Seamus & Gizmo - The rascals

6 weeks - 6 months

Seamus (AKA Sea mouse, Shimsky, Shameless, The Ginger Ninja)
and Gizmo (AKA Giz, Gazimsky, Giz'm, Gandalf the Grey)
Born 26 June 2007

Kitten diary, Saturday August 11 2007 - New arrivals

We got these little devils last night, only 3 days after they turned 6 weeks. I was mildly worried that they were so young as Fergus and Whizz were both 9 weeks when I got them and I know breeders keep kittens until they're 12-13 weeks old. I have never dealt with moggies this young before.

Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old

Having 6 week old kittens does mean we have to take some extra safety precautions and watch them more - they squeeze in everywhere! I soak their dry food (Burns kitten food) in a bit of hot water for 5 minutes and then squash it - won't feed them entirely dry food for a few weeks yet. They were getting Whiskas tinned kitten food at the fosterer's but I'm slowly weaning them off it (the smell of tinned pet food turns Kev's stomach). At this age they are tiny and still get scared of us sometimes just because of our sheer size, but they have also cuddled in quite happily and then meowed when we tried to leave, so they are definitely sociable. From what the fosterer told us they came from a household where there was probably little time to take care of them, so we're only just getting them used to being lifted up and handled (the first few times they would meow desperately when we lifted them).

They are settling in quite happily and love playing in their big scratching tree although none of them have made it to the top post yet. They're easily entertained by paper bags, and they both have a good appetite although the tabby kitten has had a bit of an iffy tummy since he arrived. He makes it to the litter box... most times. But if he suddenly starts meowing we know to pick him up and put him in it, because the call of nature comes with very little warning for such a small thing, and he may just panic and forget where the litter box is. We recognise this cry as "Help! Need toilet! Now!"

As for names, there are a few contenders, but for now I refer to them as Ginger and Tabbycat. The official names will be revealed once they are decided.

Now, as soon as I mentioned to various workmates and family members that we might actually be succesful in getting kittens this time, they demanded there be photos online within nanoseconds (like I don't have anything better to do, such as keeping kittens out of the paper bin). So here follows a load of photographs in varying degrees of blur - I don't like the flash and it's hard to get them both to sit still for a tenth of a second unless they're sleeping.

Video of kittens play-fighting
Right-click the link to download - choose "save target as" (8.6Mb .avi file)

Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old Kittens August 11 - 6 weeks old

Kitten photo update, Monday August 13

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Kitten diary, Tuesday August 14 - 7 weeks

Kittens are alive and well. We are also alive although tired. The little ones are now 7 weeks old. Over the last few days we have noticed the differences in their personalities. Where the ginger kitten is a bit hesitant to jump a toy and will watch it for a bit first, the tabby kitten will pounce immediately. The ginger kitten loves to climb and the tabby kitten loves to explore new places. The ginger kitten was first to be more interested in his brother's food bowl than his own, but as the tabby's appetite has increased he now wants both bowls as well. This means we have to watch them at mealtime so it doesn't end up in a bullying contest, particularly because the ginger kitten will gulp down his food (and subsequently get a case of hiccups) whereas the tabby takes longer to finish eating and likes a wee break at some point in the process.

The tabby is very fascinated with my hair and has actually had a nap on my pillow with his face buried in it. The ginger one has a slightly destructive penchant for chewing things like thick strings (innocent) and cables (a lot more dangerous) and exercising his claws on the living room carpet - this means we need to keep a constant eye on them when they're wandering about in the flat. They still "live" in the office and sleep there at night but the little "fence" we had put up around the corner only kept them in for the first couple of days. They have investigated the rest of the flat but always under observation as we are a bit paranoid about "accidents". Fortunately, they are already litter trained (as long as we are there to help them back to the litter tray when they meow to tell us that something's up).

Names still not determined (leave your fantastic suggestions in the guestbook and Kev might take them under consideration), although I think we're sticking to my original suggestion for the ginger one. He has definitely fallen in love with me and is a bit needy sometimes, especially when he is just waking up from a nap. Wee sook. :-)

Ginger kitty

Kitten diary, Thursday August 16 - Names decided

Yesterday Kev decided the tabby kitten's name (at long last). He ended up choosing the name which was the frontrunner all along, same as I chose the name which had almost been pre-decided as soon as I knew we were getting a ginger kitten.

Hereby introducing GIZMO (tabby kitten) and SEAMUS (ginger kitten). Can you believe they've already grown since we got them just last Friday? Good thing we didn't end up going with the geeky streak because then Kev would have named the tabby kitten "Widget" and the ginger kitten "Firefox" because apparently he looks just like the Firefox logo when he's curled up asleep. Tsk.

Gizmo Seamus Gizmo takes an interest in Command & Conquer

Kitten diary, Saturday August 18 - 1st vet visit

Been to the vet for the first time with the kittens for a health check and worming tablet. I'm pretty sure they have roundworm as they have a lot of the symptoms (although we've not actually seen any worms - yet). They were de-flead and wormed initially when the Cat Action Trust took them to the vet for a check-up about 10 days ago but they need repeated treatment to kill all three generations of worms in their system (info for pet owners here and here). We go back to the vet in 2 weeks for their first vaccination - they're still a bit too young for that. I'm hoping the vet will volunteer to administer the worming tablets again at that point as I don't really like getting my fingers chewed on whilst trying to shove the pill down the cat's throat (oh, such fond memories of sharp teeth and claws sinking into flesh). However, I am told that these days worming treatment is available as drops, so there is hope after all... The glamourous life of a pet owner, eh?

Kitten photo update, Saturday August 25 (8 weeks old)

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Kitten diary, Tuesday August 28 - 9 weeks

On the day we got the rascals they were a mere 6 weeks and 3 days old. They didn't really comprehend what those massive humans around them were, and their entire universe was no larger than a few square feet around them. They didn't respond to any sounds we made and almost cowered away from the big feet landing frighteningly close to them on the floor.

At 9 weeks they have seen and conquered the whole flat - it is now their merry playground. We still only let them run around whilst under observation (they haven't quite realised that the carpets, furniture and curtains aren't cat toys) so when we're out and at night they stay in the office. This is also the place they get fed most of the time. As they get older they will eventually get their food in the kitchen, have their litter box in the main bathroom and sleep in the bedroom at night where we'll keep their cat carriers as beds (they'll probably prefer our pillows but it's worth a shot). For now they're still too curious (i.e., they like to nibble on cables etc.) to be let free to roam on a permanent basis.

Today was the first time they were left alone for an entire work day. They've grown quite a bit and now understand the call we use when food is served as well as the disapproving tone that means they're tearing something apart and have to stop. We've had to spray them with a water atomiser occasionally to get them off the floor-long curtains by the french doors - a pain-free, yet unpleasant punishment. Generally they are happy and confident little creatures as the pictures probably show.

Kitten diary, Saturday September 1

Seamus and Gizmo have now been living with us for 3 weeks and today they went back to the vet for their first vaccination. They're both perfectly healthy and have doubled in weight.

Kittens 28 Aug Kittens 28 Aug

By the way, I've given them the pet names "Tool" and "Plank" - Seamus being Tool (of course, he would argue that he's Irish so it should be "O'Toole") and well, Gizmo (or Plank) doesn't seem to care as he doesn't respond to any name but the dinner call.

Kitten diary, Tuesday September 18 - 12 weeks

The little ones are getting less little day by day, and Seamus' eye colour has become considerably less kitten-blue. I've tried capturing this in the below pictures.

Mid-September Mid-September Mid-September Mid-September Mid-September

On Saturday they're going back to the vet for their re-vaccination and another worming tablet. After that they (hopefully) won't have to see the vet again until next year when they're getting the snip. We'll get them microchipped on that same occasion. Still not sure exactly when to get them neutered as we would like them to develop a bit first (get proper wide male cat cheeks) but they'll be somewhere between 6 and 12 months. We'll see how things turn out after New Year.

Kitten diary, Tuesday October 2 - 14 weeks

Seamus and Gizmo are healthy and still growing fast. Day by day they become increasingly confident (which is really a nice way of saying they're cheeky). Seamus' eyes appear to be turning yellow'ish, which is what I expected, but Gizmo's seem to stay brown - very odd. It may still change though, after all they're still quite young. I'm keeping an eye on their mouths as they'll soon be losing their baby teeth and getting the permanent ones. The vet has optimistically equipped us with cat-size toothbrushes and fish-flavoured toothpaste, complete with instructions on how to get your cat used to getting its teeth brushed. Yeah well, we'll see about that...

Oh, and I was wrong about the re-vaccination being our last trip this year to the vet's. We've got an appointment at the start of November with the veterinary nurse to get them weighed again and get another dose of worm treatment. We got the spot-on treatment to just rub into their fur at the back of the neck. No tablets, no biting, no scratching - hurrah for medical science progression!

(P.S. Photo update soon, I promise, Gina!)

Kitten photo update, Saturday October 6

Seamus plays Football Manager Gizmo plans to pounce his brother Cooking supervisor Time for a wee rest Seamus at his favourite spot Gizmo manages to sit still for a second Seamus checks out the sponge Giz Giz notices I cut back the geranium They don't fight ALL the time

Kitten photo update, Saturday October 20 - Mostly napping - aww...

Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps Comfy naps

Kitten diary, Monday November 5

Seamus Gizmo Gizmo Seamus and Gizmo Seamus and Gizmo

The kittens are now almost 4 1/2 months old, and two important changes have happened in the last week. Firstly, the litter box has been moved from the office to the hallway, which is the first half of its journey towards its future permanent position in the bathroom. This means the kittens can no longer be confined to the office while we're out as they'll of course need permanent access to the hall. Secondly, for the last few nights the kittens have been allowed to sleep in the bedroom with us. And because the bed is by far the most comfortable bit of furniture around, they have been sleeping there. Well, I say "sleeping". The truth is they have slept some, then moved about, then wandered off for a sip of water, then napped and then decided to walk up to our faces and loudly proclaim just how much they loved us and this whole arrangement, usually with purring that could wake the dead. In short, they've loved it and we've yet to get a good night's sleep.

They've still not been allowed constant unsupervised access to the rest of the flat. This is, in essence, because they are a pair of naughty monkeys. For this our dining chairs have suffered The Claw Death, because Seamus seems intent not to use his scratching tree for anything other than playfighting and napping. No amount of catching him in the act and scolding him, followed by coaching sessions in How To Scratch On The Sisal Posts Like A Good Little Kitty has had the slightest effect. Apparently, if you hang orange peels from the furniture in question, it deters the cat from scratching because they don't like the smell. I would try something like that, was it not because Seamus once came up to me while I was eating a mandarin. I showed him half a slice, expecting him to conclude it wasn't cat food, but to my surprise he started licking the juicy fruit meat enthusiastically.

All this was explained to the veterinary nurse today as we went back for a worming and weighing. She has equipped us with two sprays; one containing catnip (for the scratching post) and one that smells like industrial cleaner (for the dearly departed chairs which will need replaced anyway at some point). We also had a chance to discuss Gizmo's digestive problem. As he seems to now be suffering from perpetual flatulence and diarrhoea, we have decided a cure is required. The nurse asked us what diet they were on and praised the Burns cat food for being a healthy feed. She said there could be a number of reasons from allergy to infection causing his problem, and to start off by putting him on a very plain diet of boiled chicken and rice for 4-5 days. This might be enough to calm an upset stomach so he could then go back to the Burns kibble. If not, we may need to switch him over to food for sensitive stomachs or treat him medically. We enquired about the price of having tests done to reveal the problem. She said a simple antibiotic might work, in which case we could avoid having pricey tests done, and we agreed to come back on Saturday to see the vet and discuss our experiences with the home-cooked food.

Now off to boil meat in the kitchen with the torn furniture - ah, the many joys of having pets...

Kitten diary, Sunday November 11

An exasperating week of cooking endless amounts of chicken breast and not sleeping properly has come to an end. We couldn't persuade the kittens to eat the rice so this was eventually dropped from the menu. Seamus even required days of patient coaxing before he would readily accept the succulent chicken meat as being food. But after several days on their new expensive diet we could take Gizmo back to the vet yesterday and report that the diarrhoea had stopped. Actually, everything had stopped. As chicken is such a highly digestible food there had been no poop whatsoever in their litter box for days. The vet gave his bowels a good feeling over and advised us to slowly introduce the kibble into their diet again (again, the Burns food was praised for being the kind of food they would recommend for sensitive stomachs). Now that they're both used to the chicken they're not all that keen on the dry food anymore, but as the kibble to chicken ratio changes they'll just have to get with the programme. Come Tuesday they'll be back on their normal diet and hopefully their stomachs will be fine with that, if not their discriminating palates.

Kitten diary, Saturday November 17 - A few updates

Latest news on Shimsky & Giz, AKA the Whirlwinds of Destruction.

1) Sleeping arrangements. After a holiday week without a single night's proper sleep, we reverted back to having the kittens in the office/hall during the night. They have accepted this without the least bit of complaining, except of course for the fact that they wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and start scratching on the bedroom door and meowing.

2) The catnip and "chew-stoppa" sprays. These have proven largely useless, as we have used the toxic-smelling one on our chairs and along doorways (have I mentioned they have a destructive penchant for pulling the pile out of the edges of the carpet?) to no avail. The despair continues.

3) Dietary situation. The kittens have again added cat food to their diet of carpet pile, bits of paper, kitty litter, fluff from toys/clothes/furniture and whatever else they can pick up or tear apart. And as we feared, the diarrhoea has returned. I've got some samples of Trophy cat food which I'll let them try, but I don't hold out much hope. Looks like we'll need to try a special diet for sensitive stomachs.

I believe I have so far neglected to mention Seamus' fascination with water. After splashing the contents of the water bowl around with his paws more times than I care to remember (and usually getting himself pretty wet in the process), we've resorted to only filling it about 1/3 at a time to reduce the mess. Even the vet thinks our cats are weird.

P.S. Kev says to tell anyone who's interested that the kittens are up to a UK size 8 and he's ready to take orders from anyone who's interested in a new pair of slippers.

Seamus Gizmo Seamus Gizmo Destroyers of worlds The terror of south Glasgow

Kitten diary, Tuesday November 20 - Il ne manquerait plus que çà!

Right, so where did we leave off? Ah yes, I let them try the free samples of Trophy cat food over the weekend. It could possibly have helped with the diarrhoea - the only trouble is that there was only enough in my 3 samples to feed them for about 24 hours, far from long enough to make an accurate assessment of the effect. Monday after work we went back to the vet practice to pick up some of their sensitivity food. We had already decided that whatever dietary changes we put Gizmo through, Seamus will be fed the same thing. Keeping them both on this specialist vet food would cost around £60 per month while they're still relatively small (and so far they've been licking the bowls clean and begging for more) and possibly closer to £100 when they're grown up, so it's out of the question to use this as their permanent feed (I love animals but there has to be a limit to the madness). We'll see how they do after a few days on this. By Friday we'll have run out but in the meanwhile I've ordered a 2 kg bag of Trophy - enough to try it properly. If pure chicken and 3 different types of cat food can't cure him, we'll need to resort to antibiotics next.

The litter box has been moved back into the office as we've needed to restrict their access while they're still so mischievous. Confining them to the office while we're out or sleeping is another step back, but letting them run around in the hall caused lots of carpet destruction and noisy scratching on the bedroom door and howling when they should be sleeping. By now we've agreed that the carpet in the hall is beyond saving. It will need replaced at some point, as will the dining chairs. Of course, there is little point in replacing anything while the furry terrorists are still roaming, causing mayhem wherever they are. And besides, we can't afford it - at the moment we're spending our money on cat food. Who would have thought two innocent looking kittens could cast a family into poverty in such a fashion!

Kitten diary, Friday November 23

As much as I hate to admit it, it looks like the special diet has done the trick and cured Gizmo's persistent diarrhoea. This can only mean that he's intolerant to something in the Burns food. The veterinary nurse did suggest that some cats simply require a wet diet, so maybe that's the case with him. For now we'll be trying the Trophy dry food for a while to see if that will work. We can't keep him on the diet permanently, but at least we've discovered his condition can be cured with the right food.

Gizmo isn't the only problem, as you may well know. Seamus will cuddle into me and tell me he's not bad, he's just misunderstood. When he's splashing the water from his bowl all over he's not trying to ruin the floor and kill his brother from thirst, he's merely trying to give the place (and himself) a wee wash. When he sits outside his litter box pawing piles of kitty litter through the flap and onto the step in front of it he's not wanting to make a mess, he's simply trying to save all that nice litter filler from getting terribly dirty ("because you KNOW what Gizmo does in there, don't you?"). And when he exercises his claws on the soft chairs, it's because his little paws are far too sensitive for the raw, harsh sisal. In short, he's a fussy sissy. Well, that description at least beats "anarchist furball"...

*wave* 'Ello, Gina and Cecilie! (faithful readers)

Kitten diary, Tuesday November 27

The Trophy food seems to be working and Gizmo looks like he's finally gaining a bit of weight (he was terribly skinny before, which is quite understandable if you suffer from constant digestive trouble). This means our experimentation has revealed he can eat chicken, Royal Canin Sensitivity S/O and Trophy, but not Burns. I'm now wondering what his dietary intolerance is, as the complete ingredients list for the Burns food reads as follows: Brown rice, poultry meat meal, maize, poultry fat, chicken liver, seaweed, vitamins and minerals. When I bought the Trophy I went specifically for one that does not contain seaweed, but that's really grasping for a straw as I have no idea which of the above ingredients is causing the trouble (but I'll assume it's not the chicken).

Anyway, with the dietary problem solved all we need is to teach Seamus to stop tearing everything to bits. I like to think he's getting better, though. Really.

Video of kittens giving each other a wash
Right-click the link to download - choose "save target as" (12.3Mb .avi file)

Cuddled up

Kitten diary, Tuesday December 18

On December 4th, Gizmo dropped his first tooth (one of the fangs). On December 13th, Seamus dropped the last of his fangs. The boys are now nearly 6 months old and almost all of their kitten teeth have come out. In the kitchen department, further investigation has revealed that they are both intolerant to something in the Trophy Fish & Rice, so we're only feeding them the chicken variety (another food donation to the local SSPCA animal welfare centre).

Photo update later in the month.

Kitten photo update, Wednesday December 26, 2007

The kittens are now 6 months old. Below are some pictures from the past month. Their development will be continued on the Teen cats page covering months 6-12.

BFF Gizmo Boys napping on bed 1 Boys napping on bed 2 Kitty Christmas 1 Kitty Christmas 2 Kitty Christmas 3 Cats in booths