Sunday Coffee – The Valentine’s Litter

It’s that time again – new foster babies! Meet our newest trio: Huey, Dewey, and Louie. These three little boys are quite young, only about four weeks old when we picked them up on Valentine’s Day. They have fluffy little round bodies (no starvation or weight issues, hurrah!!), triangle tails, and uncoordinated little pounces. It’s adorable.

Now, normally kittens this young wouldn’t be separated from their mama yet (or they’d still be on a bottle). I don’t know the story behind these little ones, but at four weeks, they were already weaned and eating wet food, likely by necessity. On the plus side, they’ve had no trouble eating. On the negative side, their bodies aren’t fully prepared for non-milk food, so they’re suffering a little bit of poop issues. Couple that with the fact that they’re in the early stages of using the litter box, and it’s been a messy few days.

(Side note: Someone asked me on TikTok how kittens learn to use the litter box, and I thought I’d also answer the question here. It’s a relatively simple thing – it seems to be primarily instinct! Cats outside will dig and bury their waste to avoid leaving a scent for predators to find. Litter mimics that. A cat old enough to use a litter box doesn’t have to be shown how. When we’ve brought in fosters that are 6+ weeks old, we just put them down in the box to show them where it’s at, and that’s it. Done. We probably don’t even need to do that. With kittens at the age of this trio, where they’re literally learning how to eliminate without their mother stimulating them, they will mess up a lot at first as they don’t always make it to the box before going. As they get more control, the accidents lessen. If they’re consistently going in another place, you can move their waste to the box to teach them where the smells should be, but in all the cats we’ve helped, this has never been necessary. Notably, if adult cats are consistently going somewhere other than the box, there’s either a problem with the cat or a problem with the box, so it’s time to listen to that cry for help!)

Huey, Dewey, and Louie are loud, chaotic, and so fun to play with. They don’t yet know how to snuggle well (too active!), and you have to protect your clothes from paws that have stepped in both food and poop (sigh), but that’s just their age. They’ll grow out of it soon, just like they’ll grow out of those round bodies and triangle tails. (A pity – triangle tails really are the best!) Other than the brief week we had the Bistro Babies, who were mostly cared for by their mama, we haven’t had kittens this young since Shai and Hulud. Our fosters are usually 6+ weeks, because kittens at this young age are usually with their mom or on a bottle. Like I said, I don’t know the story behind how these guys ended up weaned and orphaned at this age, but it’s fun to spend time with littles again. They’ll be with us for at least a month, and as they started out fearless and happy to play with humans, they’re going to be the biggest snuggle-babies by the time we’re through with them!

PS – One little sad note: Dewey really misses his mom. One of the signs of distress that kittens show when they’re weaned too early is trying to suckle on things. Dewey will mew plaintively and try to suckle on his brothers’ necks, or my neck, or my fingers, and (weirdly) my eyelids. He can’t be comforted, because obviously there will be no milk forthcoming. And we have to try to keep him from suckling on his brothers, because if he suckles the wrong part (hem), it can lead to permanent nerve damage in said part and problems with incontinence. While the other two kittens seem less distressed about their separation – Huey is generally bigger and more physically developed, while Louie is a no-brains kind of kitten – Dewey is clearly upset and unwell, so we’re giving him all the attention we can.

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About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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