Saturday 14 May 2022

I like the way you moooooove!

 YES! Today, mid purr session I finally felt and saw little movements inside of Pru’s tummy, and once that happened once, later, it happened again! 

This is the bit where I start to get breathless with anxiety & excitement. To share the birth experience with my beautiful pet is a wonderful thing. I’m totally trusted as part of the process & it’s magical. At the same time, I’m terrified… full of dreaded what if scenarios playing at breakneck speed in the cinema of my mind. I try not to look, choosing those moments to take my eyes from the screen as if reaching for the popcorn bucket held two chairs along! Of course, cats (animals) have been birthing babies quietly very successfully, however, since my introduction to breeding began with two cesarean sections before I’d ever witnessed a labour and birth, I’m all to aware aware of what can go wrong. Prunes previous two litters have been born without a hitch - even breach births are handled with consummate ease - and without so much as a whimper - having birthed two babies myself, I know that we humans do not (often) do it silently - so the multiple births in one litter without a complaint leaves me in complete awe & wonder. 

Of course the silence & preference for a night birth is evolutionary in order to help safeguard her new generation of progeny against predation. The mother cat will clear up any evidence (placenta) of the birth & will move her kittens to a different area soon after birth. Even though safe, domestic cats will still do all of this today…. They spend a days prior to labour checking out birthing spots… an outdoor cat may well have found the most hidden little nooks & crannies to hide in.  As a teen my moggie Ziggy gave birth in the wall cavity of a store room only leading is to them days later when she wanted to move them. We made a hole in the thick panel board so as to reach inside to bring them inside. As a breeder of the indoor Sphynx cat though I am able to influence her choice of nestIng site. 

Many breeders have what they refer to as a kitten room. They install the mother to be inside this room with bedding and den, away from the rest of the household which may consist of other cats, and dogs as well as human family. I choose not to do this. For me it’s way too clinical & since I have only my pet cats & me  there are no issues with clashing personalities I simply provide a high sided, well padded out & comfortable  kittening bed (box) where she can birth & raise her litter. At first she stays with them 24/7 - except to use the litter box. I bring food & water into the room so that she need only leave the box a few moments. As they grow bigger to get peace she will often choose to leave them for short periods to sleep in her usual spot returning to them frequently to feed them. Once the little critters are mobile, and can climb, I do end up in the final weeks they are with me, co-sleeping as the entire crew made up of my adult cats and the kittens in residence all piled on top of the two heat mats on one side of my bed! It’s not for everyone I know, but as I live alone I am very happy for my cats to be on my bed. They like t be wherever I am. If I’m in the lounge they have a heat mat there in their cat tree, or have a tower condo of 4 units in which I’ve put cuddle pouches that they can snuggle into or most likely will seek out my lap. When I go to bed, they follow me and their 2 further heated mats are their very favourite place, they ask to be tented under a blanket & so they have no need to heat seek by getting into my covers. My kittens truly are raised underfoot, playing with my family including small grandchildren living with me fully which I hope helps make them into the best social, unfazed pets for their new families. Breeders with kitten rooms on the other hand do have hygienic rooms where only those kittens & their mother tread. And as time passes eventually the mother cat will come away completely from her kittens (once they’re fully weaned), but the kittens will continue to live completely within that one room - enriched though it will be with toys and scratch posts etc, and with siblings for company - I just feel that they are missing the element of socialising in the home environment with other pets and people. They’ll be meeting their human (breeder) mostly only at food and litter clean up times. This means they have so much less opportunity to take part in ordinary household life, to run about & play to gain courage. This of course is just my own take on it. And others will have their own strongly held views. I realise too that those who breed on a larger scale than I may need to segregate cats - particularly if there are jealousies and litters come at the same time (2 kitten rooms?), but for me it is just too remote, too disconnected from them being pets - it fails to allow these kittens who after all are bred to be valued pets to be learning how to be pets from the get go. 

It’s unlikely I’ll manage to get video of Prunes babies wriggling in her tummy. She doesn’t lay still all splayed out long enough, however some years ago I got a fairly good short video of Noodle’s babies wriggling away inside as she slept soundly… this is on my Sphynx Cat Cam You Tube channel. Enjoy