I didn't even know his mama was pregnant until El Ray was born. She hadn't gained weight, and my boys were neutered, so I had no reason to suspect anything. However, this was during the time when I was trying to acclimatize Dodge, who was not yet neutered, to being around other cats.
When I saw Princess cleaning something under my computer desk, I took a closer look and noticed it moving. It was a single kitten; she had given birth to only one. He was tiny, about the size of my thumb. Immediately I realized that the "scuffle" between Princess and Dodge had been something different altogether. I quickly put together a box with some old clothes in it for her and the baby. I named him El Ray after a vocal group from the 1950's.
Considering his size, I was sure there was something wrong with him, and was concerned with his chances for survival. My other cats reactions to him didn't help. A couple of my boys tried on a few occasions to drag him out of the box only to leave him somewhere else.
I had heard that when cats feel that a kitten is sick or won't make it, they will take it away from the nest to die. So his first couple of weeks included a few sleepless nights for myself and some alone time for he and his mother, secluded from the others. Once he could move around on his own, I decided that if they were to drag him away, he could make his way back to mommy. I was correct, and then some.
Apparently, the little one remembered the big boys who gave him such trouble. He found a nice, quiet area behind my television stand to sleep, where the others couldn't fit to get to him. But when he awoke, he took pleasure in torturing the boys who had given him a hard time. He bit their ears and tails, clawed their noses, and hopped away. Yes, he hopped... and still does to this day.
His back legs are very long, so that when he walks his hind end is higher than his shoulders. But when he speeds up, he actually hops like a rabbit! He pushes with both back legs at the same time. It may seem strange, but it apparently works for him as he is extremely fast.
El Ray had made it that far, but his troubles were not yet over. He had a very large umbilical hernia which must have been extremely painful. I took him to the vet to be checked out, and to see about surgery for the hernia. I was told that unless it got bigger, we should wait until he was six months old and have the hernia fixed and have him neutered at the same time (absolutely NO mention of declawing... GOOD VET).
As if the hernia wasn't enough, upon examination the vet asked if El Ray was already neutered. I explained that there was no way, as he was with me from birth. After further exam, El Ray was diagnosed as a bilateral cryptorchid. His testes would have to be surgically removed from his abdomen. I waited as the vet suggested, but by the time he was five months old the hernia seemed to be a bit bigger, and he hadn't grown for about a month, so I took him in.
He came home to me the next day with a shaved belly, three incisions, and an Elizabethan collar. After taking things easy for a while, El Ray healed perfectly. He still hopped, and never grew any bigger, but he was in good health. He never did experience the weight gain normally associated with neutered males. His belly is small, but his chest, shoulders, and legs are muscular. The best way to describe his appearance is that he has the perfect build for running. And run he does, all through my house!