Caturday: British Bakes

We have brand new kittens so I’m a little tired. Forgive me if this is a mess. Anyway, this isn’t about those kittens. This is about the previous kittens. The British Bakes. We got a request for fostering a mama with three 6 day old kittens back in the beginning of February. We hadn’t been planning on taking on a mama as we have to close off the main bedroom suite for that and the resident cats hate that. However, we were desperate for kittens, so we took it.

We collected the babies and mama and got them home. As soon as mama came out of the carrier we noticed something odd. She had only half a tail! At first we wondered if it was an injury like Ivan had, but soon we noticed all the kittens had little stubs for tails too, so they’re part Manx! Mama cat had the prettiest golden eyes too, and a beautiful medium to long gray and white coat. She is VERY sweet and like pets and made lots of biscuits so we named her Biscuit.

A gray and white cat with half a tail and a medium coat with gold eyes staring at the camera from behind an open carrier door.

We decided since they were Manx we should name them after British things, and since mom was Biscuit we should name them all after baked goods. The gray tabby boy is Shortbread, the gray and white girl is Teacake, and the brown tabby girl is Crumpet.

Mama cat laying down in a nest of blankets licking her lips as one gray tabby kitten nurses and the gray and white and brown tabby kitten rest between her front paws.

At first Biscuit was content with the blanket nest we made in a bin with a heating pad, but soon the predictable happened. She moved them. To the favorite spot of all mamas – the covered litter box house. There’s a litter box inside a furniture piece with a lid that is the perfect hidey hole for new mamas. We really should have anticipated this and moved the litter box out and put in blankets from the start. Instead we moved the kittens out, removed the litter box, set up a nest and put them back. We don’t particularly like them staying in there as the cats were not always careful with their aim in there and the walls and floor smell like pee. Whatever, if you want to sleep in a stinky box with your kittens I guess that’s your prerogative, Biscuit. 

Mama Biscuit in the litter box cover with all three kittens on a blanket.

As an aside, Biscuit didn’t like change and whenever we would move the kittens or change her environment she would poop in the sink. Weird, but not that inconvenient, easy enough to clean up.

Soon we noticed a problem. One kitten, Teacake had a favorite nipple all to herself, but Crumpet and Shortbread always fought over one particular nipple and they never branched out to the other nipples. We inspected Biscuit carefully (and she was so good) and we found that all but two of her nipples were so crusted over with milk that there was no way they could get anything out of them! It took us about a day to A) figure out how to get the crusts off (the answer is vegetable oil) and B) to actually work the crusts off with Biscuit sitting still long enough to let us do it. Again, she was so good, but even she had her limits when it came to rubbing and tugging at her nipples. By the time we got them all decrusted it seemed they had all dried up! Now, it’s possible (and even probable) she didn’t have much milk to begin with in those nipples, but there certainly was something otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten crusted. This just highlights the need for immediate fostering for new moms. I don’t know why they waited 6 days to place them when they had limited shelter staff to watch for problems like this.

Anyway, a few days pass and they start slowly opening their eyes. My sister noticed a hair sticking out of Teacake’s eye and pulled it free only to have pus pour out of it! We called the shelter several times but it was the weekend and no one was returning our calls. Finally we just had to take them to vet ourselves, as we needed an antibiotic for Teacake’s eye and we had concerns about how much milk Biscuit was producing. We acquired the antibiotic and confirmed that no, Biscuit was not producing nearly enough milk. So we had to supplement with bottle feeding.

A brown tabby kitten (Crumpet) getting bottle fed while wrapped in a blanket.
Teacake, a gray and white kitten, milk drunk, with her head hanging backwards and her mouth open.

Luckily, Biscuit never outright rejected her kittens. She continued to feed them what she could and clean their butts so we didn’t have to do that part. It’s a good thing she kept feeding them too because these kittens were difficult to feed. They Would. Not. Latch. Ever. Not once the whole time we fed them did they latch and suckle on their own. They relied on us pumping formula into their mouths and then swallowing it.

Shortbread, a gray tabby kitten, looking grumpy/sleepy wrapped in a blanket with a bottle being held off to the side.

It was rough going at first, feeding every 3 hours, and with them being confined to mom’s room she got zero sleep during this time. Normally with bottle babies we keep them out in the living room so the bedrooms are free for sleeping when you’re not on shift. Not so with these special snowflakes. They still needed mommy. And Biscuit LOVED her babies. When we first started feeding them she’d constantly be trying to take them away from us. Eventually she begrudgingly let us do our jobs.

Biscuit holding Shortbread and Teacake under her front paw while laying down on the bed.

Another oddity about these babies was that they kept their umbilical cords for the longest time. I think it was about 2 weeks. Usually they lose them within the first week. I was worried they’d get caught on something and cause a hernia. They were super long too, but we got vet permission to trim them a bit. They did eventually come off though and everything was fine.

Shortbread on his back wiggling around with a short length of umbilical cord sticking out of his belly.

When they were about 3 weeks old we felt comfortable enough to move them from the litter box cover and into a playpen and put out the honey pot houses. These are technically guinea pig houses, but kittens loved them, and these kittens took to them right away. They used them so much that Biscuit felt a bit put out. They needed to learn how to use litter boxes though so we HAD to take away the litter box cover they had been hiding in. They were getting too mobile to be contained there anymore. We just decided to move the cover out of the room entirely.

Crumpet laying on her side inside the yellow honey pot.

They still refused to go potty on their own though. Either that or Biscuit just wouldn’t let them. They could also have been holding out for a bigger litter box too, as they started to use it a bit when we swapped boxes as they got more steady on their feet. 

We also started bringing them out to the living room to visit the other cats and get them all used to the idea of having kittens around again.

Stella, a long haired gray Ragdoll, sniffing noses with a kitten as another toddles around nearby.

Since we fed Biscuit in the same room as the kittens, they were exposed to big kitty food early. Shortbread was the first to stick his face in mama’s food dish at about 3.5 weeks old, so we started introducing them to wet food then. They took to it pretty much right away, and we didn’t even need to mix it with formula!

All three kittens standing in front of boat shaped dishes full of wet food, but only Teacake has her face in it and is eating.

Again, about a week later, Shortbread was the first to start trying out the dry food, so we started setting that out as well. And again, they took to it right away. These kittens were pretty easy!

Soon we ran into another problem though. There was a herpes outbreak. Now, this isn’t a huge deal, but it can be unsightly. We video chatted with a vet who confirmed the herpes diagnosis and said as long as the discharge didn’t turn green or yellow indicating a bacterial infection, there wasn’t much we could do except clean their eyes daily. Teacake had it the worst. It causes a brown discharge from the eye and if not cleaned up can cause ulcers on the eye. The other kittens mostly got over it, but one of Teacake’s eyes never really cleared up. She HATED having us clean it up with clean water and a Q-tip. She acted like we were pouring acid into her eye. So dramatic.

Teacake’s face in profile showing a brown discharge coming from her eye and extending underneath the eye.

They started to get more coordinated (they seemed a little behind on that front – could have been the lack of a tail for balance), and started to play more!

Shortbread on his side with his head upside down chewing on a rainbow catnip toy.
Crumpet standing and facing the camera, with one paw perched triumphantly on top of the rainbow catnip toy.

They started taking to sleeping under recliners though which is always a dangerous move. In trying to get Crumpet out from under a recliner for mealtime or something she got pinched and screamed. She got grease all over her fur, lost a little patch of fur, and had a bruise. Poor Crumpet. So the answer to getting grease out of fur is…more grease. Vegetable oil to be exact. Then you have to wash with soapy water to get the oil out. It took several washings to get everything out but we finally got her cleaned up. She never did learn though, she continued to go under the recliners. So we just had to have a rule that no one could touch the reclining function unless the kittens were put away.

Crumpet’s side with wet fur showing a small patch that is missing fur. She is laying on a towel.
Crumpet’s face poking out from inside a towel looking grumpy.

At about 7 weeks old we pulled them from mama Biscuit’s room so she could dry up the rest of the way. We set up the playpen out in the living room and let the kittens roam free most of the time. At first they just stuck to the same 10 foot square that they were used to for their visits out in the living room. They really weren’t very curious about the rest of the house. Eventually though they did start to explore some and soon were joining mom in the office.

Crumpet sitting on the desk next to a computer mouse in front of a computer monitor.
Shortbread laying on a blanket in the extra computer chair which was put out specifically for kitties.

The big kitties started to get more used to the kittens being around all the time and even started grooming them and playing with them.

Teacake laying in the window getting her face licked by Stella.

Finally about a week after we pulled them, it was time to send Biscuit back to the shelter to get spayed. She had been such a sweet cat with lots of personality. She liked to rearrange your hair whenever you laid down, was constantly chirping in a sweet voice, and loved being held. We let her say goodbye to her babies before she left. She cleaned them and chirped at them a lot and they purred at her. They also demolished the last of her food, lol.

Biscuit looking up at the camera standing in front of Teacake and Shortbread who are eating from her food dishes.

We kept the babies for about another week after Biscuit left. Here are some of the last pictures we took.

All three kittens laying on a cat tower shelf looking like a band cover.
Crumpet standing in front of a track toy looking at the camera.
Shortbread laying on his side looking at the camera holding a blue furry ball.
Teacake laying amongst her siblings with her head wrenched back looking content.

As soon as we dropped off the kittens at the shelter they went up on the adoption site. They did not have their cute names listed, not sure why as we had turned in their profiles the day before and they knew we were coming, but they had just updated they whole system. The next day they were gone, so they all got adopted!

Biscuit just had her spay surgery this week and should be up for adoption next week. You can look for her here if you’re local. She may not be under the name Biscuit. Like I said, the shelter just updated their whole system so they may not have connected her with her profile yet. I hope they have though.

By yarnologist

I'm a former wannabe scientist turned fiber arts fanatic. Follow me as I attempt to turn my amateur hobby into a professional career!

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