|November brings the close of Keva's 2010 Kitten Diary
As I contemplate the miracle and science of creating a
life, the enormity of the whole process and of all the opportunities for
something to go wrong, I wonder can we possibly grasp all the details? I
hate to compare it to anything I am capable of doing as it in no way can
be compared but… I am a bit of a perfectionist when I look at my own
artwork. I can always find
mistakes and things that could have been done better. The mere fact that
I am involved, as small as my part is, in the process of producing a
kitten begs the question of a mistake happening. It’s that” what
if” hindsight factor. I am able to blame myself and question my
decisions in multiple places of the time line I am about to
describe….and we can go all the way back to the days Keva was
Cats are induced ovulaters. The release of eggs is
triggered by the hormones that are released in response to the act of
mating. This breeding resulted in only one kitten.
I had become sensitized to not over breed
Keva because of her 2008 litter of nine kittens. Breeding her to Polo
was new and Polo dearly loves her. He held on to her and would not let her go.
He bred her multiple times in each session until I pulled them apart.
Getting between a stud and his lady love is not something for the faint
of heart. Polo was very good to me but very strong and stubborn in his
desire to keep her with him. I would have been happy to leave them
together as companions but the consequences of such a move would be too
many eggs released and a huge litter (overcrowding in the uterus and
loss of some of the babies). I didn’t want to repeat that experience.
I normally breed my girls two to three times a day for three days. The
max I will do is nine times in three days. Keva
was bred seven times and with the multiple acts in each session I
was worried she would have a large litter. Imagine my surprise
when Keva had no kittens in August.
We know Polo can produce kittens he had no problem with his
litter with Tasa, our first from him.
There are questions about why this would happen but too many
answers to judge on so little data. We need to try again. We went
through the same process and I bred Keva seven times over three days
with Polo not surrendering her after his first go.
October rolled around and we discovered the worst
possible number of kittens…one. Now you might think one is a good
number with lots of available nutrients, lots of extra attention from
momma and no shortage of milk. In reality one is not the number any
breeder wants to see. Starting from before the kitten is born, the
number of kittens in a litter controls the growth of each individual by
limiting the space available in utero. Unchecked
a single kitten can grow too large to pass through the mother’s
pelvis. The largest bone in diameter would be the skull. A kitten trying
to deliver head first and not being able to pass gives warning to go for
a c-section. We are way more familiar with feline c-sections then we
would like to be, lol. Our
kitten count x-ray showed us the kitten was going to deliver breach.
Hind legs and tail first. If it head was too big it would be stuck half
delivered. We start assessing the facts, Keva is a larger female, and
she has always delivered her litters without medical intervention. I
think the majority of little momma Maeve’s kittens were born breach
and she did fine. Breach
kittens often need a little bit of extra help, gentle tug during a
contraction to help them out. Looking at the kitten on the x-ray it
looks large but its head is not terribly large compared to the size of
Keva’s pelvis opening. We decided to allow this to move forward
naturally as long as she didn’t pass up her due date. Sixty five days
gestation would put the due date at Thursday November 4th.
Halloween, Keva has begun nesting. Oh
how cute would it be the have our little treat born on Halloween?…and
the possible diary names, how fun…but it was not to be.
Keva nesting in the birthing box
with her momma Maeve.
November 1st, 1:00pm - Keva shows the
first sign that her kitten is on its way, small amounts of discharge
from the cervical mucous plug begin spotting her nesting towel. I added a
white towel so I can have a visual reference to the amount and type of
discharge. This goes on all day and into the night with no active
contractions. I stay up with
her all night in case she goes into labor. The discharge continues until
about 3 pm on Tuesday but only mucous and no fluid. During the day I sent a short
email to my vet to let her know Keva was getting ready. In the evening
she gives me a call to see where we are at. Since 3 pm Keva has done
nothing more. She is not in distress. In fact she is quite relaxed and
sleeping with Fenya. Fen has become her necessary companion. It is as if
Keva sees her as her baby? Keva grooms her and fusses after her. She
wants Fen with her. The
doctor discussed possible options with me. Cats can stop labor and delay
the delivery of kittens when stressed or fearful. Keva did this with the
delivery of her first litter in 2007. Her last two kittens were
delivered more than five hours after the first three.
This is the reason we now x-ray the moms to see how many kittens
they have. The amount of
time they can delay is limited. Mother nature will take over and labor
will continue regardless of what the queen wants. We
look at our timeline. From the time the cervix is fully dilated (open)
until delivery is a 24 hour window. Oh great that helps, lol. Is her
cervix even fully open? We haven’t had any fluid discharged (water
break). We could x-ray her again to see where the kitten was. Oxytocin
could be given to start labor. This would have to be done in hospital
because we would have to be ready to go into surgery if the kitten was
too big. Should we act now out
of convenience for the staff and doctor? Middle of the night deliveries
and the few days after are very hard on all concerned. I can come home
get into my pajamas and rest throughout the day while watching Keva .
The doctor and her staff have to see a full day of patients the next
We went into this with avoiding surgery as our
topmost goal for Keva. That is still my goal. I want to be sure I have
not become too ready to turn to surgical intervention. We have the
experience to know there are no magical solutions that will save the
momma and all the babies. There are real risks with all the options.
Keva is resting comfortably, she is not in any distress and we are two
days in front of her due date. We decide to let Mother Nature stay her
course. I continued to sit at Keva's birthing box rubbing her tummy and
November 2nd - During this process Keva had become very
protective. She is on the attack, she chased Emma two different times.
She became sensitive to any of the darker bodied cats presence.
She had decided they were a threat. Fen became the cat of choice to be
her companion. She was now truly mothering Fen. I isolated Keva first in
my office and then moved the box to our bedroom because I wanted her to be as
emotionally comfortable as possible. Fen and Maeve were allowed to come
in. She was fine with Fen but occasionally was not sure of Maeve.
I spend another night monitoring Keva. She, Fen ,
and Maeve slept quietly on our bed through most of Tuesday night.
November 3rd - Wednesday morning. Keva was not in distress. She
was quite relaxed when lying with Fen in the birthing box. I was rubbing
her tummy when my finger got wet. Her milk had come in. Around 11 am
Keva had a small amount of pinkish watery vaginal discharge, a normal part of
the birthing process. We should for sure have this kitten in the next 24
hours. Keva's cervix was open.
Keva was still quite relaxed, lol. With only one
kitten it has been hard for me to feel the kitten moving. I had only felt it
that one morning on October 24th. I kept trying to feel it to see if it
was moving but with no luck. I really didn’t want to palpate her too
strongly or deeply because I didn’t want to inadvertently tear the
placenta from the uterine wall. I had placental abruption (no known
cause) happen to me late in one of my pregnancies; it’s not something
I want to be the cause of with any of our litters. It was nearing the
end of the hospitals work day and still no contractions in Keva. One of
the risks with one kitten is that the mother may never go into full
labor. There can be a lower level of the necessary hormones produced.
I’m looking at her thinking... should I call our
and move this forward with oxytocin? At 4:48 pm Keva had her first
big contraction. The second one followed in two minutes, here
we go…. Usually contractions start slowly and 20 to 30 minutes apart.
Nothing about this pregnancy has been by the textbook, lol. The
contractions continued and the kitten’s back toes presented in the
sack. Keva had several more contractions and began to show she was
She began yelling with each contraction. The
kitten’s feet went back in after each contraction subsided.
Once I saw the bag had broken I decided to help
Keva by applying some lubricant jelly and gently pulling on the kittens
feet during each contraction while Keva was pushing.
By the third contraction with my tugs it was half
way out and its placenta came, wrapped around its belly, before the head was out. I really
didn’t like seeing that. How long had the placenta been detached? Now
I was worried about the head getting stuck but Keva had no trouble
able to deliver the kitten just before 5:30pm. The kitten was limp and
not moving. I continually rubbed it, shook it by the scruff, massaged
its chest, allowed Keva to lick it, and at the end I even tried little
CPR puffs but I could not get the precious little boy to respond ...and
he was so
The kitten weighted 3.125 ounces. A normal sized
kitten for Keva. She has delivered larger kittens, the largest was
Blitzen at 3.875 ounces in her 2009 litter.
Keva became very agitated after the delivery and
began digging in the towels and biting and pulling at them. I sat with
her petting her and talking calmly too her. She would only settle down
when Fen was with her. She is confused and misses her baby.
I tried giving her a beanie baby kitten in the
nesting box. I thought the weight of it against her tummy might help.
She settled down a bit but clearly was not fooled. I am giving her extra
attention and so is Fen.
Keva the evening of Wednesday
Keva has begun charging at Maeve. Its
strange behavior. It doesn't seem to be that she wants to attack her.
The first time it happened I think it was a confused response due to the
darkened room light. I think Keva mistook Maeve for one of the darker
bodied cats. Funny how the bad guys wear black and the good guys wear
white even with cats, lol. After this first chase Maeve became wary of
Keva because she was not behaving in a familiar manner. At bedtime Maeve
was sleeping on my lap and Keva came and curled up with her. She gave
Maeve's ears a deep cleaning, lol. and they fell asleep....but then I
had to move to get ready for bed. They both startled awake and Keva took
out after Maeve. Poor Maeve, she waited until we were all in bed and
Keva was asleep before she came back in to go to bed.
- Keva was doing well but still confused by her hormones. She would come
calling through the house to me if she woke up and no one was with her.
When I would walk to her she would run back to the nesting box and begin
digging in the towels. She would settle down if I sat with her and rubbed
her tummy and stroked her fur. I have been encouraging her to sleep up on
the bed. I want to remove the box but not until she is more resolved. I've
removed the towel I had draped across the top. Its now more open and less inviting as
a protective "cave". Keva naps with Fen and Maeve and startles
awake suddenly. Crying she dashes into the nesting box. I try to relax her
and comfort her. This afternoon Fen went into my office to nap and left
Keva sleeping. Keva came searching and calling for her baby. I tried to
settle her several times but it didn't last long. I went and got the
sleeping Fen and brought her to Keva. It was what Keva needed. They curled
up together and finished their afternoon nap. Maeve and Keva still have
this erratic thing between them. Sometimes Keva is fine with Maeve being
near and then out of the blue she will charge at her. Maeve is wary enough
to high tail it out of the room but she always comes back. She sat in the
doorway watching Keva for some time. Keva knew she was there and was fine
with her presence. It makes me wonder what is going on in their minds.
Does Maeve know what has happened and forgives the behavior?
-More of the same for Keva but she has stopped biting and pulling at the
towels. She is spending less time in the box and now jumps up on the bed
when she needs attention. In observing when she charges at Maeve it
seems like it is now a game with Keva. She knows if she charges momma will
run. Keva doesn't even chase her. I'm going to work on getting Maeve is
stand firm by holding her when I see it coming. Maeve needs the confidence
to stand up to Keva. Fen is beginning to go into estrus. When one of the
girls is in heat it adds stress to the entire clan. This evening we put
away the box. Maeve is taking Keva's charges in stride. I've held her a
couple of times and now she is less nervous and more relaxed around Keva.
- Keva and Maeve spent the day sleeping together. Fen is too busy being
boy crazy to nest and Keva seems fine with the shift of companionship.
Keva has stopped calling and no longer needs someone with her all the
November 7th, Sunday - Keva and Maeve were
snuggled together today. Keva's head tucked into her momma chest, so
sweet. Keva is still charging her from time to time. This morning she was
fine with Maeve then out of the blue she charged her and Maeve just stayed
on the bed, lol. I think this game is losing its power. Keva will be bred
again when she cycles.