Monday, June 10, 2013

The kitten saga, or How I lost my mind and destroyed my house.

Two weeks ago, my friend Pat asked me if we had any kittens. Well, yes! I replied. We have four that are tame enough to be pets, two males and two females. She was headed out of town on vacation, but when she got back, she said she would take the two males.

So she called me Sunday afternoon to let me know she was back and would come over for the kittens after awhile. Being the good and dutiful friend that I am, I tried to lure the kittens out from under the house, where they spend the heat of the day. (along with their mother, three more adult cats and at least nine more kittens) I managed to get the two females, but only one of the males. For safe keeping, I put them in the laundry room until Pat could come and choose the ones she wanted.

Brian, wanting to see what I was up to, took a peak in the laundry room after a few minutes. He then informed me that there isn't a kitten to be seen.

Well shoot. I can't have them hidden away when Pat gets here, so I go looking for kittens. I manage to find two (one boy, one girl) in short order, but I cannot find the third kitten.

I stashed the first two in our small bathroom, thinking there are no hiding places in there I can't get to, and go back to search for missing kitten number three. I finally manage to find her in the motor of our freezer and by bending my body into many unnatural positions, manage to get her out. Triumph!

Off I go with my little prize, to put her in safe keeping with her siblings. But wait! There are no kittens in the bathroom. What the....

So stashing rotten kitten number three in a box, I set off to find the little rats, er, kittens. Turns out, there is a tiny gap between the floor of the vanity and the top of the kick board. The kittens had squeezed themselves through it and where under the sink. At least I hoped so, as Brian pointed out; what if there was a gap in the floor where the pipes come up and the kittens where now in the insulation under the house.

Okay, so now I'm panicked, think I have just condemned these poor hapless kittens to a slow starvation under the floorboards of the house. Or how I was going to convince Brian to start pulling up floor boards to get them out. Luckily for me, Brian is a much calmer person and came up with option number three; he pulled the kicker board off the vanity. (some splintering occurred in the process, but I'll deal with that later)  We could now see the three kittens huddled in the corner. I decided they were safe enough there for the time being and went to calm myself.

When Pat arrived a few hours later, I got down on my belly and retrieved the first kitten. The second kitten followed quickly after. To get the last kitten, I had to reach as far as I could and twist my shoulder. once I got the kitten in my grasp, I realized my arm was now stuck under the vanity. I have to tell you, I just put my head down on the floor and decided I would die there before I admitted I couldn't get free. After what felt like to me, an eternity, but I'm sure was really just a couple of breaths, I tried to turn my arm in various directions to see if I could pop it loose, all the while keeping my grip on the kitten, who was now biting my thumb. At last, I find the right combination and pull both arm and kitten from beneath the vanity.

Pat ended up taking the two girls, and I let the little boy go back to his mom and brother under the house. Pat's granddaughter was thrilled with her new little friends. So, other than some scrapes on my elbow, a few tiny teeth marks on my hand and a bathroom that is going to need some repairs, the story had a happy ending.

By the way, when I asked Pat how the kittens had done through the night, she let me know that they had escaped from the kennel she had set up for them so they wouldn't get lost, and they were hiding under the sofa. At least they weren't somewhere between the walls.

Life goes on.

It's been a while since I posted. A lot has happened, some good, some bad. I guess the biggest news, for us, is we finally came to the end of the journey with Jack. Losing him cast a pall over the whole farm. I wasn't really aware of how much our daily routine revolved around him and what was going on with his health until he was gone. It sort of threw us all for a while.

During this time, Storm developed a large swelling on his jaw. We didn't know if it was a tooth problem, an abscess, or possible a lymph node issue. We couldn't find any external wound and it didn't seem to faze him, so it went on the back burner while we focused with other things. It turned out to be an abscess which opened on its own and we could clean and dress the wound.  

As soon as Storm was on his way to recovery, Donny stopped eating. By now I was just having a WTF moment. It seemed like everybody, including me, was falling apart. Last year Don had an abscess under his chin, which had caused him to stop eating for nearly two weeks. I suspected this may be a similar problem. For a couple of days, I was able to coax  him into nibbling some equine senior food, but he eventually stopped eating altogether. When that happened, I had to mix up a product called Fibrevive, basically alpaca mush, and syringe feed him.

I have never been comfortable with tube feeding, and feeding with a syringe worked just as well. It takes  a little more time, but it  works. Up until now, I have been using a turkey baster to do the job, well the old turkey batser had pretty much been destroyed over the years and I didn't have another one. I did, however, have a giant syringe that was used to inject brine (or whatever flavoring you desire) into a turkey. It held about 60cc of fluid. I took off the metal needle portion, (and by I, I mean Jim) reamed out a bigger hole, attached some flexible tubing and viola! Alpaca mush feeder extraordinaire!

Mean while, I had started Don on some antibiotics that I had left over from Jack. (with my vets blessing) Five days after starting the meds, Don started to nibble at food again. By the seventh day, his appetite seemed to be back in full swing. We'll keep an eye on him for the next couple of weeks, but I'm hopeful that we got this one cured.

It hasn't all been drama around the farm. We had another cat-trapping event. We caught eight cats this time. Well, really nine, we re-caught one of the cats from the original trapping. So much for the theory that the cats won't go back into the traps a second time. We caught him fairly early on in the evening, so we gave him some food and water and left him in there. He didn't seem any the worse for wear when we let him back out in the morning. Now we're down to just the latest round of kittens to spay and neuter so we'll do this again in September when they are big enough.

We also got our yarn from Zeilinger's. That was exciting. We sent in two different colors and they sent back solids and a ply of the two colors together. I was really pleased with how it came out. Since we're still in the middle of  doing some remodel work on the house, the two VERY large boxes of yarn have taken up residence in the middle of the living room. Someday we'll be done, and the yarn can get put away.

While we have been tearing apart our house, Jim and Dot have been busy building a gazebo at their house. We like to tease Jim about his collection of "stuff" and the mistaken idea that some of my friends have about him running a scrap yard, but he got his gazebo put together for less than twenty bucks. It even has electric lights and there is a plan for a ceiling fan in the future.

So we're getting back into a routine. Hopefully things stay quite through the summer, I've had enough drama for one season!