Clarence is a She. We decided on her name before we were sure of her sex! But we like the name and think it suits her, there are precedents in any case as in Sister Mary Clarence :-)
Glad to say we think we're making good progress with feeding the kittens. It's fortunate they were nearly ready to start weaning anyway. The ginger one (the firstborn) took solid kitten-food on his first try, he can actually suck from a bottle instead of just chewing on it, and he's also got the hang of lapping milk from a cupped hand, though not from a bowl yet. The tabby one too can drink with gusto and is able to take small amounts of food off a jamjar lid (kitten-sized plate, you see). The black and white one, who was the last born, doesn't know what solid food is except that it's something you walk across on your way to see what your siblings are doing. But at least he/she can chew on a teat whilst you dribble milk into his mouth !
We're also having Fun With Toilet Training. Sammi found some useful pages on the net about bringing up kittens, and all weekend has been religiously rubbing their nether areas to make them wee. They're starting to be able to do it unaided now, insofar as we've found several kitten-sized lakes of pee on the wooden floor here and a damp patch on the living room carpet. Sammi managed to catch the tabby in the act and plonked it on the litter tray, whereupon it did us proud by making full use of the facilities. Their first solid output: that has to be a good, if already rather smelly, sign !
They are also getting quite active and steady on their legs. Considering that three days ago they could barely stand up, they can move pretty quickly now when they want to. We barricaded the three steps down to the cellar, but it can only be a matter of days before they discover claws are good for obstacle courses and get down there anyway. The three older cats are behaving predictably too. The black one wants to be friends as long as they don't chase him, and he even tried to give one of them a lick today; Fatso is curious but uncertain about these small squeaky new things; and the Pest is extremely nervous whenever he sees them and thinks they are all out to get him. Just wait until they start kitten-fighting with him ...
We had a hopeful bit of news late this afternoon as well. The Avon lady called round and said she'd seen a cat answering to Mitsi's description where she lives nearby. We do hope it's Mitsi but it was already getting dark when we heard, not to mention hailstorming heavily, but we'll be round there tomorrow for sure. It's not far as the crow flies and there is plenty of undergrowth there where a cat could lurk for some time. But the street layout is confusing and might be hard for a cat to fathom. With any luck she may have just wandered or been chased out of her familiar territory.
Sorry about the poor picture quality by the way, still getting used to digicam programs. It's not as good as I hoped in low light. There's also something very strange going on with the rotation flag which I will endeavour to sort out !