Some time ago we took our little black cat Roxy to the vet to be neutered. "Uhuh," said the vet, "too late," and showed me two little critters wriggling away inside her on the scan. Ah.
On March 23rd I watched her give birth. She did this on our bed, with our active participation which she evidently wanted. She had a cosy nest in a cupboard in the bedroom, which she had checked several times, but no, she wouldn't stay there, and as the evening wore on, I realised something was starting.
She was alternately pacing the floor, miawing, and jumping on the bed to curl up next to me and lick my hands. I noticed spots of amniotic fluid dripping from her rear end. I got some newspaper and an old shirt of B's under her. She was groaning - a deep throaty noise, a sound I have never heard a cat make.
Something shiny and dark was protruding from her rear end. It had a metallic gloss to it, like the sheen on a soap bubble, only tarry black. It was about the size of my thumb tip, and didn't seem to be moving.
Roxy carried on jumping onto the floor, pacing, groaning and jumping up on the bed again. After a while I noticed that the shiny "bubble" had emerged further. At this point she started to push and heave, with great shuddering gasps, and with me stroking her head and telling her she was doing very well. In between gasps she was purring, which I understood meant she wanted me around.
The bubble had what looked exactly like a curly little porcelain teacup handle sticking out of the middle of it. I had no idea what this could be.
And then she heaved some more and the whole thing slid out, a shiny bundle faintly shaped like a kitten. And it was tail first - that little "handle" was the tail, about an inch long.
It lay very still, completely covered, like a cat mummy in glossy bandages. She pounced on it and fiercely licked it all over, breaking and swallowing the wrapping it was in. In seconds, she had a tiny, stripy, motionless little male kitten, quite wet, and still attached to her through the umbilical cord which disappeared into her rear.
This emerged with a push attached to a thing like raw liver and almost the size of the kitten, which I suppose was the afterbirth, and which Roxy immediately ate, licking up the blood and chewing through the umbilicus. This was when the kitten first showed signs of life, and I breathed again. She washed its head, and we stroked it and her.
A few minutes later she went through the same thing again. A black male, this time, a bit faster emerging than the first one and a bit more alert and moving as soon as it was out. A second afterbirth too, which again she chomped up.
Then a third - this one, black and white, was a little female. By now Roxy seemed quite experienced.
Finally, after about an hour from the start, and obviously exhausted, she roused herself, pushed and heaved, and produced a fourth, also a black and white female.
So... four little kittens all alive-oh. All born tail first, between 10.30 and 11.30 pm, local time on 23rd March, and each one we could see and handle from the first emergence.
Not much blood - quite clean and tidy, all things considered. She did not feed them until they were all born, and I was worried she would not have enough milk, but at first, they were so tiny and must have had such miniscule tummies, just a drop would be enough.
She's certainly feeding them well. They are just coming up to 3 weeks old now and at least twice the length they were. I noticed this evening that the stripy one has got little kitten teeth begining to bulge in his gums... not quite broken yet.
The picture is of them at 15 days old...