I have for you a birth story.
Before I get on with it, though, a couple of you have asked if it’s possible that Momma Kitty’s got owners who are missing her and heartbroken. Sure, it’s possible – but the impression I got from talking to the shelter manager is that Momma Kitty showed up on this woman’s porch, was pretty much living there, then disappeared for a while and showed back up pregnant. Before any cats are turned over to the shelter, all attempts are made to find their owners. Last year, Fred’s coworker had a cat show up at his house (he lives way out in the country with no one else around and has issues with people dropping cats off near his house) and it was such a sweet and friendly cat that he wanted to know if we could foster it and the shelter could adopt it out. I asked the shelter manager, and before she’d agree to take the cat, the coworker had to do his very best to find the cat’s owners, including asking his closest neighbors and keeping an eye on ads in the paper. (In the end, the coworker ended up keeping the cat himself.) So yeah, it’s possible that Momma Kitty belongs to someone, but all attempts were made to find owners with no success.
Preggo Kitty is now the proud Momma to four little bitty babies. One’s a gray tabby and the other three are, I think, torties. It’s kind of hard to tell at this point, but I know I’ve seen orange on at least two of them, so we’ll see what they look like when they get a little bigger.
So I spent all day in the foster kitty room with Momma Kitty yesterday. She would get up and pace and peer under the door, and if there were other cats out there, she’d growl ’til I ran them off (a blast of compressed air under the door does wonders) then she’d pace some more and then lay down to have her belly rubbed, then she’d nap and get up and pace and start the whole process all over again. She checked out various places in the room – we’d set up a moving box in one corner of the room, covered the top with a towel (with the towel hanging down to make the box darker) and lined the box with towels. She checked that out, she checked out a kitty condo, and she checked out a pyramid bed. She didn’t do any serious nesting, though, just kind of looked around to see what was what.
I have never assisted in the birthing of babies in any way shape or form, though when I was seven or eight, I had a cat who had kittens, but my sole contribution was being woken up in the middle of the night to see her laying with her babies on my parents’ comforter, then stumbling back to bed. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous, so I said “Miz Google, I’ve never birthed no babies! Tell me what to do!” And after Googling around for an hour or so, I decided that what I’d do is just stay the hell out of it unless it looked like there was a problem, then I’d run around in circles screaming until Fred did something.
That’s what usually works well for me in an emergency.
Fred got home at 3:30, gave Momma Kitty a belly rub, and then went out to ready the old chicken coop for the little chickens. I stayed in the room with Momma Kitty ’til 4, when I had to go make dinner. Momma Kitty howled sadly a few times at the door then gave up. I made dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, did a few more things, and then after dinner I asked Fred if he’d mind carrying Momma Kitty into my room and staying with her while I vacuumed the foster kitty room. I should have done that Wednesday before I went to get her from the vet, but I was in too much of a rush to get my hands on her. I knew that once Momma Kitty gave birth, I wouldn’t be doing any vacuuming in there for weeks, so I wanted to get it as clean as possible before the birthing began.
We went upstairs around 5:30, maybe a little before. I was plugging the vacuum in and Fred was in the foster room getting Momma Kitty, when he called “Bessie, her water broke!”
“Just now? When you picked her up?” I asked.
“No, her whole back end is wet, it was already broken.” Fred wrapped a towel around her and carried her into my room and shut the door. I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed some more (it had been a little while since I’d vacuumed, so I got a LOT of cat hair up), then I refilled her water dish and made sure she had food, and Fred brought her back in.
I came downstairs and grabbed the camera and my bottle of water, then went back up to wait for it all to begin. I’d read that if contractions don’t start in 2 – 4 hours after the water has broke, it could be a problem. I needn’t have worried. Momma Kitty (who I’ll call MK from here on out) asked for a belly rub, did a little pacing, and then she laid down in the middle of the floor, looked at me, and I wish like hell I could have gotten a picture of her face, because she puckered her lips (I have never seen a cat do that in my LIFE) and pushed. I was worried that she was going to birth those babies right in the middle of the rug (which I don’t care, it’s not like it’s a nice rug or anything, she’s free to stain it up, I just didn’t think it was a particularly comfortable place for baby kittens to lay), but what came out what her mucus plug. Much as you’d imagine from its name, the mucus plug was mucusy and green. I wiped her off, and she paced a little then laid down again.
Fred came in to see what was going on, and she went over to him and purred as he rubbed her belly.
Fred left the room and she went over to the box and settled in, and then she started panting, meowing, and pushing. I called for Fred, who came right back in, and we sat and watched her yowl and push.
The yowling and the pushing went on for less than a minute, and then she started licking something. She was sitting with her back to us so we couldn’t see anything – DAMNIT – but eventually she turned around, and we got to see the baby, who was squirming and wiggling around.
After waiting for a little while, Fred had to go finish what he was doing outside, so he left and I sat with MK and the baby. MK stayed busy, between the licking of the kitten, the chewing through the umbilical cord, and whatever she was doing with the placenta (I have a firm don’t-ask don’t-tell policy when it comes to placentas, thank you.). I think it was less than twenty minutes later that she started pushing and yowling again.
Less than a minute later, she delivered number two.
She did her thing, industriously cleaning and chewing and making sure her babies were okay. About five minutes after number two was born, I had to leave the room because the freakin’ camera battery was dead (ain’t it always the way?) so I came downstairs, switched out my camera battery with Fred’s, got a drink, and by the time I got back to the room (it was less than two minutes, I’d guess) she was yowling and pushing again. A few seconds later, number three popped out.
In about an hour, she’d given birth to three babies, and after number three was out, she made sure all the kittens were clean, all the umbilical cords taken care of, and then she settled down for a nap while the babies nursed.
At my request, Fred felt MK’s abdomen to see if there were any more kittens in there. He said he thought he felt another couple, and we sat in the room with her for a while longer, then decided to leave her alone for a while and watch Survivor.
We watched Survivor, pausing a couple of times so Fred could check on the kitten situation. About fifteen minutes before the end of the show, he reported that she was laying with her back to the opening of the box, licking something, so it was possible that there were four kittens. Once the show was over, we went up into the foster room and did our best to figure out how many kittens there were. After sticking our heads in the boxes (but it was too dark to see anything) and taking a picture, Fred felt around and decided he felt four distinct little heads.
Fred felt MK’s abdomen and said he thought there was another kitten in there, but I reminded him that he thought Miss Momma was pregnant last year (right before we had her fixed) and swore he could feel a kitten’s head, but it turned out she wasn’t, that he’d just felt her liver or something, so he conceded that maybe MK was done.
I thought about going back in and keeping MK company after Fred went to bed, but decided to just leave her alone and check on her through the night. I knew if she started yowling again I’d hear her – since I was just in the next room – and off to sleep I went.
Not only did I not wake up and check on her through the night, I slept like a log the entire night through and only woke up when Fred called to me from the foster room. He’d gone in to check on MK and the kittens, and when he went to leave the room, MK saw one of our cats in the hallway and rushed the door, hissing and growling. I had to shoo our cats off and then Fred was able to come out of the room.
The final report: four kittens, she hadn’t had any more during the night. I went in a little while later with half a can of cat food on a plate for MK and to take a few pictures. She wolfed that plate of cat food down in no time flat, so I went back downstairs to get more cat food and some clean towels. While she made short work of the second plate of cat food, I pulled the towel (with the kittens on it) out of the box, put clean towels in the box, and lifted the kittens onto the clean towels. MK came over to see what I was doing, and she kept an eye on her babies, but she was perfectly fine with me handling them.
I’ve been back in to visit a few more times, bringing canned cat food every time. MK’s voraciously eating everything I give her (and she has dry food available to her at all times, too) and the babies are always either sleeping in a little pile of adorableness, or rooting around trying to nurse.
They are seriously cute, and I worry that I will squish them, because I just want to squeeze and hug them!
Momma Kitty was a champ during this entire process, and she’s a good, protective, sweet mother. I cannot wait to see the kittens’ personalities develop over the next few weeks and months!
(And, no. We’re not keeping them!)
2007: I don’t know that I’ll know how to act when I’ve got internet whenever I want it, it’s been so damn long since I’ve had it!
2006: No entry.
2005: Taking the week off.
2004: No entry.
2003: Fred: That was a cowardly yellow-dog liberal DEMOCRAT thing to say.
2002: Things are getting back to normal.
2001: One of these days I’ll get my ass in gear; I just never know when that day will be.
2000: Squooshiness begets squooshiness, you know.