Hecate nursing and cuddling both litters while Ostara takes a break.
I don't have pictures of it but both momma cats hug and cuddle the kittens- something I didn't really expect. They wrap their arms around the kittens to hold them, or lay their paws or arms across them in what looks like typical momma protective gestures. They can be so sweet and gentle with them and so obviously nurturing and loving. And their patience seems limitless. This little one is being stopped by a momma paw to steer it back so she can finish bathing it.
The two black ones and little white one in the front are Hecate's kittens. The larger white one in the back corner and grayish on on the left are Ostara's. The big mass in the back middle is a heap of the rest of them. They are often sleeping on top of each other in one big pile. They twitch a lot and suckle in their sleep, and bat their paws around. And they fall asleep while they nurse. Just like regular babies!
Now that the older litter is 3 weeks old, and the younger litter is 2 weeks old, they all have their eyes open and are starting to play and explore inside their box. The older ones are much bigger than the younger ones, even though there is only a week between them. The 3 week old kittens are trying to walk, and are very wobbly. The younger ones are still mostly crawling but more alert each day.
Hecate had 6 kittens total. The first four, all born within the span of one hour (can you even imagine?) were all black. I had really hoped for at least one all black kitty and we got 4!
The last two, with a two hour span between the first group, were white twins. Sadly, one of the twins had a birth defect and died sometime this morning. Hecate has been crying a bit for her lost baby and has been looking for her. She is not inconsolable and we are comforting her as best we can.
The really neat part is that a few hours after all the babies were born, and Hecate was resting comfortably in her nesting box with fresh towels and linens, she moved her kittens to Ostara's nesting box, and abandoned the one we made for her entirely. I never anticipated such a thing to happen. I actually believed they would be a bit territorial about their litters possibly and we'd have to keep them somewhat separate for a bit until they became accustomed to the new scents of the kittens. But it was like a big family reunion and everyone was glad to see each other!
So now they share their nesting box, and both momma cats are nursing all the kittens interchangeably. The kittens don't seem to have any differentiation between the moms, and all the babies from both litters are nursing and snoozing alongside one another like life long friends.
I guess technically the two litters are cousins, but they behave more like siblings and happy siblings at that. I love it!
Often the momma cats take shifts with the babies, so one will nurse the entire 8 of them, and the other can leave the box and take a bathroom or meal break or just get a stretch and rest in in the other room.
Sometimes when the babies are particularly rowdy both moms work cooperatively to settle everyone down, groom them all, potty them, and feed them. Both Hecate and Ostara turned out to be excellent moms. We had our doubts about how Hecate would do, but she is a loving and committed mommy, we should never have worried. We are so proud of them both. It's so lovely how well it all worked out between them! Pictures to follow in the coming days!