Tuesday, January 20, 2015


It's been a long time since we had any foster kittens, but now we have FIVE!  They are all very cute, or at least they look cute in their photos.  Mom put the kittens in the Kitten Room, and she has not let any of us dogs or older cats go in there yet.

Our Uncle Rob, who lives in Los Angeles, helped Mom decide on some names for the kittens.  Usually, Aunt Tania names kittens before they ever go to a foster home, so Mom doesn't get a chance to name them.  But there were some special circumstances for these kittens, which meant that Aunt Tania hadn't got around to naming them yet.  What happened was that a nice lady found the five kittens with their mama, and she took them in because the weather outside was cold and nasty.

Zephyr, Zigzag, Zydeco
This nice lady named the mama cat Baby, which is a really dumb name for a cat (or dog) -- especially one who has babies of her own.  But that is just my opinion, which no one asked for, but I'm always glad to tell it to you anyway.

Okay, so the nice lady kept Baby and her kittens to the Humane Society to be vetted, but then she fostered them until the kittens were old enough to be weaned.  After that, she brought the kittens back to the shelter and left them there.  She might keep Baby herself, but we don't know exactly what's going on with that.

Anyway, there are 3 boy kittens and 2 girl kittens, and they all have names that start with "Z".  The girls are Zephyr and Zinnia, and the boys are Zigzag, Zydeco, and Zenith.  Their estimated date of birth is November 30, so that means they turn 7 weeks old today.

Zinnia and Zephyr are what are called "patch tabbies."

Zephyr has really long hair, and Mom thought she was a tortoiseshell, but Dr. Regan said she was a patch tabby.  It's hard to see the stripes on her body, but you can see them on her legs.

Zydeco is the shyest one, or at least he was at first.  Now he's getting much braver.

Some of the kittens like to sleep in the scale.  Mom calls them the "self-weighing kittens."

Zinnia and Zydeco
The kittens like to go exploring in Mom's plants.  They have already knocked several off the shelves, but they have not broken any pots so far.

At first, the kittens did not eat very well, but Mom has been trying some different food, and now the kittens seem much hungrier.  If they don't eat everything, Latifa is always glad to help clean the dish.

Okay, so now I will tell you something about the kittens' mother, which is that she is FIV positive.  FIV stands for Feline Immunovirus, and it's like the kitty version of HIV.  Having FIV will not kill you, or at least not right away, but it weakens your immune system so that you are more likely to get some other disease that really might kill you.  It's not the same as Feline Leukemia, which is a different disease.

In the U.S., between 1.5% and 3% of healthy cats have FIV.  But among sick cats, 15% or more may be infected with the virus.   The main way that FIV goes from one cat to another is through a deep bite wound.  So the cats who are most likely to get it are male cats who go around fighting each other all the time.  This is one reason you should get your cat neutered or spayed and keep it inside your house.

We don't know how Baby got FIV, and we don't know if any of her kittens have it.  Sometimes kittens can get the virus from their mothers while going through the birth canal or by drinking infected milk, but this doesn't happen often.  Kittens may still have antibodies from their mothers until they are 6 months old.  So if they test positive for FIV antibodies before that age, they have to be retested every 60 days until they are 6 or 7 months old.

If any of our kittens turn out to be positive for FIV after that age, they might have to be sent to a sanctuary of some kind.  It's pretty hard to get somebody to adopt a FIV+ cat unless they already have one.  But chances are good that all the kittens will be just fine.  At least, that's what we are hoping.

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