Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's a Good Thing They Have Nine Lives

I hate to admit it, but there has been more than one occasion when I could be considered an animal abuser. I don’t mean I’m likely to be on Animal Cops or Hoarders; I get just as upset as the next person when I see cases of severe neglect. It’s just that I’ve experienced a few instances where the result made me feel extremely guilty, and lucky that the situation wasn’t worse.

Anyone who’s read my previous blogs about Cassie knows that she is my favorite Maine Coon cat. But even I, major Cassie fan that I am, have unintentionally caused this sweet brown ticked torbie with no trace of torbietude, bodily harm. For the uninformed, “torbietude” is cat terminology which means “tabby with patches of red, aka “torbie”, calico or tortoiseshell with an attitude.”  Many otherwise educated cat fanciers falsely label a cat’s personality by its color combination as if it were fact. I can easily dispute that claim by demonstrating my non-torbie’s (male or female) moodiness and my sweet torbies without a care in the world as examples. To me, the label is akin to saying all red-headed women have fiery tempers and all blonds are dumb…ever notice how hair labels don’t apply to men? But I digress….

My more recent cases of Cassie abuse have centered on her pregnancies. Being a breeder of long-haired cats, I’ve found that Maine Coon queens have an easier time if I trim their coats along the vital areas. In anticipation of the inherent messiness of kitten birth, I’ll cut the hair around her backside. A shorter coat makes clean up less tedious for a cat who’s just delivered kittens. Most cats are so fastidious, they will clean not only their kittens, but eat the placentas, tend to their own backsides and tails which become matted down with amniotic fluid and also lick the bedding in their attempt to make the nursery clean for their new family. The instinct comes from the need to destroy any odors which would attract predators.

In addition to trimming the area where the kittens arrive, I trim a swath all along the mother’s belly to make it easier for the kittens to find the teats. Kittens actually learn that when they are blindly searching for the milk bar nozzle to stay in the short hair section. If they climb up to the region where the hair is long, they’ve gone too far and will change direction. The long hair becomes a marker that lets the kittens know where they should look.

Some pregnant queens don’t like to lie still while I’m trimming their bellies, so I’ve found it easier to do it while they are in labor (if it’s taking a long time) or shortly after they finish delivering. Once kittens start arriving, the new mom won’t go anywhere. I just ease over with my rounded scissors and clip a path while she’s distracted with a new kitten or contractions. I was performing this kind of barbering on Cassie, when I cut off the tip of her nipple. This is when the reader should be clutching his/her chest and grimacing. I was horrified! Cassie, however, was fine. She didn’t flinch, didn’t notice the blood, nothing. I got a wet paper towel and applied pressure to stop the bleeding. Cassie kept purring. Once the bleeding finally stopped, there was the nice straight, flat angle on her little nipple. She didn’t even seem to mind if a kitten nursed on it. Since then, Cassie has fully recovered, the flesh grew back and I can’t even tell which teat I hacked now.

When Cassie was younger, more of a teenager, she fell out of my second-story bedroom window. I was downstairs when the dog suddenly jumped up and looked out the back door. I saw a cat. Wow, I thought, that cat looks just like….Cassie! The fallen window screen and the toppled lamp on my nightstand in front of the open window told the rest of the story; Cassie and another cat must have been running around in the bedroom chasing one another when Cassie jumped a little too vigorously into the window, knocking the screen out and following it down to the wooden deck below. Cassie was none the worse after her flight; she was only about eight pounds then and a lot of fluff. I remarked how lucky I was that it wasn’t one of the twenty-pound cats who flew out.

Recently, Cassie challenged my windows again. I was upstairs napping. Cassie was sequestered in our bedroom because she was very pregnant and due in a few days. During the warmer months, we have a tall, oscillating fan in our bedroom. It keeps the room comfortable and creates a white noise which makes it easier to sleep. I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard a noise. I looked up and saw nothing, heard nothing more, so I went back to sleep. Unbeknownst to me, Cassie, who had been lounging in the open window, apparently caused too much stress on the screen locks with her larger size and fell out of the window. Jay was outside and witnessed the exit. He called me, but I heard nothing with the fan going. Left to catch the cat himself, I had no idea what was going on outside until he came in the bedroom with a window screen and Cassie.

Once again, Cassie seemed unaffected by her escapades and I still felt the unborn kittens moving around. Since she was so pregnant and off-balance, there was a lot more concern about potential damage. As Cassie was delivering her kittens a few days later, I anxiously waited to see how they would look. Would the kittens be flat like pancakes, have broken limbs or just have smashed-in Persian faces? Fortunately, Cassie's kittens, like their mother, bounce well.

Cassie's Recent Litter - Quinn, Puck and Rachael

1 comment:

  1. To me, the label is akin to saying all red-headed women have fiery tempers and all blonds are dumb…ever notice how hair labels don’t apply to men?

    I seem to remember times when bald spots and gray hairs were mentioned by a certain cat breeder while discussing the attributes of her male relatives.