Yesterday, I was over brushing my teeth in the bathroom which is on the far side of the upstairs from the closet the kittens are living in. I look over through the doorway and in the foyer a little gray alien being wobbles into view on his tiny legs and stared right at me with his little bug eyes! He looked very proud of himself, and a second later, giant (in comparison) Mama cat hastens to come stand with her forelegs right against his side, supporting and encouraging him to keep at it. They both looked so happy and adventurous! Gray really does look like a tiny alien rather than a kitten. The other three look like kittens but Gray’s build is different and I swear he has the piercing-est little eyes!! He has also proven to be the most advanced, ahead of his siblings at every “first” for the litter.
So it’s on! The kittens are starting to emerge!!
I have put up a row of boxes across the foyer exit to downstairs. They are tall enough that Mama has to jump over them, and no kitten would be able to get over. It’s building up my higher leg strength trying to routinely step over them a hundred times a day.
Late last night, Mama started a specific trilling note that I now know is her call to the babies willing to explore outside the nest. This time around, the three boys came wobbling out after her. She was trilling and encouraging her head off, and also swift-checking every few seconds to keep track of what trouble her three different staggering kittens were headed to get into in three different directions at once!
I went to check on little Girl, and who knows, maybe she was “told” to stay behind bc she seemed curious and unafraid, but also not moving toward her mom’s trilling outside the closet area. I picked her up and set her at the entrance to the closet in sight of her mom and brothers, just to see if she wanted to join them. She did not.
Then, early this morning, I hear the trilling and I see little Girl and Spot wobble out of the closet entrance with mom directing the other two kittens to the dirt litterbox *inside* the closet area. Mama cat skillfully introduced Firstborn and Gray to the 2nd litterbox area and then rushed over to patrol the two that took off into the bedroom.
It is so interesting how Mama cat is training the kittens to heed her. She takes a couple at a time out of the area, apparently distracting the ones she leaves behind with something else. Then, she trills for the exploring kittens to follow her. She will put her entire mouth around the head/neck of a kitten and hold it, while then patting their rear gently with her paw until they sit down when she wants then to stop walking and just stay there. Today, she managed to force her body underneath a low shoe rack table in order to guide the kittens underneath. It was obvious to me that she was telling them that this was a great place to hide if predators show up in the room. They did what appeared to me to be drills where she had them practice crawling under and sitting and then coming back out. At the end, as with Gray, the ones who went out on the adventure are rewarded for following her back into the closet again with immediate nursing just for them!
One oddity I don’t quite get is that she is less careful with little Girl. She left her behind out in the bedroom and didn’t closely patrol her back into the closet. She paid a lot more attention to Spot’s welfare and she almost seemed to have looked at me like, “you watch that one”. I did so, and I wound up having to fish Girl out from under the shoe rack table and carry her in to nurse with mom afterward. Maybe Mama knows Girl is pretty self-sufficient... or the boys are just more likely to get into trouble? I find it all fascinating.
Today the kittens are four weeks old. The kittens basically hit their weight goals for today. Two were a little bit under, but I am not feeling concerned. They are all progressing.