Ella came to me on the morning after she was found. It was difficult to tell her age - she was very small. Her eyes were open, but she couldn't really see yet. It takes a while before kittens are able to see well even once their eyes are open. Her ears weren't fully upright and she definitely didn't hear or recognize sounds yet. She was crawling a little and responsive to interaction.
I took her for a vet checkup the next day and we decided she must be around 2 1/2 weeks old. She got a clean bill of health after a simple exam and stool evaluation.
Kittens require very consistent and frequent attention when very young. During the first couple weeks of life, they need to be fed every couple (2) hours around the clock. Then it moves to 3-4 hours. It's physically demanding and stressful. As with any infant that can't communicate, you always wonder if they're ok, eating enough or too much, and eliminating correctly. To make it complicated, each animal is unique. They all have their own special issues.
Click on the small images to see enlargements of Ella.
|Ella at 3 weeks.|
|Ella at 5 weeks.|
|Ella at 10 weeks.|
|Ella at her new home|
Ella never had any real illnesses aside from a few sporadic sneezes, but she has an amazingly strong personality and will. She was very good at letting me know just what she was willing to handle...and only when she was ready. She did have some slower physical development in a couple of areas. One was in weaning from the bottle and then to dry kitten food. The other was a new one for me. She had very inconsistent frequency of bowel movements and it didn't improve as she began to grow and eat more. At our second vet visit for this condition, we discovered that occasionally, kittens don't develop consistently in all physical areas. The diagnosis was that her intestine/bowel area was too small to process the stool easily. The treatment was to give her enemas. Needless to say, this caused me some anxiety. I became worried (foolishly, I admit) that it would never correct itself, and she'd need to have enemas the rest of her life in order to eliminate. I wanted to find her a great home as an only pet (or at least with less competition than my home could offer). After a couple of days of worry, I just decided to take my lead from her. She was always happy and healthy and never seemed to be upset about things. I just decided to go with it and after another week, she started to eliminate on her own.
Everyone who met Ella fell in love with her. She was charming and charismatic. Here are a few movies that show her playfulness and disposition. These files open in a new browser window.
It took Ella quite a while before she decided it was time for her to eat from a dish, but she finally did. Even though she always ate well, she was quite small for her age, weighing only 1 lb at 6 weeks and 1.8 lbs at 10 weeks. She was also slow to take up water from a dish, but we solved that by offering watering using a 6 cc. feeding syringe.
When Ella was about 9 weeks old, one of the people who met her fell in love with her. (Typical reaction.) We decided that Ella would probably love living with her, and her family and their other cat, so we decided to let Ella do a sleepover one weekend. It turned into a permanent situation and she's now happy playing with her two boys, and the rest of the household. She is a very happy and contented kitten (and I think she owns the household).