I received a call late at night in April from our foster coordinator. 3 young kittens were in immediate need of an experienced foster. They were in very poor condition. Skinny, emaciated, weak to the point of being unable to hold themselves up. They would need around the clock care if they were going to make it through the night. The volunteer who currently had them had to work overnight and she recognized the urgency of the situation and had prompted our foster coordinator to reach out. I was planning to take a little break from fostering, my husband and I were preparing for a move and we both had busy work schedules. But how could I say no to these little lives? As luck would have it, I was off work the next few days so I agreed to take them in.
My husband and I picked the names Lock, Stock and Barrel. The kittens were estimated to be 5-6 weeks old and they all weighed under 1 pound. At that age, a healthy kitten should be over 1 pound and closer to 2. Barrel was the smallest and was so weak he couldn't stand up on his own. He had no muscle mass and was all bones. Because he was so small he was unable to keep himself warm or feed himself. Staying warm is integral to a young kittens survival. If they aren't warm enough they will refuse to eat and can go downhill very quickly. I had to figure out how to raise his body temperature, and the best way was to share my body heat. So I fashioned my own "kitten wearing" strap, by swaddling him in a blanket and sticking him in my sports bra! Now he was warm and cozy and I could work on other things like making kitten formula feeding the other 2. Barrel slept with me that night and I was up every hour to offer him food. That first night was the scariest. I was worried I was going to lose him, but eventually he came around and became more eager to eat. Barrel would surely have died that night if it wasn't for the quick action of our foster volunteers.
Fast forward a few days and all three of the kittens are gaining weight and getting stronger. I still had to keep a close eye on them to ensure they didn't overeat (which could cause them to aspirate, which means get fluid in their lungs), and to make sure they stayed warm and hydrated. Slowly but surely these kittens started to thrive. As they grew their personalities started to show. Stock, the only female, was the first to start playing and trying to wrestle with the others. It took the boys a little longer but soon all 3 were running around like crazy, getting into anything and everything they could. Watching them play, knowing how far they had come, was the most rewarding feeling ever!
We had few problems with babies as they got older. Soon they were vaccinated and scheduled to be spayed and neutered. As mentioned in our previous foster update, The Cat Corner waits until kittens are 12 weeks old and 3 pounds before putting them under for surgery. This prevents complications that can happen with younger, smaller kittens. Sometimes there are other factors that prevent a kitten from getting surgery. The veterinarian informed us that Lock and Stock had mild heart murmurs and could not be spayed and neutered the day of their appointment. It could be dangerous to put them under anesthesia as the murmur could prevent consistent blood flow and may cause complications. Many kittens grow out of these types of heart murmurs, so Lock and Stock will be given a check up in a month and hopefully spayed and neutered then. Barrel healed quickly from his neuter and was put up for adoption a few days later.
Kittens are resilient little creatures, and Lock, Stock and Barrel made a huge turn around in a few short weeks. Fostering is extremely rewarding if done correctly. I am lucky to work with a group of experienced, compassionate volunteers. If you are interested in helping us save more lives please consider volunteering your time, or donating. I couldn't do what I do without
The Cat Corner at my back, and I hope we continue to make a difference in cats and kittens lives for years to come!
Well my fellow cat Corner-ians,
It is the time I dread....time to say goodbye. The Cat Corner is an awesome organization and instead of keeping kittens to just 8 weeks (VA law says kittens have to be 7 weeks before being adopted and fixed) as most organizations I've fostered for; Cat Corner doesn't allow kittens up for adoption until around 12 weeks. The extra time is really good to make sure the kittens are a little heavier when being fixed which diminishes adverse effects of anesthesia. Also, the extra time is helpful to allow the kittens to fully become independent away from their Mother and siblings. There are key development traits that occur in 8-12 weeks especially with socialization and keeping the kittens with buddies and siblings is a great idea to make sure they realize biting during play hurts and they shouldn't do it to others, as well as what is appropriate play and sleep times. That is not to say that kittens adopted out at 8 weeks do not learn those things, but its up to the adopter to focus on those things not the organization helping them. With siblings and a Mom or a Foster Momma, there is a ton less work because they learn through play and it is much easier than with a single kitten (another reason adopting kittens in pairs is a great idea aka less work).
At 8 weeks old the kittens development isn't done and they aren't quite ready to be fixed. They did get their first round of vaccinations and were Angels at the clinic. As a Foster Momma my time has ended with Cat Corner (for now)....I personally am moving and while I may end up back in the VA area (If I do hopefully Cat Corner will have me back) for now I will be a few states away. Due to this one of the other fabulous Cat Corner Foster Mom's is going to take over for the last 4 weeks of kitten time. Actually the same person who is training Easter to be the purfect barn kitty. The kittens will not go back to Easter due to the bad habits we finally got rid of, but it's nice for me to know they will maybe smell her and be comforted.
Over the past 8 weeks each kitten has developed so much not just physically but their personalities have blossomed as well. We've had our share of heartache loosing a kitten and had growing pains with illnesses but they are on their way to being fine pets and family members. So I thought for my last post I would introduce the kittens personalities to you along with a before and after picture of our time together.
Peep (Little Girl)
Peep is the shyest of the girls. When she was little she was the loudest which is why she was named Peep. She certainly still sings for her supper but it's a little less earth shattering. She is getting less and less shy with time away from Easter, she loves soft blankets, but even more she loves to run. This little lady should be a track star. Give her a ball toy and she will chase it for hours! After running out of steam though a few belly rubs and a blanket and she is out...so out she even snores a bit.
Russ (Little Boy)
Russ is the most outgoing kitten. He started at one of the smallest kittens; but quickly grew to be the chubbiest one. He loves to climb and isn't very fond of being held. He will certainly come on your lap and kiss your hands, but it has to be his idea. Anytime you pick him up or interrupt play time he yips. Also, unlike his siblings he hates wet food he prefers to eat kibble and drink from a fountain. His favorite toys are mice that he pounces. For some reason this silly boy rejects soft things though, he'd rather sleep where he crashes instead of seeking soft warm beds.
Cadbury (Little Boy)
Cadbury started as out chubbiest kitten; however, he took a quick left when he opened his eyes. He was in a fair amount of pain will 3 open ulcers in his eye; a herpes infection and missing the top layer of his cornea. We got to an eye specialist STAT and were able to save the eye!!! It seems that Cadbury can see a fair amount out of the eye but probably wouldn't be able to read with it. Good things cats don't need to read the classics. Also from the amount of medicine he got we are assuming a fair amount of hearing loss. None of this stops him though, out of the kittens he is the one who will ask to be in your lap and bring you toys. He loves loves loves people and won't sleep on his own unless he can climb in bed with you. Whenever you see him though usually Paas is by his side. They aren't truly bonded because they do fine apart, but adore each others company. I can even ask Cadbury "where is your buddy?" and he runs to Paas.
PAAS (Little Girl)
Paas is the one that hurts to leave the most. Ever since learning to crawl/walk the second she hears my voice or see's me she comes over. She is the epitome of a Momma's girl. She loves to be held and cuddled. Shows her belly for rubs constantly. Unlike her siblings she doesn't play as much; enjoying exploring more. In terms of toys she finds them interesting, but prefers to climb on an in things. We have a cat tree and cardboard box tunnel that she prefers compared to all the toys. This little one also loves other kitties taking the roll of lead groomer to her siblings and my own cats. She would do great in a home with Cadbury. While they aren't bonded she adores him and tends to lead him around. We know he see's but she is his second sight! She loves to snuggle in bed with you too so get ready to share.
Best of luck and wishes to these peanuts! After 8 weeks they are truly amazing young ladies and gentlemen and will be amazing additions to any home! I know the next foster is going to love on them but when I count all the fosters I have had in the past 3-4 years I have had 60 counting these guys and I remember each one, each circumstance, each fluffy face, each heart break and each triumph. I know they will be fine but a tiny piece of my heart leaves with each!
Good luck Easter Candy Kids!
It's that time again loyal Cat Corner-ians
Time for your weekly family update! Week 7 has brought a lot of change to the kittens and for Momma Easter. The kittens are closing the gap on 2lbs and Momma Easter went to the another home.
Whenever you have kittens with a Mother Cat the Mom really takes the reigns in terms of rearing the kittens. Often humans don't need to intervene unless illness or injury comes to play. We get to play casual observers to nature; however, human need to get involved when health and potential futures are at stake.
Easter being a semi-feral cat let nature do what it did best for the first six weeks of the kitten's lives. She nursed them, cleaned them, encouraged them to try food, encouraged them to walk and rough house. Usually though at around 5-6 weeks Mommy Cats also trying to push their little kittens to be more independent in the wild leaving the kittens for a few hours to hunt. In the home typically not laying within nursing reach and going of somewhere high to let the kittens explore and really let them try new things. Easter was an odd case though because at around 5 weeks she no longer encouraged all the kittens to keep eating different foods, instead content to let them nurse and nurse. At six weeks she was teaching them to pee on walls and would often move the kittens into a corner and lay in front to "protect" them. This was very counter productive to having well mannered adoptable kittens. They were not exploring, they weren't building any confidence and relaying on Mom for way too much! They are past the toddler stage and need to start sticking up for themselves and learn especially with humans.
Since Easter was really hindering the kittens developing into proper "pet" kittens a hard choice had to be made. If the kittens continued to learn from Mom and not from a human they would learn like Mom, that people are scary and not to be trusted. The hope of myself and knowledge that young kittens can learn to be excellent pets knew that this learning would be very counterproductive.
Cat Corner knew once establishing Easter was a semi-feral cat she couldn't go into a home as a "pet" would. The decision was made that Easter would be available as a barn cat. That way she can do what she does best HUNT!!! She can be a pest control asset to any barn and live outdoors as she is used to. In order to facilitate the transition she is currently at barn cat training camp with another foster. This foster has a large home with safe indoor facilities leading to outdoor as well as some farm animals so Easter can get used to the sights, sounds and smells. Also, free mouse catcher while she learns! This meant that it was time for our little family to split up.
While the transition is needed it is not without its tears. Literally! Due to Easter's strong protective nature the kittens see her as the star of their world and in her absence there was lots lots of crying and yelping. The first night was rough! I had to take a heated Cat bed and put it in my own with the kittens in it to settle. They wouldn't sleep at all just yelp calling for her. Around 11 at night they finally slept, but my hand had to be in the bed so they could all snuggle together and with my hand for comfort. Around 2:30 am though the crying began again as someone woke up and their little pampered butt had to walk to the potty themselves not be carried by Momma Easter (they are sooo spoiled).
The second night was not without its charms, the kittens cried less and were more apt to explore. As long as they are allowed in my room. Unfortunately exploring my bed while I'm trying to sleep was not conducive for a restful night. The kittens settled a little earlier around 10 but at 3am the bed Olympics began, where every kitten was wrestling with my ponytail, my blankets, and each other. So it seems tears are off the menu, but rowdiness is in!
We will see what tonight holds...I hope for sleep for everyone, but I know that may be an unrealistic expectation.
I have noticed very dramatic changes very quickly in the kittens though. Their self confidence is through the roof in just two days without Mom! Exploring, climbing, running everywhere not just familiar areas. They also didn't need to be reminded to eat they pranced right up to the dish when wet food appeared without prompting. All of the kittens even seem more social trying to interact with my two boy cats and wanting to include them in their games. While my kitties are tired from all the babysitting it is really great for the kittens to see what pet cats are like. They are even mimicking behavior my boys demonstrate. Easter being semi-feral wouldn't purr and never really had an occasion too....the kittens have NEVER purred. I don't think they learned how and when they should. Russ the biggest kitten climbed up on the couch not 10 min ago saw my cat getting pet and purring, pushed his way in demanded pets and let a silly purr go and wide eyes shocked himself at the noise he made! I'm hoping in the coming days all the kittens will let me hear their purrs instead of the little squeaks for Momma.
"More pets for more purrs! Deal?" - Russ