Click photos to enlarge them.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm Back, Sort Of

Everything seemed to go well with my surgery.  I don't remember most of what happened.  They shot the happy juice in  my IV and I was in twilight.  I remember someone asking me if I had any pain, no, and that they were about halfway through the surgery.  That was strange, because I couldn't see anything.  They'd put a patch over my left eye to protect it, but I couldn't see out of my right eye.  I still haven't figured that out. 

I can't believe I'm posting my picture.  I couldn't use any mousse or gel on my hair, no moisturizer, but I was still okay from last night's application, and no make up, which was not a problem.

I CAN see.  Whatever padding they put over my eye to keep it closed isn't keeping it closed anymore.  I can see the white pad and feel that my eyelid is open.  My glasses are wonky over the patch, but I'm adapting.  I may even try to sew later.  If my glasses are in the right place, I can read my Kindle fine.  Watching TV is good, too.  And no problem eating.  Life is pretty good, considering.  I feel much better about having the surgery.  For the two days before, I didn't know whether to puke or have diarrhea.

John takes the patch off tomorrow to put some drops in several times a day.  The patch stays on until my doctor's appt on Tuesday;  I didn't have to keep my eyes down for 24 hours.  My only restrictions are no bending or lifting anything over 20 pounds, which sounds like a lot.  If I pick up a kitten, I'll have to squat down to do it.  Fortunately, all the babies seem to be doing well without bottle feeding.  Kind of sad, because I do love to bottle feed kittens.

I'll try for kitten pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eye Surgery

I may not be posting for a while.  I'm having eye surgery in the morning.  I have wrinkled retinas and they're doing the worst one, my right eye, tomorrow.  We have to be there at 5:30 AM!!!  My close friends are hysterical with laughter right now.  I didn't even know there WAS a 5:30 in the morning!  I'm not a morning person and have, on may days before Ambien, gone to bed around that time, so it's just a really late night to me. 

If they insert a gas bubble in my eye to expand it, blah, blah, blah, my vision may be blurred for anywhere from 1 day to eight weeks.  I'll take the one day, thank you.

John will be on scooping duty, kitten duty, and all the duties actually, for an unknown period of time.  I probably won't be able to read or sew for a while, and that will kill me.  If my eye is remarkably improved, I still won't be able to read until I get a new lens in my glasses.  It's going to be a long month or so  No idea when they'll do the other eye.

Mom and I went to the grocery store today.  I bought a ton of already prepared food from the deli.  John's a good cook, too, so we won't starve.  Most of the laundry is done, the house is picked up, litter boxes full of clean litter, and we have plenty of cat and dog food.  Whew!  I need a rest.

I'll let everyone know my progress as soon as I can.  The kittens will be huge.  I didn't tell John that litter box training starts at 3.5 weeks.

Cheri, Lisa, Julie, and Jen - I don't think I'll be at adoptions Saturday.  


Elsa's Kittens At Three Days Old

 Elsa was out of her box this morning laying on the floor.  Her babies were in two piles.
 She hopped in the box, layed down, and all the babies swarmed to her for breakfast.  No, that's not blood on the kitten's feet.  Keep reading.

An hour later when everyone was napping and Elsa was out of the box again, I put all the kittens in a tub and changed the towel in the box.  Two days is about the longest I can leave the towel in.  Kittens start peeing and pooping from the first day.  Mom does her best to clean it up, but she doesn't get all of it.  As they get older, the towel will need to be changed daily.
 The next five photos were taken in less than 30 seconds.  I snapped one about every five seconds to see how they moved around.  The pictures are in order.

In the past post, I made and took off colored Velcro collars for identification.  Last night I remembered that on Minnie's litter, I painted different paws with fingernail polish.  One kitten would have red polish on his front left paw.  Another one had it on his front right paw.  After the first four kittens had one paw each painted, I could do the two front paw, the two back paws, the two left paws and the two right paws.  That's eight kittens.

 The polish dries pretty quickly - within a minute or so.  The hard part was keeping Elsa from jumping up on my legs and taking the kittens out of my hands and putting them back in the box.  She did this about half a dozen times.

The kittens were crying and didn't like me blowing on the polish to get it to dry faster.  And Mom didn't like them crying at all.  But, I eventually got all eight kittens polished, recorded, and weighed.  Whew!  I feel better, now.

I think this is the same wavy-haired buff from two days ago.  He's now "Front Right."  FR for short.  He will double his size in the first week.
FR on 3-29

FR on 3-27

FR on 3-27
FR on 3-29

Clean Elsa, a clean towel, and full bellies for everybody.  I do give about half the kittens a little formula about four times a day.  Mom gets some, too in a bowl, plus canned, plus dry, plus more canned.  She needs three times her regular amount of food every day while she's nursing.

I can tell they've grown so  much in just three days.  To paraphrase Chief Brody in Jaws, I'm gonna need a bigger box.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elsa's Kittens Are One Day Old

Late last night when I checked on the babies, a few of them either weren't nursing or couldn't find a nipple.  I picked them up and they were limp.  I thought they were dead, but there was still a little life in there.  I opened a can of kitten formula, filled five 3ml medicine syringes (a little over 1/2 teaspoon), and gave a couple mils or more to the ones laying on the outskirts.  They wouldn't take the nipple, but did suck and swallow the formula.  I kept giving a little here and there till the syringes were empty.  All of the four or five I fed crawled to mom and found an empty spot to nurse, which surprised me, but I was very relieved and hopeful.  

I set my phone alarm for 4am to check on them, but I evidently slept through it and woke up at 9am.  I didn't know what to expect, but all eight were squirming around.  It looked a lot like when you first open a container of worms and they all get excited.  I was just as excited.  All eight of them were in a pile. I watched them crawl all over each other for several minutes.  The pile stayed the same width and in the same place, but all eight kittens were in constant motion - over, under, and around the next guy.  It finally dawned on me that they were exercising!  They were using their muscles and learning how to crawl.  Their eyes won't open till about day 10, and they can't hear for a while, but they sure knew how to work out.  Then, they all decided at one time to eat breakfast.  That's when I went downstairs and got the camera.

 This is a while later after they ate.  Everybody had a nice round belly and was ready for a nap.  This is when I got a carrier, put Elsa in it and gave her a much-needed shower.  I put a heater in the bathroom and ran my hair dryer, too.

 She didn't like it much, but she sure looked a lot better afterwards.  Before I let her out of her carrier, I changed the towel - Elsa was spotting a little - and tried to get some of the blood stain off the new box.  For all you CSI fans, blood does not come out of cardboard.

Being the anal type, I was going nuts not being able to identify eight orange kittens.  I couldn't record their weights, know who was eating when, and who was more active.  I need to know who is who.  I got my collection of Velcro out and made little collars.  As soon as I was done and took the picture, I decided the kittens were too little and took them all off.  I'm trying to chill.  Nobody is limp.  Nobody is skinny.  Everybody is active and eating.  But, didn't they look cute!

Three kittens are lighter, called buff, and two of the buff ones have a wavy coat.  So, I can identify ONE.  I can't tell you how much this bothers me.

This is one of the wavy-coated buffs. I'm going to try to document this same kitten throughout the nine weeks before they get neutered and vaccinated and available for adoption.  Mom's already been tested and is negative for feline leukemia and aids, so babies most likely are too.

I checked six of the eight and they are all boys.  The other two were eating.
He still has a little of the camel look.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Elsa Has Her Kittens

Kitten #1
Just when I thought Elsa would be pregnant forever, her water broke about 10 minutes after I got home from my mom's house this afternoon.  She was waiting for me in her birthing box, something she's never done without me coaxing her in it.  After that, things progressed at a rapid pace.  I got home about 4:30, and the first kitten was born at 4:51pm.  There's usually somewhere between 15 and 40 minutes between births, with longer periods for the later ones.  However, once Elsa got started, she was popping those babies out one after the other.  The first five were all born in less than an hour!  No. 6 took 28 minutes, #7 took 48 minutes, and #8 was an excruciating 1.5 hours later at 8:22.  He was a little smaller than the others, but only by .25 of an ounce.

Eight kittens in 3.5 hours has to be a record.  I don't know if it makes any difference, but I talk softly and slowly to my pregnant cats almost during the whole birthing process.  I tell them they're doing so well, just a couple more pushes, you can do this, let's go, etc.  I hold their hand or hold their back leg up to give them more room.  And they push a couple times, and out comes a kitten.

On an earlier post, I said I'd found a use for a wooden back scratcher with a curved hand on the end.  I used it to lift Elsa's tail to check for signs of impending birth for the last two weeks.  She didn't like my hand touching her below her neck, but the scratcher was fine.  I found another use for it tonight.  I held her leg up for her during each birth.

Having so many solid blacks cats that don't get adopted, I was so hoping that daddy wasn't black.  Once again, be careful what you wish for.  All eight kittens are orange.  Some a little darker, some a little lighter, but all are definitely orange tabbies.  They came so quickly, that I didn't take time to check for boys or girls, but most orange cats are boys.  I'll check tomorrow.

There are eight kittens, and mom has eight nipples.  No problem you say.  Well, one pair are located under her front legs, and one pair are under her back legs.  Two pair are out in the open.  Except when she's laying on her side to nurse, unless she's almost laying on her back, the bottom ones are hidden.  So there's usually only two nipples obviously exposed.  That does create a problem with eight hungry mouths.  After the first 24 hours when mom quits producing colostrum, a part of her milk that's very good for the kittens, I can supplement several times a day with a bottle for a few.

Even though things went perfectly, I was still as exhausted as Elsa.  I had to take a couple Advil for my back from bending over her box for five hours.  There seemed to be more bleeding with Elsa.  She was quite a mess, and I may take her in the shower tomorrow.  Or it could be that because this is my first light-colored mom, the bodily fluids were more obvious than on a gray, brown or black cat.

Even after four years of birthing kittens, I still sort of gasp when some come out looking like camels.  Their necks are long and their heads are small, but their noses are huge.  In less than five minutes, they seem to change into something that resembles a little kitten and I know they're not deformed.

This is Elsa with her first three kittens.  After each birth, I'd let her clean it well, and then the next one was coming.  I had a plastic tub ready with a heating pad covered with a towel.  I'd put each kitten in it before the next one came.  Mom moved around and changed positions a lot, and the babies tend to get trampled if left in the birthing box.  After the first five, when things slowed down, I always let her keep the last one until the next one came.  She'd hear them crying sometimes, but never seemed worried about where they were.

I didn't put this one there.  He climbed up all by himself.

I think this is all eight kittens before I had to get a clean box.  It was really icky.

 This is Elsa and all eight kittens in her clean box and almost clean towel.  The lightest one by Elsa's foot is the last one born that I was worried about.  He's going to be my favorite.  I tried to clean Elsa's back end up with a warm washcloth, but unless she spends all night cleaning herself, she'll be getting a shower tomorrow.

I'm a wreck, but everyone else is doing well.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March O'Morty

Jeanne did not disappoint us at guild last week.  Things have been a little hectic around here and I haven't done Morty's post.

O'Morty, the leprechaun, was complete with a green hat, green bow tie, white shirt, a sweater vest and plaid pants.  He even had a beard and hair! 

On the chair is a wee pot o' gold.  We each got a chocolate coin and they were delicious.  Thanks, Jeanne.

None of us knows how Jeanne comes up with all these creative ideas every month.  She really should be a professional event planner.  She's in charge of planning a quilt retreat for another group she's in.  I can tell them from personal experience that they are in for a treat.  The time and energy she devotes to whatever she does is amazing.

He also had his black shoes from last month, but they just wouldn't stay on his fat little club feet.

What will April Morty be?  April Fool's, Easter bunny, tax man?  I found a website, with hundreds of "National Day of....." listings for things you never thought there could be a day for.  Did you know that April 1st is International Tatting Day?  I didn't think so.  Or that April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.  I didn't think so, either.  And the list goes on.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Kittens From Elsa Yet

Today is Saturday.  I've had Elsa, my pregnant cat, for 16 days, now.  Sixteen days longer than I thought she'd be pregnant when I got her.  I check her back end 8 to 10 times a day with a flashlight for a sign the birth canal is getting bigger.  So far, no change at all.  She will let me touch her belly if I go slowly, but she doesn't like for me to touch her butt, and will rabbit kick my arm and hand with her back feet.  She's even teethed me quite often when I've gotten too close.  I can't blame her.  She feels like a beached whale, was taken from her home, even though it wasn't a good home, and given to a strange lady in a strange house with clean floors, clean beds, clean water, no-grain cat dry food and good canned food every day.  I do have to say that Elsa is adapting quite well.

I've put a chair next to the bed so she can jump on it and then onto the bed.  She likes to lay next to me and have her head rubbed.

I check her every few hours and have figured out that if I use a wooden back scratcher with a little curved hand at the end to lift her leg up when she's laying down, that she lets me check her with no kicking or biting.  Go figure.  Now, THAT would be a picture.  John can take one tomorrow.

With her belly shaved, I can now see the kittens moving.  On her back seems to be the most comfortable way for her to lay.

My niece, Brooke, spent Wed to Sat here waiting on kittens with me.  She went home today very disappointed.
 Elsa looks so uncomfortable.  She's waddling instead of walking.  When she goes from the bedroom carpet to the closet vinyl, her feet splay out and she has a hard time getting her footing to walk.

She also has this habit of walking between my legs and following each of my feet when I take each step.  So she's weaving left, right, left, right.  If I don't walk very slowly and carefully, I'll step on her or trip over her with every step I take.

On the left is Elsa a couple days ago.  On the right is her today.  I don't know how she can get any bigger.  The skin over her belly is very tight.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My 911 Call

Last Thursday morning I was driving my mom to Chester, IL, for a second look at the assisted living facility she'll be moving into in May.  It's just under a 2-hour drive.  About half-way there, the car in front of me was weaving from one side of the road to the other.  Then he'd be okay for a few miles.  Then he'd cross the center line and jerk back to our lane.  It's a two-lane road, so crossing the line can be a head-on collision.  I watched him repeat this for about 15 minutes and decided I needed to do something about it.  I'm sure it had nothing to do with the 20 hours of cop shows we watch every week.

I called 911 from my cell phone and told the operator what was going on.  She connected me with the Monroe County sheriff's office.  I repeated my observation and gave them his license plate number. I had pulled up close enough to get it, then backed off about a fourth of a mile.  She asked my location. We were just coming into Red Bud.  At the stop sign in town, I told her that he turned right and was going south on Rt. 3, the same way I was going, and that it was a white PT cruiser with no side windows - like a panel van.  She asked my name and phone number, which I gave her, and asked if I could stay on the line, and I said yes.  No further conversation for about 10 minutes.  Then, I saw a police car in my rear-view mirror.  When he got behind me, he turned on his lights.  I pulled over, he went around me and up behind the weaver, who pulled over, too.   The cop got him.  I was so relieved and very curious about why he was all over the road.  It WAS a guy, and he did look kind of weird. 

In my fantasy, he was drunk as a skunk and I saved a family from being hit head on and killed.  Or he was a drug runner from Mexico with 200 pounds of cocaine lining his car doors.  And no, I don't think I watch too much TV.  I'd like to call the sheriff's office tomorrow and find out what really happened.  He was probably falling asleep, which would be a logical explanation for the erratic behavior.  But, I like my fantasy better.

Later, I wondered if by me staying on the phone with the dispatcher, the police were tracking ME through my cell phone to get the idiot's location.  They never asked where I was exactly after the first time.  I don't know how technically advanced the county police are in southern Illinois, but I'm very thankful they responded and pulled him over.  I hope they did more than just give him a ticket, too.  Four hours later when we were going back home, there was no white car where he was pulled over. 

Elsa, my pregnant cat, is still pregnant with eight kittens.  When I got her a week and a half ago, I didn't think there was a chance in the world that she'd still be pregnant by the third Tuesday of the month for my quilt guild meeting.  Well, my meeting is in two days.  I think she'll be another week and I'll make the meeting.  However, I missed two meeting in three months last summer because of cats going into labor.   How do they know???

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

You know that old saying - Be careful what you wish for?  It was said to me yesterday by another foster mom, Jen, who called me Miss I-Need-a-Kitten-Fix.  Yes, I Am.  It's no secret I've been waiting for kitten season since last fall.  I was so thrilled to get Elsa last week and thought she was very close to giving birth.  Five days later, no kittens.  Not even any of the usual signs since she faked me out the day she came.  I'm not feeling kittens move, her nipples aren't pink and filled, she won't go in the birthing box, and other signs I won't go into.

Elsa has a hairy back end, called pants, that she can't reach to clean because of the kittens, but she won't let me clean her, either.  I took her to the vet yesterday so they could shave her pants, and they did her tummy, too, and trimmed her back nails.  They also took an x-ray so I'd know how many kittens to expect.  The vet called me into the exam room and had the x-ray on the screen.  I figured there were six, but wasn't expecting Marcy to tell me Elsa was carrying EIGHT kittens! She's not as close to delivery as I thought because there's eight instead of six and she's just bigger.  She's got a couple weeks to go and should be HUGE by then. In the four years I've been with Heartland, I don't remember a cat having eight kittens.

She's not much older than a kitten, herself.  Marcy said less than two years, so I put down 1.5 years old on her form.

I feel better about being gone all day today,  and having meetings Saturday and Tuesday.  Tuesday is my monthly quilt guild meeting that I had to miss twice last summer for kitten deliveries.  I just knew Elsa would wait till Tuesday, but now it looks like I'll get to go to my meeting.

Elsa is so sweet and beautiful.  I named her after my wonderful grandmother, who everybody in town knew as Elsie.  It wasn't until I started doing genealogy 15 years ago that I found out her name was really Elsa in English, but she was baptized as Ilsa, the German form of the name.  Like Ingrid Bergman's character in Casablanca.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Introducing Elsa

I got my first pregnant cat of kitten season on Thursday afternoon.  Elsa was rescued from a hoarder in Bowling Green, Mo, by a group called C.A.P.A. in Bowling Green.  It stands for Community Animal Protection Assn.  A very nice lady named Gail drove her all the way to my house.  They thought she was going to pop any day, and I think they're right.  Gail arrived about 2:30 pm, and by 5:30, I thought kittens were on the way.

This is two hours after she got to my house.  Oh, boy, kittens tonight!!!  Elsa was laying in her birthing box, on her side, panting and kneading my hand.  After 10 minutes of that, she got up, walked out of the box, explored the room, and ate a whole small can of cat food and drank lots of water.  Then went to the litter box and peed and pooped.  My question of if she was litter box trained was answered.  Then, she layed on the floor and showed no signs of impending kittens.

Later that night, I let her out into the bedroom.  She jumped up on the bed with me, and I trimmed her front nails.  She is so sweet and loving and rubs all over me.  I can barely walk in the room without tripping over her.  I didn't know what to expect, except I knew she wasn't black, but was white and orange and long-haired.  Well, she turned out to be medium-haired, and cream with orange ears and buff tail and legs.  I hope her kittens are half as beautiful as she is. And I hope Dad wasn't black.  I still have four black cats I can't find homes for.

 This was 10  minutes after she faked me out. 
 Elsa was exploring the bedroom.  Even without the longer hair, she's still carrying a load.  Without an x-ray, I'm going to say she's carrying six kittens.  I don't know how old she is, but CAPA had her tested , and she's negative for feline leukemia and aids.  Her eyes had some goobers in the corners, and her nose is a little stuffy, so she's on an antibiotic that's safe for pregnant cats.

No fleas or ear mites, but I gave her a dose of Revolution for worms, fleas, and a few other things.

I don't know the extent of the hoarding - how many animals there were, and I'm not sure I want to know.  She appears so be in very good health, considering her circumstances.
 Maybe the cooler floor felt better than the box.
 She doesn't eat standing up, but lets her rear end lay on the floor.  I can't blame her.  Why hold something up if you don't have to.

She ate three cans of food and almost a whole bowl of dry the first day.  Pregnant and nursing cats need three times their normal amount of food.  She's got lots of milk to produce soon.
So far, she's more comfortable on the floor than in the birthing box.

1:00 am Sat morning and no kittens.  If things still look okay by late Sat morning, I'll still take cats up the Petsmart, but if if looks like she's serious, I'll stay home.  When I first got into fostering, my mentor, Angie, took a lot of the pregnant cats, because she was home during the day.  She would tell me stories about needing Marcy, the vet, at 3am when a cat was in trouble and needed medical help to live, etc.  I thought there's no way I could ever do that.  Then, a pregnant cat needed a place to go and I was the only one with an empty bedroom.  Piece of cake!  The cat had two of them when I walked in one morning to feed and scoop and check on her.  I watched while the other three were born over the next four hours.  Up until this time, I had only had orphans that needed bottle feeding six times a day.  Well, this was great!  Mom feeds them, cleans them, and cleans up after them.  All I did was feed and scoop mom.  I was liking this.

Elsa will be my sixth or seventh pregnant cat, I think. Knock on wood, the most I've had to do to help was to gently pull one out that was back feet first, and wipe the sac away from the nose of #3 while Mom was still licking #2 off.  Now, I love the births.  I'm so excited, I'm going upstairs and check on Elsa.

More tomorrow