Monday, September 15, 2003

Bopis and Pomelo, and we're not talking about food.

9-15-03, Meet the cats: Last week a set of kittens arrived in our yard. We're not sure how they got there as Ian and I have our differing theories (He thinks mom cat moved them to our yard from elsewhere, then went off and died. I think someone found them in their yard, saw the white family across the street with the passel of kids and dropped them off. But anyway.) There were 5 that we found, 2 have ended up in our residence. Guesstimates are they about 5-6 weeks, give or take.

We had the mobile vet come out and take a look at them last Friday. They've had a deworming medicine and we feed them kitty milkshakes (1 cup milk + 3 egg yolks + dash of salt + tbsp oil) along with some Poly-Vi-Sol infant vitamins. We never gave our own offspring Poly-Vi-Sol, sheesh. They used to have terribly goopy eyes, a sign of a common viral infection that can be fatal to kittens, especially dehydrated, starving, sick kittens. You can still see the obvious signs in one of them. Honestly, we didn't expect them to survive the first night. The vet didn't seem all the hopeful either, but here they are. If they do survive, they'll get a second deworming in a week, and in a few months they'll get their vaccines and spay/neuter.
The black, orange and white one is Bopis. She's the healthier of the two as far as I can tell, probably because she was outgoing and took to the dropper right away. She's totally into being dropper-fed the milkshake and does the whole lunging with paws holding the dropper bit. Hopefully she'll figure out how to lap it from a bowl soon.
Pomelo is the orange and white scrawny one. In the beginning there was no way I was going to touch him. When I started feeding them, if I got too near to him he'd lash out with a hissing and a swat of a clawed paw. He didn't eat for 2 days while Bopis was chowing down and I really figured it would do him in. He's a tough guy though and by the time I agreed that we could keep them and give them a chance, he was too weak to put up much of a fight anymore. He started licking the drips out of the dropper. He never got ravenous about the milkshake, but he did try some of the kitten friskies we'd softened up. No luck yet finding kitten canned food, so I opened a tiny can of adult cat food. One sniff and he was growling while devouring. He'd even eat it directly from the bowl instead of off the spoon. Hopefully this will put some weight on him. His skin is stretched tight over his bones so he has a long way to go.
First they lived in a box in the carport. Currently, they are living in our small locked storage room off the kitchen. When we moved them into the house, the 2nd kitchen seemed like a good idea with the low cabinets as a natural semi-enclosed house for them. But there are 4 doors to the room and it's where the housekeeper goes in and out to her room, where she irons, stores supplies, etc. The kids could open the door from the main kitchen, which they often did. And two of the doors went to the outside. OK, I think you get the picture. It wasn't an ideal place for them. So, now they have the storage room, where it's warm, dry, not so big, everything is out of reach and the first step out is high enough that Bopis can't quite climb onto it yet, though she does try. This house is too huge and they are much too tiny to let them have the run of it any time soon. I know they'll get tired of being in the storage room, but it's for their own safety at this time. They need to put on a few pounds and be more self-reliant before being freed.
One cool thing is that they took to the litter box right off. Since they've had it, they've used it and there are no wayward messes. The litter is pretty cool actually. It looks like little clay balls. No dust, scoops easy and if they manage to flick some out, it's no problem to pop it back in (the box is small and is on a towel).
What do I think about all this? Well, when we first found them, I had all my reasons in order as to why there was no good reason to keep them. I just know you want to hear them so here they are...
1) Pets are expensive. Enough said.
2) Pets require a lot of time (especially sick, young pets) that I thought was taken up with raising 4 children.
3) Any pet will be -my- pet, and -I- do not want pets. Oh sure, -they- all want the animal(s), but when it comes down to it, who has to purchase all the supplies, who has to remind other people to do pet chores (or just do it myself), who has to take them to the vet, who has to monitor all the time the kids are with them, who has to make all the decisions?
3)We travel a bit. Pets are a trouble to deal with. When we leave on vacation we have to consider what to do with them. When we move posts, we have to deal with quaratines and 18 hour flights. We're planning driving cross-country... not with 2 cats we aren't.
4) Travelling with pets is stressful, on both parties. And there's always additional cost to flying an animal somewhere.
5) If we do take the cats with us to next post, what happens if vet care is even more questionable than here? And if we don't take the cats... ok, I won't think about the trauma there.
So why do we have them? I was 1 head battling 5 hearts.
What do the kids think? They think obvious kid thoughts on how cute the kittens are, and for the first few days it was all about hoping that mom would let them keep them. It actually came as a shock to the girls when I said yesterday that they were ours. They insisted that the kittens belonged to the mother cat and were still hoping that we could keep them (I've trained them well). When I told them that the mother had abandoned them and that we'd adopted them, they were wary at first, then thrilled when they realized that yes... the kittens are staying. Of course I still remind the kids all the time that the kittens are sick and there is a chance of them dying, but we're going to help and if they become OK, they can stay.
As long as everyone washes their hands after petting them. With soap.

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