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A Kittery Tale: Sleep Deprivation and Emerging Personalities

Quantum is a proud, patient, borne-to-be-a-mother of kittens.  She is naturally good at what nature gave her to do.  She is sweet, attentive, and clean.  Since the kitteries have been born, she is even more clean than she was pre-kitterville and that was SO CLEAN! She never smelled of anything but love(?).  I mean she just really hasn’t had any odor about her since she came to be here. (Yes, her shit stinks.)  About four days after the babies were born, the room smelled like curry, or a mixture of Indian spices.  That sent me for a head spin because I rarely, if ever make food with those flavors even though I love it.

Our little feline schedule has taken a shift with the arrival of these five new furry friends.  Three girls, and two boys.  With an intense feeding schedule of every couple of hours;  Momma has a bottomless pit for a stomach and a penchant for constantly cleaning, I’ve been sent into a whole new level of care taking that has no regard for the time of day or night.  Who needs sleep?

Personally, I like sleep. No, I love sleep.  I am a light sleeper and am easily awakened by the slightest of noises.  I loathe being awakened and a whiny momma cat, is not a slight noise.  The whines and cries always seem specifically timed to occur when I am just about to drift into the deep onset of sleep. She sits there, staring at me, knowing this. She always cries in that moment when I feel as if I could fall into a dream abyss.  Immediately I am snapped back to the reality that this Momma needs/wants something.  Be it food, water, or a clean box… there is no limit to the requests that may come up at 3 am and I am an idiot for thinking I can ignore her.  She wins…every…single…time.

Week two has led to sleep deprivation. I am at the beck and call of this Queen.  I do the best I can at meeting her needs before I go to bed in hopes Quantum will let me sleep a full night; what a dumb human I am to expect that I could just go to bed, unencumbered for a nice stretch of rest.

If Momma ain’t happy…

It’s got to be tough to all of a sudden have five little critters to worry about.  It’s got to be annoying to have those little critters grappling at your swollen tits, with tiny claws and emerging teeth.  It must be tedious to clean and re-clean those babies after this tactile human handles them, and kisses on them with coffee breath.  I get it.  Sometimes  momma needs a break too.

Last week as I was settling in to go to bed, with the laundry basket of kittens next to me, Quantum hopped in the basket for a kittery feeding.  I noticed a different set of squeals.  I popped on the flashlight in order to take a look at the current scenario.  See, Quantum has ten nipples but only eight of them are in use.  None of the kittens like being on the bottom row.  The top row, middle two nipples are prime real estate and if they had their preference, only two would feed at a time on those succulent momma mammarys, leaving plenty of wiggle room and no competition.

Anyway, I turn on the flash light and the two boys are fighting over nipple realty.  Fluffs of hair are being scratched off as these two little furballs fight for space.  Momma looks incredibly annoyed and uncomfortable.  I decide to step in and remove the more aggressive kit.  I decide to also remove the kit that is on the bottom row and pull them into bed with me for a while so that the others can feed in peace and Quantum can have a little break in the feeding chaos.  She looks relieved.   After a few minutes I notice one of the kits has fallen asleep at the nipple, and I gently remove it, and replace it with one that hasn’t eaten yet.  I continue the rotation until everyone appears to be satiated.  Quantum appears to be thankful, and when everyone is back in the basket and cuddled up, she curls up behind my knees for the first time since the babies were born.

I feel like Quantum is trying to “train” me.  If she is unhappy with the smell of her box, she goes to the litter bag and claws at it.  If she is unhappy about her water quality, she stands by it and whines.  If she wants more food, she becomes incessant with her cries.  No matter the time of day or night, what Momma wants, Momma gets.

Quantum is pretty balanced in her care for each of the kittens, but I get the sense she has her favorites, and they are the boys.  I am partial to female animals, and in this case the girls are significantly smaller than the boys.  Once, I noticed Quantum was being pretty rough with one of the girls she was cleaning.  A little black one I call “My little Teddybear”; My Little Teddybear is basically the runt of the litter.  And I was feeling like Momma was having some animosity, like with one less kitten, feeding would be a  peaceful and roomy event.   I snatched up that little kittery and I tell Quantum that she needs to calm down and be just as gentle with this one.  I held it and kissed it and loved on it, and since then  Quantum has been more gentle with her.  My Little Teddybear is one of my favorites… something about how small she is, just adds to her adorableness.

“My Little Lion” is a boy, he is a champagne colored kittle.  He is the only one with a full body of light colored hair, he resembles a very light tabby.  He is the biggest and strongest.  He is headstrong and adventurous.  He was the first one I noticed to start self grooming at a week old and seems to instinctively know what “I’m gonna get your belly” means.  As I put my fingers down into the basket, he clumsily rolls onto his back and lets me tickle his belly, reaching his tiny limbs toward my hand and pulling them away.  It too much cuteness, if there is such a thing.

My Little Lion is a beast at the nipple and he gets annoyed when Momma wants to clean him.  He will kick, punch and scratch his way to the prime real estate and he uses the same tactics to escape from being bathed. If one of the girls is in his desired nipple position, he will basically try and suffocate them off of it by climbing on top of them, pushing them down to the bottom row, right off the nipple they were latched to. Sometimes the girls try to fight back, but most times they just wiggle free and try to find somewhere else to eat.  Occasionally they just curl up next to Momma and wait their turn.

I can’t even express how impressed I am with this weird relationship I’ve found myself in.  I’ve never really fancied myself as a “cat person” per say. I’ve always loved cats but I haven’t spent much time with them in general.  When I was about nine years old, a calico cat adopted my family.  It was an outdoor cat, and they fed it once and it stayed around.   I think about a year later we moved two houses down the road, and the cat followed us to the new house.  I named her “Cuddles”. She was fat and sweet.  Strange that I don’t recall what happened to her.  I wouldn’t have another cat friend of my own until twenty years later.

“My Little Pirate” is of the other little girls in the batch.  Her body is primarily black but she has some calico in there, and her face is split evenly down the middle with black on one side and champagne mottle on the other.  She looks so astute and her face structure is more delicate and angular than the other kitties.  She is quiet, and something in my room causes her to sneeze.  She is also adventurous but in a timid way.  She wants to see what is going on, and then she moves forward.  I just love her.  If a tiny ass kitten can seem like an old soul, My Little Pirate has that essence.

“Lil Baby” is My Little Pirates color counterpart.  Her coloring is similar, but her face isn’t as distinctive and her features are more rounded.  Basically she is too cute for words and reminds me of good ole Cuddles.  She is a cuddle kitty, but vocal.  She also seems like the type that may like to  hide.  I was sitting on my knees on the ground and I had a skirt on over my leggings.  The way I was sitting and the length of the skirt created a sort of a dark cave between my legs, and Lil Baby walked as far back into it as she could, toward the heels of my feet, and she just sat there and watched all the other kitteries awkwardly walking around.  This was our first foray on the floor, out of the basket.

Finally, in this mix we have “My Lil Panther”, which is the male counterpart to My Little Teddybear.  They look very similar, all black, but My Lil Panther has some white hairs around his mouth and eyes, and My Little Teddybear has the cutest pink black mouth and a heart shape on her nose.  My Lil Panther is strong and feisty.  If there is some tomfoolery happening in the basket, it’s likely that he is involved with My Little Lion.  I have a feeling those two will have no problems defending themselves in the future.   My  Lil Panther seems like the hard sleeper.  If he is tired, he sleeps as the other kits crawl all over him completely unfazed.

Every few nights, I take the kitteries into my grandma’s room, so that she can see them.  She loves them, they are amazing.   I know they are therapeutic by nature, and it allows Momma a food and poop break with complete privacy.

Claddagh Wonderdawg still isn’t sure what to make of all of this. She seems unimpressed that I am sharing so many kisses with these little things that resemble the rabbits and squirrels she like to chase in the yard.  She seems curious and frightened.  In the mornings, when she gets up and greets me at the head of the bed, she peers into the basket for a split second, sniffs it and backs away quickly as if maybe all of this is a dream, and tomorrow there will be laundry in the basket instead of a bunch of wiggling fur balls.  I tried to put My Little Lion near her, and she wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible. She refuses to make eye contact with the kittens.  She does however make eye contact with Quantum, and Quantum has an intense stare.  Overall, Quantum seems pretty chill about Claddagh being around her babies, and I think she wants Claddagh to be more engaged than she is, all around.

It appears to me that Claddagh is still pretty jealous of Quantum.  Like there isn’t enough love to go around, and now there is another body sharing the bed at night, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been in that situation with my ex-cat Poppy Rascal.  (That is a whole other story.)  I probably need to take Claddagh on a date.  Get some “one on one” time doing something that she enjoys, which probably includes french fries.  Then we can sit down and talk about it.  That’s just the way it goes with my animal family.  Sometimes we have to talk through things, and we are all usually better for it in the long run.

Stay tuned… the kits are starting to get active and I am sure this is about to get even more interesting.

Want to follow the beginning and next episode?  Click Quantum Express~ A Kittery Tale    for the beginning, and A Kittery Tale: My Body is a Playground the 9 week follow up.

 

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