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!