Thursday, August 15, 2013

Foster Kitties

The other day I shared my new "litter box bench" project that I made for my new kitties and foster kitties.  In that post, I said I would share the story of how I ended up with all these kitty cats, so here it goes.

Sometime at the end of April I was feeling the need to help out a local shelter that is near and dear to my heart. The Oahu SPCA is where I got my beloved Murphy dog, so when I see they are in need of specific supplies, I try to swing by with a donation.  (Also, 10% of any of my artwork sales go to animal shelters, including the SPCA.)  This particular day, I had seen they were in desperate need of kitty litter and fosters for some of their animals.  My best friend Kylie (who happens to be an awesome photographer) rode with me to the shelter to drop off our cat litter donation.  While there, I spoke with a lady at the shelter about fostering to temporarily help out if I found the right fit.  Kylie and I walked around the shelter, but didn't see the perfect fit for my home and my two fur babies Murphy and Duke.  When we walked back into the office, the lady asked if I would be willing to consider fostering bottle fed kittens whose mother abandoned them in the middle of a dirt field.  Now I had never raised bottle fed kittens, but I'd given a bottle to any number of critters during my growing up years-- goats, cows, and probably others I can't remember at the moment.  I knew I would be in for a challenge, but since I don't work outside the home, I knew it was possible.  I told her that it was something I would probably be able to do, and the next thing I knew she was reaching behind her desk and grabbing a box with three teeny-tiny wiggly little babies inside.

This is what I saw in the box.  Did I mention they were tiny?  I mean really tiny three-day-old kitten larvae?

Once I saw them, knowing how badly they needed someone to take care of them, I couldn't leave them.  I filled out the necessary paperwork, got a crash course on infant kitten care, and came home with a box of babies.

Kylie helped me feed them the first time.  It was scary trying to make sure they got enough when "enough" was 1 milliliter of milk.

It took nearly a week of feeding them with a syringe before they could get the hang of a bottle.

This was about two days into my adventure.


It really was like having infant triplets for a little while there.  I was up every two hours around the clock feeding these little boogers.  When they are this small, they can't even go to the bathroom alone.  Usually the mama cat would stimulate their little butts by licking while cleaning them, but since she wasn't available, I had to do the stimulating with a moist paper towel after every meal.  It wasn't the most glamorous job, but it was necessary, so I did it.

On a side note: I don't know how human moms do it for months on end.  I toughed through being on call every couple of hours with these guys because they grow so fast.  I knew it would only be a few weeks of no sleep.

By about two and a half weeks old, eyes were beginning to open.

At three weeks, they were becoming pros at taking the bottle.


At this point I still believed what the shelter had originally told me and thought I was fostering three girl kitties.  The husband named the first one Allie, as in alley cat.  I named the little guy above "Hallie" because every time the bottle came out so did the "Hallelujah hands."  Those little paws would stick straight up every time.  With "Hallie" and "Allie,"  I thought a rhyming name would be fitting, so "Sally" became the third.

Four weeks old, and they started walking around some and getting interested in more solid food.


In case you've never weaned kittens, it's a MESSY job.  You have to mix formula with some moist kitten food and put it in a shallow dish for them.  They stick their face right in it to slurp it up.... And their paws in it to paddle around, and their bellies to flop around some more, and their tails, and their eyes, and their noses, and, well, you get the picture.  They pretty much have to have a bath after every meal.  Luckily, they are really adorable.


At five weeks, they start really playing.  Climbing, running, stalking... The normal "kitten stuff."  They still weren't totally sure on their feet or super agile, but practice makes perfect, right?

This was also the point when I discovered that I was pretty positive the shelter had been wrong.  "Hallie," my little black "Hallelujah hands" kitty, was actually just "Hal."  He had a bit of extra anatomy.




As time went on, I fell more and more in love with my little charges.  Knowing the statistics on cat adoptions (only 20% of any cats that enter shelters ever get adopted), and particularly black cat adoption statistics (go ahead and cut normal adoptions by at least half), I knew I wanted to adopt Hal for sure.

A few more weeks, and it was time to introduce these babies to the other four-legged members of my family.  Murphy was first.


He really impressed me.  Since he has a very strong prey drive, I was concerned he might not do well, but once he figured out that they weren't stuffed dog toys come to life, he did really well.  Duke never cared much one way or the other, so he just went about his normal business.

They started really looking like little cats at nine weeks.





Miss Allie cat got a name change to Miss Mustache, and since she is less outgoing than Sally, I decided she would do best staying with me to give Hal a permanent companion.  (I'm hoping a good friend will adopt my precious Sally.)

Now they are just my lazy bums, and they provide hours of entertainment for me and the husband.  Pull out a laser pointer, and it's so much better than television. :)




There you have it.  That's how I ended up turning into a slightly crazy cat AND dog lady. 

3 comments:

  1. What a wonderful story. I now have 5 cats, all adopted, the 2 mothers having "moved in" shortly after we bought our house, and then I found out they were both pregnant! After they gave birth, there were 10 cats running around...I managed to get 5 adopted.
    The one in photo 15 looks very much like my Twiggy, a funny "ugly" face, my favourite.

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  2. Hey, I have a quick question I wanted to ask you about your blog, do you think you could send me an email when you get this? Thanks! Tiffany
    tpham(at)dropcam(dot)com

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