LISTEN TO THE SOUND OF FEEDING GANNETS!
We began the weaning process a few days ago & I’ve been spending time very hands on with each of the boys individually as they take the next big steps from suckling to using their tongues & mouths differently. While they do this, they are also gaining new texture, taste & aromas which being unfamiliar, at first they’re not that sure about. The tummy feel of having fed on meat will be different too & their little digestive systems are now ready primed with the necessary enzymes to process more solid matter.
I begin each lesson after closing mum & her team out of the room, as this happens, the kittens become eager to greet me & are now getting themselves up onto the roof of their new “shed” and meowing for all they’re worth. At least they’re keen!
I will take the kitten who seems most keen, plucking him from his roof top and bringing him to stand on a puppy training pad placed on the floor. On this I’ve placed a shallow dish in which is the warmed mushed a soup of milk and pouched kitten meat. I now get this mush on my fingers and bring it to their muzzle so that they can sniff & hopefully are intrigued to taste. I will open the mouth and put some meat in allowing them to work out how to deal with this new food. I repeat this several times, and often by holding up the dish to their chest height can get them suckling the food from the dish. Each day, as they learn more I can either lower the dish bit by bit and their head will follow, or I’ll get them to come lower and lower using my fingers from which they are licking the meat/milk concoction. I have been following the lessons with as much milk as each wants from the teat. Today, with lessons advancing particularly well for two of them I’ve moved them on by bringing all four kittens to the dish together hoping the two slower chaps will follow the example set by their siblings. As you’ll have seen from the video above, 3 boys were lapping away with gusto while the other had to be brought back. I stopped filming so that I could have both hands to help him.
One of the boys, is still VERY reluctant to give up the teat. I soooo wish I could film our struggle so that others could see. I’m offering the full syringe & teat, but now he thinks that it’s a rare opportunity having convinced himself milk like this is in short supply. His tummy craves the warm fluid fill so he grabs at the teat forcefully, both hands with claws outstretched, opened wide it looks like an oversized (for him) catchers mitt. Teat in mouth held in his teeth, there is now a tug of war because his pulling so hard has pulled the teat off of the syringe. He deciphers my efforts to reattach it as withdrawal and becomes frenzied that his milk is being denied to him. I try hard to keep the teat on and to start delivering the milk he craves, but it’s not fast enough and he is now crazed. I can’t convince him that his interpretation is unfounded. He grapples more, by now he is up on just his hind legs, claws and hands as large as he can make them over the teat. Milk spilled from the syringe coats his chest and meat coats his face! Eventually, with maybe ½ a syringe of milk left I can give him what he is after and as finally it’s delivered, his hands drop he goes stiff in excitement as he sucks down milk as if it will never appear again. At the end, you guessed it, the teat needs to be eased out from his mouth! Bless him.