Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm a great-grandma

That's what Emma tells me anyway. Her cat, Fluffy, had kittens this past weekend. We came home from the show to find 2 little kittens in a box safely tucked behind Fluffy. This is Fluffy's third litter, but none of the others have survived. This time Fluffy is being very careful not to leave their side. I'm a bit worried about her because she won't even leave the box to eat or drink. I've been putting food up next to her to get her to eat. She needs her strength.

April 15th update:
I'm sorry to have to say that neither of the kittens made it. I really thought this time they would. Fluffy was so attentive. On Sunday we found one of them in the box with Fluffy, but taking her last breaths. We don't know if there was a fatal birth defect, or if she suffered some injury (could she have fallen out of the box and hit her head?), we don't know what happened. J tried to revive her but it was not to be. I wanted to move the box with the remaining kitten in case it was an injury from falling. I did not want to risk that happening again (the box was set on top of a stack of hay bails). However, when I tried moving the box, Fluffy refused to go into it with the kitten. That remaining kitten would not have survived even a few hours without it's mom. So, knowing that Fluffy was already mourning the loss of one baby, I kept the box in it's place in hopes she would not reject the remaining kitten. Fluffy did get back in the box and I prayed it would be ok. The next morning I found Fluffy in the box and the one remaining kitten doing well. I waited a day, then moved the box to a lower location. Fluffy went into the box with the kitten and it seemed ok, however, the next time I came to the barn, the kitten was missing. Fluffy cries and cries when I come into the barn, but I have no been able to locate the missing kitten. I assume it has also passed on. Without Fluffy's constant care it could not make it on it's own.

This is one reason why having barn cats isn't the best idea. I know there are dangers out there, and there are consequences of having a barn cat. We do need to have Fluffy fixed so that she is not going through this. I hate to see the loss of life.

I have wondered if Fluffy passes on a type of genetic birth defect that account for why none of her kittens survive. There has to be some reason none of them survive. I have read that maybe 40% of all kittens born do not make it to weaning, but for none of Fluffy's to make it seem rather harsh odds. I also find it odd that her litters are all very small (first litter was only 1, the next 2 were litters of 2). If not a birth defect, it may be some other issue at play. I've read things like Feline leukemia virus infections can cause stillbirths and fading kittens (sort of like SIDS in humans). We have never seen Fluffy give birth, it is possible there are stillbirths along with the live kittens. It seems there are a number of reasons why this could be happening. Sad none the less.

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