We Have a Surprise!

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-20 Our cat had kittens!!!

Siena, our Maine Coon, gave birth to four little kittens on April 2, 2015. We’ve been loving them for the past week and a half. They’re thriving and ready to show their faces to the world!

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-7 Here the kittens are just a few hours old. I’ll write more about the labor and delivery soon, but it was amazing! Siena very clearly wanted Elliott (who, coincidentally, is a veterinarian) to be her labor doula, and he stayed up all night with her.

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-1.jpg Now here they are two days old! We set up a “nesting box” for Siena in our closet and have carefully guarded her privacy during these early days. This was the first time we held the kittens. They were so tiny, about 4 oz each, and their eyes weren’t open yet.

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-8 You’re probably wondering how our (exclusively indoor!) cat got pregnant. In light of Elliott’s training as a vet, this was a BIG family decision. Given the abundance of mixed breed animals everywhere in the world, we wanted to be really sure of the value of letting Siena reproduce.

Siena is a purebred Maine Coon, which means she carries traits like her friendliness, large size, and the unique tufts of hair on the tips of her ears that make her look like a lynx. We do think it is worthwhile to maintain certain characteristics that have been developed in animal breeds over centuries. We love Siena and her breed, and we wanted to give a few other families the joy of having one of her kittens.

Elliott had a friend at work who also had a purebred Maine Coon, a huge silver mackerel male. He is a gorgeous, friendly cat, and I would adopt him in a heartbeat! He came to stay at our house for a week in January, and by mid-February it was evident that our “arranged marriage” had been successful.

There is another reason we’re excited to have kittens in our home, and that is for our children. We want to raise them around animals who procreate, live, and die, teaching them about the circle of life in a natural and healthy way. One day we’d love to have chickens and goats and a bigger yard… and the dreams go on. I’ll write more about this another time, though, because involves another layer of the kittens’ birth story.

And now here they are at six days old, eyes open:

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-9 Tiny little faces! There are two gingers, one cream, and one calico. The first three are boys, but the calico is a girl (obvious from the beginning because she has more than three colors in her coat).

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-3 Here the kittens are a week old. Lena helps every evening with weighing the kittens and then holding them gently in her skirt for a little while. We continue to be very respectful of the nesting box in the closet, visiting quietly and not disturbing Siena when she’s nursing.

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-2 Whenever Siena leaves, the kittens pile on top of each other to stay warm and sleep. It’s the sweetest thing! Here’s a few more of six-day-old kittens:

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-4 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-5 And now they are a week old! Lena has fallen head over heels in love with the calico, named her Sally, and says, “This one is going to be mine when she grows up.”

This is a problem because we are not planning to keep any of the kittens…!

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-10 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-11 And here are a bunch of photos from this past Saturday evening, a nine days old and more precious than ever.

becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-12 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-13 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-15 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-16 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-19 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-21 becca-garber-maine-coon-kittens-22 More photos to come! :)


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19 Responses to We Have a Surprise!

  1. SLG April 13, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    What cuties! Oh my goodness, what good memories. My parents adopted a kitten a couple of years ago (it was the runt, and its feral mama had pushed it out of the nest before its eyes opened — my dad found it and my mom bottle-nursed it to health!).

    And speaking of real life with animals, I’d love to hear more about your decision not to have your cat fixed (I may be using the wrong word here — sorry not a cat owner myself so not up on the vocabulary!). Obviously it’s wonderful to have kittens, and it also comes with other … down sides :-) . How did you guys think through that decision?

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Hi there! We have had Siena for almost two years and knew we’d love her to have kittens one day, so that’s why we never got her fixed (spayed). Sometimes it was really hard because she did go into heat during the warmer months, and sometimes even during the colder months too (although less often). I think that was highly driven by a neighborhood tom cat who came to visit and sprayed our door a lot, though; since leaving Sicily and coming to the States (where cats wander less freely) she’s only gone into heat three times, and the third time was when she got pregnant.

      I’m happy to answer more questions if you want to email me, too. :) I would have been full of them if I had known what I was getting into!

  2. Becca Arthur April 13, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    So fun! What a wonderful way to see and experience new life! Don’t know if I should show the pictures to my kids or not – they’ll either be on the first plane to San Diego tomorrow or beg us for a pet for the next month (or year!). Love to all of you!

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

      Aww please adopt one! Juuuust kidding, I know you and Siena were never besties. ;) And you have enough life in your house without a kitten! Love you guys.

  3. Esther April 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I am at the furthest end of the spectrum from being a cat person. But even I must admit, these kittens are adorable.

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

      Haha, thank you, Esther. Right now they are also quiet, sweet, and have all their needs taken care of by someone other than me, so I am also a huge fan.

  4. carrol April 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    So cute!

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

      Thank you, Carroll!

  5. Pita April 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    I’m swooning with their cuteness! Nothing better in life than a bundle of kittens. When I was 19 our very young cat got pregnant before we had a chance to have her spayed. She was quite nervous and stuck very close to me during the pregnancy. One morning I woke up to find that she had given birth to four little kittens during the night. The kicker was that she had her babies on my bed while I was asleep in it! I woke to find the little kitties in the crook of my knees. I kept one of the babies and she was the sweetest, most loving little cat that ever lived. I miss her so!

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      What a surprise!!! You are the second person who told me that their cat gave birth next to them while they were sleeping. That is so amazing.

  6. Emily April 13, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    never have I ever wanted a cat… until seeing these pictures! Those kittens are so precious!!!

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      Maybe you’ll get to meet them in May, Emily. They’ll be even cuter then!

  7. Hollie April 13, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    So… did she eat the placentas?

    • Becca April 13, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

      Yes, and once she ate more than the placenta, which is part of the birth story that I will write soon. :( Life and death… life and death… they are hard and messy and beautiful and always happening simultaneously.

  8. Anne April 14, 2015 at 7:35 pm #


    Darling pics of kittens AND Lena with the kittens. And love this post! I look forward to more of the birth story. I have a question about something you said and it kind of rings a bell, too…..are all Calico cats female cats? And if the daddy cat is a silver male, is the mother cat a tri-color…or is that what you call a Calico? Just wondering where the cream and orange kitties came from! And lastly, I imagine a “mackerel” cat has the markings of a mackerel fish!? Sorry…..I am obviously not married to a veterinarian nor am I knowledgeable about a lot of cat terminology! Loving all your posts….thank you for brightening my days with your insightful writing and lovely photographs!

    • Becca April 14, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

      Hi Anne! Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

      The way I understand cat genes from what my husband has said is that only females are able to carry the traits for more than two colors. So yes, all calicos/tri-colors are females, no matter what breed. It’s kind of fun to immediately know that a tri-colored cat is a girl!

      A silver mackerel Maine Coon does have markings like a mackerel fish. Here’s a photo of what some of the Maine Coons look like, including a silver mackerel tabby: http://www.mcbfa.org/mainecooncolors.html. So beautiful!

  9. Joy April 15, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Those pictures are so sweet! Neither of my parents was a vet, but they had a lot of the same ideas regarding the value that pets bring to our lives — how much they teach us about life and death. We mostly had dogs when I was growing up, but at times, also took care of goats, a snake!!, three times had mongooses (not at the same time as the snake), and also had a couple hamsters for one year. And they really did teach us so much. My kids’ favorite stories for me to tell are the ones about our pets. This post is a lovely reminder of all that! Thank you!

  10. Sandy April 28, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    Will you be selling these lovely kittens? I am nearby to you ( pt Loma today but Orange County too) and have been looking for a Maine coon. We are crazy animal lovers! They are beautiful!!

    • Becca April 28, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

      Hi Sandy! I’m writing you an email now, but the short answer is YES we will be selling them. :) I’ll send you an email with more info. Thanks for reaching out!

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