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Discussion Starter #1
Here are my babies:

The original 2, Papito (black) and Persephone (gray and white). They were adopted a week apart from our local shelter at roughly 4 months old. They are now 7.5 years old.



Persephone has the most adorable milk mustache:



Diablo was found by a coworker of mine and on his way to the shelter when we decided to make him part of our family. He was about 8 weeks old when we got him and is currently about 3 yeas old.



Our fourth cat Daytona was a foster from the shelter. She came to us at about 8 weeks for "socialization" and 2 months later we decided we could not send her back. She was our family Christmas present last year and has just had her first birthday.





A pile-up in front of the heater: Diablo, Papito, Daytona.




This is our sweet girl Tinners. She came to us as a 2 year old, lost a leg as a four year old, suffered an attack of pancreatitis as a 7 year old. I tube fed he for a month and she recovered. The pancreatitis recurred a year later and rather than put her through all that again, we decided to let her go. RIP Tinners (11-11-2011).



She was 3 legged and 17 pounds and was affectionately known as "a bowling ball on a tripod"



Our newest addition, Erek, came to us as a foster. His mother was up for adoption on craigslist at 8.5 weeks pregnant. I took her in and 4 days later she had 5 kittens (Euphoria, Echo, Encore, Elvis and Erek). I found homes for everyone else, but Erek had a rare and severe birth defect called pectus excavatum that was life-threatening. He ended up needing two major surgeries to repair it. He is now 8 months old and nearly 10 pounds. Happy and healthy. This first one is right after his first surgery:



Here he is post-surgery. He's quite a goof ball:




And finally, my fosters.

These guys came from a shop where they were reproducing at will.

Mama Tootsie and her babies (3 boys, 3 girls): Igor, Ivan, Ichabod, Iris, Inky and Itsy.



I am afraid Mama Tootsie might be pregnant again. Top view taken 5 days ago:




My other foster, Mama Lucy:



Her three kittens (Helios, Hope and Harley) were adopted out this past weekend.

I name each foster batch after a letter, alphabetically. The mothers of these last two batches were already named and I did not change them.
 

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I can't believe how adorable they all are - and I love your system of naming. Let me guess, you're partial to all black kitties. :) Is Daytona still young, or is she just that much smaller than the other kitties?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I do love me some black cats. :) We also have a black lab mix (Athena). She and Diablo were babies together and the dog has no idea she's not a cat. They definitely rule the house.

Daytona is a year old now. In that picture she was only about 5-6 months, which is why she looks so small compared to the other two. Now she is almost impossible to tell apart from the boys at first glance, except that everyone has different colored eyes. Papito's are yellow, Diablo's are green and Daytona's are brown. :)
 

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Good thing for the different colored eyes! I'm just looking again at the pic of Mama with her 6 black kitties. Since I can't think of 6 different eye colors, that could get confusing... :D
 

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So many kitties, such cuteness. It must be heaven to live in your house.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Luckily mama and the six black kittens aren't all black. Three of the kittens have some white on their faces that lets me tell them apart. Of the other three, one does not have any white, and two have white spots on their chest (one male, one female) so it's not nearly as easy to tell them apart, but is possible. :)

I love living here except when it comes time to clean, lol. That's a lot of litter boxes. ;) When I first got the Tootsie and her kittens, I also had another batch (Queen Anne and her 3 kittens Gem, Gus Gus and Gypsy) from my local shelter. I hadn't planned to take Tootsie yet, or Lucy's group at all, but 3 kittens had recently died out at the shop where they were at and they couldn't wait for my shelter group to go back. For a while there were 20 cats in the house. I was also bottle feeding/supplementing Tootsie's babies as she wasn't producing enough milk on her own for all 6 of them. Just feeding and cleaning litters in the morning took over an hour.

Fortunately the shelter cats have been adopted, my "H" batch has been adopted and I'm no longer bottle feeding the "I" batch so I'm back down to about 20 minutes to feed and clean everyone and I can spend more time playing with the babies again. :)
 

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Wow, that's incredible commitment. :worship The shelter's lucky to have you. I've always wanted to foster, but one of my girls hates other cats, and the other one is afraid of all other cats. :?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One of mine (Persephone) hates just about everything, lol. She just stays away from the laundry room/garage though, which is where the fosters stay. Diablo and Papito don't really care one way or the other and the babies Daytona and Erek like to keep extremely close tabs on the tiny home invaders.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It is indeed a lot of cats. I was able to get some better photos of the foster kittens tonight. :)

Almost the whole group photo:



This is Iris (mostly white face) and Itsy (the runt). Both females:



Thin white stripe is a boy, Ichabod. The other two are Ivan (male on far left) and Igor (male in the middle):



The other female, Inky:

 

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They are all so cute, but Ichabod with his little white stripe is very unique looking. I'd take him in a minute if I could.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I love that the three with white on their faces (Iris, Itsy and Ichabod) still have blue eyes. Their mother has 1 blue eye and 1 yellow. Since they're already over 8 weeks and still blue, are they likely to remain blue? I know they can change up until 3 months, I'm just wondering if that's likely at this point?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Erek turns 1 year old tomorrow! I can't believe how big he is (over 12 lbs now and not "filled out" yet). He's the only one who was born here, so the only one who's birthday I know for sure. I wrote this for him tonight:

I can't believe that tomorrow my tiny little Erek turns 1 year old! I remember finding his mom on craigslist four days before she gave birth to five beautiful kittens. I remember going into their room several times a day those first few weeks just to count them and watch them sleep. I remember when they first learned how to escape their box. I remember discovering that Erek's chest seemed to be oddly shaped, and asking for advice and doing google searches. I remember finding someone in England who was studying pectus excavatum and bouncing questions off her. I remember how scared I was when the vet didn't know what the problem was (but that there was clearly something wrong) and I remember the relief I felt when another vet at the office told me she'd done the corrective surgery four times before. I remember bottle feeding him 3-4 times a day trying to get enough weight on him for him to be a surgical candidate. I remember the agonizing wait on the day of surgery (I didn't know if his lungs could take the anesthetic, or if he would wake up from the surgery at all). I remember sleeping in the living room next to his crate and giving him pain meds that made his tongue flop out. I remember when he grew so fast he cracked the cast and the surgery had to be repeated. I remember bringing cookies and pizza to work (and to my mom's work) to raise money to help with his surgeries. I remember lots of kind people donating. I remember how fast he grew after the surgery, and I remember his new homes falling through. I remember realizing one day that we wouldn't be able to give him up and calling the vet to schedule his shots. I remember discovering that his favorite toys have bells in them, that he loves to sleep sprawled out flat on his back, that he loves sunshine but hates the heater. My littlest boy turns 1 year old tomorrow. Happy birthday Erek!!


Erek at 2.5-3 weeks:



Erek now:



 

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It's hard to believe that the tiny, sickly 3 week-old kitten could turn into such a stunning cat. He is absolutely gorgeous.

And what a sweet tribute to your first year together! Wow, what you did for him took an amazing amount of courage and commitment.

What exactly is pectus excavatum? From the name, it sounds like it might have something to do with a lung that's too shallow, or concave?
 

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Happy Belated B-Day Erek! What a handsome man and a fortunate one to have such good care.

How is Persephone and the rest of the crew?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
What exactly is pectus excavatum? From the name, it sounds like it might have something to do with a lung that's too shallow, or concave?
Ah, I went looking for this old thread to find the picture of all the cats in front of the heater and saw this question I never answered.

Pectus excavatum is a deformity of the chest/ribcage. In a normal cat, the sternum (the bone at the bottom/front of the ribcage) is parallel to the spine, with the ribs arching between them to form the ribcage. In a cat with Pectus, the sternum points up, toward the spine. This compresses the lungs and causes them not to function efficiently.

It's a birth defect and the degrees can vary. "Mild" pectus often requires no treatment at all and the cat is not generally considered special needs. Moderate might require treatment and the cat tires easily because of reduced lung volume/oxygenation. Severe pectus is fatal unless treated and the only treatment is surgical, as you have to change the bone structure of the ribcage.

My understanding is that treating adult cats is possible, but not recommended. Since the treatment involves breaking bones, the younger the animal at the time of surgery, the better the chances of recovery. Plus cats with pectus severe enough to require surgery usually don't make it to adulthood.

The surgery involves breaking the sternum then applying a cast to the kitten, and sewing the sternum to the cast, to hold it in place while it heals. In Erek's case, he was so stunted and the surgery helped him so much, that after 3 weeks, he actually grew enough to break his cast. The vet's terminology was "He hulked out of it!" They had to repeat the surgery and make a bigger cast in order to keep his sternum at the right angle until the break fully healed.

Pectus excavatum literally translates as "hollow chest." Erek was long haired, so there was nothing to "see," but from the outside it looks as if the chest is hollow and the ribs have collapsed into the empty space. You could feel the dent. He still has one, but it was corrected enough by the surgery to be considered "mild" now and no further treatments are needed. :)
 
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