The Premier Online Magazine devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats
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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.


The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

Grace’s First Litter

Editor’s Note: Author, Adia Kilpatrick, is a “newbie” — a British Shorthair breeder expecting her first litter from her foundation female, Grace (Ch. Brittasweet Amazing Grace). Below is an email she wrote to the CFA Mentoring List describing the arrival of her first litter. As you will see, it was quite an experience for Grace… and for Adia. As Robbie Burns would say… “The best laid plans of mice and men, and cat breeders…”, well, you know how it goes.

Nothing went as planned or expected.

Last Friday, as usual, I removed Grace from her birthing cage for exercise before being replaced at bedtime. On a whim I went to a movie… and returned to find my life had changed.


No meow.


No sound.


No appearance!

Drop purse, drop to knees, look under, behind, around and inside of everything. Find her in the dark cubbyhole of a cat tree, wildly panting. Shine flashlight into cubblyhole, see catnip-covered, newborn kitten attached to liver-looking substance.

Grace in one arm, kitten and blob in one hand, I dash to birthing cage. Grace rejects birthing box, paces outside it, stops to squat out a kitten. She licks the sac from its face as it emerges… then she ignores it. She resumes pacing, trampling the poor newborn. Alarmed at this contradiction of my image of a cat laying in one spot pushing out kittens then vigorously licking them, I rush to the bathroom with Grace in my arms, each hand clutching a blobbed kitten.

Put Grace in the birthing box I’d set in a cabinet, I place newborns on towels. Wipe them off with washcloth, watch them scramble all over each other. Remember tangled cords can be dangerous and panic. How long to wait before cutting them?

Try to read highlighted literature I’d taped to my walls, but my heart pounding in my eyeballs blur all words. Grab dental floss and scissors; tie each cord in two places; cut between them. Stunned at blood flow! Apply iodine to kittens’ cords. Open cabinet to check on Grace. She’s panting in box, but I see a still kitten lying outside the birthing box. It is still in the sac, cool to the touch, and totally limp. Seems stillborn. No time to read or make calls.


Grab sac at forehead (feels like elasticized egg white!). Tear with fingernails. It falls away newborn’s sides. Wipe fluids from mouth. Carefully use infant’s aspirator. Choke the life out of Hope! Clasp stillborn between palms and swing downwards, back up. Gently blow into its face.

It gasps and gurgles!

Again wipe fluids, use aspirator, swing down and blow. Mouth opens wide, fluid comes out… aspirate! Blow!… a miraculous squeal! Joy surges. Praise to ye Mentors.

Place resurrected one with siblings. Check on Grace. She leaps from birthing box, revealing another kitten. Retrieve it, clean it, uncord it, warm it with siblings. Check again — yet another!!

Grace pantingly looks on, disinterested in licking, nursing. Feel frightened disappointment, but sail forward in winds of your wisdom. Place kitnkaboodle on toweled heating pad, ponder next step. Place kittens on digital scale, record weight. Smallest 3.3/8 oz. Largest 4.1/8 oz. Paint one back foot of each a different color nail polish.

Yawn! Fading fast. Leave all five beautiful blue babies in bathroom birthing box and pass out. Awake a few hours later to unfamiliar sounds… leap from bed, open bathroom door, see Grace just staring at babies. Get dressed, gather up “family,” and I am waiting at the vet’s door when he arrives.

They shave Grace’s belly so babies can more easily find her teats. They pinch her nipples and put babies at the fluid. I melt with relief at suckling sounds. Am told all is well. Grace is confused. I should place all in a mid-sized carrier so babies can find mother.

Good advice — so far, so good!

Buy awesome cage that looks like oversized plastic sweater box affixed to cage that opens both on top and at sides so Grace can stretch out and have food/water but not stray.

Rearrange whole house to benefit situation. Can’t stop staring. Could easily forget the panic of Friday night as I gaze upon this heap of blue-furred miracles. Oh my gosh,  look at the perfect tiny claws with which they propel themselves. The itty bitty noses that twitch seeking Life. Each has a tail. Tiny ears. Is soft! Warm. Has a voice.

As I catch my breath from this thrilling new experience, I reflect on how many of you have been here again and again. I can’t imagine how what I feel today could be diminished by repetition… oh, my friends, assure me that each time is like the first. I can’t stay away. I must gaze and gasp in wonder. I can’t stop staring. So these are what tears of Joy feel like. And that little one that almost wasn’t… God, please bless those who before the crisis sent me what I needed to know to save it. Not only were beautiful blue babies born… but a true cat fancier was born today too.

When I needed a suitable cage, I ventured to Petco in the rain with dirty tee shirt and flip flops, praying no one who knew me would see me… but all that really mattered were those babies who have blessed my life and this world because I, and many of you, are committed to the Cat.

My bottom line is “thank you,” and I mean it with all I am!!


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The British Shorthair’s good-natured appearance and relatively calm temperament make it a frequent media star, notably as the inspiration for John Tenniel’s famous illustration of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. The Cat Fanciers’ Association profile reads: “When gracelessness is observed, the British Shorthair is duly embarrassed, quickly recovering with a ‘Cheshire cat smile’.