Just as the Broadway Boys were getting ready to be adopted, BeeBee’s House got a call about a special circumstance. Normally we take in kittens who are orphans or abandoned, but the shelter was over capacity with rescues. A cat had been brought in the previous night and ended up giving birth right there in her crate in the medical bay of the shelter. There was no room at the inn, so to speak, and the floor of the medical bay in a converted dog crate was no place for a new mom to raise her kittens.
As the Broadway Boys were in the Big Kids Room and the Isolation Room (my master bath) was currently unoccupied, I agreed to take Mama Cat and her five kittens until they were weaned and ready for adoption.
She was the BEST mom! She was wary and upset at first, and only allowed me (not Mr. James) to feed her and change the litter box, and let me inspect and weigh her kittens. There were three boys and two girls. After a night of safety and comfort, Mama Cat allowed Mr. James to visit and give her food. (I think she was upset because men captured her and put her in a cage and moved her all around and she’d had enough of males for a bit. Sometimes a girl just needs some girl time, you know?)
Everyone was clean and looked healthy. We took a trip to the vet to make sure the lump in Mama Cat’s belly wasn’t another kitten (stress like she was under being captured can bring on a condition called “delayed labor;” we wanted to make sure she was through giving birth). It turned out to be normal digestive things (food and poop!) and all was well. The kittens were good weights (except one on the smallish side, but otherwise fine) and Mama was okay. We returned to BeeBee’s House to settle in.
And settle in she did! She was a fantastic mom and a wonderful cat. We named her “Bijou,” (French for “jewel”) and her kittens were named after gemstones. The boys were a brown tick tabby (just like his mom, only more black on top) and two identical black twin boys (even their weights were within a gram of each other!). The girls were a light brown mackerel tabby and a poached egg tabby (the smallest).
So we had Mama Bijou, Mica, Jet, Flint, Amber, and Beryl.
Normally kittens stay in the Isolation Room until they learn to use a litter box more-or-less reliably; around 4 weeks. Then they go into the Big Kids Room for another 4-5 weeks until they’re old enough/weigh enough to be adopted out. With this lot, it was a little different. Since they had their mom, we didn’t have to bottle feed them or stimulate them to go to the bathroom. Bijou handled all that. All we had to do was keep her fed, clean her room and litter box, and love on her and her kittens. (She got all the love and attention and treats a cat could want!) Five kittens is a large litter, plus Mom, so they quickly outgrew the master bath.
Even though it was more than a week early, something had to be done. The Broadway Boys had been adopted out and the Big Kids Room was clean, so we set up a playpen in there and put down a barrier over the carpet to protect against any messes that kittens learning to use the litter box tend to make. We taped up a cardboard threshold that Mama could step over but little kittens couldn’t (in theory), so she could get some adult lounging time on the windowsill while they played in their playpen.
That lasted all of ten seconds. Kittens figured out how to get over that threshold within hours to follow Mom around, so we gave up and just let them have the run of the room. Carpets clean, so whatever. Mom had other places she could get away from them when she wanted adult time. So no more playpen. Just playing.
They loved this. They grew up fast. Mama weaned them at around five weeks (right on schedule) and they began eating food out of her bowl, just like Mom!
Some were not as enthusiastic about weaning as others.
But they soon got the hang of it.
Still, sometimes they’d go back to the familiar, for comfort’s sake (and because Amber was a Princess and had to be top of the pile every time!).
Soon after weaning, Mama Bijou went to the shelter to be adopted while the kittens stayed with us to finish growing and socializing.
Mama Bijou was soon snapped up (because she was such an awesome cat) and taken to her forever home while the Gemstones continued to grow and learn. Everyone made weight on time (they should be 2 lbs at 8 weeks old or so) except little Beryl. She was always small for her age, and I made sure she always got a full meal despite her brothers and sister always trying to push her away from the breast. She wasn’t ready to be adopted with the others, and needed a few more weeks with us before that could happen.
Now, I’m going to make a confession here. Mr. James and I took one look at little poached egg tabby Beryl and knew she was ours from minute one. We tried to convince ourselves otherwise, but as the weeks went on, it was beyond clear that she belonged in our home as a permanent resident. We tried our best to resist, but some things are just meant to be, and we never stood a chance. I put in an application for her before they were even ready for adoption. I mean…come on….
So Beryl became a permanent addition to the James Household. It was just a given from minute one that this was her house and she wasn’t going anywhere.
As for the others, well…they were snapped up too. Jet and Flint were adopted together, as were Mica and Amber. Everyone now has a forever home, including their mom. Grow big and stay happy, little Gemstones! We love you!