Grace's Babies Take Their First Step

by Adia Kilpatrick
LoyalroyaL British Shorthairs

Published July 2004

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Adia Kilpatrick, a "newbie" British Shorthair breeder, continues her observations of her first litter. If you missed the litter's "arrival" read the article, Grace's First Litter.

It seems my first litter owns me.

Has it been already a month since that pivotal point in my life? How time evaporates when your mind and heart are possessed.

This is a glorious day! Gas prices soaring, stocks tumbling, crime rising, morale falling, Life going on bleeding and bruised.

Despite it all, this day I impatiently watched the clock, eager to brave rush-hour traffic on the drive home. My mind is fixed on the cherished quintuplet of impossible cuteness at home.

During the first week the babies nursed and slept in a pile. That's it.

During the second week they nursed and slept in two piles with a lone trooper nearby.

At the beginning of the third week their eyes opened, and by the middle of that same week they were seeing and hearing. By the end of the third week they were individuals interacting with each other.

At the four-week point they entered toddlerhood. I thought kittens crawled just forward, but they didn't. How comic to watch them push themselves backwards, or drag themselves forward and fall sideways.

Daily I'd weighed them on a digital food scale, and at about this time they'd exploded from the ounces to the pounds phase. Their mother still nursed them, but herself was eating whenever she wasn't nursing or sleeping. I realized the time to wean had come.

I mixed a jar of meat baby food with a can of Iams kitten food on a saucer and scraped it towards the edges. Sitting cross legged on the floor, I placed the saucer in front of me and waited for the tickling sensation I'd feel on my knees and feet in a minute.

I grasped each kitten in order, gently pressed on jaws to open the mouth and inserted a food-heaped mini popsicle stick into it. The food was immediately sucked and I set the baby in front of the saucer to associate the smell with the taste. That's all it took - I soon had five lapping kittens.

There are several brands of premium dry cat food on the market, but Royal Canin makes a "baby cat" formula with itty bitty star-shaped kibbles. I spread some on a paper plate and keep it available 24/7.

The mother, who hates this formula, seemed to sense my mission and began eating it.

Sure enough, in minutes some kittens followed suit.

Heeding advice given to potty after eating, I set them on natural clay litter I'd poured into two rectangular cake pans. They first ATE it! Then they rolled around in it. I soon found a puddle on the floor. I used a half sheet of paper towel to absorb it then tore the soiled piece into the litter pan.

Next, holding the babies over the litter, I rubbed their bottoms with a moistened cotton ball and let the excretion run into the litter. Their wonderful mother came around checking out the strange litter pans and demonstrated the appropriate behavior.

Thus the weaning, litter-training phase lasted but one evening!

Today I cradled a precious baby under my chin. Today others around the world lost a baby. Or son, daughter, sibling or parent. Today hundreds in the Caribbean lost their lives, homes, family, everything to floods and mudslides. Today Iraq is a microcosm of global chaos. Reflecting on these things, I felt a vibration in my hand and for me, despite everything, today became Christmas as I heard the kitten's first purr!

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