Yes, every post in this blog is about faeces. This afternoon, my mother and sister came over to see me, and brought me a Jelly-Tip icecream, which was nice, but nothing else about the visit was nice, because: 1. On their way up the path they failed to see the large lump of dogshit some godforsaken animal had deposited there and trampled right through it, BOTH OF THEM, and tracked it into my house, including over the living-room carpet. 2. Then they sat and played with the kittens while I cleaned up shit. Someone (probably Teddy) had crapped in the bedding towel so my mother thought it would be helpful to throw it out the window and I had to go outside to get it, which is how I discovered the trampled shit. Thank God, I did not step in it. 3. Then while they were 'watching' the kittens Benjamin pissed in the corner and Roxy used the litterbox and kicked half the poo over the side onto the floor, so I had to clean THAT up as well.
I said to my mother, 'If I'm ever at home with a new baby, and you come to visit, can you try not to walk through shit on your way in?' Goddamn it, she came over ostensibly to get some herbs from my garden for her Christmas stuffing and I don't think she even picked any! I'll have to phone her. Normally I like a visit from my family, but this was nothing but stress and bad smells from beginning to end. I can't stop thinking I smell shit everywhere now. I have to hire a Rug Doctor once the kittens are big enough to move to a different room for a couple of hours.
Now I don't mind them turding up the litterbox in the night, that's understandable - but this poo on the carpet business will not stand. Please, off-roading poo kittens, catch on. Fortunately I am now armed with disinfectant wipes from yesterday's shopping trip, so cleaning up the poo is fairly easy and disposable. There was poo on the towel they sleep on, too, so that went into a bucket to soak with oxygen powder and Dettol, like a human baby's nappy. It's a good thing the towel was brown to begin with. So how is everyone? Roxy has decided that she likes chicken after all. Iris is still the smartest and an excellent litterbox role model. Benjamin is getting interested in the door to the outside world. Teddy gave me a fright this morning when his right eye appeared to be swollen shut. Aargh, aargh, have to drive him to Mangere, aargh, aargh, what if the vet puts him down, aargh, aargh, can't phone the foster co-ordinator before nine, it would be SO RUDE. But then when I was gently parting the fur around his eye to get a good look, the eyelids peeled apart and he was fine. He was just gummed up with sleep. Oh Teddy, you are a Special Needs Kitten. I haven't heard back from the blinds and screens people yet - hope I do before Christmas, although it's looking unlikely. Soon I will need to leave the kittens for longer periods of time - on Christmas Eve I have a lot of baking to do, Christmas Day, obviously - present opening in the morning, picnic in the middle of the day, dinner in the evening. On the 27th, we're taking my recently deceased grandmother's ashes out to Stanmore Bay to scatter and I think that will be a day trip. Hope they don't mind.
The official names of the composite litter are: Miss Grey: Iris Miss Black & White: Roxy Mr Tabby: Teddy Mr Tabby & White: Benjamin Hurrah! During the night, the kittens turned into poo machines and not only loaded up the litterbox, but also deposited a few little curls of turd on the carpet. Now I'm not mad, I can clean (and will, later today), but I am a little concerned, because they all need to learn proper toilet behaviour. Hopefully the rest of them will observe Iris' example, as she is an excellent litterbox user. Benjamin is remedial; he actually crouched and soiled the carpet while I was watching (so I quickly put him into the litterbox in hope that he would have a Hellen Keller W-A-T-E-R moment). Roxy decided to make me worry last night by not eating her dinner, but she doesn't seem at all ill - bright clear eyes, plenty of energy - so I'll just keep that under observation. Teddy is just jim-dandy, and terribly sweet. Today I need to go to the supermarket for more of this magical crystalline litter, which really does wonders in terms of odour, and later on, move the kittens into the bathroom while I spray and vacuum the carpet in their room. I wish I had a bathroom big enough to be their room for the duration, because wiping lino clean is a lot easier than cleaning carpet, but it just isn't, and it wouldn't be sanitary or safe to keep them in the kitchen, and the laundry doesn't have a door you can close. Also, in life beyond kittens, I want to pop into my parents' place to add my personal decorations to their Christmas tree. Oh hey! Iris is using the litterbox right now as I type. She is such a smart girl. And Roxy is having a drink of water, so at least she's hydrated.
At the moment, the kittens are not big enough to jump onto the windowsill in the Kittenarium, so I can safely leave the windows open to ventilate and cool the room. However, soon they will get bigger and I don't want any escapes! Just not opening the window is really not an option, especially in January (very warm in Auckland), so I'm looking into this: temporary flyscreens. I bet they also work as kittenscreens. I've requested a free measure and quote, and hopefully the Venluree guy can install them in such a way that they can be removed without damaging the window frame - perhaps with something like 3M Command adhesive strips. As this is a rented flat, I don't want to attach anything permanently. The kittens passed the night successfully and thoroughly enjoyed their breakfast (two Whiskas kitten food pouches between the four of them). I suspect that whoever pooed on my book last night may also have weed on the armchair seat where they all sleep, because I was sitting on it earlier and when I got up there was a damp patch on my pants. I have put an old towel down, both to soak up any dampness that is already there and protect against any future accidents. (It's already an old armchair and somewhat tatty - that's why it's in the kitten room.) Later this afternoon or evening my friend Nadia may be coming round, and as she is a good photographer we should be able to get some really good pictures of the little ones. Naming progress: Mr Tabby & White is now Benjamin. Mr Tabby is Teddy (but I am not sure yet whether he is Theodore or Edward for long - I'm inclining towards Theodore as it is a more chubby name). I am not sure about the girls yet but I think one of them might be a Roxy.
Target weight: At least 800g per kitten. They go back to the SPCA for spaying and adoption only when the littlest is 800g. I shall weigh them weekly, using the extremely scientific measure of a kitchen scale with a big Pyrex bowl on top.
Mr Tabby & White: 545g Miss Black & White: 625g Miss Grey: 515g Mr Tabby: 500g When I went to pick up Mr Tabby he was busy killing a toy mouse and went SPAZ at me. Apologies, Mr Tabby. I do feel sorry for that toy mouse, who used to be Pearl's; I call him Mr Spiegelman because of all he's suffered.
Today's Awards Best Eater, Drinker, Defecator & Urinator: Miss Grey Best Climber & Most Courageous While Having Poo Washed Off Her Tail In The Sink: Miss Black & White Best Snuggler: Mr Tabby & White Best Resemblance to a Teddy Bear: Mr Tabby.
You'll just have to forgive me for the fact that I am not an excellent photographer of cats and kittens. As soon as I get close enough to take a good picture, it seems, the animal moves, or comes over to smell me and say hi, and it's just unsatisfactory. However, as they have gotten sleepy and piled up for a zizz, here are my new foster kittens! They don't have names yet so I am just referring to them by their colours.
This is Miss Grey. She is very alert and a little bit goggle-eyed. I think she is a goblin.
Miss Black & White likes to climb and perch. Although they are all short-haired kittens, Miss Black & White has a sort of nimbus of longer hairs poking through her coat. Her whiskers are curly!
This is Mister Tabby. Contrary to appearances, he is not dead - he was sleeping and I moved his head to show his face and he did this awful thing with his eyes. This picture doesn't make it clear, due to the angle, but he has a really high, round forehead and looks like a little teddy bear.
And this is Mr Tabby & White, the warmest kitten in the house.
I had my orientation today and afterwards took home four foster kittens! They are so pretty and cute that I just giggle looking at them. Okay, more maturely now: I have two boy kittens and two girls. They are all about the same age, 4/5 weeks, but they are not related - they were assembled from 'singles' to form a litter. They are very, VERY sweet. I haven't chosen their names yet, so here are descriptions (mugshots to follow): Tabby and White Boy: Was the most energetic in the car on the way home, persistently climbing up the sides of the cage and mewing at me to let him out. After about twenty minutes the others had resigned themselves to their fate and settled down for a zizz, but Mr T&W held out for a good ten minutes more. Tabby Boy: OH MY GOSH he is so stocky and round it is ADORABLE. He waddles a little bit. I think he's going to have a really beautiful solid brown tabby coat when he grows up. Grey Girl: Is currently behind the study/kittenarium armchair, with a toy mouse, making ferocious growling noises as she kills it. Has been doing this for at least three minutes. Black and White Girl: Is fluffier than the others, and hasn't distinguished herself by unusual behaviour yet.
Since I got them home - it's about a forty-five minute drive between my home and the SPCA, so I'm glad nobody needed to wee or poo before we got here - I've let them out of their cage in the kittenarium with the door closed (of course) and am just letting them nose around and get the lay of the land. I have set out their litter box, water bowl and some food, and I hope they find all of these at the appropriate times! Now I really want some lunch.
Tomorrow I'll be going out to Mangere to the SPCA Education Centre for my Foster Volunteer Workshop! According to the email, it runs from 10.30 to 12.30 and discusses 'the important role Foster People have, animal behaviour, diseases, the emotional side, SPCA protocol, administering drugs and much more.'
My grasp on each of the following: Foster people's role: to be kind to the animals and help them to become friendly and confident. Also of course to take care of their physical and material needs so that they grow healthy and strong! Animal behaviour: Kind of weird. Diseases: Gross. Best dealt with by the vet. The emotional side: Of course it will be sad to give the kittens back so they can be adopted, but you can prepare for that. The real gut-puncher will be if a kitten gets sick and dies. I've coped with cat death before, though, so I know I can deal with it. SPCA protocol: I shall ask questions about this! Administering drugs: It helps to wrap the kitten like a burrito in a towel so it can't wriggle away while you are doing this!
An exciting note is that 'If there are foster animals to go out to homes on Saturday you may be asked if you are available to foster at the end of the workshop.' So I could be getting kittens as early as that! I have cleared all extraneous things out of the small second bedroom of my flat to welcome them. GOOD TIMES.
I should introduce my existing cat, Pearl. She's also from the SPCA and I adopted her at about nine months old. This was the first time I'd taken on an adolescent cat rather than a kitten, and boy howdy, it makes a difference. I don't know what her life was like before I adopted her, but I suspect she didn't have a consistent caregiver. My mother, who is a primary school teacher and deals with a lot of Special Cases, says she has Attachment Issues. When I first got her she used to wake me in the morning by punching me in the face with her paws or grabbing a mouthful of my hair and dragging on it. I am glad to say that she doesn't do THAT any more, but she will still occasionally decide that my legs, walking past her and minding their own business, are an enemy that must be attacked. She can also be affectionate, and sleeps next to me on my bed most nights. I have no idea how she will respond to the kittens, but best case scenario? She can be their cool big sister.
Pearl is a very pretty, fancy-looking cat. I suspect that one of her parents was something BRED and the other one... wasn't.
Anyway, tomorrow I can post again, at least about the workshop - and possibly about KITTENS.
Summer is a tough time for the SPCA. It's high kitten season and they need a lot of foster homes for litters not yet old enough to be desexed and adopted. Being a high school teacher, I have a long summer holiday with a lot of free time (it's not all free time! I do prep for the next year's work!) and I wanted a project that would be fun and keep me usefully occupied. I love cats, so I decided to volunteer as a foster...er. On this blog, you will be able to read the chronicle of my adventures as... a kitten temp.