Oliver, a big name for a small boy
Meet Oliver, a small, abandoned kitten. His name was inspired by the great novel written by Charles Dickens based on the life of a 9-year-old orphan, Oliver Twist.
From the beginning…
About 4 weeks ago Oliver and his two siblings were found by a rescue centre volunteer who specialised in housing stray and abandoned animals, instantly she realised these kittens were very small and likely to be under 2 weeks old.
She immediately took them to one of her mummy cats who was still nursing her own babies. Oliver’s two siblings were only too eager to nurse but unfortunately, Oliver had a mind of his own and didn’t want to be nursed by a 4-legged mum.
A good friend of mine, Carina Gouws (already a mum of 6 furry babies) received a call about Oliver and despite her house already being filled to the brim, she knew she had to make room for baby Oli.
Love at first sight!
When Carina laid her eyes on Oliver it was love at first sight, unfortunately not for him, he was still too small, and his eyes could not open yet.
Carina wanted to make sure that Oliver received the best care possible so the first thing she did when she picked him up was visit the vet. After a check-up, they were on their way to Oliver’s new home where he met the rest of the family.
When he arrived, he was very small and weighed only 125g at that point. Carina now proudly gloats that he is now 210g which is still small for his age but his big personality makes up for whatever he lacks in size.
Who needs sleep… zzzzzzzz
When I asked Carina what the hardest part of looking after baby Oliver was, she said it’s absolutely the sleep deprivation that comes with the multiple feeding needed for such a young kitten. Despite this, she said it is ‘so worth it’. Not only do they need constant tiny feeds, kittens of that age are not able to regulate their own body heat, so she had to make sure he is always kept warm, while being careful not to overheat him..
Like a newborn human, kittens feed often, and Oliver demanded his food every 2 hours. It was tough in the beginning with the syringe, but he has moved on to a bottle now and the whole household knows when he is hungry. Fiona, Carina’s oldest cat, has taken Oliver under his wing (or should I say paw) and gets very upset if his needs are not attended to immediately.
- When a kitten is so small, they are not able to pee or poop on its own because its abdominal muscles are not strong enough yet. Carina had to rub his abdominal area to stimulate him after each meal so that he can be potty trained. She is very thankful that that process is over, and Oliver is happily able to do his own business.
- Taking in a small kitten comes with more responsibility than just making sure their body heat is regulated, they are fed and able to do their bathroom routine. Play is a very important part of the feline world and kittens need the opportunity to play to learn vital adult skills both for communication and hunting. From a very early age, they play with their littermates and with objects that they find in their environment. So as part of their daily routine, Carina made sure there is playtime included so that Oliver was able to develop the ability to retract his claws into the paw which is crucial for a cat to do.
- The tell-tale sign of a healthy kitten or cat is good fur. Carina said that when she got Oliver, he was a little dull ball of fur and now he is a ball of fluff and well on his way to showcasing a beautiful shiny coat.
So, what does Oli think?
We asked Carina what she thinks Oliver would say to her if he could talk. She said she is sure it would be something as simple as…Thanks for saving and loving me! We agree!