Kosta's story begins way back on New Year's Day 1994 with the mating of Snickles, my Oriental Black queen, who managed to get enormously pregnant with 6 kittens. Snickles was never "normal" and my breeding experiences with my Somalis most certainly did not prepare me for Snickles' parturition - in fact she completely fooled me that she was in labour at all and gave birth to 2 kittens while I thought she was still quietly sleeping! Unfortunately, both these kittens were dead. She showed no further signs of delivering any more, even though it was obvious there were still some left there and settled down for a nice sleep. After 3 worrying hours I telephoned my vet and arranged to meet him at the surgery at 10:00pm. One oxytocin injection and at 10:30pm she gave birth to a male Siamese kitten and once again settled down, saying very loudly that she didn't much care for this giving birth routine and just wanted to cuddle her mother - me! Another oxytocin injection and another hour later she gave birth to a Siamese queen and stopped again. At 12:00 midnight the vet x-rayed her and we could clearly see at least 1 more, possibly 2 kittens, so off she went for a caesarean. There were indeed 2 more kittens tucked right up the horns of the uterus, but they were so weak the vets could not get them going and so at 1:30 in the moring we drove home with a very drowsy Snickles, 2 very cold kittens stuffed up my jumper and a £300.00. vet bill! To say she was a natural mother would have been a complete fabrication, she thought she was still a baby and needed the mothering, not them! So it took a while to get her to settle with the kittens, but eventually she was getting the hang of it.
Leyla, my younger Somali queen was due to have her second litter 2 weeks after Snickles, but 8 days later and 3 days early she misjudged a jump and fell and within an hour was in first stage labour, giving birth to a dead kitten at midnight, then nothing! The problem was that we didn't know if the kitten had been damaged in the fall and had been aborted and the other kittens maybe just weren't ready to be born yet, or whether there were further complications. Unfortunately my vet's practice were not on call that evening and the covering vet was not prepared to come out. At 3:00am Barry and I finally decided that nothing was happening and we ought to try to get some sleep and I would go to my vets first thing the next morning. The problem was that Leyla knew she had given birth to a kitten and couldn't find it, so when she came upstairs to the bedroom with us and saw the kittening box she recognised only too well, with the Siamese kittens inside, it was a case of "Aah, that's where my babies are". So in she went and took over, whereupon Snickles came out as if to say "Thank you very much - they're all yours!" and got into bed with me.
At 8:00am the following morning Leyla and I were camped outside my vets waiting for them to open up. Another caesarean later and I was driving home with Leyla, her remaining 2 kittens (both of whom the vets had struggled to get breathing) and a £200. vet bill! And so we began on that Thursday morning with 4 kittens - by nightfall we were down to 2. As soon as Leyla got over her drowsiness from the operation she rushed to see to her kittens - the Siamese in the bedroom! Her own kittens were still in the makeshift kittening box in front of the fire in the living room, but as far as she was concerned, they weren't hers - hers were the white ones in the box upstairs that she had looked after all night. Snickles on the other hand wasn't agreeable to a swap - she was happy to share hers as long as Leyla did the washing and cleaning, but there was no way she was taking on any extra! One of the Somali kittens was having great difficulty breathing only doing so properly when stimulated constantly by me. Unfortunately by 6:30pm he was dead.
In the meantime, because my mind was so taken up with the Somalis I had failed to remember to weight the Siamese the previous night and had not noted a sudden weight loss in the male kitten. The first sign I had that anything was wrong was when after tea I admitted defeat, accepted that Leyla was not going to care for her own kittens in another box and took the surviving Somali kitten upstairs and put him in the box with the 2 Siamese kittens and the 2 queens. It was at this point that I noticed there was a problem with the Siamese male, who had obviously lost weight and whose temperature had dropped radically. By then, unfortunately it was too late and he died shortly afterwards, so then there were two.
For a few days things settled down and the 2 mothers shared the kittening box and the kittens, although by then each was feeding their own kitten, Leyla seemed to be doing the most "housework" and toilet work, while Snickles took on the role of royalty! Then the Somali kitten took ill with pneumonia and after 4 days of tube feeding and fighting for him and with him I had to admit defeat and had him put to sleep. I would say at this stage I was at my lowest ebb and felt that I may never be able to face having another litter.
The surviving Siamese female, however, simply thrived. She had 2 mothers to love andcherish her and 2 human parents who thoroughly examined her every day for any sign of anything being wrong, but like Topsy, she just grew and grew. By the time she was 3 weeks old and beginning to walk about, her little tummy was so fat and saggy she looked like she had a pink cow's udder. It was an awful time for us, as in this instance, everything we went through was multiplied by two, but it was good for Leyla, who had lost all her kittens, because she still had something to mother and therefore was not too emotionally distressed - she thought the Siamese was hers all along anyway!
Of course, we kept the Siamese kitten, how could we not? How do you part with the sole survivor of such a catalogue of disasters, a kitten whom you have watched over almost every hour of every day, expecting her to die? The whole excerise from the 2 litters, including stud fees, leukaemia tests, petrol for the journeys to stud, all Kosta's vaccinations and, of course, the infamous vet bills cost us over £800.00. So what could we call her but Feorag Kosta Fortune - Kosta for short.
She had oodles of personality and a mouth as big as her mother's. Like her mother before her she suffered from "nice legs, shame about the face" syndrome. From the next down she was pretty good, but her head just wasn't strong enough or typy enough for a Siamese - she was a little like the old type Siamese - not what would win on the showbench. However, as a kitten we took her to a couple of shows, just for the fun of it and it always surprised us how many people came to us to ask how she had done. She never did well, but it never bothered us, we just enjoyed taking her out.
She is an absolutely fabulous traveller - she just gets on the back window sill of the car, or the back seat if it is vacant, stretches out and never moves. I had many offers to buy her from people who came to look at my next litter of Somalis, because she always had personality plus! Also like her mother before her she adores to have her bottom slapped (which was a habit I always encouraged anyway, because I loved to slap her bottom!) She also is an excellent retriever - her passion being for shoelaces. She will carry a shoelace anywhere if she thinks you will throw it for her.
As a breeding queen she proved to be much better than her mother (who repeated her disaster with her following litter, managing only to rear 1 kitten after a caesarean and who was therefore neutered). It took me a long time to make the decision to let Kosta have a litter as I was afraid she would turn out to be like her mother, but I thought I would have one try and see what happened. She was a wonderful mother. She gave birth to 4 kittens in her first litter without any problems and just was a natural. She fed them well, kept them pristine clean - there was never a dirty bottom in sight - and revelled in the whole aspect of motherhood. As did I!!! Every litter she produced gave us wonderful healthy kittens and their temperament was just fabulous - just like her.