will begin erupting. They will begin to gain weight rapidly and, following the example of the mother, will start to clean and groom themselves. They will begin to walk well, gradually learning to avoid stumbles. The fifth week brings major changes, as the kittens will become increasingly playful. They will learn to run, avoid obstacles, stalk, pounce, and more. They can be introduced to canned kitten food, but it is not necessary and if chosen, it should be introduced in small, shallow dishes. This is also the time when litter-box skills can be developed. The sixth and seventh weeks will bring new adult sleeping patterns and an even greater increase in socialization. Personalities will begin to emerge as the kitten slowly matures.
The time between seven and fourteen weeks can be considered the most active play period.
They will continue to actively play not only with other animals, but objects and toys as well. With littermates, the mother, or other cats, playing will include belly-ups, ambushing, licking, and hugging. If cat toys are available, they will display an avid interest in them by pawing, tossing, scooping, mouthing and holding them. By eight weeks old, the kitten is mature enough to be separated from the mother and littermates and establish a permanent home.
Although 8-9 weeks marks a maturity developed enough to separate from the mother, it does not mean the end of growing and changing.
The time that
spans between three and six months of age is the ranking period. This is the
time when they are most influenced by other animals, whether it be litter-mates
if not separated, or another household pet. Playmates will now include
companions of other species. Beginnings of "ranking," including domination and
submission, will emerge in the household, even among humans.
Much like a newborn baby, tracking the growth of a kitten can be fun and exciting. Everyday brings new changes and surprises that make a newborn kitten that much more special. If you are purchasing a kitten, many Persian breeders will keep you constantly updated on your kitten through phone calls, e-mails, photos, and even visits. Take advantage of every opportunity you receive to learn more about your rapidly changing kitten. After all, they are only young once!
My Personal experience:
My 1st experience many many years ago with a Siamese Queen. I witnessed all the labour stages & delivery. The Queen needed no help what so ever, she did it all by her self, licked the amniotic sac, eaten the, cut the chord , placenta, cleaned her babies & nursed them. They all survived to be healthy happy cats.
ColourPoint Himalayan Persians; however, do need our intervention...
The 1st calling did not lead to pregnancy. I have prepared my self, took 2 weeks off for the estimate labour/delivery day, but June 13 came & Tiffany started calling again. So cancelled my off days. By mid June, I suspected Tiffany is pregnant this time. Beginning of August 2013, I noticed that the sides of Tiffany's tummy is enlarged , so i was happy that she had a successful pregnancy & hoping to be near her during delivery.
born 2 at a time 8 hrs apart. Luckily, I was off for few days.
Tiffany was with me all night except from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. When I have let Sebby (my sphynx cat) go downstairs, Tiffany made her way down too. I went back to sleep, woke up at 09:00 went down to check on my cats to hear some squeaking that sounded like Betty (my poodle) playing with her toys. I found out 2 kittens were born, one in the kitchen & one in the lounge just born... I panicked a bit, I admit hoped all is ok, left a message to my breeder on her phone who promised to help. I took the kittens upstairs to the whelping box that I have prepared. I wiped 2 clamps with surgical spirit, put gloves on, clamped the chord & threw the placenta away. The 2 boys were cold to touch, placed them with the mother. I can feel the one side of Tiffany's tummy still large (as the uterus is bicornuate, has 2 long sides) she delivered the kittens from one of the uterus sides only). I looked everywhere in the house in case I missed anymore kittens, there was none. Sebby was next to one of the kittens sniffing but wondering what is going on.
I revived them by massaging them, drying them up, making sure the room is warm enough, switched a fan heater on , I sucked the water from their mouth, one was stronger than the other. The Breeder arrived an hr later & with her help both were revived. She gave me in valuable guidance. We then gave the babies drops of carnation cows milk (as the cat milk I ordered did not arrive yet... (KMR by PetAg is the best milk). After 1 hr they kittens now look better, dry & warm. We started placing them on Tiffany's nipple to encourage breast feeding. Had to do that all day. I stayed by them all day, feeding them few drops of milk every few hours, gave Tiffany some milk too as she was exhausted.
Sitting by Tiffany all day at 16:30 Tiffany started breathing deeply in an abnormal way, I raised her tail to see that a kitten has been delivered. Immediately I broke the amniotic sac by the face, sucked out with the special suction bulb, tied the chord & cut it. Tiffany licked her baby & ate the placenta (nutritious for breeding queens). Then heavy breathing started again, I kept raising the tail every few seconds, I can see the bulging of the amniotic sac with the head then was delivered, I did the same as before, but this kitten was gasping. It seems there is water in the lungs. I called the breeder, on speaker phone gave me some guidance. For 90 min, I was massaging the back & chest of the tiny kitten, sucked the water from the nose & mouth, took her to fresh air, doing some manipulation where you sway gently the kitten with the head down holding it safely up & down. Still gasping, I took a small video & sent to the breeding, we both decided I will take her to the vet.
The vet gave her drops (Doplax) in the mouth containing Aminolphylline & furasemide for lungs edema & expands the bronchials, in other words to help the water in the lungs to be re-absorbed & eliminated. Used a pipet to remove water from the lungs through the mouth, a bit came out. I then kept massaging her chest in my holding her in my hand upside down for another 30 min till she was revived & miawed. I placed her in Tiffany's arms.
I then kept placing the kittens on her breasts to encourage breast feeding with some milk drops with a syringe to revive them, and massaging the tummy to encourage elimination) hopefully Tiffany will learn to do that her self, as this is her 1st litter. At 22:00 only I had the chance to have my 1st meal of the day, tired & shattered. Went back to my bedroom, where al my kittens with Tiffany are placed to give them peace & quite. ( I tried to place them down even though to separate them with specialised mesh, but Tiffany felt a bit nervous, so kept them up)
I barely slept that night, waking up doing the same, making sure they are warm, massaging them, giving them milk, placing them on Tiffany's breasts , massing Tiffany's beasts to encourage breast feeding & massing the kittens tummy with a cotton wool to encourage elimination.
1st 48 hrs is very crucial.. barley slept but i am off & back to work tomorrow.. hopefully all will be ok by tomorrow & they will be independent of my intervention or only a bit will be needed.
I was worried about one of the boys, the weaker smaller one he is so weak, & was afraid we will loose him any min any hour today, nothing can be done. probably pre-mature as the weight was low.
Kept reviving them all day. The breeder was sure he will not make it. Recommended to take him to the vet to put him down to avoid any pain to him. I did not want to give up.
after the 48 hrs, the other 3 picked up energy except for 2 a boy & a girl , they were so weak to suckle, had to feed them every few hours & was doing that all night.
Having to go to work for the next 4 days, I arranged for some one to come during the day to feed then & make sure they are ok, then I take over after work.
After midnight on the 14th, I woke up at midnight with the weak boy away from his Mum & crying out loud every few min. I texted the breeder who recommended to separate him from his mum as it will cause her to be in distress & might neglect the others. Very sad & very painful to watch, I separated him to another room.
I woke up at 3Am, to see that he stopped crying & still alive. Tried to give him milk & placed him with Mum. But he soon started to cry again. Reason was that he is warm again & revived a bit by massaging him. The breeder then recommended to separate him again & not touch him till he leaves us, as if it is destined for a kitten not to make it, he/she will never make it.
03:47 AM I woke up at 03:45 to see that he passed away.
Two of the other kittens, a boy & a girl, were strong enough & gaining weight, seemed very healthy. One girl was still weak. Kept reviving her for few days, till she gained strength to breast feed, but her weight was the same as her born weight 60 grams. Did not gain weight at all.
19/08/13 03:00 AM
The weak girl have deteriorated, I woke up to her crying & gasping air with some abnormal seizer-like body contractions, was away from her mum. I knew she will not make it. I kept placing her with mum, tried feeding her milk but she was refusing to eat & kept moving away from her mum. I separated her
19/08/13 14:00 she passed away
The kitten's cry of death is an image that you can never forget....
Tiffany & I have 2 kittens left a boy & a girl who are healthy & strong gaining weight daily & hopefully they will remain as such all their lives.
27/08/13 11:30 AM 2 weeks of age Some good news
The 2 surviving Kittens have gained weight daily & are healthy, started to open their eyes gradually. I could see the corners are opening, so for now the eyes are 95% shut with a bit of opening on the corners. Expected to open their beautiful eyes anytime soon. They also had their 1st 3 days-worming course.
The eyes not fully
open, after reading about that & asking my breeder, I started wiping their eyes
gently with a cotton wool with warm water, this should help get rid of any
stickiness inside the eyes facilitating their opening.
Do NOT in any way squeeze them open.
The eyes of the girl are fully open, the boy still in the process, one eye opened, the other almost there.
Eyes of both my babies are now fully open ... Hurraayyyyy Yahooooooo wooo woooooooo
03/09/13 3 weeks of age
Both look lovely , they started sitting for the 1st time & interacting for the 1st time when I stroke them or call them. (see video in the links page)
Tiffany is ok with having some of my other cats as guests, but she feels not at ease if Betty ( my toy poodle) is close. I shall keep the kittens separated for their own protection until they are strong enough, probably at 8 weeks of age.
I decided to call my girl "Luna"
The boy is purring when stroked for the 1st time. They are still breast feeding only, I introduced baby cat food to their box to encourage them to wean from breast feeding. I tried to put a kibble of food in their mouth, but they are not interested. however, they attempted to drink a drop of water on their own when placed by the water bowl.
They both are "miawing" when I come to the room & wanting to get out of the box. Luna have managed to do so on her own. I take them off the box few times a day, they are curious, but still not litter trained.
Its time to move them to bigger setting.
16/09/13 almost 5 weeks of age now. Out of the whelping box in my bed room.
The kitten's whelping box has become too small for them, they are miawing when I come to the room & trying to get out of the box. I took them out of the box, they were happily wondering in the bedroom but Tiffany (the mum) got agitated as she likes them to be within a controlled place, so I divided a part of my bedroom about 1 m by 2.5 m with a metallic mesh ( part of a pet cage) & placed training pet pads all over the carpet, as they are not litter trained yet till I create an area in the conservatory for them. It all worked fine for 5 days. They are playful, introduced some toys for them & played with them daily. The mum can get out of that area any time she wanted & get back.
21/09/13 ... Kitties Moved to their new location.
I finally created a nice area in the conservatory for them, covered the floor with PVC sheet to protect the wood & many pet pads that can be changed if soiled. Also placed many toys, food & water , a cat bed that can take the mum & her kittens & a self cleaning robotic litter tray. I filled it with special kitten safe natural litter made from plants, its safe if swallowed. Kittens will play with the litter till they discover what is it supposed to be used for & will eat some, like any babies they feel everything with their mouth. They settled well in there. The mum can still get out & in if she wants.
They have stated to use the litter box, but not always. They are eating & drinking & still occasionally breast feeding.
They are more behaving now like adult cats, they have a lovely personality. They are so used to handling now & call for me when I come home. I am letting them freely in the house but under my supervision to get used to my other cats & dogs. Only under my supervision for their own protection as my 2 toy poodles try to play innocently rough with them. I tell my poodles off as I see them all over one of the kitties :) licking them & playing rough.... They groaned on one one of the cats, they seem to have preference :).
The babies are very active now, climbing the cat tree all the way to the top on their own, playing actively together and with all my cats & dogs. Tiffany re-gained her full strength, playing around as usual. I have taken so many videos including Betty (my toy poodle) cleaning the kitty boy as the mum usually do.
The babies been microchipped. They are out of their large special caged area all day, they learnt to climb the fence. They are playful & ok, but the doggies often play harsh with them. That why best to keep them in their area when not supervised.
The babies have are now with all the other cats roaming around the whole house, they are not separated anymore day & night even when I am not at home. While before today I used to keep them separated.
I shall keep the dogs separated when I am not around until the dogs are old enough to calm down, could be at 2 years of age.
The babies developed new friendships with my adult cats & dogs, they play together, sleep together. Lovely to see them happily playing. Soon We will depart with Tiffany's boy. Very sad. but c'est la vie as a breeder.
The boy has been transferred to his new home & caring family, he was given the name : Mozart.
Until next time
I shall not be writing daily blog, only few comments, new recommendations & a summary.
Born to Tiffany & Safari
on 29/03/14 between 09:10 - 09:40
* Boy (middle front) expected to be standard Seal point (SP)
* Girl (middle back) expected to be standard Seal point (SP)
* Boy (front left) expected to be Ultra Seal point (like his father) (USP)
SP & USP
will be used as Temporary reference for simplicity
* Girl expected to be Lilac point that I named Khaleesi
my future Queen (I am keeping her) = NOT Available
The Final colour expected to be fully established at 1 year of age
I bought a 3rd scoop free litter box especially for the kittens, as the other 2 are being used by the adults.
Thanks god , this time I was around at the beginning of the labour. Babies were delivered very fast this time, I did assist in delivering all of them, breaking the amniotic sac, sucking the water from the nose & mouth, cutting the chord, dying them up, making sure they are breast feeding with some KMR ( Kitten Milk Replacer ) help. Weighing them daily which is vital & can be a life saver.
One kitten breast fed till 2 weeks of age, then stopped gaining weight, I noticed the kitten was too peaceful & not a fighter to take a space for nursing all the time. So every time the kitten cries from hunger, I was giving KMR. This is as often as every 90 min. Thankfully they all sleep most of the night, so the last meal could be at midnight & then 1st meal at 6 AM.
KMR is a life saver, very difficult to get hold of in the UK, it comes from the USA & it is the most expensive, but the best. I keep a powder box for emergencies. once opened, best to store it in the freezer in portions. Liquid formula would be the best, store it in the fridge after emptying it in a glass container, I do add 2 drops of liquid Grape Fruit Seed Extract, acting as an antiseptic, antibiotic, anti parasitic etc.. ( I add it to all my pets drinking water) which will extend its storage life. I also add 2 drops to the 50ml of KMR of "Cellfood" ( multi vits, minirals & O4- a form of oxygen also helps extending storage life & provides extra nutrients to the milk.
I recommend buying the 236ml smaller liquid container, opening each one as needed keeping the milk given to the kittens fresher. They are almost the same price per 100ml.
You can find KMR on various sites, the cheapest can be purchased :
from this USA site:
Or from this UK site if
you need it urgently:
They are very playful now, licking my hand & playing with my figures and each other. Still weak & will stay in the whelping box probably till 4-5 weeks. We don't want a baby not finding his/her way to their mom for nursing.
26/04/14 4 weeks of age
The Colour of Khaleesi is to be determines, but looks more like the rare Lilac Point. Her future kittens will be Lilac, blue & all the lighter colour points. Refer to the "Colour Patterns" Guidelines on the sub page below.
My teddy bare looking kittens are so cute now, very playful & interactive. I carry & play with each of them daily few times a day which is important for their socialization skills, also they play with my 2 dogs supervised by me, to get used to other animals & of course my adult cats too. They call for me when I enter the room wanting to be held , cuddles & caressed..
I also decided to give them all KMR (kitten milk), since they all rush on the smell of it & want some, as a supplement as it is very nutritious (with the above mentioned additions, cellfood & Grape fruite seed extract). Even the Mom Tiffany gets some, she loves it & runs to me when i am feeding the babies for some Milk.. Well, at £22 / litre the babies have the priority, as all of them are also getting continuous access to the Royal Canin Baby & Mother Cat dry small kibbles.
After few hours of hard work. I moved my babies yesterday to the specially designed conservatory enclosure, added another camera & some panels so that the little Houdini-s cannot climb, fall & hurt them selves... (picture above) They love it there, all settled, playing around & they are all using the litter tray. Will keep the pads on the floor a bit more till I am sure they are all dry & no accidents on the floor.
24/05/14 8 weeks of age
The little Houdini-s are able to climb anything, & everything. I keep Patching their area to keep them in till they are older. I do take them into the lounge though but under my supervision. The boys seem to be needing more affection & cuddles :) & the girls are more independent. All of them are getting lots of love.
They spend most of their time now in the whole house but under my supervision on the ground floor. I still place them overnight & when at work in the special conservatory area, perhaps for another 2-3 weeks.
One kitten like some human babies are so used to bottle feeding that they wait for it. I started mixing KMR with Royal Canin Mother & Baby cat dry food. I mixed in the hand held blender dry food with hot water, then added some pre-prepared KMR from powder & water or Liquid KMR. The Kitten liked it even more than just KMR. This way they get used to the dry food taste as part of the weaning process.
I improvised a way for my Microchip reader pet door so that my dogs can go to the garden but not the cats, as 2 of my Sphynx cats have learnt how to use the dog flap. As the Petdoor (pet Flap) has a control panel that should be on the inside, but allows anyone out & selective entry, so reversing it means the panel has to be outdoor which will get short circuited in no time. Below a picture of what I did. :). They enter the microchip Pet door reader, then inside the corridor they exit through a normal pet Door. All that because they have not invented a pet door that allows selective entry & exit, they have done it only in a small size for cats, but not for dogs. SO My Cats can now enjoy the conservatory again.
21/05/15 12:00 --- 1 healthy kitten born to Luna & Safari, she has done it all by her self
04/06/15 23:30 to 01:30 5 Kittens born one after the other to Tiffany & Safari
Breeders of any flat faced pets especially Himalayan ColourPoint Persian cats, know how stressful, emotional & touching time birth is.
Was a long labour , Luna took care of Tiffany during early contractions , jumping to her box & licking her & talking to her. The 1st kitten's head was stuck inside as the cervix was not fully dilated, he was trying to pull him self out with his arms & legs then he went flabby for few seconds (cardiac arrest), within seconds I pulled him out & gave him CPR, he survived.
The 4rth kitten was born small in size, premature. As mentioned above, unlike humans cats can continue to be impregnated during multiple mating over few days or weeks, so although kittens are born at the same time, they would be at different stages of gestational age & physiological maturity. It was touch & go for him, by the 4rth day he picked up & started adding normal weight, by day 5, he looked he will make it & grow to be a healthy kitten.
Weighing them twice a day, any kitten that do not gain weight daily, or observed not to breast feed all the time as their bros & sisters, I supplement them with KMR, little dosages & more often is the best way to do it.
They seem all thriving well, eating gaining weight & developing their fur & colour patterns
Luna's boy doing great, purring, playing , eating well , sitting with head up, eyes wide open. Needed Terramycin ointment for 3 days. Its common for al babies, human & pets to have some sort of eye infection, it is important to catch the signs early before any pus develop (gritting, cloudiness, eye lids flickering, or glued together after sleep) room temperature normal tea eye wash is good too. If pus develops, then the ointment is needed 4 times a day in each eye even if only one eye is infected & more occasional tea wash as follows: drops from a cotton disc, then gently wipe & dry the surrounding of the eye, then apply the ointment. Don't forget to give him few carcases & kisses. place kittens over your heart, the sound of heart beats calms them down & makes them feel happy & secure. Emotional state is vital for babies to develop to a healthy adult.
All the kittens been out of the whelping box for a week now, they are all growing well & at a very playful age now, Luna's boy finally got his cousins to play with when ever he wants.
I have also installed my 5th microchip Pet door/flap to control access to my bedroom where the kittens are, also for the dogs to go to their toilet in the garden anytime they want without waking me up. :) I also included Zorro to use this flap as he misses me so much if he does not sleep next to me. Tiffany & Luna are staying up for their own good (health wise) as they are calling already & best to give them a break from getting pregnant.
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