Majik Miracles

by Alison McKinnon

It was with great delight that nearly two years ago I obtained my first Birman, a blue point, as a pet. Less than 12 months later I had fallen victim to the world of the cat fancy when I obtained my second Birman, a chocolate point who I would jointly show and use for breeding with Liz Robinson under the Majik prefix. With success in the show ring, my now titled Birman was yowling madly, keen to assert herself on some unsuspecting boy. A holiday to Melbourne saw her return a much quieter girl, in kitten.

In between university exams, selling and buying houses, moving and preparing for my upcoming wedding, I eagerly anticipated their arrival. In Liz's cattery due to our imminent move, I visited her regularly and watched her sides expand, until right on time, three kittens arrived on November 16. During the day without human assistance Mischa had given birth to her first litter and prepared them for display. I can't put into words the feelings I experienced, watching them grow and open their eyes to the world. Soon after we identified them as two blue point boys and a lilac point girl, though we had bred for chocolate and lilac points.

Once my fiance and I had settled into our new home, I brought the then four and a half week old kittens and Mischa home, and continued on from Liz the task of weaning and toilet training. Set up in our spare bathroom the two boys ate heartily whilst the girl was somewhat slower, until finally three nights later she too began to compete with her brothers for food.

Despite feeling pleased with myself for achieving this, my delight was short lived as the following morning when I went to check on them, to my horror they weren't anywhere to be seen. In an instant I noticed the grill over the floor drain pipe was completely dislodged. The emotion of suspecting that all three had drowned was something I again can not find words for, as I peered down into the drain. To my shock and surprise however, there was one kitten barely moving and almost completely submerged in water.

In an instant I had the cold, bedraggled body out fearing the worst, but the kitten was barely hanging on. Instinct took over as I tipped it upside down and grabbed a towel to warm and dry the little body, but the kitten did not move. Desperate to keep it alive, I gently blew into the tiny mouth, and held it close to my now shaking body, when the kitten let out a feeble cry. In a flurry of activity we dressed and raced down to the vet where minutes seemed like hours as oxygen and medication were immediately administered, and warm towels and hot water bottles were prepared. Sipping on hot coffee we anxiously waited for some news, still stunned at what had happened. Out of imminent danger the kitten was placed in a cage with Mischa who, amongst the rush, we had somehow decided to bring as well.

After a silent trip home, we sat down with yet more coffee to reflect on what might have been for our kittens and to call in late for work, when we heard a small cry. Thinking our imaginations were playing cruel games we dismissed it until again we heard a faint cry. Again our adrenalin pumped as we raced into the bathroom to the drain; but alas no kitten. Further searching for the now continual cry led us outside to discover the source of the cry, another kitten beyond our reach in the external drain pipe leading out from the bathroom. My fiance's quick action produced a set of kitchen tongs, and on the second grab he brought out yet another cold and bedraggled kitten from the depths of the drain pipe. Some two hours after our first mercy dash we were yet again beating a path to our vet. In slightly better condition for the ordeal, this second kitten was soon reunited with Mischa and now stabilising sibling.

Armed with the knowledge that infection, shock and pneumonia were still to be beaten by these kittens, we returned home in disbelief of the events of the morning. With a plumber on the way to clear our drain of the possible third kitten, I left for work, not wishing to witness the removal of an almost certainly dead kitten. A call from home an hour or so later revealed that no body was found, but our running toilet and leaky watering system were now fine!

Struggling to concentrate at work I spoke to Liz for the second time, trying to come to terms with the fact that this was all part of the breeding experience. With half the day now gone my fiance took the remainder of the day off, to complete our Christmas shopping and pay a further visit to our little battlers. My phone rang again at 1.30, and my hesitant answer was this time greeted by my exuberant fiance with the news that Mischa and the two kittens were home! I could hardly believe my ears as I was told that the lilac girl and one of the blue boys were progressing well. After such an ordeal these two kittens, five weeks old to the day, were already trying to beat the odds and were on their way to recovery. It is as if their prefix name, Majik, just may have had some influence over the survival of these two now very special kittens.

It is with Liz's suggestion that I have written this article, not only to convey to new breeders such as myself, the message that things will not always run smoothly, but to highlight the often unanticipated dangers which newly mobile kittens are susceptible to, whilst remembering their surprising resilience to adversity. I consider myself extremely fortunate in that I have two of the three kittens, but in any case the most important thing I learnt was that if you decide to bring life into this world through breeding, you must also learn to accept death, in any circumstances.

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Last Modified: Sunday, February 28, 1999 3:16:25 PM
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