Tim was watching the DVD of 'The Sound of Music' this afternoon. What a great movie it is. Actually I watched the final three-quarters of it too, but while I was still clearing up from lunch I heard strains of the song 'I have confidence....' which includes the lines:
A captain with seven children,
What's so fearsome about that?
Only I somehow heard 'kittens' for 'children'!
Yes, rather to my surprise, the seven orphaned kittens - whom our friend says are no more than three weeks old - survived Saturday night, and were very pleased to see me when I went out to give them some more evaporated milk (from a bottle) and cream cheese this morning. And after church. And just before lunch. And mid-afternoon. And late evening.
I checked a couple of sites about fostering orphaned kittens, such as this one and this one, and was reassured that about four or five meals per day should be sufficient at their age. Back 26 years ago when we hand-reared our first cat, Toby, we measured his feed carefully and timed it dutifully. It's a lot more random now but there's no way I could measure milk for seven kittens individually since they each drink a bit and then another gets at the bottle. But they're different sizes, even at this age, and I hope I can trust their appetites to tell them when to stop.
They seem to be happier now their tummies aren't so empty; after feeding a few of them have started washing themselves, not very thoroughly but at least it's a start. They're also starting to play, and explore a little. And they're going to sleep peacefully in a huddle in between times, which has to be healthier than crying pitifully all the time. I only hope they're managing to wee properly, something which - the sites say - should happen around this age. With Toby we had to wipe his rear end with damp kitchen roll to encourage him to go, that being a more attractive alternative to what a mother cat would do (ie licking the area!) - but although I tried that with one or two of these kittens it didn't seem to have any effect. Every so often we see them scrabbling in leaves and crouching, so I hope their digestive systems are working properly in that area.
The largest and noisiest kitten is the ginger one (presumably a tom) who got separated from his siblings temporarily yesterday. He can lap milk but likes his turn at the bottle, and will push other kittens out of the way if he wants his turn. He's the only one who claws at me while feeding too. Daniel has named him Darwin since he's clearly the fittest of the litter, and determined to survive!! I don't think we should name them since they're going to be feral cats as soon as they can fend for themselves, but it does seem quite appropriate.
Other than Darwin, there are three other gingery cats, one who has a little white as well, one who has a bit more white, and one who has quite a lot of white and seems to be the runt. He - or she - is smaller than the rest, and has a very dirty face. I try to ensure this kitten gets plenty of food - something that probably didn't happen when they were all trying to feed from their unfortunate mother - but I don't hold out too many hopes for that one, although he (or she) was exploring and playing a little with the others this afternoon.
Then there's a tabby, who our friend yesterday said is female; a tortoiseshell who I think has to be female genetically; a rather gorgeous fluffy cream and light brown one who's the second biggest and who my instinct says is probably female too.
Just taking one day at a time so far... a few pictures below. The camera isn't good enough to take close-ups, and the kittens don't stay still anyway but I'm encouraged that they do seem much livelier today.