The Great Joys of Fostering Kittens
It all happened on a cold, fall day. I was working at the animal hospital and we received several calls from time to time from rescue groups looking for foster parents. After my cat had passed away, I must admit that my home felt empty and grim, so when the voice on the other line encouraged me to give fostering a try, I felt like it was the right thing to do.
So on a cold and windy Halloween evening, with two cat carriers in hand my hubby and I headed towards the shelter. I must admit that I felt very emotional that day, as this was a whole new experience and it almost felt like if we were adopting a child, well let's say, a furry child.
Upon arriving to the shelter, two squeaky 5 month old black (Halloween!) kittens were taken out of the cage. They were two black, fuzzy litter-mate kittens, a brother and a sister. The director told me that they were sick as she was handing me over bottles and bottle of medicine. She then took each kitten and wiped up their ears, a bit too roughly for my taste.
The whole ear cleaning ordeal took a good 15 minutes as she wiped out a good amount of goo laying about a dozen of dirty q-tips by the side. It was evident that they suffered from ear mites and required a good daily cleaning. Afterward, they were given shots, a dropperful of antibiotics for their upper respiratory infection, a dewormer and eye drops for their conjunctivitis. She then put them both in one carrier as the squeaky fellows complained a bit of their rough day.
I surely thought at that point that I probably was getting into something that was too much. I was concerned about their URI and their eye infection and their over all malnourished state. Evidently, they were neglected kittens that needed lots of care!
Upon letting the kittens out of the carrier they also immediately pooped in my living room floor and it was diarrhea of course. However, what was done was done, these kittens were now my responsibility and I would have done all it would take to get them back to health.
While both kittens seemed to be black, as the evening went by, I noticed they both had a cute chunk of white hair right on their chest. They were very similar kittens with still those adorable baby blue eyes, however, we noticed that one was a little chubbier than the other and I was not sure if that was fat or if that was just a pot belly from the roundworms.
When dinner time came, they both ate like if they hadn'teaten for a week. In less than 10 seconds the canned food mixed with their antibiotic was all gone. It was then time for their eye drops and ear drops, luckily the little rascals were pretty collaborative for being strays.
The following morning, I found both kittens with their eyes completely shut from their eye infection. I knew that it was fundamental to avoid this from happening. I therefore, promptly freed their eyes from that crusty seal with a wet, warm towel, and soon their baby blue eyes were back.
Upon petting the male kitten then that evening I found a suspicious lump on his shoulder. Concerned, I parted the hair to take a better look. It looked like a corn kernel suggesting he had a tick! I therefore, got my tweezers out and tried to pull that son of a gun off. I knew I had to pull upwards, but the kitten was so lightweight and this tick so maliciously attached that I ended up lifting the whole kitten with this tick still firmly attached. He finally let go at the end, but that sure was an odd struggle as I never felt a tick so strongly attached. That bite must have been the tick equivalent of a Pit bull's bite!
The kittens were already pretty acquainted with their environment by now and they started to play. We did get them several toys and we soon found ourselves shutting off the television for some real kitty entertainment. We enjoyed watching their funny moves, their jumps in the air and their stalking approaches. We eventually forgot all about our favorite tv shows.
We called the female Roxie and the male Rocky, They were really a handful, but it took a second to forgive them for scratching our furniture and climbing on our tables. Rocky loved to sleep on my hubby's shoulder while Roxie would sleep on his tummy. I knew my hubby had lost it when he would avoid getting up because he did not want to disturb the sleeping kitties!
Every morning and evening was a ritual of cleaning ears, giving ear drops , cleaning eyes and giving eye drops and checking their stools to ensure they were solid and without parasites. These little kittens were already growing as I compared pictures as weeks went by. Finally, after one week they were weaned off the eye drops and the antibiotic. They successfully overcame their upper respiratory infection and eye infection. They were portraits of good health by now.
They still required ear drops for their ear mites for 3 weeks. However, I did not see any more black discharge in their ears. They were back to a normal healthy, pink and very clean. As their eyes were starting to change from baby blue to green they were also becoming much more social towards guests that came around to socialize.
As time went by I feared of getting too attached, They were lovely kittens that played all day and then came to us when tired. When we used to go out to run errands we would leave them sleeping on the couch and when we were back they were still there half asleep. It was as if they knew we loved to watch their playtime and reserved it for us once home. Our tv was almost a conversation piece by then.
They were scheduled to be brought back to the shelter right before Christmas. I really dreaded that day that came closer and closer. They were special kittens,they had bonded very strongly with us. I always loved to raise tiny kittens as they seem to become very attached to humans when raised at such a tender age.
While people were getting ready to celebrate Christmas and get into the spirit, my heart felt cold at the thought of giving them up. However, this was something that needed to be done. Shelters really do not want foster parents to adopted their kittens because that often means that they will lose the foster parents. So for the sake of future kittens I knew I had to give them back.
A week prior to Christmas, I gave the shelter a call. "Roxie and Rocky are officially almost three months now" I told the rescue personnel with a sad tone of voice. She then asked me something unexpected "What is their weight"? I had to make her hold as I had not weighed them recently. I came back saying "Rocky is 1.8 and Roxie 1.7". She responded " Ok, they need to be at least 2 pounds before being spayed and neutered can you keep them for another week or two?"
I was ecstatic to spend another couple of weeks with my favorite kitties! We had a little party all together and shared a bit of turkey with them on Christmas day. I made lots of pictures and videos with them as we tried to enjoy their company and entertainment to th fullest.
The grim, sad day eventually arrived... I kissed them both on the forehead and wished them the best of luck in sharing their lives with good owners. With tears in my eyes and without looking back, I handed the carrier back and walked away with a knot in my throat as I heard the kittens cry.
As days passed by, I came to realize that as sad as it was to say goodbye, those tiny sickly creatures had flourished into two loving, playful and healthy kittens and this was what counted the most. While for me leaving them was a good bye those kittens instead were saying hello to the world as they had plenty of happy years to come.
A week later, I found on Petfinder. com that both had been adopted! With tears in my eyes this time from joy, I celebrated that day as I called my shelter for my next batch of kittens in need.. I have fostered since then..