Saturday, 14 August 2021

The Chipster

May I introduce you to Chip, son of Minnie and the late Ginger Dog, who was born in our back yard. At one week old his eyes and ears opened. At two weeks he began to crawl. And at three weeks he began to walk. At first Chip could only stagger on shaky little legs. But with Minnie’s encouragement, he became stronger and steadier on his feet. We have been completely fascinated.

Chip was so tiny when he was born. Minnie could carry him easily in her mouth. For the first week he and Minnie nested behind the bins in our back yard. Chip was either sucking milk or sleeping. Minnie kept going by eating enormous amounts of food and drinking loads of the lactose-free milk we gave her. She has six nipples, but with only one kitten in the litter, Chip had no competition for feeds.

After a couple of evening visits from Ginger Dog’s brother, who we managed to scare away, Minnie became quite anxious and started hiding Chip away from view. Each morning we had to search for him, to make sure that he was still alive. Her favourite hiding places for Chip were between two large flowerpots and behind the central heating boiler. We then encouraged her to nest in a cardboard box in the garden shed, which she did.  The shed was more secure because it smelt of humans and no feral cat would be likely to venture in there. This worked well and visits to our back yard from ‘the brother’ became fewer and further between.

When Chip began to walk, Minnie took him out into the back yard. She sat about six feet away and called him. He sat perplexed. She called him again. He bobbed his head at the expanse of gravel and weeds he would have to negotiate to get to her.  Chip opened his mouth and wailed. She called him again. He just sat there and continued to wail. Minnie remained unmoved. After a very long period of contemplation, Chip got to his feet. He staggered a few steps and then fell. He lay amongst the weeds and wailed. Minnie called him again. He slowly got up and headed towards her, before falling again. After a couple more falls, he finally reached her. Minnie bent down and licked his ginger head and back. Then Chip got his reward, a feed of milk.

This tough love continued for a day or two, until he was more secure on his feet. In spite of it all, or perhaps because of it all, Chip has more than doubled in size. He could well become a bruiser.

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