Today dear little Sapphire arrived at Axhayes. She was nothing but a tiny grey blob wrapped in a green blanket. She was brought to us by a gardener who had saved her life – luckily he saw her on the grass when he was strimming. She was helpless and all alone, and the only thing to do was to hand-rear her.
On arrival, she looked as though she couldn’t have been more than a few days old, but she was in good condition and had a full belly. Her eyes were closed, and she could just about crawl along. Later that day I weighed her – she was just 150g.
When the working day was done and I had her at home, I picked her up – a wriggling grey ball – and tried to feed her using special kitten milk replacement in a bottle. I heated the milk to body temperature to make it more appetizing for her, but, at first she refused to take it, and no wonder – it was nothing like her mum! Eventually, she got the idea and drank some - I was very relieved! Then I tried to stimulate her to go to the toilet, and after that she was tired so I popped her back into the tiny kitten bed that someone had kindly donated, covered her with a blanket and let her rest. I would need to feed her every three hours or so, so I set my alarm and went to bed.
I fed her through the night, and although she never cried unless she knew I was there, she was always awake when my alarm went off. (She continued to be a quiet kitten on journeys to and from work in the car, and when in her little put-up pen, and later her pen at Axhayes, until she knew you were there…and then she squealed at about 100 decibels until she was fed, and then she would purr her little raggedy purr that sounded somewhere between a diesel car and a woodpecker pecking.) As for her movement, she was crawling along on her belly, using her limbs in a swimming kind of motion rather than a walking one. Her eyes were firmly closed still, and she was absolutely helpless – all she could do was suckle the bottle.
This morning at four a.m., Saffy opened her eyes! It was a wonderful moment for me, cradling her in my arms, looking into those perfect dark blue eyes. They’d been opening a bit at the corners yesterday, and I was expecting them to stay that way for a little while, so I was amazed when they opened fully. They wouldn’t be fully functioning straight away – that would take a few more days. I also felt quite proud, being the first person she saw. I weighed her today and she was 190g – 40 more than when she came in.
Unfortunately, due to my cat being upset by the squeaking, pooing machine that was Saffy, I could no longer take her home after work so Phil, our deputy, and Mark, our manager took her home in the evenings. I still fed her and looked after her during working -hours, and today she made me proud again, by sitting up like a big kitten. Her little legs by now are beginning to take more of her weight, and her movements are more like walking rather than swimming. She’s looking more like a little cat than a helpless kitten now, and her tiny teeth are growing.
Another proud day – Saffy used her litter tray! It was remarkable because whereas most kittens would watch the behaviour of their mother, Saffy had no point of reference – we just put a tray with gravel litter in, and she started scratching around in it, and then just used it!
This was a happy day for everyone, as trying to stimulate a kitten to go to the toilet with a piece of damp cotton wool is no-one’s favourite job, and is far from glamorous! Also, little Saffy had gone from having very loose faeces to being constipated, and we had been giving her a bit of lactulose to help her go, and on two occasions she had to have an enema, poor thing!. She is walking about and can get quite a speed up, and loves to purr and roll over to have her tummy tickled. She’s also becoming quiet boisterous, and loves to play-fight with you as she would a litter mate. Her incisors and canine teeth are through, and she has a sharp bite though it’s not enough to break the skin.
Another mile-stone has been reached – today Saffy ate some weaning biscuits! She still has her bottle and has been taking about 30ml at a time, but now, at about four weeks old, we can start weaning her onto solid food. It also means that Phil, who’s done the lion’s share of rearing can get some sleep! Saffy’s ears and tail have lengthened, and she thrashes her tail around as she strides about looking for things to bat or pounce upon. Her markings are becoming clearer too and she has quite a spotty belly. Her eyes are now more turquoise than dark blue. She’s turning into a little diva and we love her to bits!
Today Saffy’s mischievous little eyes look greener and greyer. She’s growing up, and has taken to launching herself at you and crawling up your neck. If she’s not doing that, she’s play-fighting. Talk about trouble!
The people who rescued Saffy came to visit her! They were delighted at how cute and big she had become, if surprised by how bitey she was!
Today Saffy is eight weeks old and she had her first vaccination. Where has the time gone?!
I can’t believe that Saffy is now big enough to be neutered! She’s grown up so fast!
I stayed and played with Sapphire (who now weighs 1.23kg) for an hour after work to say goodbye to her. She has found a home in Exeter with some lovely people and two other cats and a dog to make friends with, and I wouldn’t see her again. A bitter-sweet day!
Today Saffy had her second vaccination, completing the course, and went off home with her new family. We will miss her very much, especially Phil, whose house became her temporary home, and even though he could do without being beaten up by her every evening! We are so happy and proud that the little helpless wriggling thing has thrived and grown into a beautiful kitten with a lovely home and family of her own.